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Jawed
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WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Wed Dec 19, 2007 11:57 pm

This is scary. What about passenger safety?

WSJ: Worsening Shortages Force Some Small Carriers to Hire Younger, Less-Experienced Fliers; Raising the Retirement Age
December 18, 2007

"A world-wide shortage of pilots is putting less-experienced fliers at the controls of passenger jets and even forcing some airlines to cancel flights for a lack of crews.

Most regional airlines have lowered their experience-level requirements for new hires, and some have struggled to find pilots with enough hours in their logbooks to serve as captains. To open its door to more candidates, American Eagle lowered its minimum for experience this year to 600 hours total flying time from 800 hours, and will "look" at some candidates in the 500-hour range, Eagle spokeswoman Andrea Huguely said. "We do need more pilots," she said."

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB119793945130135545.html?mod=mostpop

[Edited 2007-12-19 15:59:53]
 
ferrypilot
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:12 am



Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):
This is scary. What about passenger safety?

Never underestimate the ability of young men to rise to a challenge.
The Captains of four engine bombers in WW2 were usually only 21 years of age. And some Spitfire and Hurricane pilots in the Battle of Britain were shooting down German aircraft at the age of 19.
 
Jawed
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:18 am

Yes but there weren't any passengers on those WW2 bombers  Smile If those crashed, it was the pilots flying to their own doom.
 
SPREE34
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:30 am



Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):
This is scary.

What's scary about it?

Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):
What about passenger safety?

What about passenger safety?

Quoting Jawed (Reply 2):
If those crashed, it was the pilots flying to their own doom.

No pilot wants to fly to his doom. The pilot is always the first to arrive at the scene of an incident. That ensures some element of safety to those seated behind him/her

Quoting Jawed (Reply 2):
Yes but there weren't any passengers on those WW2 bombers

You're correct. Those planes were on a much more important mission.
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:49 am

From the WSJ article:

Quote:
At the same time, the U.S. military -- a major supplier of commercial airline staff -- has been turning out fewer pilots.

This isn't a minor impact and will have long term implications. You will have far fewer 2,000 hour pilots looking to be a 'bus driver' during the week and play fighter pilot on the weekend.

Quote:
But now some are down around 500 hours, with as little as 50 of those hours in multiengine airplanes

Fifty hours in multi-engine?!? Ok, the 600 hours didn't bother me. But 50 in 'multi-engine' is far too few. You can do that in a month!  wideeyed 

Quote:
The Federal Aviation Administration requirements to fly as a captain include at least 1,500 hours -- typically, at least two years of airline experience.

I didn't know that. Thanks for the link.  spin 

Quote:
"Someone with fewer hours but better hours, quality hours in modern training, may be more capable."

I agree. Time in a Cesna doesn't really help that much after a few hundred hours.

Quote:
One factor likely caused by the lower requirements: More new hires flunk out of the airline's training program.

Good! At least that means that standards are being kept. Hours alone isn't enough. Oh... that doesn't mean go to zero... I found the article discussion on MPL very interesting. I'm a fan of simulator time. Oh, there needs to be 'real flying hours," but to me 250 hours in a simulator coupled with 100 hours in a multi being worth a lot more than 1,500 hours of which 500 was multi with very little simulator time. The fact that the simulator time is part of a structured training program is very encouraging. Ok... 240 hours simulator only with 250 hours in a Cesna would scare. me. But you can make far more efficient training programs than what was done in the past.

Again. Thanks for the link. Very informative.

Lightsaber
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threepoint
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:21 am



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 1):
Never underestimate the ability of young men to rise to a challenge.
The Captains of four engine bombers in WW2 were usually only 21 years of age. And some Spitfire and Hurricane pilots in the Battle of Britain were shooting down German aircraft at the age of 19.

