Major Legacy, National, and LCC

The problem

Old 05-17-2009, 11:45 AM
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Default The problem

Regarding: spin training, stall tng vs speed awareness, Gulfstream, PFT, commuting, pilot pay, and whatever other current topics have been offered to explain the reason Colgan 3407 fell out of the sky. All are valid topics, but they don't address the real problem. That problem is actually very simple. It's a two part problem, but it IS simple.

Part One. Pilots who have not learned their craft have been allowed to sit in the seat of an airliner. More later.
Part Two. The airline pilot certification system is not capable of catching the pilots who don't YET belong in the seat of an airplane carrying people for hire.

About my first point. For decades, a pilot spent many years as a civilian actually flying airplanes. Either as an instructor, or freight dawg flying checks, or any one of hundreds of other positions that allowed/forced the pilot to gain real stick and rudder time. Military pilots accelerated the process, but the large majority of their time was spent either training, or being trained. Either way, both backgrounds allowed a pilot to learn real flying skills and build real world experience. These pilots had the experiences that allowed flying to become somewhat instinctive. Flying, just as driving, becomes somewhat instinctive after many miles and hours.

Over the last fifteen (or so) years, the industry exploited the intent of the certification system and started putting people into airliners that just didn't belong in an airliner at that stage of their career. Management justified this because it met the letter of the law. But the rules were written in a time when the only pilots being hired into an airliner with less than 1000 hours were highly trained military pilots. (I'm civilian trained, but I recognize that a Navy trained F18 guy with 250 hours is better trained than the average civilian commercial pilot applicant)

Thinking back to when Pinnacle had an empty leg crash and on this Colgan crash, it is obvious that the aeronautical knowledge, decision making and skills of pilots who go straight to an airliner with only a few hundred hours are potentially lacking when a situation arises that demands good flying instincts.

When one thinks about it, the airline environment is sheltered. We never overbank, over pitch, underpitch etc. We always keep everything in the middle of the envelope. If a pilot didn't develop skills necessary to deal with the edge of the envelope, he/she WILL NOT develop those skills in the airline training environment. If the industry and the FAA insist on allowing 250 hour pilots in transport category aircraft, they must also insist that these pilots demonstrate the ability to recognize and recover from operations near or at the edge of the envelope.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:26 PM
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+1. Great post skybolt.
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Old 05-17-2009, 12:48 PM
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I had 6000 or so hours when I was hired by a major - I have to say that I learned a lot from the mistakes I made in flying those 6000 hours. Some big mistakes come to mind immediately, but I'm sure there are many more small mistakes that made me the professional pilot I am today.

Nothing beats experience.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:05 PM
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This will not be a popular position ....especially amongst my former regional brethern, but I believe that as MINIMUM.. if you want to be an AIRLINE PILOT at ANY level.... to sit in EITHER SEAT you should be an ATP. Would that magically solve all the problems... NO. but it would be a start. You hear it bantered about all the time how the "regionals" were hiring 300 hour pilots. Yes it did happen, I know of ONE at RAH, a female. I do know it happend at other carriers.. but not every new hire during the last boom was a 300 hour wonder. In my training class at S5 for the E170... our low time guy was a 900 hour CFI...and we had a number of guys like that. MOST of the guys and gal... had 1200-1500 hours, several came from other carriers, COMAIR, MESA and IFL. I had top time at just about 3000 hours. we had two people wash out... one had 1300 hours, the other 2400 hours. Both had problems with the "speed" at which things happened in the jet, they just could not adapt. I had a friend who went to ASA with 1900 hours... they had a couple of guys who had less than 500 hours.. but most had well over 1000 hours. My point is..... were very low time pilots hired... YES... were they a majority... I dont think so ... not by a long shot... infact I would bet the sub 800 hour pilot was a small minority across the board. Maybe its was different at some other carriers and they hired LOTS of those low time guys... but that was not my experience.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:10 PM
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That would be a great start!!

ATP as a minimum!
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:13 PM
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Requiring an ATP for an airline gig is a wonderful idea. This would force pilots to get some real piloting experience, as alluded to earlier, instructing, flying freight, etc. Seems like that could be an easy rule change, hint hint FAA.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:40 PM
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Originally Posted by BoredwLife View Post
That would be a great start!!

ATP as a minimum!
I agree 100%!! That would weed out alot of people and force people to be qualified at airline transprt pilot standards before flying paying passengers. It would also eliminate most of the zero to hero pft programs at the same time. It would also force the airlines to pay more to attract qualified applicants and not just anyone with minimum quals and a warm body to fill a required position.

I emailed this exact recommendation to my elected government reps yesterday.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:41 PM
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Originally Posted by HercDriver130 View Post
My point is..... were very low time pilots hired... YES... were they a majority... I dont think so ... not by a long shot... infact I would bet the sub 800 hour pilot was a small minority across the board. Maybe its was different at some other carriers and they hired LOTS of those low time guys... but that was not my experience.
Something tells me that you are absolutely correct. I wish there were numbers published, I would be interested if ALPA published them for their carriers. Just once. Regardless, there will probably not be many sub 1000 hour pilots, if any, hired for a while once hiring commences again.
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:47 PM
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If i remember correctly renslow was hired in 2005 or so with as he quoted on the CVR 670 hours. Working for colgan for 3 years averaging 900 hours a year accounting for the occasional vacation and training events, you end up just around 3000 hours or so. is this not expierence? Expierence is not the god send to aviation that you think it is. Ive flown with very expierenced captains who were some of the most dangerous people I have ever seen in an airplane. I have also flown with brand new captains who had just been in the right place at the right time and were perfectly safe with low total hours. The reason this crash happend was momentary lack of attention that allowed the airspeed to decrease at a rapid rate. Even Sully could have a momentary lack of attention and allow that to happen. Does he have enough expierence for you?
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Old 05-17-2009, 01:50 PM
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Setting ATP as the mins for airlines might also even out this boom-bust cycle we have seen. Airlines will have to plan better when they hire as the pool of applicants would only be so big. Though they will argue for the low mind as Europe uses airline academies with no issue.
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