Despite Concerns, New Flight Protocols Take Off

     BROOKLYN (CN) – United Airlines can implement new flight operating procedures today over a union’s complaints that pilots have not received enough training, a federal judge ruled.
     After merging with Continental Airlines last year, United announced plans to adopt its parent company’s protocol, but their pilots complained that the transition was not ready for take-off.
     On Monday, the Air Line Pilots Association filed a complaint in the Eastern District of New York, requesting a temporary restraining order days before the Sept. 30 transition.
     According to the complaint, pilots were shown a 54-minute computer-based slideshow and asked to answer questions from other aviators, but did not receive training involving cockpit mockups and flight simulators.
     When it was filed, United Air Lines spokesperson Julie King called the lawsuit “a shameful effort to influence negotiations for a joint collective bargaining agreement, under a false guise of safety.”
     She added that the Federal Aviation Authority already signed off on the changes.
     On Wednesday, U.S. District Judge Sterling Johnson deferred to the FAA in rejecting the temporary restraining order.
     “ALPA simply seeks to hold United to a higher standard of safety than the FAA requires. That may very well be and the Court does not, in theory, disagree with counsel’s statement that when it comes to airline safety we shouldn’t ‘operate on hope,'” Johnson wrote. “However, there is nothing in ALPA’s submissions to support a finding that the FAA has somehow been negligent in carrying its regulatory mandate, or to suggest that the agency’s oversight and/or conduct in the instant action places it outside the orbit of deference.”
     Captain Wendy Morse, chairman of the Air Line Pilots Association’s United Master Executive Council, repeated safety concerns in a statement.
     “We are disappointed that Judge Sterling Johnson, Jr., opted against issuing the temporary restraining order we sought to prevent the implementation of the company’s inadequate and unrealistic SOC Phase II procedures,” Morse wrote. “Safety has always and will continue to be first and foremost for each United pilot every time we enter the cockpit, and we continue to contend that this training does not meet our safety standards and is unrealistic.”
     The new standards become effective today.

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