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View Full Version : SWA pilot quals


seaav8tor
08-08-2007, 12:49 PM
Hey, I’m Dead, but I did save a bunch on my airline ticket!


Financial failure of the airline industry and all its woes can be traced to one cause. Lack of self-control. Post deregulation the industry irrationally over supplied the market with seats. Concerns of the cost to provide service or that the demand for their product is finite was ignored. They turned their service into a commodity and lost the ability to set a price in the market. For well over a decade the only recourse has been cost reductions. Many line items were non-negotiable so all effort was focused on those items where possible savings could be realized. Unfortunately as they reached the bottom even safety related items were not exempt from the ax.

Management proclaims, “labor must be paid at market rate”. Airline workers look around in bewilderment and don’t understand that the “market rate” has nothing to do with what other airlines are paying or what their jobs had paid in the past. The “market rate” has nothing to do with trying to find highly qualified human resources to join a dynamic team. “Market rate” is simply lowest cost labor an airline can find to perform a task. This is problematic in the airline business because it’s a service industry and several jobs are safety sensitive. Two glaring examples include pilots and mechanics. The bar has been significantly lowered for entry into the pilot profession. Extensive experience levels, testing, screening, astronaut physicals and simulator evaluations of yesteryear are gone. This is great news for those who want to fly as airline pilots. Barriers to entry have never been lower. Bad news for those expecting a high paying career as a pilot, also bad news for passengers expecting airlines to be selective and staff the flight deck with highly capable crews. In the maintenance area airlines have attempted to distance themselves by outsourcing. In some cases even outsourcing the work to another country.

When and where did the coordinated attack against labor originate? A substantial level of credit (or blame, depending on your perspective) can be attributed to 30+ years of work by the Airline Industrial Relations Conference. AIRCON was established by the airlines before deregulation as a balance of power over labor unions and its formation required government approval since such collusion would have been considered illegal. After deregulation the balance shifted towards management and has become very biased in their favor over the last decade. Beyond AIRCON and deregulation precipitating factors include:

- Internet
- Economy swings
- September 11, 2001
- Price of jet fuel
- Governmental taxes, fees and regulations
- Legal environment favoring business over labor
- Revenue shift, as more high margin passengers are able to abandon airlines and seek out hassle free travel afforded by private, charter, fractional and Very Light Jets (VLJs)
- Reliance on safety equipment, warning systems, automation and new technology to take the place of capability
- Reliance on standardized training, procedures and increased oversight to take the place of judgment and decision making

A little more detail and insight concerning the pilot flying your airliner reveals the following: Historically the career path to a Captain’s seat took many years. After college a pilot would typically put in 6 to 10 years of military or civilian flying and then move on to the airlines. The pilot would then begin his/her airline flying in the Flight Engineer seat. Eventually the pilot would be promoted to First Officer. Often more than 20 years after s/he began flying, and literally millions of dollars worth of flight experience, the pilot would finally upgrade to Captain of a jet airliner. The FAA “minimums” were never the true “minimums” for the job because the “average” applicant far exceeded the “minimums”. A significant safety margin occurred as airlines sought out pilots with the highest level of education, training, experience and physical attributes available. Compensation packages were very attractive and the airlines could select exceptionally qualified individuals to pilot commercial airliners.

Today things are quite different. As self-inflicted financial stress and competitive pressures grew, the “race to the bottom” forced the airlines that once had the luxury of seeking out the best pilots money could buy, to find the cheapest pilots money could buy. In the United States the FAA determines the “minimum” qualifications to perform the duties of a commercial airline pilot. We are now seeing airlines put pilots in very complex jet aircraft who barely meet the “minimums”. The public unknowingly assumes the government provides adequate safeguards when they buy a ticket, and airline management feels secure they can point the blame to the FAA if something goes wrong. Excellent industry safety records have allowed deliberate reductions in safety margins to facilitate cost reductions. This is where morality collides with free market forces. A safety record is history. The thing that matters right now is the flight you are about to take. The obligation should be to minimize identifiable risk, and operate every flight with the highest level of safety, not the lowest level of cost.

