Friday, June 10, 2011

2003 Letter to Former United Airlines CEO Glenn Tilton from Captain Dan Hanley

July 23, 2003

Mr. Glenn Tilton, Chief Executive Officer
United Airlines
P.O. Box 66100
Chicago, Illinois 60666

Dear Mr. Tilton,

I do not play politics with other peoples’ lives.

I will not compromise aviation safety and security to ensure the financial survival of United Airlines.

United Airlines is currently conducting unsafe flight operations.  The employee morale is lower than I have observed in any organization I have ever served.  Chronic lethargy is running rampant.  It is readily transparent that company survival concerns have taken precedence over employee issues and aviation safety and security matters.  

From my experience in the past 22 months since 9/11/01, the safety communications processes established within the company and the union has either broken down or has been stifled at some level at every turn.  The ALPA, my supposed safety and security buffer and communications link in the work environment, has either been threatened or gagged.

Consequently, this organization has not addressed obvious security issues because the government and the industry do not want to “waste” the money on such “trivial” matters because their very own survival is at stake.

I have appended enclosure (1) for your perusal.  I am a patient man and have been so for the past 22 months.  I do not believe in using intimidation, coercion, extortion, deceit, manipulation, or exploitation to achieve my goals and objectives.  We both know these managerial styles are devoid of all leadership principles exhibited by the truly great leaders in humankind and personify the pinnacle of moral depravity.

There are currently individuals in key managerial positions, both within United Airlines and the ALPA, who have yet to demonstrate the moral strength and courage (for whatever reason), to address the critical safety and security issues that we face.  I perceive that they are selfishly directing all energies toward company survival without due regard to safety.  This effort, although perhaps a capitalistic noble one, is diametrically in opposition to the ALPA Code of Ethics and every precept of safety this industry was built on and forces each pilot to compromise his professional integrity and aviation safety.

I cannot, in good conscience, allow this process to continue.
This correspondence is sent directly to you to serve notice that I intend to resubmit reports via appropriate communications channels to address safety and security concerns that are obvious to you and others in positions of influence and power in the company and the union.

I am charged with legal and moral responsibility of the safe carriage of passengers in commercial jet aircraft. This company is being driven by the corporate goals of the Marketing and Finance departments. This is understandable since United Airlines is a commercial enterprise in bankruptcy.  Unfortunately, their goals and priorities conflict with, and have taken precedence over, most precepts of aviation safety. The Flight Operations department has taken a back seat in perilous times and no one is speaking up on behalf of the pilot group.  Why indeed?  

If the Marketing and Finance departments are driving our corporate objectives, then it appears they are clueless and unconcerned about aviation safety and security and their efforts must be redirected by whatever means available.  Apparent concerns are not being addressed and necessary departments are not apprised because personnel somewhere are not doing their jobs or have devious designs for revenue enhancement.
It appears that the government and airline industry executives have determined, for financial reasons, that it is necessary to dismantle unions or otherwise render them powerless thereby diluting the effectiveness of my critical safety communications link in my job and the contractual safety provisions while operating in a high-threat, terrorist environment.   

Concurrently, they continue to ignore costly security measures necessary to ensure safe carriage of passengers.   My real concern about my union is that they are guilty only of complicity under duress in this devious scheme; a scam that can be proven in a Federal court of law and would be very damaging to all concerned parties.  If this is the case, it cannot be allowed to continue.  I am prepared to act and will do so.

As an aviation safety professional, performing my legal duties under the moral auspices of the ALPA Code of Ethics, if immediate response and redirection is not taken by responsible parties, I will be offered no other recourse but to seek remedy and relief by any and all available and appropriate means outside of United Airlines and the ALPA, but within the legal limits of the law.  You and I do not want or need these awkward safety/financial issues to be pulled into the court of public opinion.  I feel so very strongly about these matters that I am willing to risk my career and my pension and benefits to achieve my objectives, and am able to do so, if necessary.  

Peoples’ lives are at stake.  I shouldn’t even have to take up your time by writing this letter to you.  You are an honest man of high moral fiber or you would not be serving in your present capacity as Chief Executive Officer of United Airlines.

I do not play politics with other peoples’ lives.

Thank you for your time. 

Capt Dan Hanley
JFK B-777 Captain
United Airlines

Enclosure (1) Letter to Captain Paul Whiteford dated July 12, 2003

cc:  Captain Duane Woerth, ALPA National Chairman
       Captain Paul Whiteford, ALPA UAL-MEC Chairman
       Captain Rory Kay, MEC – Central Air Safety Chmn
       Captain J.A. Santiago, MEC – Professional STDS
       Captain Mark Seal, Council 52 Chmn
       Captain Bob Falco, Council 52 Professional STDS
       Captain Greg Downs, Council 52 Safety

Three months after this letter was written, Captain Dan Hanley was removed from scheduled flight operations as a JFK B-777 captain, involuntarily placed on sick list, funneled into the Employee Assistance Program (EAP), interned for two days at a Chicago mental health facility, and ultimately medically retired after a 35-year flawless career in naval and commercial aviation.


Chase names Glenn Tilton Midwest chairman

Glenn Tilton
Glenn Tilton at a press conference in May 2010. (Hiroko Masuike/Getty Images)

Chase, Chicago's biggest bank, said it has named Glenn Tilton, former chief executive of United Airlines parent UAL Corp., as chairman of its Midwest business and a member of its firm-wide executive committee.