Pilot Shortage?


Has any one done the math on what would happen to the airlines’ costs if pilot wages were less stratified at the long end of seniority and fairer all around?

If what I believe to be true actually is, a trans-oceanic pilot takes off once, lands once, knocks down serious coin and flies infrequently. Yet the commuter jocks take off and land three, four, five, or more times a day, need to scramble to get to their assignments (fatigued, like the crew in the Colgan/Buffalo crash, and domestic flights often are delayed because they haven’t shown up yet), get paid like paupers and have lousy work conditions. I’m thinking that, just maybe, the problem might be less corporate and more employee seniority?

We already know that we, the flying public, are priced to market while the crews seem to be priced as a commodity. It would be interesting to see the math on the cost side. And, as far as I’m concerned, the foregoing is a fundamental discussion about aviation safety.

I’m a long-time reader and happy about it!

Art North
Via email

Interesting questions. We know plenty of current and former airline types, and the seniority system rules. An RJ captain came up the old-fashioned way but also mastered his carrier’s scheduling system, making his life much easier. Meanwhile, an Airbus F/O is quite happy where he is, since upgrading to captain would mean going on stand-by status and not having a life. Both are approximately the same age.

Once Is All It Takes
With regard to Dave Higdon’s experience in one of Mr. Piper’s Arrows (“Pressure At Work,” March 2014), we once had the exact same experience: a landing-gear pump briefly running and causing an ammeter spike for the same reason—a hydraulic leak—in our Cessna 210. We also had to manually pump the landing gear down twice.

The first time also was my husband’s initial flight in the plane, right after we bought it. The alternator quit, and the battery died within five minutes. The second time, years later, was the first time I ever flew the airplane alone, after getting my complex/high performance signoff. The mechanic found a broken component in the actuator, if I recall. So not only does it pay to learn your airplane’s hydraulic systems and operations (and emergency procedures), it pays to learn them before you fly it, even once.
Crista Worthy
Via email

Dereg The Medical
I am a lifetime subscriber to Aviation Safety and read your editorial regarding the effort to change the third-class medical certificate requirement to one similar to that of sport pilots. In response, I sent email to the senators and congress-people of Maine. I received the same old blather in reply from three of them, but I wanted to relay the comments of Senator Angus King (I) to you.

He said he recognized that the medical was expensive and the AMEs were scarce, but he could not support the bill as presented because he felt that some sort of “special” medical review should be done for private pilots. If the requirement was amended to just have a pilot’s family doctor certify that the pilot was in good shape, he would agree to the change. This would alleviate some expense and make the requirement less of a pain. I thought this was an interesting response and wanted to share it.

Mitch Sammons
Via email

Thanks. How far down the rabbit hole are we when a thoughtful elected official is worthy of comment?

Reading Amy Laboda’s “Buttonology” article in the May edition, she states, “many Garmin boxes will go into suspend as they fly past the FAF.” This will confuse a lot of your readers, since no Garmin boxes do this.
However, they do go into suspend mode at the MAP.

Dave Simpson
San Diego, Calif.

You’re right. At least three instrument-rated and current pilots familiar with Garmin products saw that and didn’t object, which underscores the article’s point. Thanks!


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