Why are American skies the safest place in the world?

Because our pilots are some of the best-trained in the industry, working in an environment that always puts passenger safety first.

How did the U.S. reduce airline fatalities? By raising the bar for pilot experience.

ALPA has fought for improved training, safety, and hiring standards. What does that look like?

250 increased to 1500 total training hours, including:

Cross-Country

500 Hours

Night-Time

100 Hours

Instrument

75 Hours
*Graphics only visualize key parts of the full 1500-hour requirement, and are not representative of the total time required for first officer qualifications.
*Individuals who already have extensive training, such as former military pilots and graduates of university aeronautics programs, can apply for a Restricted ATP with slightly lower hour requirements.

Can you guess what your pilot is checking while you’re checking in?

Before every flight, pilots inspect their aircraft top to bottom, personally confirming that critical systems are in working order. A small sample:

Flight deck prep

Aircraft weight and balance

Hydraulic pressure

Caution and warning

Doors

NOTAM

Gear pins & covers

Signs

Windows

Beacon

Thrust Levers

Parking brake

Anti-ice

Ecam status

Briefing

Flight controls

Flap setting

Flex temperature

Rigorous training helps airline pilots read the skies like a book. Can you see what they see?

Icy
Conditions

Icy conditions can change the aerodynamics, handling qualities, and performance of the aircraft and its engines. Pilots are trained extensively in recognizing specific types of icing, how they affect various aircraft, and the procedures to use when those conditions are encountered.

A sudden change in the direction and strength of the wind, especially dangerous at low levels. Wind-shear recognition includes a sudden loss or increase of airspeed, while recovery may include advancing the throttle to maximum power while controlling aircraft pitch.

Wind-shear
Turbulence

The result of differing air density. Although modern airlines are designed to withstand these conditions and pilots are trained to fly through them, they often avoid areas of reported or forecasted turbulence in order to maximize passenger safety and comfort.

The most common way to navigate these hazards is to avoid them altogether. Pilots predict them through weather forecasts, radar, and other pilots’ reports. They then use their best judgement to consider other options, such as delaying departure/arrival or flying around a storm’s path.

Thunderstorms
& Hail
Above & Beyond

Above & Beyond

See how training and experience matter when pilots encounter the unexpected at 30,000 feet.

Learn More

What role does ALPA play?

For more than 80 years, the world’s largest airline pilot union has fought for rigorous training and qualification standards, advocated for proven safety measures and regulations, and defended the rights of the professionals responsible for keeping your flights safe. Our extensive history of victories includes:

  • 1930
  • 1940
  • 1950
  • 1960
  • 1970
  • 1980
  • 1990
  • 2000
  • 2010
1933
Limited pilot flight time to 85 hours per month, addressing pilot fatigue.
1936
Convinced airlines to form some of the first air traffic control centers in the US.
1940
Advocated for an independent aviation safety board, leading to the creation of the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board).
1954
Fought for federal requirement of commercial pilot certificates for all cockpit crew members.
1956
ALPA’s “T” instrumentation layout becomes the worldwide standard.
1960
FAA requires weather radar on most large transport aircraft.
1963
ALPA findings lead to flame-resistant cabin materials and improved fire-extinguishing capabilities.
1971
Held first airport disaster drill in Oakland, CA; FAA makes these drills a thrice-annual requirement in 1987.
1972
FAA requires airport operators to obtain a certificate proving they comply with safety standards.
1975
FAA approves rules requiring ground proximity warning systems in airlines.
1987
FAA requires Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance in passenger aircraft. Since the introduction of TCAS, no airliner in US airspace has been involved in a midair collision.
1991
Raised pilot qualification standards by restricting the number of different models that can be included under a pilot’s rating.
1995
FAA requires smaller airliners to be operated under the stricter safety rules of large 30-seat airliners, due to ALPA’s “One Level of Safety” campaign.
2002
The Aviation and Transportation Security Act is enacted, incorporating many of ALPA’s recommendations on safety and security.
2010
The Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administration Extension Act of 2010 is passed, setting higher safety standards for training and certification of pilots.