We can draw few parallels between 1942 and today. Nowhere does anybody imply age has anything to do with experience. And disregarding the thousands of pilots who got shot out of the sky, the accident rate due to aircrew error in those wartime days was many hundreds of times worse than anything we'd call an acceptable safety record today. Sure, better training and advanced systems redundancies will play a role in lessening accidents now, but staff an airline with nothing but <1000 hour pilots flying complex aircraft and watch the weekly headlines.
The nice thing about a mistake is the pleasure it gives others.
 
Flighty
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 1:43 am



Quoting Threepoint (Reply 5):
the accident rate due to aircrew error in those wartime days was many hundreds of times worse than anything we'd call an acceptable safety record today.

Of course. The death rates were brutal. The training totally inadequate. It was a wild war; bonkers.

Quoting Threepoint (Reply 5):
but staff an airline with nothing but <1000 hour pilots flying complex aircraft and watch the weekly headlines.

True. But safety seems ok, so far. I guess I don't see the crisis yet. If no pilots can be found, raise the wage. Or, retire fleets, if no pilots can be found.

Pilot skills are important, and if the wage is adequate, young people will fill these jobs. If the wages are inadequate, the young people will do something else, and there will be a "pilot shortage."

I do believe the pilot shortage is very real. Now is a good time to enter flight school.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 2:08 am



Quoting Flighty (Reply 6):
Pilot skills are important, and if the wage is adequate, young people will fill these jobs. If the wages are inadequate, the young people will do something else, and there will be a "pilot shortage."

I do believe the pilot shortage is very real. Now is a good time to enter flight school.

Well said. Not to mention demographics point to quick turn over...

There is a very positive side to this: pilots will graduate to reasonable wage jobs a lot quicker than before. That has to be a good thing!  bigthumbsup 

Lightsaber
I cannot wait to get vaccinated to live again! Warning: I simulated that it takes 50%+ vaccinated to protect the vaccinated and 75%+ vaccinated to protect the vac-hesitant.
 
ferrypilot
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:26 am



Quoting Threepoint (Reply 5):
but staff an airline with nothing but <1000 hour pilots flying complex aircraft and watch the weekly headlines.

I think you would be ok if you choose good guys. The military still employ young men to fly the most impressive heavy metal. And look on all the sports fields of the World, ...you don't see any old guys beating the young men.

Experience is great, but even so in my life time I have often witnessed far too much credit being given for it. Really you are only as good as you can go out and fly your next base-check. And actually I think allowing pilots to continue working after sixty is a more worrying scenario than giving jobs to young inexperienced pilots. And I don't make that comment lightly as I am already 51.
 
Transpac787
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:43 am



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 4):
Fifty hours in multi-engine?!? Ok, the 600 hours didn't bother me. But 50 in 'multi-engine' is far too few. You can do that in a month!

Some regional jobs in the US right now are hiring with no hour minimums, just so long as you have a commercial-multi. If you do your private multi, instrument multi, and commercial multi in the minimum time, that's probably only 15 hours ME.
 
eghansen
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:48 am



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 1):
Never underestimate the ability of young men to rise to a challenge.
The Captains of four engine bombers in WW2 were usually only 21 years of age. And some Spitfire and Hurricane pilots in the Battle of Britain were shooting down German aircraft at the age of 19.



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 8):
I think you would be ok if you choose good guys. The military still employ young men to fly the most impressive heavy metal. And look on all the sports fields of the World, ...you don't see any old guys beating the young men.

None of this really matters at all.

All commercial pilots (and airline mechanics as well) are licensed by the FAA. If you have the valid and necessary license, you are good to go. If the pilots are unqualified, then the FAA will have to change the requirements. The airlines are not really liable as long as they follow the FAA rules.
Nowadays, it is hard to tell when the commercials end and real life begins
 
ferrypilot
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:11 am



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 10):

None of this really matters at all.

All commercial pilots (and airline mechanics as well) are licensed by the FAA. If you have the valid and necessary license, you are good to go. If the pilots are unqualified, then the FAA will have to change the requirements. The airlines are not really liable as long as they follow the FAA rules.

