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- American Airlines pilots voiced their concern about the potential impact of new protocols on safety.
- Three captains told Insider that they weren’t given enough time to learn the new procedures.
- The airline said the Federal Aviation Administration had approved its method of familiarization.
American Airlines pilots have raised concerns about the potential impact on passenger safety of new protocols for critical incidents, saying they weren’t given enough time to learn them.
The new procedures changed the protocol for cockpit communications during events including low-visibility landings, as well as for setting thrust, controlling exterior lights, and sounding flight attendant alert chimes. They apply to both Boeing and Airbus aircraft.
Three pilots, who asked not to be named out of fear of reprisal, voiced their opposition to American’s “big” revisions that “changed a lot of our operating procedures,” one told Insider.
“We have training that we usually do on an iPad every quarter,” the pilot said. “With this big a change, they should have issued iPad training and paid pilots to review the new procedure.
“But they did nothing of the sort, and then their way to ease the pilot’s mind is to say, ‘Don’t worry, you don’t have to know all this well for the safety of the public’. How can you tell pilots that we have a procedure that you’re not required to know?”
Insider verified the pilots’ employment and reviewed documents including the new procedures and an email from American informing pilots they should not “feel undue pressure” to become familiar with the changes immediately.
Dennis Tyler, a spokesperson for the Allied Pilots Association, which represents American Airlines pilots, told Insider that the company had issued a 35-page bulletin and 65-page manual with no face-to-face training.
He said a number of captains had been disciplined for wanting to learn the new procedures before their next flight.
One of the pilots who spoke to Insider said: “They just gave it to us and said ‘you need to study this on your days off’.”
Another of the pilots likened the move to asking a band to learn a new song on stage. “Unfortunately, if we pilots play out of tune, even a little, there can be life-threatening consequences to our audience,” they said.
“If we screw up, it’s our pilot certificate that’s at risk. We get in trouble, we lose our job, we lose our license.”
One of the other pilots told Insider: “The problem with what the company is proposing is that it is throwing away our carefully practiced script, and leaving unplanned, unpracticed anarchy in its place.”
A spokesperson for American Airlines told Insider it regularly updated aircraft operating manuals and its approach to familiarizing our pilots had been approved by the Federal Aviation Administration.
“These changes represent industry best practice and ensure improved crew coordination and consistency across fleet types so that our pilots can easily transition across different aircraft if they choose,” the statement read.
The updates had been underway since 2021 and had been coordinated with the Allied Pilots Association’s training committee, the spokesperson added.
The FAA didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment by Insider.