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A Pilot Shortage Made in Congress: Heavy-handed safety rule causing major problems for air travel.
National Review ^ | 02/12/2014 | Jillian Kay Melchior

Posted on 02/12/2014 8:07:39 AM PST by SeekAndFind

Five years ago this month, two pilots aboard Colgan Air Flight 3407 made a series of fatal errors as they descended near Buffalo, N.Y. The plane spluttered in mid-air, tilting unnaturally, then made a terrible grinding sound as it fell near-vertical from the sky. It hit a house, exploding loudly; neighbors could see the flames from blocks away. All 49 people aboard the flight perished, as did one occupant of 6038 Long Street, which was totally destroyed.

Tragedies trigger calls for action. Unfortunately, such pleas are often more emotional than rational, resulting in bad policy. The legislation passed in response to the Colgan plane crash is a classic example.

In direct response to the Colgan crash, Congress passed the Airline Safety and FAA Extension Act of 2010, which mandated that the Federal Aviation Administration require pilots to complete 1,500 flight hours before they’re allowed to fly commercially, up from just 250 before the act. While this new rule does little to improve safety, it is exacerbating an already severe pilot shortage.

Boeing predicted recently that over the next 20 years, the global economy will demand 498,000 new commercial airline pilots. Already, many existing pilots are inching toward the mandatory retirement age, says Kent Lovelace, chair of aviation at the University of North Dakota. Even though Congress has changed the mandatory retirement age from 60 to 65, over the next decade around half of America’s 54,000 pilots will age out of the profession.

Meanwhile, too few pilots are available to replace the ones who are retiring. A historically low number of people are training to become pilots, and of those, only half are seeking a career with commercial airlines, Lovelace says. For many would-be pilots, the consideration is purely financial: While flight training costs between $60,000 and $70,000, entry-level pilot positions typically pay $25,000 a year or less. Furthermore, the financial turbulence that’s characterized the airline industry since September 11, 2001, has made the profession less attractive to aspiring aviators.

The existing workforce has been stretched even thinner by new anti-fatigue rules. Pilots were once required to have eight hours of time off between shifts, but now they must be given no less than ten hours. This particular anti-fatigue rule was empirically justifiable, and it may well improve safety, but it also results in airlines’ needing between 3 and 7 percent more pilots on the clock at any given time.

Together, these considerations have created a perfect storm for the airline industry, and, as major news sources have recently noted, the pilot shortage is beginning even faster than expected.

In that context, the new 1,500-flight-hour requirement is particularly harmful. Both pilots involved in the Colgan crash had far surpassed 1,500 hours of flight time, so it wouldn’t have prevented the accident. And the new requirement is all the worse because, as Lovelace says, it was “not based on science,” but was rather “a political decision. And it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s good or not. The only way it’s going to change is literally an act of Congress.”

As Congress considered the requirement, Senator Chuck Schumer (D., N.Y.) didn’t hesitate to trot out the surviving families of Colgan victims. “Every time there was a legislative blockage, we sent them to personally go talk to the senators involved, and every time, they broke through,” Schumer recently told a Gannett reporter.

But this tear-jerking approach to policymaking wholly ignores the facts. The Colgan crash, however horrific, was an extraordinary outlier.

Before the new flight-time rules for pilots kicked in, plane travel was already the safest it had been in the entire history of aviation. By the latest airline-industry count, there’s only one major accident for every 5 million flights on Western-built jets. Even in plane crashes, 95.7 percent of passengers survive, as CNN has reported. The New York Times has reported that “in the last five years, the death risk for passengers in the United States has been one in 45 million flights.”

Such bad policy has real consequences, which are already playing out. Last summer in my hometown of Cheyenne, Wyo., the tiny regional airport had to temporarily suspend 30 working pilots because they had not yet met the 1,500-hour requirement. And earlier this month, it announced it was suspending service to six airports because it couldn’t find enough pilots who met the FAA standards.

