USA Today article on Regional Pilots

Lear70

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What I've been saying for a while... where there's smoke, there's fire.

1 case of multiple checkride failures in all the Major Airline accidents the last 10 years.

Regionals: in every single accident at least one of the crewmembers had multiple checkride failures except for one, and in that case, the F/O was terminated after it was discovered he lied on his job application in the first place.

They especially bashed Pinnacle, citing the Jefferson City crashes' Captain - 7 checkride failures before he was hired basically as a street Captain on the CRJ, plus the multiple other crashes in the last 5 years. One common thread: almost all of them had a low-time crew and/or GIA pilots.

You get what you pay for, and the system is going to be short of experienced talent in the right seat as long as the only people who will take the jobs are extremely low-time, low-experience, or sub-standard (multiple checkride failure) pilots.

Now the big question is: what are they going to do about it and will it have any kind of trickle-up effect on the majors? Will there be a push to incorporate the regionals back into the majors? Will there be a push to incorporate some type of higher standards for all Part 121 pilots?

Or will it all get swept under the rug next month?
 

RJLoser

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I agree the talent pool has been shallow recently. Do you think there are other contributing factors such as the difference in duty and rest between the majors and regionals? There arent many mainline guys that do 6 leg 15 hr duty days combined with two reduced rests on a four day.
 

Amish RakeFight

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I'd like to try "Rugs" for $500 Alex.


Do you have a link to the article?
http://www.usatoday.com/travel/flights/2009-06-07-regional-pilots_N.htm

Pilots in crashes had failed multiple tests


By Alan Levin, USA TODAY

In nearly every serious regional airline accident during the past 10 years, at least one of the pilots had failed tests of his or her skills multiple times, according to an analysis of federal accident records.

In eight of the nine accidents during that time, which killed 137 people, pilots had a history of failing two or more "check rides," tests by federal or airline inspectors of pilots' ability to fly and respond to emergencies. In the lone case in which pilots didn't have multiple failures since becoming licensed, the co-pilot was fired after the non-fatal crash for falsifying his job application.

Pilots on major airlines and large cargo haulers had failed the tests more than once in only one of the 10 serious accidents in this country over the past 10 years, according to a USA TODAY review of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident reports.

At a time when fatal aviation accidents have become increasingly rare, regional carriers have had four since 2004, compared with one by a major airline. Regional airlines fly roughly half of all airline flights, carrying about 20% of passengers.

Pilot qualifications on regional carriers was at the center of an NTSB hearing last month into the February crash of a turboprop near Buffalo that killed 50 people. The pilot at the controls when the plane plunged had failed five checks, according to records revealed at the hearing.

FIND MORE STORIES IN: National Transportation Safety Board | Pinnacle Airlines | Colgan Air

Three of the accidents in which pilots had repeatedly failed tests involved a single airline conglomerate, Pinnacle Airlines. The crash near Buffalo was on Colgan Air, which is owned by Pinnacle. The captain on a Pinnacle jet that crashed in 2004 after accidentally killing both engines had failed seven checks.

Pinnacle spokesman Joe Williams said the airline was not aware of all the test failures.

"I'd say this is a symptom of a larger problem in selection and certification" of pilots, said Bill Voss, president of the independent Flight Safety Foundation. A shortage of pilots this decade, prompted in part by the lower numbers of former military pilots seeking airline jobs, prompted lower minimum qualifications, Voss said.

Failing a single check during a career means little, but failing multiple times "really sends up the red flags," said Patrick Veillette, a corporate jet pilot who has written extensively on safety issues.

Regional Airline Association President Roger Cohen defended the industry's safety practices. "All of our members are flying under the exact same standards as the mainline carriers," Cohen said.

The NTSB has voiced concern about a loophole in a law requiring airlines to check pilots' records when hiring. The 1996 Pilot Records Improvement Act orders airlines to check pilot records from previous employers, but that does not cover failures that occurred while a pilot was in flight school.

Airline pilots receive dozens of written and flying tests during a career.
 

