Union head accuses American Airlines of ‘pilot pushing'

Is American Airlines pushing pilots too far? That's the fear from the head of the union representing them.

Allied Pilots Association President Dan Carey says the airline is purposely pushing pilots to fly faster and change flight plans without pilot input. He says that could be trouble for travelers.

It's called ‘pilot pushing,’ and the Allied Pilots Association calls it dangerous.

Aviation expert, Denny Kelly, knows what it means to fly faster to make up time on a flight. He says it may get passengers there sooner but comes with a tradeoff.

"By speeding up the airplane, you put more stress on the airplane,” said Kelly.

In a letter to the union’s pilots, Carey accused American Airlines management of pilot pushing and encouraged pilots to just say no.

Carey claims "management is manipulating flight plans in order to keep an operation under duress from coming apart at the seams.”

Carey cited new operational initiatives like "speed up flight plans” that are designed to “reduce delays involving crew duty times where necessary."

Carey wrote the faster speeds were "nearing aircraft limitations" and were encouraged "even though aircraft are flight planned through areas of forecast or known turbulence". Carey also cited complaints of pilot pushing with duty time limits.

"You're flying this airplane with 200 people behind you, 300 people behind you, at 450 miles an hour and you're exhausted,” said Kelly.

But there are pilots interpreting the letter a different way.

One American Airlines pilot source who currently flies said he wouldn't call it pilot pushing at all, adding management can ask pilots to fly faster, but pilots have the final say.

American Airlines issued a statement saying in part, "Our integration and associated changes are complex and we remain committed to working together with all employee groups."

Passengers aren’t too happy with idea of pilot pushing.

"I don't think it's safe,” said LaDonna Williams. “I have gotten places faster, and I didn't know you could speed in the air. So I wouldn't recommend it."

Frequent flyers said they would sacrifice any extra time made up in the air.

"I've flown all over the world, different countries for work,” said Andre Boulais. “And to be honest, I would rather have the half an hour delay and be safe with the pilots. So I would side with the pilots on this one."