Those who once would have flown out of Cheyenne will now be forced to commute to Denver International Airport, about two hours’ drive away. Perhaps some of them will forgo air travel altogether and take a road trip. Keep in mind that between January and June 2013, 15,470 people died in motor-vehicle crashes in the United States; in 2012, only 475 people worldwide died in plane crashes (in comparison, the World Health Organization has reported that 1.24 million people across the world died in car crashes last year). Globally, fewer people die from air travel than die by using right-handed equipment when you’re a lefty, especially when it’s a power saw; by being crushed by televisions or furniture; or by getting a brain-eating parasite.

Though well-intentioned, the new rule does more harm than good, creating an additional and altogether unnecessary barrier to entry for much-needed pilots. Such are the perils of legislation by emotional reaction.

— Jillian Kay Melchior writes for National Review as a Thomas L. Rhodes Fellow for the Franklin Center. She is also a senior fellow for the Independent Women’s Forum.


TOPICS: Business/Economy; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: airtravel; pilot; shortage
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1 posted on 02/12/2014 8:07:40 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

There shouldn’t even be an age restriction. If they can pass the medical, they should be allowed to fly.


2 posted on 02/12/2014 8:12:58 AM PST by TexasFreeper2009 (Obama lied .. the economy died.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Repeat this type of crap for every industry in every sector, and it is not hard to see why the USA is such a business-unfriendly environment.

If we have legislators, it has got to the point where they “justify” their existence with legislation.

Mountains and mountains of it.


3 posted on 02/12/2014 8:17:15 AM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: SeekAndFind

Do any Freepers smarter than I, know what the requirements for flight time are for the military?


4 posted on 02/12/2014 8:20:35 AM PST by wbill
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To: SeekAndFind
While flight training costs between $60,000 and $70,000, entry-level pilot positions typically pay $25,000 a year or less. Furthermore, the financial turbulence that’s characterized the airline industry since September 11, 2001, has made the profession less attractive to aspiring aviators.

The Golden Age of being a pilot for the majors is now the stuff of Hollywood and history books.

Let's start with the fact that being a pilot requires not only immense skill and training, but it can be a very, very stressful career. Weather, maintenance, congestion, bureaucracy, burdensome regulations, intense travel, poor rest, and time away from family all take their toll. Let's not even mention the stress that is extolled for maneuvering a muti-ton piece of aluminum into and out of airports and airspace all over the world.

We have killed this profession by a thousand cuts. All the demands of those who never understood the industry took their pound of flesh: the "safety" experts, lawyers, government bureaucrats, TSA, FAA, and an industry leadership that became callous to what they were asking of their own people in the interest of saving a buck here or there.

It almost just isn't worth it anymore to pursue an aviation career. Once you get there, you are subject to re-certification every year (what doctor or lawyer has to go through that?) The flying public has had enough of the harassment, and rightly so. As pilots retire, those replacing them are going to find lower salaries, pensions, and benefits.

Some will stick it out for awhile, but many will come to the same conclusion: it just isn't worth it.

5 posted on 02/12/2014 8:20:44 AM PST by SkyPilot
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To: SeekAndFind

What’s that “road to hell” saying?


6 posted on 02/12/2014 8:24:11 AM PST by OldNavyVet (My top choice for the 2014 elections has Sarah Palin going into the Senate...)
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To: SeekAndFind

It’s going to be hard to get military trained pilots as well. My son is in his second year at the Air Force Academy and plans to fly after he graduates. It is a 10 year commitment and at that point one has to decide to leave or stick out the other 10 years to retirement.


7 posted on 02/12/2014 8:25:46 AM PST by BulletBobCo
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To: wbill
Do any Freepers smarter than I, know what the requirements for flight time are for the military?

Not sure I understand your question. Each branch of military has its own set of annual/semi-annual flying hour minimums based on aircraft type, mission, aviator assignment, readiness level, etc...that pilots must meet to remain on flight status.

8 posted on 02/12/2014 8:28:08 AM PST by TADSLOS (The Event Horizon has come and gone. Buckle up and hang on.)
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To: SeekAndFind

After Dems raise the minimum wage you’ll be able to make as much at the counter at Burger King as if you were an entry-level pilot.


9 posted on 02/12/2014 8:29:44 AM PST by Buckeye McFrog
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To: Buckeye McFrog

Plus no need to take a drug test...let the grass grow!