RJLoser

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Pilots on major airlines and large cargo haulers had failed the tests more than once in only one of the 10 serious accidents in this country over the past 10 years, according to a USA TODAY review of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident reports.

So...this means 90% of the accidents by majors/cargo have had pilots with better records?
 

wms

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What I've been saying for a while... where there's smoke, there's fire.

1 case of multiple checkride failures in all the Major Airline accidents the last 10 years.

Regionals: in every single accident at least one of the crewmembers had multiple checkride failures except for one, and in that case, the F/O was terminated after it was discovered he lied on his job application in the first place.

They especially bashed Pinnacle, citing the Jefferson City crashes' Captain - 7 checkride failures before he was hired basically as a street Captain on the CRJ, plus the multiple other crashes in the last 5 years. One common thread: almost all of them had a low-time crew and/or GIA pilots.

You get what you pay for, and the system is going to be short of experienced talent in the right seat as long as the only people who will take the jobs are extremely low-time, low-experience, or sub-standard (multiple checkride failure) pilots.

Now the big question is: what are they going to do about it and will it have any kind of trickle-up effect on the majors? Will there be a push to incorporate the regionals back into the majors? Will there be a push to incorporate some type of higher standards for all Part 121 pilots?

Or will it all get swept under the rug next month?
About half way down the article it makes the point that nine of the fatal accidents at the majors involved pilots without multiple checkride failures. With that logic you have a nine-times greater risk of an accident if you have not busted a checkride. There are more factors involved than checkride history.

The other factors that are involved in most of these cases is the lack of discipline, professionalism, and past history of problems in general, that these pilots exhibit. Also a factor is the way the regionals hire, pay, schedule and work their crews. These are far greater risks and the airlines will use the less relavent issues to distract the FAA, law makers, public, AND EVEN US from the greater issues.

Let's be careful about whose band wagon we're getting on!
 
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jmreii

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About half way down the article it makes the point that nine of the fatal accidents at the majors involved pilots without multiple checkride failures. With that logic you have a nine-times greater risk of an accident if you have not busted a checkride. There are more factors involved than checkride history.

The other factors that are involved in most of these cases is the lack of discipline, professionalism, and past history of problems in general, that these pilots exhibit. Also a factor is the way the regionals hire, pay, schedule and work their crews. These are far greater risks and the airlines will use the less relavent issues to distract the FAA, law makers, public, AND EVEN US from the greater issues.

Let's be careful about whose band wagon we're getting on!

AMEN, I like how people jump on that bandwagon without looking were their going, you are absolutely right. Many of the major airline disasters in the U.S. alone involved flightcrews that never failed a checkride. I forgot to mention that they did fail that last checkride when they crashed.
 

Colonel Savage

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About half way down the article it makes the point that nine of the fatal accidents at the majors involved pilots without multiple checkride failures. With that logic you have a nine-times greater risk of an accident if you have not busted a checkride...
Umm...no. What that statistic indicates is that there are far more pilots that have not busted check rides than have. You would have to correlate that stat with the accident stat to derive the chances of one group over another having an accident. Might be interresting to see the results of that.

That having been said, I have flown sim checks with pilots that have been marginal, but later on seen them do a great job flying the line.

Clear as mud that issue is.
 

HalinTexas

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Pilots on major airlines and large cargo haulers had failed the tests more than once in only one of the 10 serious accidents in this country over the past 10 years, according to a USA TODAY review of National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) accident reports.
This means that of the other nine, there could have been pilots that had failed at least one checkride, but not more than one, in each accident.

Be careful how statistics are analyzed and how they are reported. Not necessarily the same. Not to mention, how many checkrides were failed during primary training at a flight school vs. how many were failed at the airlines.' This was not accurately reflected. Just bad journalism really.
 

wrxpilot

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About half way down the article it makes the point that nine of the fatal accidents at the majors involved pilots without multiple checkride failures. With that logic you have a nine-times greater risk of an accident if you have not busted a checkride. There are more factors involved than checkride history.
Sigh... Some of you guys need to take a statistics class.

