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Aviation industry tries to undercut key change

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TEXAN AVIATOR

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Joined
Oct 21, 2002
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Aviation industry tries to undercut key change/ ALPA supports

Aviation industry tries to undercut key change

By JOAN LOWY




WASHINGTON
The aviation industry is trying to water down a key safety change recently passed by Congress in response to a regional airline crash last year that killed 50 people.


A Federal Aviation Administration advisory panel dominated by airlines, companies that employ pilots to fly corporate planes and university flight schools wants to reduce by two-thirds a requirement that airline co-pilots have a minimum of 1,500 hours of flying experience -- the same experience threshold that captains must meet.


The key issue is money, according to officials familiar with the panel's deliberations. Airlines worry that if the FAA raises the threshold for co-pilots -- also called first officers -- from the current minimum of 250 hours, airlines will be forced to raise pilot salaries and benefits in order to attract more experienced fliers, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because they weren't authorized to speak publicly.


Most airline pilots have far more experience than 1,500 hours. But industry analysts have forecast a pilot shortage if the economy starts to expand, which could create a premium for experience. The salaries of corporate and other private pilots are affected by airline salaries.


University flight schools are similarly concerned that if beginner pilots have to accrue 1,500 hours of flight experience before they can be hired by an airline, they'll skip expensive university training in favor of amassing flight time through per-hour instruction.


Using a provision in the new law that allows the FAA to give prospective pilots some credit for flight school training, the panel proposed allowing airlines to hire university-trained first officers with as few as 500 hours, according to a copy of the panel's recommendations.
The roles of airline captains and first officers have changed over the years. Today, both pilots are expected to be able to fly a plane equally well and to share duties.


The FAA formed the committee this summer just before Congress passed a far-reaching aviation safety bill, including the boost in required flight hours.
The law was prompted by a regional airline crash near Buffalo, N.Y., in February 2009 that killed 50 people. The flight's 24-year-old first officer earned about $16,000 in the year before the accident. She lived at home with her parents near Seattle, but flew across the country in order to reach the airline's base in Newark, N.J., in time for the flight.


A National Transportation Safety Board investigation concluded the first officer and the flight's captain were likely suffering fatigue at the time of the accident. Neither had slept in a bed the night before -- the first officer napped in a cockpit jumpseat, the captain in a crew lounge where sleeping was discouraged. Pilots, particularly at regional airlines, often can't afford to live in the communities where they're based. Some share cheap apartments near their base so they can grab sleep before flights. Others simply nap wherever they can.


Lawmakers who proposed the 1,500-hour requirement last year said at the time they hoped it would lead to higher salaries.
"The new safety law explicitly requires 1,500 flight hours," Rep. Jerry Costello, D-Ill., chairman of the House Transportation and Infrastructure aviation subcommittee, said this week. "Any modification of that number has to be justified as making safety stronger than current ... requirements."


Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., who pushed the requirement in the Senate, said Congress was "crystal clear" that 1,500 hours was to be the minimum level required for co-pilots.
FAA spokeswoman Laura Brown said in a statement that the panel's recommendations won't be the sole factor in the agency's determination of how to implement the new law.


FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, a former airline pilot, has expressed skepticism about the 1,500 hour requirement, saying it is more important to improve the quality of the pilot training than to increase the amount of experience in the cockpit.


That has also been the industry position. "The number of hours flown should not be the sole measure of qualification and proficiency," said David Castelveter, a spokesman for the Air Transport Association.
Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, said money had nothing to do with the recommendation. He said academic training is "far more useful in training pilots for modern airline operations" than hours amassed "towing banners above the beach."


The two pilot organizations on the panel were divided on the issue. The Air Line Pilots Association, whose members include pilots at both regional and major airlines, backed the recommendations. But the Coalition of Airline Pilot Associations, whose members include pilot unions at major airlines and cargo carriers, dissented, saying that even enhanced training isn't a substitute for experience.


The panel also proposed enhancing pilot training programs so that pilots are exposed to greater variety of flight scenarios, and requiring that first officers pass a proficiency test specific to the type of airliner they'll be flying.


Only captains have to pass that test now.
 
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Sadly, there was a time when this type of article would've caused outrage from most pilots. Now, we (or at least I) kind of expect it.

Sad.
 
ALPA backs the recommendation of 500 hours. No wonder there is a movement away from them, 'nuf said.
 
The leaders at ALPA national are politicians and have other things to think about and sometimes that is not the right thing. I am not happy with the age 65 rule and how they spent a lot of time and money fighting it and then when they realised their cause was lost switched sides spending more money justifying it. In the end age 65 rule made a terrible speed bump in our careers but it was the right thing to be done. When the defined pensions went away either the feds needed to lower the retirement age (not going to be done) or let the pilots work until they cannot pass their physical (or 65)
 
All this means is that PFT jobs got more expensive, minimum wage F/O slots are fly for free job, and "talk into Mr. Microphone jobs are more abundant than ever.
 
If it raises costs it will cost jobs. There is an important part of the equation. The marginal ticket buyer, you know the one who buys the 90 day advance $99 ticket, will elect not to travel on the airlines. I know it is hard to imagine anyone would elect to drive when they could fly. But a lot of people do it. The market and individual self-interest will dictate what wages should be. It is basic economics, if you raise the price of commodity, less people will purchase that commodity. With less people purchasing there is not as much demand for that commodity, therefore there will be fewer, but better paid pilots. As with many regulations, good for senior, not so good for everyone else.
 
