The head of the Air Line Pilots Association said the group's members were "appalled and outraged" by ABC's airing of "pilots voices and the sounds of their death struggles" from the cockpit of United Flight 93, which was hijacked and crashed over Pennsylvania on Sept. 11 following a struggle with passengers.
ABC aired the tape on Primetime Thursday last week, the network said, after considerable deliberation and the determination that the tape was part of the historical record of an act of war against the U.S. The tape's use would be restricted in the future, the network said. Capt. Duane Woerth, president of ALPA, acknowledged his group had no legal claims, but called the broadcast "repugnant sensationalism masquerading as news. Once again, the news media have demonstrated their fascination with sensationalizing the final words and sounds from doomed cockpit crews moments before they die."
A spokesman for the association called the airing "Jerry Springer television gussied up for primetime," and said that the last thing pilots want is for their families to hear their final words and acts over national TV.
ABC acknowledged several complaints from pilots, which, it said, were addressed individually and directly by network executives.
ABC News Vice President Jeffrey Schneider said the tapes were newsworthy, and "shed new light on the heroism of the pilots who valiantly fought against the hijackers and illustrates how air traffic controllers used their expertise to track the hijacked plane and keep other aircraft out of harm's way." - Dan Trigoboff