A licence is not a guarantee of a pilots ability. And both airlines and military have a vested interest in picking the most skilled and able pilots to operate their aircraft.
 
planespotting
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:25 am



Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):

You give no reason for any of your assertions.

Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 4):

This isn't a minor impact and will have long term implications. You will have far fewer 2,000 hour pilots looking to be a 'bus driver' during the week and play fighter pilot on the weekend.

Yeah, because 2,000 hours in an F-16 totally prepares you to fly an airliner with 200 passengers.

 Yeah sure

Quoting Threepoint (Reply 5):
but staff an airline with nothing but <1000 hour pilots flying complex aircraft and watch the weekly headlines.

That's why there's still a Captain and a First Officer.
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
futurecaptain
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 4:48 am

This had a very long topic going just a few days ago.

Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):
This is scary. What about passenger safety?

Have you noticed airliners suddenly dropping from the sky? What about safety? Is there an increase in accidents recently?
I'll give you the answer, no. Wanna know why....because this is nothing new. Hiring pilots with >1000 hours and very little muti has been going on for decades. The only difference is now these young pilots are flying small RJ's instead of DC-10's and 727's.
AirSO. ASpaceO. ASOnline. ASO.com ASO. ASO. ASO. ASO. ASO.
 
eghansen
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 5:31 am



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 11):
A licence is not a guarantee of a pilots ability.

Then the FAA should change the requirements for a license so that it is a guarantee of the pilot's ability. Pilots are not like drivers of automobiles. They are responsible for passengers lives and the integrity of the air travel system depends on them. If the license is not good enough, it should be changed.
Nowadays, it is hard to tell when the commercials end and real life begins
 
ferrypilot
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:52 am



Quoting Eghansen (Reply 14):

Then the FAA should change the requirements for a license so that it is a guarantee of the pilot's ability. Pilots are not like drivers of automobiles. They are responsible for passengers lives and the integrity of the air travel system depends on them. If the license is not good enough, it should be changed.

Life is really not black or white like that is it? ...Didn't you ever go see a bad dentist or find yourself unhappy with the way a doctor treated you. ...Wouldn't you prefer to see a dentist or a doctor who came well recommended? ...If so you are acknowledging that the standard varies in those professions. Why do you think it would be different amongst aviators?

"I can promise you that pilot ability varies with all the colours in the rainbow" and no amount of training can ever compensate for the difference between the best pilots and the marginal guys.
 
2175301
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 12:48 pm

I will take any kid with minimal experience who understands that they are responsible over any very experienced person who feels that they are less responsible....

The military eliminates gross incompetence; but for some of their positions (fighters) may not have the same level - or a different kind - of "responsibility" than what I'd want in a commercial passenger aircraft pilot. On the other hand - many other military positions (cargo, troop carrier, etc) does screen for a more appropriate kind of responsibility compared to commercial passenger aircraft.

Thus, age does not matter so much; and being a military pilot may or may not be a good background.
 
bucky707
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 3:09 pm



Quoting 2175301 (Reply 16):
The military eliminates gross incompetence; but for some of their positions (fighters) may not have the same level - or a different kind - of "responsibility" than what I'd want in a commercial passenger aircraft pilot. On the other hand - many other military positions (cargo, troop carrier, etc) does screen for a more appropriate kind of responsibility compared to commercial passenger aircraft.

Military pilot training does a very good job of eliminating weak pilots. Anyone who graduates from pilot training is a darn good pilot. And then you get very good training when you go to your operational aircraft. Training does not end in the sim, it just begins there.

That being said, another reason the military can function with 1500 hour Aircraft commanders and 500 hour co-pilots in a heavy aircraft is the different level of supervision and training. In the military, you fly on training flights with an instructor often. You had sims on a regular basis instead of 2-3 sims once a year. And we got to practice some things in the aircraft that airlines only do in the sim, engine out approachs for example. When you go out on a pattern only sortie in a 707 and get to do landings over and over, you get very good at flying the airplane.
 
threepoint
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:07 pm



Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 8):
The military still employ young men to fly the most impressive heavy metal. And look on all the sports fields of the World, ...you don't see any old guys beating the young men.

