Union Hits ‘Training On The Cheap’


The Allied Pilots Association is accusing American Airlines of “training on the cheap” in its implementation of new fleet-wide flight deck procedures during challenging conditions. The union says the company preceded the changes with a bulletin, flight manual amendments and a short video rather than through a formal training process. “American Airlines Flight Operations management is attempting to circumvent robust safety-related pilot training by unilaterally imposing operational changes via bulletin,” the union said on its website Monday. Pilots got the material in early December and the new doctrine was implemented a month later.

The bulletin and video cover revised flight deck communications and procedures during “high-threat” periods like rejected takeoffs, low visibility approaches and go-arounds and are intended to harmonize those procedures across all aircraft types. The airline countered that the changes are not that complicated and that the FAA has signed off on the homework assignment. “These updates have been underway since 2021 and have been a coordinated effort with APA’s Training Committee,” the airline said in a statement. “Additionally, the approach to familiarizing our pilots has been approved by the FAA.”  The union said it asked the FAA to intervene and tell American to delay implementation of the procedures but never heard back.

Russ Niles
Russ Niles is Editor-in-Chief of AVweb. He has been a pilot for 30 years and joined AVweb 22 years ago. He and his wife Marni live in southern British Columbia where they also operate a small winery.

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  1. As a potential pax, reading this suggests that this may be more “us vs them” commentary by the union, rather than a significant threat. On the other hand, all large organizations are political, with players acting to promote themselves within the organization, sometimes over the welfare of others, or at some odds with the official “mission statement” of the organization. So, I just wasted 5 lines to explain that, unless more data is available to evaluate this procedure, to an outsider (or even an insider), the effect of this procedure is difficult to determine.

  2. Not familiar with what the changes are, but knowing what it takes to make changes with any FAA approved procedures, looks like the union is complaining to the wrong people. If the FAA approved those changes, it does little good to complain to the general public, who in most cases have no idea what it takes to make those changes.

  3. The changes standardize procedures across all aircraft types making it easier to transition from one aircraft to another. Broadly it insures the same crew member performs the same functions whether they are flying a 737 or a 787. United made the same change. I think the union might be ok with the changes but does not like the way it is being implemented. They don’t like training being conducted via a video or a handout.

  4. What surprises me is that the FAA actually reviewed and approved something without taking two years to review it and run it through a dozen “subject matter expert” committees. Too bad they can’t seem to get anything else done for GA!