10 posted on 02/12/2014 8:30:29 AM PST by nascarnation (I'm hiring Jack Palladino to investigate Baraq's golf scores.)
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To: FReepers

Click The Pic To Donate

Support FR, Donate Monthly If You Can

11 posted on 02/12/2014 8:32:21 AM PST by DJ MacWoW (The Fed Gov is not one ring to rule them all)
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To: SeekAndFind
A Pilot Shortage Made in Congress: Heavy-handed safety rule causing major problems for air travel.

Because God knows that the last thing we want in air transportation are safety rules.

12 posted on 02/12/2014 8:33:34 AM PST by DoodleDawg
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To: wbill

Four hours per month for flight pay. Other than that I don’t remember any minimum required.


13 posted on 02/12/2014 8:33:48 AM PST by newbolt
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To: rlmorel; All

“Repeat this type of crap for every industry in every sector, and it is not hard to see why the USA is such a business-unfriendly environment.”

I’ve said this before, but here we go again.

THERE IS MORE GOING ON HERE THAN JUST “SAFETY” RULES

Obama and his socialist minions believe that flying is a hobby of “Rich White Men.”

What they are doing is raising the bar for entry so high, that few minorities will ever be able to afford to fly.

Therefore, that situation will have to be “Fixed!”, by allowing under-qualified minorities to become pilots, or subsidizing that training for minorities, while many whites can no longer afford it.

I remember the United Airlines racial discrimination lawsuit from the 90’s. To meet the quotas, they were hiring inexperienced 100 hour female and black students straight out of Purdue to the right-seat, while qualified, experienced applicants couldn’t even get an interview.

In conclusion:
This has nothing to do with “safety”, and everything to do with creating a RACIAL QUOTA SYSTEM....


14 posted on 02/12/2014 8:38:11 AM PST by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: DoodleDawg

Just because it’s called a safety rule, doesn’t mean it does anything to enhance or otherwise promote safety.

I could name a dozen such CFR’s.


15 posted on 02/12/2014 8:39:09 AM PST by PhiloBedo (You gotta roll with the punches and get with what's real.)
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To: DoodleDawg

RE: Because God knows that the last thing we want in air transportation are safety rules.

How about HEAVY HANDED safety rules?


16 posted on 02/12/2014 8:41:56 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind
And it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s good or not. The only way it’s going to change is literally an act of Congress.”

Or The Won could just decide that law doesn't count any more.

17 posted on 02/12/2014 8:42:45 AM PST by Still Thinking (Freedom is NOT a loophole!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Looks like time to get some Gray Hound stocks.


18 posted on 02/12/2014 9:06:32 AM PST by Vaduz
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To: SkyPilot

You be correct. Very few students at the airport these days, mainly because of cost, about $10k to get your private now. When I got my Instrument and other ratings I already owned a C172, so it wasn’t too much money. Funny think is My Instrument Instructor used to be a Rock Star, and is a famous guitar player. He has been a Mailman for 20 years, when he got his ATP he was seriously considering a career change until he found out the salary was BARELY ABOVE POVERTY levels. with real crappy hours. He still is a Mailman and doesn’t instruct anymore, except in special cases for friends, which is how I got him to be my Instructor 10 years ago.


19 posted on 02/12/2014 9:16:42 AM PST by eyeamok
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To: wbill

Flight minimums Semiannual 40 Annual 100
Night and instrument are both 6 and 6.

Additional restrictions on many types of flights. This is th min to get flight pay, and avoid sending a letter to try and get a waiver.


20 posted on 02/12/2014 9:27:28 AM PST by xone
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To: DoodleDawg
safety rules.

Most have little to do with safety, bureaucratic bs that accomplishes little but the hiring of safety guys and someone to do paperwork.

21 posted on 02/12/2014 9:29:47 AM PST by xone
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To: PhiloBedo
Just because it’s called a safety rule, doesn’t mean it does anything to enhance or otherwise promote safety.

One would think that mandating a minimum level of experience before allowing someone to fly a commercial plane enhances safety.

22 posted on 02/12/2014 9:40:16 AM PST by DoodleDawg
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To: wbill; BulletBobCo; TADSLOS; newbolt
This new requirement is not the ‘hours,’ per se, it is certification.

You can get a commercial license with 200hrs but in order to earn an Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) rating you need 1500hrs AND a level of proficiency that far exceeds your basic commercial ticket.