Worldwide ICAO regulations determine the minimum qualifications for various aviation related standards, including pilot qualifications. Recent changes in ICAO regulations have significantly lowered the qualification requirements for new airline pilots. In an attempt to lower labor costs, reductions in pilot experience levels have been agreed on. Under new regulations a recently created Multi Pilot Licenses or MPL rating is so short on experience that a MPL pilot would only be allowed to fly ANY aircraft under the supervision of another pilot. In the past both airline pilots were qualified with previous “Pilot in Command” flying experience. Now under this scheme pilots will gain experience on the job with the unsuspecting passengers in the back, hopefully, oblivious to the lack of experience up front. It will be interesting to see how the insurance underwriters respond to writing very big checks for avoidable “pilot error” hull losses.

The MPL was a big step backwards for air safety. As the safety margin shrank from what was once the very robust level of qualifications, getting ever so close to actual “required minimums” the industry- Airlines, Insurance Companies, FAA, ICAO, and pilot unions should have sought to increase “minimums” not lower them. Currently the FAA has not approved the new lower standards for use in the United States but nothing prevents a foreign airline from flying into or out of the country with a MPL pilot at the controls. If you think the safety records for some of the foreign airlines have been marginal, just wait. One reason for two pilots is to account for the possibility of incapacitation. If the (soon to be 65 year old) Captain becomes incapacitated, who will supervise the MPL trainee who is not allowed to fly unsupervised?

Southwest Airlines is unique in that they require every pilot to hold an Airline Transport Rating or ATP with a PIC type rating. This applies to the Captain and First Officer. This means the FAA has determined both pilots are qualified to act as “Pilot in Command” and goes beyond the FAA “minimums” and very far beyond the new ICAO “minimums”. No other domestic airline requires this level qualification. Next time you board an airline other than Southwest ask the First Officer if s/he holds a ATP and PIC type for the aircraft you are about to fly. Then ask yourself “Why am I flying with a flight crew less qualified than Southwest?”


Dog Breath
08-08-2007, 01:00 PM
Next time you board an airline other than Southwest ask the First Officer if s/he holds a ATP and PIC type for the aircraft you are about to fly. Then ask yourself “Why am I flying with a flight crew less qualified than Southwest?”
This should be an interesting discussion. Many airlines now type the FO even when not required by the FARs.

de727ups
08-08-2007, 01:11 PM
It's a great read but when you only have one paragraph relating to your title, especially at the end, it's kind of confusing and not what people are expecting.

Could you come up with something better? I would have PMed you but I couldn't


HercDriver130
08-08-2007, 01:29 PM
I can remember when the mins to even fly for a regional turbo prop slot were 1500/500.... ATP writtens REQUIRED.....

The article makes a point but is a bit self serving, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

seaav8tor
08-08-2007, 01:47 PM
but is a bit self serving, and leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

I do not fly for SWA:cool:

HercDriver130
08-08-2007, 02:04 PM
I know.... LOL...... didnt mean for it to sound like it did.

So Wonwee
08-08-2007, 03:05 PM
Are we proof reading for an Economics mid-term paper?

Tarheel
08-08-2007, 05:51 PM
so many words...

x183
08-08-2007, 06:01 PM
I fly for Spirit. Everyone has an A320 type, and all checkrides are done from the left seat (Capt. and F/O). And the company pays for your type in training. You are not required to have it to be hired. And the training is not outsourced. Good article/essay otherwise. Mostly correct.

ecloebl
08-08-2007, 06:56 PM
I do not fly for SWA:cool:

Would you like to?

seaav8tor
08-08-2007, 07:44 PM
Would you like to?

Too old...

Buzz
08-08-2007, 07:57 PM
"A little more detail and insight concerning the pilot flying your airliner reveals the following: Historically the career path to a Captain’s seat took many years. After college a pilot would typically put in 6 to 10 years of military or civilian flying and then move on to the airlines. The pilot would then begin his/her airline flying in the Flight Engineer seat. Eventually the pilot would be promoted to First Officer. Often more than 20 years after s/he began flying, and literally millions of dollars worth of flight experience, the pilot would finally upgrade to Captain of a jet airliner. The FAA “minimums” were never the true “minimums” for the job because the “average” applicant far exceeded the “minimums”. A significant safety margin occurred as airlines sought out pilots with the highest level of education, training, experience and physical attributes available. Compensation packages were very attractive and the airlines could select exceptionally qualified individuals to pilot commercial airliners.