If it raises costs it will cost jobs. There is an important part of the equation. The marginal ticket buyer, you know the one who buys the 90 day advance $99 ticket, will elect not to travel on the airlines. I know it is hard to imagine anyone would elect to drive when they could fly. But a lot of people do it. The market and individual self-interest will dictate what wages should be. It is basic economics, if you raise the price of commodity, less people will purchase that commodity. With less people purchasing there is not as much demand for that commodity, therefore there will be fewer, but better paid pilots. As with many regulations, good for senior, not so good for everyone else.

How do you know just how many people will not buy the $99 ticket when it goes up to $105? When the airlines just made record profits do you think there might be some flexibility in ticket prices? Little Alaska just made $100 million. That is a significant premium on ticket prices and associated fees. Are you saying there is NO flexibility there? You seem to think pilot wages are the lynch-pin in ticket prices but they are not. Fuel has gone up and I don't see our planes getting less full. Why are pilots the only villains in the price of a ticket in your book?
 
How do you know just how many people will not buy the $99 ticket when it goes up to $105? When the airlines just made record profits do you think there might be some flexibility in ticket prices? Little Alaska just made $100 million. That is a significant premium on ticket prices and associated fees. Are you saying there is NO flexibility there? You seem to think pilot wages are the lynch-pin in ticket prices but they are not. Fuel has gone up and I don't see our planes getting less full. Why are pilots the only villains in the price of a ticket in your book?
Pilots are not villains, I wish they all made 1990 wages, however you cannot ignore the person who buys the ticket. Define drastic drop? 5%, that would result in 5% reduction in seats available. And 10% reduction in F/O's and a 5% reduction in CA seats. Air travel is a bargain coast to coast, no doubt, but lets look at DTW -TPA/ MCO, busy route. It can be easily driven in about 16 hours, compared to 9 hours on AT. You 1 hr drive from to arrive 2 hrs early, fly to ATL, 1.5 hour, 1 hour change planes 1.5 hour to TPA, 1 hr wait for baggage and pick up rental car 1 hr drive to the condo. For a family of 4, the $30 per seat will be a motivator to drive. I know have troubled thinking that anyone could be crazy enough to want to drive when they could fly. But many people view it as an alternative to flying. This is not a management view this just an observation from talking to family, neighbors, and others. Pilot should do whatever they think is best for themselves, Adam Smith's way, but there are unintended consequences of the market movement that are well beyond the ability of any group to dictate how the market will react. If fly because you like to, you don’t worry about this stuff.
 
Pilots are not villains, I wish they all made 1990 wages, however you cannot ignore the person who buys the ticket. Define drastic drop? 5%, that would result in 5% reduction in seats available. And 10% reduction in F/O's and a 5% reduction in CA seats. Air travel is a bargain coast to coast, no doubt, but lets look at DTW -TPA/ MCO, busy route. It can be easily driven in about 16 hours, compared to 9 hours on AT. You 1 hr drive from to arrive 2 hrs early, fly to ATL, 1.5 hour, 1 hour change planes 1.5 hour to TPA, 1 hr wait for baggage and pick up rental car 1 hr drive to the condo. For a family of 4, the $30 per seat will be a motivator to drive. I know have troubled thinking that anyone could be crazy enough to want to drive when they could fly. But many people view it as an alternative to flying. This is not a management view this just an observation from talking to family, neighbors, and others. Pilot should do whatever they think is best for themselves, Adam Smith's way, but there are unintended consequences of the market movement that are well beyond the ability of any group to dictate how the market will react. If fly because you like to, you don’t worry about this stuff.

Ok. This flying because you like to is naive. Sorry for saying that, but unlike you many do not have a military pension to fall back on. They actually need to make a living flying. You give one example of a market and feel someone would drive 16 hours vs paying $20 more for a ticket. If you have not noticed, it has not been the passenger dictating seat prices. It has been the competition jousting for market share. Prices have risen as have associated fees and the airlines are making money like never before. There is more room to raise ticket prices without impacting demand significantly.
 
If it raises costs it will cost jobs. There is an important part of the equation. The marginal ticket buyer, you know the one who buys the 90 day advance $99 ticket, will elect not to travel on the airlines. I know it is hard to imagine anyone would elect to drive when they could fly. But a lot of people do it. The market and individual self-interest will dictate what wages should be. It is basic economics, if you raise the price of commodity, less people will purchase that commodity. With less people purchasing there is not as much demand for that commodity, therefore there will be fewer, but better paid pilots. As with many regulations, good for senior, not so good for everyone else.

Bulchit!! They'll only continue to whine about it but fact is fares and fees have been steadily increasing over the last couple years and so too has ridership, and that's because airlines have become very stingy on the supply side. If you don't believe it look at the average fare of what is still the LCC gauge, SWA. It ain't cheap!

Slowly they are being reeducated that it actually cost money to keep get to point B in a hurry. Besides, I would like to see them cross the great oceans in their winnebagos and Explorers, or for that matter the ship...
 

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