Therefore, the argument is to try and force the commuter airlines to seek and hire ATPs as opposed to commercial ticket holders.

Regarding military hours and such, for the Air Force you enter pilot training and it lasts about a year and you graduate with a little over 200hrs in the jet and a heck of a lot of simulator time. At the end of that year you are given wings and — if you wish — take an FAA written exam and receive your commercial, multi-engine land (limited center-line thrust), instrument airplane tickets.

After pining on your wings you have a ten year commitment. . .which has been around since I was in. I graduated pilot training back in 1981 and had a nine-year commitment. The commitment didn't hurt airlines as about half (sometimes more) USAF pilots would bail for the majors. Over 90% of the major's new hires were former military.

For the Air Force you must meet ‘gates,” meaning you have to have so many hours of flying and years on the line in order to receive flight pay. After pilot training you fly and fly and after many years you receive a staff job. Great. Not fun but necessary. Oddly, about the time the pilots are eligible to be assignment outside the cockpit, meeting their first ‘gate,” they also usually are at their 10-yr commitment and either go to the staff or get out. So if you go to the staff (non-flying) you will still receive flight pay as long as you met your gates. . .and there are reasons why.

If pilots stay in, they have to fly for so many years and log so many hours by so much time in. . .in order to receive flight pay while serving in a non-flying staff job. Yes, receiving flight pay while flying a desk sounds odd but there are sound reasons for it. First, aircraft today are very complicated and missions so demanding that if you are on a staff it would be unsafe, very unsafe to require some pilot to log, say, 10hrs a month to receive pay. That low of time and he can't remain safe or mission capable. Second, if you send a guy to the staff, something MOST pilots hate, and tell them you will take away their flight pay while they are riding a gray-steely chair in the basement of the Pentagon, they will leave the Air Force in even greater numbers and this means a huge cost in recruiting and training replacement pilots. Pay a little flight pay is far more cost effective than paying over a million bucks just to train a pilot trainee. . .not to mention the costs associated with flying for years to get really proficient and capable and Mission ready.

What is changing is the airline pay and benefits. As someone pointed out, the golden age of being an airline pilot is pretty much over when it comes to pay and such.

Basically, the “1500 hours” thing will not affect the military pilots that want to get out and fly commercially. They will have made that decision based upon factors beyond what the FAA demands/requires.

The 1500hr requirement will force commuter airlines to require their applicants to be ATP-rated, meaning having polished skill-sets beyond a basic commercial ticket. That will affect safety. While the 1500hrs thing isn't a measure of pilot proficiency or safety, in and of itself, but add an ATP to the 1500hrs and you do improve safety.

1500hrs and still having a basic commercial/instrument ticket is just flying and flying and never really achieving the highest proficiency and capability. In my mind, any pilot with 1500hrs SHOULD be looking to earn that ATP otherwise (again in my mind) he is lazy.

That is my view. Others may have a different opinion.

23 posted on 02/12/2014 9:41:31 AM PST by Hulka
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To: xone

What service?


24 posted on 02/12/2014 9:42:29 AM PST by Hulka
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To: tcrlaf; xone

Forgot to add you to my Post 23


25 posted on 02/12/2014 9:43:29 AM PST by Hulka
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To: Hulka

Corps.


26 posted on 02/12/2014 9:46:36 AM PST by xone
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To: SeekAndFind
How about HEAVY HANDED safety rules?

Why is mandating a minimum level of experience 'heavy handed'? Should we do away with minimum hours altogether and let the airlines decide? Let them decide who sits in the left seat, who sits in the right seat, how many hours they can fly each week or each month? Remove the 'heavy hand' altogether?

The only reason this is 'government interference' is that it interferes with the airline's ability to get pilots at the minimum wage. God forbid they should have to pay what they're worth.

27 posted on 02/12/2014 9:46:52 AM PST by DoodleDawg
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To: DoodleDawg

Dawg, you are correct.

My Post 23 addresses the 1500hr thing but adds that this is by design to demand pilots achieve greater proficiency. . .meaning earning an ATP at 1500hrs means the pilot has greater skills than a 1500hr commercial rated pilot.


