BALPA and AAIB say members more likely to file reports

Airlines that recognise a pilot association measurably reduce specific safety risks, according to figures provided by the Irish Airline Pilots' Association (IALPA).

Independently, the UK Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB) confirms that pilots who are members of a union are more likely to voluntarily file incident reports than those who are not.

IALPA president Capt Evan Cullen said at the Flight International Crew Management Conference in Brussels that, depending on the relationship airlines have with their pilots, the flightcrew either declare known risks or attempt to cover them up.

Cullen had been challenged to provide an answer to the question: "Can recognising a pilot association be good management in a modern airline?" His presentation maintained that airline relationships with their pilot workforce fall - loosely - into three categories: co-operative, benign and hostile.

At any given time, said Cullen, about 2% of pilots have private or professional problems that could compromise their ability to do their job safely. In "co-operative" airlines, almost all of these declare their problems directly or via an agreed peer group intervention system, IALPA maintains. The respective figures for "benign" and "hostile" airlines are 1.5% and less than 0.5% of pilots who declare risk. Referring to the latter figure, Cullen posed the question: "Where are all the rest?"

In another comparison, Cullen said that when operational flight data monitoring (OFDM) became a requirement for European airlines, there was a significant disparity upon implementation between the three airline "categories" in its effect on voluntary reporting of operational incidents: in "co-operative" airlines there was "no discernible increase" at the "benign" carriers "there was an increase in reporting", says IALPA and in the "hostile carriers" the increase in reporting was "substantial" - Cullen quoted a figure of about 80%.

After Cullen's presentation, AAIB deputy chief inspector David Miller said there is "greater openness" from pilots involved in operational incidents if they are members of a pilot association. Cullen concluded that airlines that co-operate with pilot associations enjoy fewer safety incidents and lower pilot turnover.

View Flight TV report of conference at

Source: Flight International