Again, age has nothing to do with this debate. Nor does athletic ability for that matter.

Quoting Planespotting (Reply 12):
That's why there's still a Captain and a First Officer.

With what, 2000 hours between them? It can work, it often does work, but the level of training some 500 hour guys receive varies greatly. Unfortunately, many pilots with neither experience NOR skill are sitting in complex airplanes in the high flight levels. This is not a rant against low-time pilots - we were all there once some of us were actually not bad.
The nice thing about a mistake is the pleasure it gives others.
 
futurecaptain
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 7:49 pm



Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 18):
Here's a news flash for you pal, it's being discussed again,

Yes, just 36 hours after the last post in the previous topic. Why do you have such an angry attitude here. Topics are deleted all the time for being duplicates of current topics. I'm surprised this one hasn't been locked.

Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 18):
Does "just disscussed a few days ago!!" disqualify a subject from ever being posed again?

Well, rule #6 prohibits posting false statements injurious about someone's job. I think saying this practice of hiring pilots, which has gone on for decades, is somehow compromising safety is a false statement and if some news source read this I could see them running an hour long special about this non-issue.
AirSO. ASpaceO. ASOnline. ASO.com ASO. ASO. ASO. ASO. ASO.
 
SPREE34
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:09 pm



Quoting Futurecaptain (Reply 20):
Why do you have such an angry attitude here

Not angry here at all. I am, however, tired of seeing all of the "Posting Police" and "Bandwidth Police" on this site tossing crap at someone elses post with the various "already" messages.

What did your reply "This was just disscussed a few days ago!!" bring to this thread? As in previous threads where you and I have sparred, you question peoples attitude(s). What attitude prompted you to post "This was just disscussed a few days ago!!" ? ? ?

Quoting Futurecaptain (Reply 20):
rule #6 prohibits posting false statements

I guess I'll add the "Rules Police" to the list.
Statements or opinion?
Who cares what some media type might read in here. Most of them can't, or don't accurately research aviation matters now.

Try this. Read a thread/post, think about it, then add an intelligent reply that brings substance to the discussion, or just move on to the next post/thread.

BTW, the site has a spell checker. Oooops! Guess that makes me look like the "Spellchecker Police"
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
ferrypilot
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 8:56 pm



Quoting Threepoint (Reply 19):

Again, age has nothing to do with this debate. Nor does athletic ability for that matter.

The youngest pilots normally have the least flight hours. And the point about athletes is that they consistently prove that they can excel at 20 years of age or less and in sports that arguably are more difficult to learn than flying. In other words young people learn fast and it really is not that difficult to learn to fly planes if you are a suitable candidate.
 
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lightsaber
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Thu Dec 20, 2007 11:41 pm



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 9):
Some regional jobs in the US right now are hiring with no hour minimums, just so long as you have a commercial-multi. If you do your private multi, instrument multi, and commercial multi in the minimum time, that's probably only 15 hours ME.

Wow!  wideeyed  Very interesting!

Quoting Planespotting (Reply 12):

Yeah, because 2,000 hours in an F-16 totally prepares you to fly an airliner with 200 passengers.

Actually it does. They know navigation, how to fly through commercial air space (common during training in the US), the flight levels, fuel monitoring, weight balance (on a rather esoteric set), stall issue, lift augmentation devices (flaps, spoilers), Aircraft inspection pre-flight, System check out, radio discipline, severe weather flying, and they have a MUCH tighter range of flight speeds for landing. Or didn't you realize that ex-military pilots used to be the bulk of US commercial pilots until about 15 years ago? I know I've worked DL engine issues due to 'twitchy ex-Navy pilots' who went to full throttle on landing due to service time flash backs (carrier landings).  Smile

Is it one for one comparable? No. But an F-16 pilot knows more about monitoring an engine than most non-military commercial pilots ever will. Engines Turn or People Swim takes on a new meaning when there is only one engine.  Wink

Quoting SPREE34 (Reply 21):

BTW, the site has a spell checker. Oooops! Guess that makes me look like the "Spellchecker Police"

I love the Firefox spell checker.  Smile (Shameless plug).  spin 

Quoting Bucky707 (Reply 18):
n the military, you fly on training flights with an instructor often. You had sims on a regular basis instead of 2-3 sims once a year. And we got to practice some things in the aircraft that airlines only do in the sim, engine out approachs for example. When you go out on a pattern only sortie in a 707 and get to do landings over and over, you get very good at flying the airplane.

