Colgan Air 3407; Talking Points

Posted on 20. May, 2009 by in Featured

The commuter industry talking points have been disseminated: Roger Cohen in the BBC video summarizes; “they shouldn’t be tired.” How insightful; thank you for that in-depth analysis Mr. Cohen. He then emphatically states that it is up to the pilots, “they hire professionals”; of course they pay them slightly more than a McDonald’s worker, and I personally know of no gainfully employed Professionals that qualify for food stamps. But I digress; he also seems to forget who schedules the crews and docks their pay if they call in fatigued. The, “if the pilots are tired it is their fault”, talking point is popping up elsewhere as well.

Here is a quote from an ATW Airline News story it might sound familiar:

“The way they manage their rest time is their own business,” VP-Flight Operations Harry Mitchel told NTSB board members yesterday. “We hire professionals. They should show up fresh and ready to fly that aircraft.”

How? They can’t afford to live in the cities they are based; New York, Newark, Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles, etc.; so they commute or are forced into crash-pads. A crash-pad is an apartment that ten, twenty or more pilots share by cycling through. Most crash-pads have 3-6 beds per room one bath and pilots cycling in and out at all hours. It is hard to get any real rest. Even if they could get rest prior, the real issue is the pounding schedule; 4 or 5 legs a day with very short layovers. It is a recipe for fatigue, especially when compounded over weeks, months and years. Oh yes, many pilots are economically forced to get side jobs as well.

So here is a review: The company hired the crew, trained the crew, monitored the crew through Check Airmen and Chief Pilots, scheduled the crew daily/monthly/yearly and finally paid them so little they had to live in their parent’s basement and/or sleep on recliners in operations to survive. That company is now at a loss why this accident happened.

I asked a question on a blog post; incompetent or BS? Considering that on their last public proclamation of, “It’s not our fault”, they dated it the wrong month (March instead of May); I am beginning to wonder! Feel safe yet?

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