Airline Pilots Union Pushes to Change ‘Cockpit’ to More ‘Inclusive’ Term 

The union that represents more than 70,000 commercial pilots made suggestions recently that terms such as “cockpit” should be changed to “flight deck” so that they show more sensitivity to employees who are women or identify as LGBTQ+.

The ALPA, or Air Line Pilots Association, is trying to make gendered language more inclusive to its diverse set of members, it said recently. The largest union of airline pilots in the world is making changes to its Inclusive Language Reference Guide.

The guide, first published back in 2021, directs all pilots to stop using words that are associated with masculinity, such as “manpower,” “cockpit,” “airmen” and “guys.” They issued this directive to “reflect the diversity we have at ALPA … [and to] create a more inclusive workplace.”

As the union has stated:

“While the word ‘cockpit’ dates back to the 1900s, it has been and may be used in a derogatory way to exclude women in the piloting profession. Many women have heard a variation of, ‘It is called a cockpit for a reason’ by a male pilot, suggesting that women do not belong in the piloting profession. The intent behind the use of the word is important.”

The union wants its pilots to refer to the plane’s front cabin as a “flight deck” from now on.

General Aviation News reported that the word “cockpit” first appeared in print way back in the 1580s. It was used to describe an arena that hosted cock fights. 

Over the next few centuries, it ended up becoming synonymous with a “control center,” which is how it eventually ended up being applied to airplanes. In fact, World War I pilots adopted the term in the early 1900s.

There are many other words that the APLA considers to be non-inclusive are “father” and “mother,” since they “may inadvertently ignore different family structures … [such as] caregivers, same-sex parents, stepparents, families with adopted members and more.”

The union also discourages its members from referring to another person’s boyfriend, girlfriend, husband or wife, as “these terms may leave out individuals who are unmarried or have a long-term or same-sex partner.”

What’s more, any word that has “man” or “men” as its prefix or suffix is offensive, according to the union. They are also replacing the word “manpower” with “people/human power.” It also says that members should shy away from using pronouns that indicate a particular gender, opting instead for “they/them.”

In a statement it used to Fox News, the ALPA said that its guidelines are simply “opening the doors of opportunity.” The statement read, in part:

“Flying is the safest mode of transportation in the world thanks in large part to airline pilots, professionals that are all held to the highest training and qualification standards. There are real threats to aviation safety like efforts to replace pilots with automation or lower training and experience standards, but opening the doors of opportunity to ensure we have a robust supply of qualified aviators isn’t one of them.”