Pilots on Edge in Face of Hasty Flight Retraining

     (CN) – A union for United Air Lines pilots says hasty retraining procedures could make flying dangerous.
     The Air Line Pilots Association filed a federal complaint in Brooklyn, N.Y., to delay revised flight procedures until the pre-merger pilots from United and Continental Airlines are adequately trained to operate in the same cockpit.
     United adopted Continental’s protocol after the companies merged in 2010 and utilized computer-based training without any simulated classroom instruction, the union claims.
     Pilots were allegedly shown a 54-minute computer-based slideshow and asked to answer questions from other aviators. But the training did not include cockpit mockups and flight simulators, the union says.
     “Content was added, retitled, split, combined and deleted” from critical flight manuals, and procedural flows were also manipulated, according to the complaint. The union says classroom time is imperative to master the changes in operational and emergency procedures.
     Implementing one set of flying techniques is “a difficult and time-consuming task because all airlines over time develop unique flight operations standards and procedures,” the complaint states.
     “The company is implementing unrealistic deadlines and requiring only distance, computer-based training that we believe is inadequate to maintain the level of safety our passengers expect from United and its pilots,” union council chairwoman Wendy Morse said in a statement.
     United Air Lines spokesperson Julie King balked at the allegations.
     “Our training procedures, which are fully approved and closely monitored by the FAA, meet or exceed safety standards, and we are a safe airline,” King said in a statement.
     “This lawsuit … is a shameful effort to influence negotiations for a joint collective bargaining agreement, under a false guise of safety,” she added.
     But the union says United has refused to extend the Sept. 30 deadline, despite its repeated requests.
     Pilots who have gone through the new training procedures claim “the amount and quality of the training is simply inadequate to absorb the new procedures and make them part of the pilots’ instinctual coordinated operating practices,” according to the complaint.
     The Air Lines Pilots Association seeks an injunction to enjoin United from implementing the revised procedures. It is represented by Michael Abram of Cohen Weiss.

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