The recent airline crash in upstate NY focused on several problems and I will give my own take on a few. The pay. A first officer usually is paid in the vicinity of $37,000 per year after the first year and prior to that it is in the $20-24 per hour range. This is fairly standard on most airlines and represents their pay based on a maximum of 1,000 hours per year on jet aircraft. The pilot of the crashed commuter plan was flying a turbo prop and therefore could fly 1,250 hours per year maximum. Pay increases rapidly and by the third year it jumps to $66 per hour and that is based on gate to gate time. Clock runs when you leave the gate and stops when you pull into the gate. A captain - usually a 3-5 year period - will earn about $100 per hour and that will increase with sonority and aircraft flown. A senior captain can be in a $150,000 - 200,000 range.
Aircraft flown is interesting. My son flies the series that carry between 48 and 96 passengers. Once they exceed a certain number of seats the FAA requires an additional flight attendant so they will keep configuration under 50 and under 100. His routes are varied and it is not unusual to fly five legs in a day - five takeoffs and landings in a variety of conditions. In the last year he has probably had more take offs and landings than some pilots have had in ten years.
The commute is something else. Most of the pilots have extensive commutes and that was brought out in the Buffalo incident. My son lives in Massachusetts and is based in Milwaukee so he is usually on either a Mid West, Delta or FedEx flight to get to and from his home base. He left Friday night and will overnight in Milwaukee at company expense and then fly for four days. On one recent flight from Milwaukee there were seven pilots onboard from different airlines returning to Boston. One pilot was based in Salt Lake City and has to commute four to five times a moth. The pilots and crew of airlines fly at no charge on any airline that has room and this can apply to off days as well. Hop a flight and have a mini vacation.
The traditional training ground for commercial pilots has been the military. That has changed dramatically to where only 25% of current commercial pilots have military backgrounds. My son does have military but not with fixed wing aircraft. Why has this happened? Deregulation. Pay, benefits and working conditions have changed substantially and the aura and shine of being a commercial pilot is long gone. Not unusual for even a senior captain to have a part time job. I know one former pilot who worked for Eastern, Piedmont, Braniff and retired from TWA…well, TWA actually got retired and he packed it in. Notice the trend? Four failed airlines. His pensions all vanished and was forced by regs (since changed) to retire at age 60.
The commuter turbo that crashed is the new trend setter in regional passenger routes. Smaller, more fuel efficient and more cost effective such as the CRJ series I mentioned. No 180 seats with 50 empty. But the training is questionable as are the working conditions. The thing to remember is that in virtually all crashes it comes down to pilot or human error.
Nancy Pelosi! I heard the talking heads on her news conference from hell and managed to catch it on the rerun. What a wreck! This may have been the most embarrassing display I have ever seen at a press conference.
President WOW will continue with terror tribunals. No problem with that IMO.
The economy took a big step backwards last week as several indicators show a stall situation and that is totally frustrating to all. I really want to eat some crow on this situation as I felt it would take a few years to straighten out several decades of foolishness. Right now this may be just a step backward and two steps forward. Keep a close watch on the S & P index and if that gets to a 1,000 in a few months things will be looking a lot better.