In that SAME article, the author points that roughly half of all airline flying is performed by regionals, but since 2004 there have been four regional airline accidents resulting in fatalities and just one fatal accident involving a major airline.

Failing multiple checkrides is indicative of a problem. Maybe it's aptitude, poor habits, poor foundation from early flight training, who knows. But seven checkride failures for the Pinnacle capt? Five for the Colgan capt? That is totally unacceptable, and I will not subject myself to the risk that a lowball airline like that has.
 

Lear70

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About half way down the article it makes the point that nine of the fatal accidents at the majors involved pilots without multiple checkride failures. With that logic you have a nine-times greater risk of an accident if you have not busted a checkride. There are more factors involved than checkride history.
Where the hell did you take your statistics class? I think you need to ask for your money back.

It's a comparative sampling, and it's an accurate portrayal of a very real problem. How do I know? I was hired at PCL as a Street Captain back in early 2001 and got to fly there for 5 years with a lot of those low-time new-hires who were mostly just along for the ride their first year on the job. I still have a lot of friends over there and many who are excellent pilots but, as a whole, the experience level of their F/O's still concerns me, and the accident data keeps pointing back to some root problems in the hiring and training departments.

I'm on the right bandwagon; I don't know where you're going. Low-time, low-experience pilots make more mistakes. Period. The end. The hiring of people with wet commercial certificates and throwing them in a jet needs to be prohibited in 121 environments. ATP certificate to be an airline pilot. Been saying it for 10 years, and will continue saying it until I see it change.
 

wms

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Where the hell did you take your statistics class? I think you need to ask for your money back.

It's a comparative sampling, and it's an accurate portrayal of a very real problem. How do I know? I was hired at PCL as a Street Captain back in early 2001 and got to fly there for 5 years with a lot of those low-time new-hires who were mostly just along for the ride their first year on the job. I still have a lot of friends over there and many who are excellent pilots but, as a whole, the experience level of their F/O's still concerns me, and the accident data keeps pointing back to some root problems in the hiring and training departments.

I'm on the right bandwagon; I don't know where you're going. Low-time, low-experience pilots make more mistakes. Period. The end. The hiring of people with wet commercial certificates and throwing them in a jet needs to be prohibited in 121 environments. ATP certificate to be an airline pilot. Been saying it for 10 years, and will continue saying it until I see it change.
I agree with you totally. But the article wasn't about those issues, it was exclusively about checkrides which is only one part of the equation.

The experience level of new-hire FOs is too low (fortunately there aren't many of those around now with the lack of hiring), but the competence of captains is at issue also, which really comes out at the end of a long day or in bad wx or other abnormal situations. After a few years the inexperienced FO is no longer inexperienced (not that that should justify hiring them) but the incompetent pilots don't seem to improve no matter how long the company keeps carrying them.

PS, I'll work on my stats proficiency.
 

wms

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Sigh... Some of you guys need to take a statistics class.

In that SAME article, the author points that roughly half of all airline flying is performed by regionals, but since 2004 there have been four regional airline accidents resulting in fatalities and just one fatal accident involving a major airline.

Failing multiple checkrides is indicative of a problem. Maybe it's aptitude, poor habits, poor foundation from early flight training, who knows. But seven checkride failures for the Pinnacle capt? Five for the Colgan capt? That is totally unacceptable, and I will not subject myself to the risk that a lowball airline like that has.
Agreed.
 

Lear70

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I agree with you totally. But the article wasn't about those issues, it was exclusively about checkrides which is only one part of the equation.

The experience level of new-hire FOs is too low (fortunately there aren't many of those around now with the lack of hiring), but the competence of captains is at issue also, which really comes out at the end of a long day or in bad wx or other abnormal situations. After a few years the inexperienced FO is no longer inexperienced (not that that should justify hiring them) but the incompetent pilots don't seem to improve no matter how long the company keeps carrying them.
That's true enough...

PS, I'll work on my stats proficiency.
mkay. ;)
 

Jon Rivoli

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Just heard from our POI, only 300 commercial licenses issued in 2008. The problem of an abundance of eager new pilots is going away. With the supply of pilots drying up things will eventually go our way.
 

livin'thesim

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300 where? In the whole US?

