WASHINGTON, D.C.—-The union representing most of the nation’s airline pilots has been granted permission to intervene in the trial of accused terrorist Zacarias Moussaoui for purposes of opposing a motion by news media seeking access to cockpit voice recorder (CVR) tapes in the Sept. 11 terrorist attack.
The motion to intervene by the Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA) was granted yesterday by U.S. District Judge Leonie M. Brinkema in Alexandria, Va. Along with the motion, ALPA filed a brief citing federal statutes that protect CVR tapes from public access.
In the brief, ALPA notes that “the CVR statute allows use of CVR tapes and transcripts at trial, where necessary, ‘only if the court places the part of the transcript or the recording under seal to prevent the use of the part of the transcript or the recording for purposes other than for the proceeding.’ “
An amendment to the statutes in 2000 also made it clear that the restrictions applied even when an investigation of criminal activity was involved.
ALPA was responding to a motion by the Gannett Satellite Network to have access to, i.e., copy and broadcast, the CVR tapes from United Airlines Flight 93, which crashed in Pennsylvania after a terrorist hijacking, and from a nearby second airliner. Gannett’s motion was in opposition to a government request to bar media access to the tapes. However, the government’s motion would allow playing the tapes in open court, which, as ALPA argues, also is prohibited by federal statute.
ALPA represents 66,000 airline pilots at 43 air carriers in the U.S. and Canada. The text of the ALPA motion will be posted at http://www.alpa.org.