Today things are quite different. As self-inflicted financial stress and competitive pressures grew, the “race to the bottom” forced the airlines that once had the luxury of seeking out the best pilots money could buy, to find the cheapest pilots money could buy. In the United States the FAA determines the “minimum” qualifications to perform the duties of a commercial airline pilot. We are now seeing airlines put pilots in very complex jet aircraft who barely meet the “minimums”. The public unknowingly assumes the government provides adequate safeguards when they buy a ticket, and airline management feels secure they can point the blame to the FAA if something goes wrong. Excellent industry safety records have allowed deliberate reductions in safety margins to facilitate cost reductions. This is where morality collides with free market forces. A safety record is history. The thing that matters right now is the flight you are about to take. The obligation should be to minimize identifiable risk, and operate every flight with the highest level of safety, not the lowest level of cost."



The good old days. Unfortunately, since 9/11 there are a whole lot less kids in college earning a degree AND their commercial/multi/CFI/CFII/MEI, (tens of thousands in debt) just to spend the next 4 to 6 years living off of foodstamps to enter the airline world where year 1 pay you are on foodstamps (Continental). Furloughs and disgruntled pilots everywhere, why would any 18/19 year old want to enter into this misery? The military is providing no where near the pilots it used to. I know several fighter pilots and heavy pilots that have left at ten years of service to go to grad school or to pursue something else because they have absolutely zero interest in the airline world.

Friends at Mesa/ASA/Pinnacle, etc, tell me they are losing pilots like crazy to the airlines right now with little qualified pilots to replace them (some commuters are hiring 250 hour total time folks because there is no one else to hire!). AND lets face it (this should get you going), flying an airliner now is no where near as challenging as it was 20 years ago (Every RJ: glass cockpits, FMS, auto land, "Hey dude put down the magazine we just landed," We did? I mean, Oh, OK." "You need to pay more attention." "Why, I just sit here the whole time and watch the plane fly. Give me my $1,500 a month a leave me alone.")

Until jets start crashing left and right, nothing will change.

Slice
08-08-2007, 08:08 PM
Friends at Mesa/ASA/Pinnacle, etc, tell me they are losing pilots like crazy to the airlines right now with little qualified pilots to replace them (some commuters are hiring 250 hour total time folks because there is no one else to hire!). AND lets face it (this should get you going), flying an airliner now is no where near as challenging as it was 20 years ago (Every RJ: glass cockpits, FMS, auto land, "Hey dude put down the magazine we just landed," We did? I mean, Oh, OK." "You need to pay more attention." "Why, I just sit here the whole time and watch the plane fly. Give me my $1,500 a month a leave me alone.")

Until jets start crashing left and right, nothing will change.

Hate to burst your bubble but the T-props and RJ's the 250 hour guys are being hired to fly don't land themselves. Automation costs money and most of the new jets arrive on the line without auto land or auto throttles. Even with that stuff you need to have a clue with what's going on. It's only a matter of time before the growing inexperience of flight crews bites this industry in the ass.

de727ups
08-08-2007, 08:11 PM
"flying an airliner now is no where near as challenging as it was 20 years ago"

I've flown Convairs and 727's, vintage more than 20 years ago. And I've flown 757/767's. I'd say the new planes are easier to fly and the workload is less, but I don't know if I'd say it's less of a challenge. It's just, different.....

Crossroads
08-08-2007, 08:20 PM
Seaav8tor,

Are you a pilot? Most pilots I know, myself included, either can't (or don't have the attention span to) read this many words (I tried quoting it to make a point but my computer crashed).

Speaking of making a point, the word 'point' (as in get to the...) describes a small, relatively sharp surface. When painters, sculptors, doctors, etc.. try to create their masterpieces, they all use instruments with fine points rather than large, blunt, cumbersome objects like telephone poles and 1000 word forum posts.

