Cockpit Politics: Can it affect a safe operation?

 

From: Jim 

I feel that politics should be left out. It clouds the issues, and causes un-needed "turbulence".

I am sure that when either of you were pilots (I am assuming that "Editor" is or was a pilot) that you did not stand at the front of the aircraft, and promote your politics upon the passengers as they were loading. I would hope that your concerns were the safe navigation of the aircraft you were in charge of. As I hope that your main concerns now are helping people overcome their fears, and anxiety of flying. I have to say Tom that during this morning's session that politics did not come up once. I thank you for that.

Now please BOTH of you (Tom & Editor) please answer my original question. "What would happen if you found yourselves together in charge of a passenger aircraft as PIC, and First Officer?" Would you be able to effectively and safely navigate the aircraft? Would most other professional pilots out there be able to in similar situations? If not perhaps our fear of flying is "well grounded"!

Answer by EditorASC:

I flew with UAL for 33 years.  I can tell you that the political agenda of a union like ALPA can and has threatened airline safety.  Both as a first officer, and as a captain, I did my best to prevent political agendas from disturbing the safe operation in my cockpits, but it was sometimes very difficult, when the other party was determined to make life miserable for all those who dared to disagree with ALPA's extortionist agenda.  

There were some real horror stories following the strikes at Continental, United and Eastern.  Two Continental pilots went to prison after being caught with bombs in their car, along with a list of addresses for "scab" pilots.  There was actually sabotage damage of an airliner at Eastern.  I was told that pilot was fired from Eastern and ALPA failed to get his job back, since the evidence was so strong, but they were able to get another union airline to hire him.

Numerous pilots were poisoned as they operated passenger flights, at United.  Damage was done to personal property like houses and cars.  Flight bags and uniforms were stolen, critical company mail that related to the safe operation of flights, was stolen before it got to "scab" pilots.  Wives of "scab" pilots were routinely called by the ALPA Tokyo Rose, and informed of numerous affairs that only scab pilots indulged in..............  Telephone death threats, even to the children of scab pilots, was rather common.

In 1986, I came very close to crashing on takeoff, because a super militant union co-pilot set our flaps incorrectly on the 727. Both he and the second officer made that distraction error, as a result of being too intent on making life miserable for me in the cockpit----because I was known for not agreeing with the union political line, that all were supposed to support.

Fortunately, I had devised my own backup checklist, precisely because of other incidents of militant union activity, so I caught the error just as I was advancing the throttles for takeoff. 

Other pilots flew planes which had critical warning systems disabled, without their knowledge.  One was discovered after a DC-8 took off and would not pressurize.  That required the dumping of fuel and a return to landing.  It seems the belly avionics door had been left open, and the light bulbs in the cockpit "door open" warning light had been turned around in their sockets, so that there would be no warning to the pilots before takeoff.

There were a lot of pilots at United that should have been fired, because of such deplorable conduct, but none ever were.  After all, that is what unions do the best:  They protect the worst and most incompetent of their members.  Every time management tried to put a stop to ongoing harassment of crewmembers, ALPA pilots responded with various slow-down programs that made planes chronically late, wasted enormous quantities of fuel, and ran out the legal duty time of pilots, before the end of the month (forcing the cancellation of many flights).

Union political activity was a big factor in the 1972 BEA Trident crash during takeoff from Heathrow. The pilots made one of the most egregious and unbelievable errors in the history of airline accidents: They retracted their leading edge slats at a speed of 63 kts. below the minimum safe speed for that configuration. And, once the plane started to move into the stall regime, they exacerbated it by disconnecting the emergency stick pusher system that was designed to rectify that kind of error.

There were no survivors.

There was a heated discussion in dispatch before departure, over union politics. Many of the younger pilots hated the captain, because he didn't support the militant younger ones who wanted to strike the airline. There was graffiti in the cockpit, specifically naming that captain, as a target of union hatred. That is the same kind of situation that prevailed at United Airlines in the mid-80s.

That BEA Trident did not have a CVR, so it will never be known if there was actually heated political conversation in the cockpit. But, those of us who have been thru the crucible of union hate, directed at those who dare to disagree with extortionist politics, know all the familiar distraction factors were present in that crash.  That, most likely explains why they made that worst type of distraction error, that any pilots could ever commit.

I could go on and on with stories like this.  Suffice it to say those kinds of tactics are regularly used by unions like ALPA, to enforce its agenda of fear and hate.  It is very clear that ALPA places a much higher value on its "solidarity" agenda, than it does on safety, despite all the millions it has spent on TV ads, telling us how "professional" they are.

When Capt. Tom talks about loyalty and ethics, it is in reference to this kind of dangerous and despicable conduct.  It is the ethical code of the Mafia mentality, the code of loyalty to the tribe, a code that seeks only to enforce adherence within the ranks, caring nothing about the rights of those outside the tribe.  

"My loyalty is my honor," is the code that militant unionists glorify.  That also was the moral code of the Nazi S.S.

 

August, 2005

Robert J. Boser    
Editor-in-Chief 
AirlineSafety.Com

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