ALPA's Communications Department provides information and support for news media inquiries. An ALPA communications representative can be reached in the Herndon, Va. office at (703) 481-4440.

News Release

Release #02.073c
August 23, 2002

Quebec Pilot Honored With ALPA Superior Airmanship Award

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Robert Piché, an Air Transat captain, was awarded a Superior Airmanship Award from the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) for safely landing an aircraft that experienced a massive fuel leak over the Atlantic Ocean on Aug. 24, 2001. The award was presented on Aug. 22, during the Association’s annual Air Safety Forum held in Washington, DC.

ALPA honored Captain Piché for his exemplary actions in gliding Flight 236, an Airbus 330, to a safe landing. Along with Captain Piché, First Officer Dirk De Jager of Flight 236 also was honored with a Superior Airmanship Award.

Flight 236 was about two-thirds of the way to Portugal when Captain Piché noted a lower-than-expected amount of fuel remaining. About 300 miles northeast of Terciera Island, the crew elected to divert to Lajes Airport in the Azores. When the aircraft was approximately 100 miles from Lajes, the right engine flamed out. Ten minutes later, when the flight was at 34,500 feet and 70 miles from the island, the left engine quit. With a minimal amount of hydraulic and electrical power supplied from its ram air turbine, the crew continued to glide toward Terciera Island in a gradual descent. Devoid of engine power for about 18 minutes, the aircraft touched down, blowing 8 of the 12 tires. Despite the tire failures and lack of electrical power, the pilots managed to stop the airplane on the runway.

Capt. Piché has flown for Air Transat since 1996. Prior to that, he flew for a number of other airlines since he started flying in 1973. Born in Quebec City, Capt. Piché is married to Regine Piché, and they have three children.

ALPA is the union representing most commercial airline pilots in North America and is the industry’s leading safety advocate. It represents more than 66,000 pilots at 43 carriers in the U.S. and Canada. Its website is


ALPA Contacts: John Mazor, Anya Piazza (703) 481-4440