AA Drops Out of Safety Program

Expert says lack of trust leads to decision.

Friday, Dec 5, 2008  |  Updated 1:50 PM CDT
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AA Drops Out of Safety Program

Distrust between management and labor may have forced American Airlines to drop out of a federal safety program.

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American Airlines dropped out of a federal safety program designed to encourage voluntary reporting of pilot errors before they resulted in crashes.

Delta Air Lines Inc. and American Airlines quit the Aviation Safety Action Program, or ASAP, which allows pilots to admit mistakes without fear of being punished.

American had taken part for 14 years, and its program was used as a model at other carriers in the U.S. and abroad.

The pilots' union at American, the Allied Pilots Association, charged that American was using the program to discipline captains for inadvertent safety lapses, putting their jobs at risk. The union sought language to strengthen job protections for pilots who reported errors.

"We will not accept any process that labels our pilots as reckless, and discipline for inadvertent safety events must stop," union official Kevin Cornwell said at the time.

Tim Wagner, a spokesman for AMR Corp.'s American Airlines, said Friday the company preferred not to change provisions of the program but that the union balked and refused to extend the agreement.

He said a self-reporting system from NASA is still in place.

Acting FAA chief Robert A. Sturgell said, "it is disheartening to see some of our carriers and pilot unions abandoning these programs at a time when we need them the most," Sturgell said. "I encourage you to separate safety from the labor issues and put these programs back in place."

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