28 posted on 02/12/2014 9:49:19 AM PST by Hulka
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To: xone

Oh, okay.

(For those that don’t know, each service has their own rules when it comes to proficiency and pay and such).


29 posted on 02/12/2014 9:50:17 AM PST by Hulka
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To: DoodleDawg

From the article:

Both pilots involved in the Colgan crash had far surpassed 1,500 hours of flight time, so it wouldn’t have prevented the accident. And the new requirement is all the worse because, as Lovelace says, it was “not based on science,” but was rather “a political decision. And it doesn’t matter whether you think it’s good or not. The only way it’s going to change is literally an act of Congress.”


30 posted on 02/12/2014 9:50:43 AM PST by SeekAndFind
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To: Hulka

The Navy and the Corps are the same. The mins I stated aren’t for proficiency, basically status in DIFOPS and pay.


31 posted on 02/12/2014 9:53:34 AM PST by xone
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To: SeekAndFind

True. . .but that is not the whole story.

From my Post 23:

“The 1500hr requirement will force commuter airlines to require their applicants to be ATP-rated, meaning having polished skill-sets beyond a basic commercial ticket. That will affect safety. While the 1500hrs thing isn’t a measure of pilot proficiency or safety, in and of itself, but add an ATP to the 1500hrs and you do improve safety.

1500hrs and still having a basic commercial/instrument ticket is just flying and flying and never really achieving the highest proficiency and capability. In my mind, any pilot with 1500hrs SHOULD be looking to earn that ATP otherwise (again in my mind) he is lazy.

That is my view. Others may have a different opinion. “

What we are seeing mostly are primarily the civilian-trained (at huge personal cost) commercial pilots watching as they will be forced out in favor of those with an ATP (which is another HUGE cost. . .unless you are former military).


32 posted on 02/12/2014 9:55:17 AM PST by Hulka
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To: xone

Understood.


33 posted on 02/12/2014 9:56:42 AM PST by Hulka
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To: SeekAndFind

We’re from the Gov’t and we’re here to help!


34 posted on 02/12/2014 10:00:08 AM PST by PoloSec ( Believe the Gospel: how that Christ died for our sins, was buried and rose again)
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To: SeekAndFind

With friends like congress, who needs any enemies?
.


35 posted on 02/12/2014 10:27:51 AM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: TexasFreeper2009

>> “There shouldn’t even be an age restriction. If they can pass the medical, they should be allowed to fly.” <<

.
True as “Sully” proved so well.

Our best pilots are the most experienced pilots.


36 posted on 02/12/2014 10:30:19 AM PST by editor-surveyor (Freepers: Not as smart as I'd hoped they'd be)
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To: editor-surveyor

There are old pilots and bold pilots, but there are no old bold pilots.

You start your flying career with a bag full of luck in one hand and an empty clue-bag in the other hand. The trick is to fill up your clue-bag before your luck-bag runs out.

There are many other adages out there. . .


37 posted on 02/12/2014 10:34:12 AM PST by Hulka
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To: Hulka

I like that one. Clue Bag.


38 posted on 02/12/2014 10:51:00 AM PST by rlmorel ("A nation, despicable by its weakness, forfeits even the privilege of being neutral." A. Hamilton)
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To: Hulka

“The trick is to fill up your clue-bag before your luck-bag runs out.”

How very true is that...
Luckily, I got my lesson in stupid, early on, and became absolutely anal about checklists, and weather.


39 posted on 02/12/2014 11:26:52 AM PST by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: Hulka

The real effect of this and the duty rules, is it will cause even more small cities to lose air service, as costs become even more marginal.

Cities that can’t support 300-400 seats a day on any given route are already endangered. Flying even the small 50-seaters has become cost-prohibitive. This just adds more to an already bad situation.

The 90’s “safety” rules already destroyed regional flying, and much of the American small aircraft Industry along with it. The result will be more small cities seeing the end of Commercial service.

And the logical extension of this is to require the fractional companies to comply, next.

IMHO, this has nothing to do with “safety”, and everything to do with creating the environment for Union organization, and the demand for higher wages to counter the loss of hours, just as in the Trucking Industry.

REMEMBER WHO WE ARE DEALING WITH HERE, FOLKS....


