By David Lynn
Selling “safety” for inflated wages.
Airlines are no safer with the rule below, but the pilots make more money, so of course they overwhelmingly support it despite knowing the truth.
This article is very industry specific, but I figure the readers of this site can still appreciate my frustration.
Up until a couple years ago, regional airline first officers made just awful wages (base pay around $20k) after years of training and thousands and thousands of dollars invested.
Then in 2009, Colgan 3407 operating as United Express crashed in Buffalo. This drove an insane push led by Sully Sullenberger and the families of the crash victims to create new pilot experience requirements to be hired at an airline. Soon after, 1,500 hours of flight time became the legal minimum for an airline job. And yes, wages rose significantly.
Not surprisingly, this law would not have stopped Colgan 3407 from crashing in Buffalo. The captain had 5,000 hours & the first officer had 2,500 hours, and both had to fly their checkrides to the same standards. There were certainly some major problems: the captain’s troublesome history of checkride failures and general lack of professionalism, the first officer’s fatigue, and the airline’s failure to train its pilots about the effects of and proper recovery procedures from stalls caused by tailplane icing. And yet, the burdensome 1,500 hour rule solved none of that.
Today, current airline pilots and our unions love the rule. It artificially reduces the supply of pilots by making entry into the field far more difficult and has lead to drastically increased wages. But as efforts to repeal have mounted, the talk has been all about “safety.” We are told that we can’t repeal this law because this makes our skies less safe! Rubbish! There has been no change whatsoever in the rate of accidents caused by pilots with fewer than 1,500 hours. No, in fact the real reason is that it helps pad our pockets.
In the screenshot below, someone is posting an ALPA petition to oppose repealing the current hiring minimums. My opinion is very unpopular, but I am doing my best. I just wish that people would be honest that the reason they support the law is “livable wages” instead of deceptively supporting it in the name of safety.
Anyway, I hope that those of you who fly a lot can think about this industry with a greater understanding of what is happening.
For the history you didn’t learn in school, check out Liberty Classroom: