The Experimental Aircraft Association and other general aviation groups today fired back at an inflammatory letter by the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) that made numerous false and unsubstantiated claims regarding the efforts to expand freedoms in general aviation and reform aeromedical certification.
The ALPA letter, addressed to all U.S. senators, urged the senate to reject an amendment to a transportation bill offered by Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) and Sen. John Boozman (R-Arkansas) that would reform the third-class medical certification for pilots. It was the first time ALPA had expressed any position regarding the bipartisan congressional effort that EAA and the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA) had spearheaded for the past four years.
“ALPA surprisingly claims in its letter that it has been working with stakeholders to find solutions, but it has never uttered one word to any of the general aviation groups that have been doing the heavy lifting on this measure to bring long-overdue reform to aeromedical certification,” said Jack J. Pelton, EAA chairman of the board. “It isn’t about safety, as ALPA claims, as much as scoring political points. Current and past ALPA members who also fly recreationally should be angered that their union has decided to turn its back on general aviation."
Pelton continued that not only has ALPA never reached out to those working on this vital issue, they are completely out of step with the two other air carrier unions. The Southwest Airlines Pilots’ Association and Allied Pilots Association have been working with the GA community on this issue, including endorsement of an industry-wide letter of support for the Manchin-Boozman Amendment.
“The rhetoric from ALPA is most disappointing and utterly out of step with the rest of the general aviation and airline pilot community,” Pelton added. “Why it would turn its back on the community that inspires, supplies and trains its professional aviators is baffling, especially when the vast majority of statistics and opinions by safety professionals, regulators, and other pilots agree that ALPA’s position has no basis and makes no sense. It’s especially shortsighted when one considers that the health of GA is directly connected to the health of the airline pilot community.”
EAA and AOPA have been working in support of their members and all GA pilots by creating a third-class aeromedical exemption proposal that resulted in draft FAA rulemaking – currently stalled in the Department of Transportation – and by urging their members to support the Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2 developed by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Oklahoma) and now the Manchin-Boozman Amendment to the transportation bill in the Senate.
“For 25 years, EAA has supported aeromedical reform because the safety facts support it and it will eliminate financial and other burdens to GA pilots,” Pelton said. “This is as far as we’ve ever advanced, with 55 co-sponsors to bring the amendment to Senate floor. We need all EAA members and GA pilots to contact their senators now to support this amendment and turn aside the falsehoods and political rhetoric from groups such as ALPA. Further, GA pilots who are current and past ALPA members need to stand up and tell their union that it is wrong based on facts and the views of the rest of the general aviation and professional pilot communities.”
The Pilot’s Bill of Rights 2, which is also the language used in the Manchin-Boozman amendment, currently has 55 co-sponsors, just five short of the number needed to bring it to the Senate floor for a vote. Sen. Inhofe is also urging GA pilots to act swiftly, carrying that message to numerous appearances at EAA AirVenture Oshkosh this week.