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Airlines’ Move Away From ASAP ‘Disheartening’

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American, Delta, and Comair Drop Program, Draw Fire

The withdrawal by three major airlines from a proven safety program has drawn recent criticism from the Federal Aviation Administration, the National Transportation Safety Board, and the Flight Safety Foundation.

The Aviation Safety Action Program promotes safer flight through encouraging pilots to report mistakes and incidents without fear of reprisal, allowing regulators and the airlines themselves to take corrective measures. Participation in the ASAP is voluntary, and hinges on agreement between the FAA, pilot unions and the airlines.

Allied Pilots Association safety chief Mike Michaelis blamed the break down of the program on a lack of trust; the stumbling block is that unions allege their members have been punished for disclosing problems, while airlines maintain their treatment of pilots has been fair.

USA Today said disagreements between pilot unions and the airlines have turned the ASAP into a bargaining chip, prompting criticism toward both sides from others who strongly believe that nothing should get in the way of safety.

In a recent speech, acting FAA Administrator Bobby Sturgell decried the failure of cooperation in the ASAP as “disheartening.”

Bill Voss, president of the Flight Safety Foundation said, “There are at least two sides to every story, but I couldn’t care less about either. Safety systems do not belong on the bargaining table. There is simply no excuse.”

Robert Sumwalt, National Transportation Safety Board member and spokesman said, “The relevant players need to do whatever is necessary to ensure that these programs remain active and vital safety tools.”

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