FWIW: I spent a lot of time in the sim, and a large number of busts can occur for more procedural goofs that actual deficiency in airmanship.

While a string of busts may tell you something about a pilot, a much better indication will be the pilot's training records and reported deficiencies and difficulties in training. Anyone can get a little nervous on a ride. I watched a really good line pilot turn into a sweaty mess on a regular PC - just a guy who hates being tested.

The place to tighten up the standards is during the hiring process, and the training process. If you really have your skills tight at 700 hours, welcome aboard. I have know a few sub-1000 pilots who were superb. But there is not that many of them. Tougher screening at the interview and a higher washout rate would be better than trying to weed out poor performers at the checkride. The airline has too much money into them by then.
 
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SkywayFO

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Another factor in all of this is the training it self. The training as a whole at todays regional is not at all the same as it is at the major level. We may be tested to the same standards but you have to train to that standard or the stats will be misleading. Two of the captains in guestion came from Gulfstream. If the training there sucks or anywhere then they are set up to fail. You can not train to a high school level and test at PHD level and expect everyone to pass. I have worked at 4 airlines and the training has gone down hill over the last 10 years. Everyone including the majors have tried to save money on training and anywhere else they can. Training is the last place to look for savings. Training is the issue.
 

LowlyPropCapt

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I have been a regional airline pilot for 10 years now. For the first time in my career, I have had two major airline pilots deadheading aboard my Dash 8 stop up front to "chat" or "see how it is going" in the past week. An FO for a legacy carrier stopped up front to chat because we had taken a maintenance delay and his son was onboard. The real reason for the chats was apparent after only a few words. They were worried. And I don't blame them at all.

The night that 3407 went down, we as a profession obviously did not have our best night. That event reinforced a common stereotype of us regional guys as inexperienced, unprofessional and out of our depth. We (as regional pilots) further perpetuate that image when we conduct ourselves in a manner which lacks the dignified and serious bearing our responsibilities demand. I am by no means suggesting that all, or even a majority, of regional pilots are less than professional. Furthermore I recognize that major airline pilots on occassion will act in a manner which is beneath the profession. My point is this: As regional guys and gals, we are under a microscope. We need to act and fly accordingly for our own good and for the good of those lives we are charged to protect.

I don't blame the pilots who have recently visited my flight deck for the reticence they have shown. Those of you who have concerns should do what they have done... Come on up and say hi. Hopefully the vast majority of us who ARE skilled professionals can allay your concerns and earn your respect as fellow pilots. I personally appreciated their honesty regarding their concerns and it was my pleasure to put them at ease.
 

jetjock6

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The media is barking up the wrong tree with this whole checkride issue. There are a lot of factors that figure into busted checkrides. I'm afraid that if we start putting a number on what's acceptable and what's not we're going to open a Pandora's box for future pilots.

In the military, I saw checkrides used as training tools, a way to move a person out of a position, and even just to prove a point. There were some IP courses that would bust guys two to five times before they would pass them. I knew someone that busted a crew commander ride because the aircraft wasn't properly catered.

The same can be said on the civilian side. There are some flight schools that would bust a guy with an in house examiner in order to milk some extra money out of the student. How about some of the university programs that bust students in the name of "maintaining high standards".

The same can be said for the airlines. We've all heard and seen the stories. I could go on all day with this. The point I'm trying to make is that if we pin a number on what's acceptable and what's not the emphasis will be placed on the number and not on experience or background. The initial CFI rating has a very high first time fail rate. Do we want young pilots avoiding the rating in order to avoid a potential bust? Do we want military pilots avoiding advanced training or some units because it could harm a future civilian career? Do we want civilian pilots seeking the easiest flight schools and Santa Claus examiners in order to avoid a pink slip? In order to preserve their careers pilots will seek the path of least resistance as opposed to the best training.

How bout we focus on quality and experience of the individual as opposed to a number!

Rant off

p.s.- No I haven't busted a bunch of rides.
 
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