APA Public Email Address




CONTACT: Capt. Peter Gamble, 207-651-0532/Gregg Overman, 817-312-3901

Allied Pilots Association: “Line Pilot Input” Was Key in Returning Boeing 737 MAX to Service

FORT WORTH, Texas (Dec. 2, 2020) — The Allied Pilots Association (APA), representing the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, cited the importance of line pilot involvement in the forthcoming return to service of the Boeing 737 MAX 8, which has been grounded since March 2019 after two fatal accidents.

“Whenever lives have been lost throughout the history of commercial aviation, professional pilots have always responded in the same way — by participating in the investigation to determine what went wrong and in the effort to prevent similar accidents in the future,” said APA President Capt. Eric Ferguson. “At APA, advancing the cause of aviation safety has always been, and will always be, our highest priority.

“Our hearts go out to the passengers and crewmembers who lost their lives aboard Lion Air Flight 610 and Ethiopian Airlines Flight 302, and to their families and friends,” he said. “We grieve with you.”

Two of APA’s three national officers are on board a 737 MAX 8 flight today from Dallas-Fort Worth International Airport (DFW) to Tulsa International Airport (TUL) and back, along with American Airlines representatives, members of the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, and a delegation of journalists. American Airlines’ largest Base Maintenance facility is located at TUL. The pilot in command is Capt. Peter Gamble, a member of APA’s 737 MAX Return to Service Ad Hoc Committee and a member of the union’s board of directors. APA’s involvement in preparations to return the Boeing 737 MAX 8 to service began 20 months ago, with committee members working directly with American Airlines, Boeing, the Federal Aviation Administration, and other stakeholders.

“One of the keys in this process has been line pilot input into the training regimen and the aircraft’s systems,” Capt. Gamble said. “We emphasized that line pilot involvement in the recertification process was essential to ensure that human factors, such as the ‘startle effect,’ are fully accounted for when assessing real-world pilot performance.”

First Officer John DeLeeuw, Chair of the APA National Safety and 737 MAX Return to Service Ad Hoc committees, acknowledged that APA and American Airlines “worked closely together” during the past 20 months “to help make improvements not just for American, but for the industry as a whole. The partnership in this joint endeavor is a model for future success and collaboration.”

“We have tremendous respect for the work American Airlines’ maintenance operation has done in preserving the airplanes and preparing them to re-enter service,” Capt. Ferguson said. “They deserve a great deal of credit for helping to ensure the safety and integrity of American Airlines’ Boeing 737 MAX 8 fleet.”

Founded in 1963, the Allied Pilots Association — the largest independent pilots union in the United States — is headquartered in Fort Worth, Texas. APA represents the 15,000 pilots of American Airlines, including several hundred pilots on full-time military leave of absence serving in the armed forces, and 1,248 pilots on furlough. The union’s website is AlliedPilots.org.

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