40 posted on 02/12/2014 11:36:07 AM PST by tcrlaf (Well, it is what the Sheeple voted for....)
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To: DoodleDawg

There were previous minimums that worked well prior to this re-write. Minimum time doesn’t necessarily translate into the proper experience requirements.


41 posted on 02/12/2014 11:48:31 AM PST by PhiloBedo (You gotta roll with the punches and get with what's real.)
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To: SeekAndFind

The Meddling Morons of DC strike again.


42 posted on 02/12/2014 11:51:15 AM PST by Amagi (Lenin: "Socialized Medicine is the Keystone to the Arch of the Socialist State.")
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To: SeekAndFind

Demand for pilots is rising but the money paid to them isn’t? I think I see part of the problem (and an odd contradiction to boot!).


43 posted on 02/12/2014 12:29:37 PM PST by TalBlack
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To: SeekAndFind

I smell the nasty stink of unions in this.


44 posted on 02/12/2014 12:32:59 PM PST by MayflowerMadam
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To: tcrlaf

Thanks for shouting.

I disagree.

Have a nice day.


45 posted on 02/12/2014 12:58:37 PM PST by Hulka
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To: newbolt

Also keep in mind that military pilots do not have to be certified to fly by the FAA. They do not have an airman certificate. Military air traffic controllers, however, do have FAA certificates to control aircraft.


46 posted on 02/13/2014 6:17:18 AM PST by ops33 (Senior Master Sergeant, USAF (Retired))
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To: Hulka

If someone cannot build hours by flying at a commuter airline, how do they get to 1500 hrs without investing an incredible sum of money? And who is going to invest $100K+ to get a job as an airborne bus driver?

The article’s point is that flying was incredibly safe BEFORE the new rules. How safe does something need to be before it is safe enough? Someone flying under the old rules was already safer than if they drove or took a bus.

If you pass a safety rule, it ought to have some measurable improvement in safety as a result, and that additional margin of safety ought to be worth the economic cost. It might be safer if we limited car speeds to 15 mph, but would it be worth the cost?


47 posted on 02/13/2014 6:31:21 AM PST by Mr Rogers (Liberals are like locusts...)
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To: TexasFreeper2009
There shouldn’t even be an age restriction.

I was hauling heavy construction machinery on the Interstates at age 15 and was darn good at it if I can say so myself. I agree with TexasFreeper2009.

48 posted on 02/13/2014 7:56:47 AM PST by houeto (We intend to liberate Democrats from the dreaded Job-Lock this November!)
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To: Mr Rogers
Yes, agree mostly, but the ATP brings with it a level of safety that a basic commercial ticket does not. The majors do not consider you unless you have an ATP, and historically a civilian would build time and ratings by flying, first, as an instructor pilot then get picked up by a small commuter airline and then build more hours to reach the 1500hr requirement for an ATP. From there they would then make their bid for the majors.

Who would pay those big bucks to get the ATP? Not many, that is for sure and that is why the military route is best——not only do they pay you to learn how to fly, they pay you well to build hours and experience to make you very competitive for the majors.

The safety rule, as I pointed out, was to say, yes, 1500hrs is good but unless you have an ATP, not good enough.

The question then is; do you want to hire people that are good or those that are the best? The airline industry is not the only place where increased standards and certifications are becoming necessary, and in the case of the commuter airline, one has to consider the affect of lawsuits on their survival. You hire someone that has a commercial and pass over an ATP, and then a mishap occurs then you are facing a hostile court (and court of public opinion) that askes—why didn't you require your pilots to be as proficient and capable as any other airline?

49 posted on 02/13/2014 8:16:50 AM PST by Hulka
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To: DoodleDawg
One would think that mandating a minimum level of experience before allowing someone to fly a commercial plane enhances safety.

Dang. Did you not read the post? They had that and increased it by a factor of six! The increase was not based on any scientific study but strictly on Democrat lawmaker emotion. Lawmakers Gone Wild!...again.

BTW, did you catch the part that said both pilots involved had FAR more than the new requirements? Probably not.

50 posted on 02/13/2014 8:18:15 AM PST by houeto (We intend to liberate Democrats from the dreaded Job-Lock this November!)
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