I think you have a very persuasive argument, however I think probably 2 people actually read it. As with all my 40 page college papers, the same could have been said in one paragraph. You could have a masterpiece and attract much more of an audience... if you could just find a way to get to the point.

seaav8tor
08-09-2007, 03:34 PM
Seaav8tor,

Are you a pilot? Most pilots I know, myself included, either can't (or don't have the attention span to) read this many words (I tried quoting it to make a point but my computer crashed).

Speaking of making a point, the word 'point' (as in get to the...) describes a small, relatively sharp surface. When painters, sculptors, doctors, etc.. try to create their masterpieces, they all use instruments with fine points rather than large, blunt, cumbersome objects like telephone poles and 1000 word forum posts.

I think you have a very persuasive argument, however I think probably 2 people actually read it. As with all my 40 page college papers, the same could have been said in one paragraph. You could have a masterpiece and attract much more of an audience... if you could just find a way to get to the point.

-yes, for the last 31 years

-airline management failed the industry

-they want you to pay for it

-here is your foe http://www.aircon.org/

-they do not care who lives, dies, or pilots the aircraft

-the MPL will be used when there are no takers for the job at minimum wage

Is that to the point enough?:D

Thedude
08-09-2007, 03:51 PM
The bar has been significantly lowered for entry into the pilot profession. Extensive experience levels, testing, screening, astronaut physicals and simulator evaluations of yesteryear are gone. This is great news for those who want to fly as airline pilots. Barriers to entry have never been lower.




Really?? I see the barriers to entry as going up. Smaller and smaller of military pilots are required and for those not lucky enough to military aircraft rentals are at an all time high. So it now takes more money to get started in this biz. Yes one can get hired with lower time than 10-15 yrs ago but we saw the same in the early 80's and mid 60's. Cyclical in nature it is. I haven't really seen the screening and testing go down and as far as I know check-rides are still required, at least the what my local Fed told me after my latest type ride last month. The astonaut physical is a whole other ball of wa. That wasn't required by the Feds but by the airlines themselves. I heard a story of the doc at AA admitting to the fact of he didn't like you when you walked in the door he would find something wrong and bounce you from the medical and thereby causing an unwilling applicant his career. Some doc huh.

NGINEWHOISWHAT
08-09-2007, 04:18 PM
I heard a story of the doc at AA admitting to the fact of he didn't like you when you walked in the door he would find something wrong and bounce you from the medical and thereby causing an unwilling applicant his career. Some doc huh.

Does that really shock you? Some check airmen & examiners have been doing it for years. That's NOTHING new.

Tom

HercDriver130
08-09-2007, 04:35 PM
I knew several MILITARY Flt Surgeons who were just looking for a reason to fail you... Hell I know an AME who use to practice near RDU that was the same way.

And for the record the Hercules was/is an awesome plane to fly..and no we didnt have glass... like the new J models.

skywriter
08-09-2007, 04:43 PM
Very good post I liked all the information. Thank you.

sigtauenus
08-10-2007, 08:45 AM
I knew several MILITARY Flt Surgeons who were just looking for a reason to fail you... Hell I know an AME who use to practice near RDU that was the same way.

I'll never forget the flight doc I had when I was in my fleet squadron maybe 4 or 5 weeks and got a cold. He gave me a bottle of sudafed and said come back in 2-3 days if I was still having a problem. I asked him if I was med-down, and he said, no, his job is to keep me in the air not keep me on the ground. AND he said it was up to me to decide if I could fly or not. Something about "big boy rules."

Free Flyer
08-11-2007, 05:04 AM
This should be an interesting discussion. Many airlines now type the FO even when not required by the FARs.


Well they type us all over here because we end up flying as IRO's (international relief officers) all of the time. Therefore the requirement of being typed in the airplane. I constantly do 11.5 hour days on the 737 flying to central america out of EWR. We call ourselves food and drink critics because we sit in first class during our breaks and watch movies. Rough way to spend your day. But at least I get the flying done and out of the way for the month. Some guys only work 7 days a month here with 90 hours of credit/pay.



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