American Airlines Inc. has officially responded to a statement released by the Allied Pilots Union in which the organization criticizes a lawsuit by the airline as “unconscionable.”
In the suit, American and multiple carriers are asking a federal court to review the Federal Aviation Administration’s recent initiative for establishing new rules related to the monitoring of pilot fatigue on long-haul flights.
The Allied Pilots Association, a union representing 11,500 pilots, issued a statement this week calling American’s lawsuit opposing enhanced crew-rest “unconscionable.”
“The National Transportation Safety Board has identified as one of its ‘most wanted transportation safety improvements’ the reduction of aviation accidents and incidents caused by human fatigue,” said APA President Captain Lloyd Hill. “American Airlines management’s effort to block new crew-rest rules that are designed to reduce the well-established safety risks associated with pilot fatigue is nothing short of unconscionable. We cannot fathom their rationale.”
Fort Worth-based American (NYSE: AMR) responded Wednesday, saying, “The safety of our employees and customers is — and always will be — American Airlines’ highest priority. That includes flying long international routes, which we have done safely and consistently for years under existing FAA regulations. The collective opposition by this group of carriers — American, Continental, JetBlue, United, US Airways and others — to the FAA’s imposition of long-haul flying rules reinforces this commitment to safety. By following an established and proven rulemaking process, the FAA can make the best-informed decision possible.”
American added that the objection is related to the process that is followed when developing new safety rules, not about the airline’s intention to place those rules.
“American and the group of carriers believe that the FAA should follow the accepted and legally required process of providing public notice and inviting comment to the industry and public,” American said. “ We believe that the normal rulemaking process as provided for by federal statute, the Administrative Procedures Act, provides the best process for making rules for carriers. By asking for comment, the FAA will receive comments from all interested parties concerning their proposed rule, including experts within the fields of fatigue and rest, aircraft manufacturers, unions representing crew members, carriers themselves and members of the general public. We believe that the safest rules come from that process because the FAA itself becomes more knowledgeable and better-educated through the comment period.”