Nice example of added benefit training. However, some of that training, in the latest generation simulators, is just as good (in my opinion). Can we agree that a disciplined and structured training program is a definitive plus for pilots? e.g., the MPL proposal makes a ton of sense to me.  Smile

Lightsaber
I cannot wait to get vaccinated to live again! Warning: I simulated that it takes 50%+ vaccinated to protect the vaccinated and 75%+ vaccinated to protect the vac-hesitant.
 
SPREE34
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:03 am



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 23):
I love the Firefox spell checker.   (Shameless plug).   

IIRC the Firefox spell checker was just discussed in another thread, yada yada yada, search yada yada.  rotfl   rotfl 

Shameless, yet humorous.
I don't understand everything I don't know about this.
 
planespotting
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:21 am



Quoting Lightsaber (Reply 23):
Actually it does.

I've talked to many former military pilots who are now airline Captains who say that a trained civy pilot is just as good, if not better, in the airline environment than a really well trained military guy.

Yes, military pilots have traditionally been the cockpit sitters in modern airline times, but that's not how it's stacking up anymore. I see by your profile that you're an engineer - I'll probably sound like a jerk saying this, but you're looking at this like an engineer.

By the numbers.

And you have a point - as I write this post, I'm starting to doubt some of the arguments I'm making by looking at the traditional, empirical evidence most often used in aviation: by the numbers.

So, by the numbers, a pilot with 2,000 hours should be better than a pilot with 500 hours. But, step into an airline cockpit, and it looks a bit different.

That 2,000 hour military pilot has been flying most of those hours by him or herself, in a very tightly controlled environment. He's been making all of his decisions based on specific mission parameters ... directives from someone higher than him that he or she dare not deviate from.

In an airline cockpit, that's totally different. Yes, there are air traffic controllers, and dispatchers, and company operations manuals, and standards, and all that hooah - but really, there are so many more variables and decisions to make than in a military cockpit.

On top of that - there's so many more PEOPLE involved in the decision...there's not one "YOU MUST DO THIS" voice from behind the scenes that dictates every action. There's another cockpit crew member, there's a cabin crew, and there's even more people on the ground.

A successful airline flight depends so much more on the successful communication between all these entities on a flight than the actual flying involved. Obviously, flying takes place, but the airplanes can fly themselves (they really can - ever flown in an airline cockpit? There's a lot of non-flying downtime).

BUT - what there isn't a lot of is non-decision making downtime. Airline pilots are always making decisions...whether it's deviating from a planned route because of weather, adjusting the fuel loadout on the ramp, diverting to an alternate because the landing runway isn't quite at minimums but could be soon...you get the idea. And these decisions all require the consultation with other folks involved in the game.

I'm not saying that military jockeys never make decisions - they make many of them too. But a civilian pilot who's passed his IOE already knows how to fly. He also has flown most of the 500 hours with another person in the airplane with him...probably as an instructor, trying to impart knowledge to even younger pilots about how to fly an airplane. It doesn't take too long before a good pilot can figure out the best way to communicate. And those who communicate well in an airline environment (flying skills being equal) are usually considered better than the guy who just makes all the decisions himself and doesn't consult anyone - and better than the guy who lets the other guy make all the decisions and doesn't offer his own input.

That's how Burbank happened: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Southwest_Airlines_Flight_1455

Both pilots were ex-military, and both pilots had a history of doing what they were told or doing what they wanted. There wasn't much communication at all between the two. The first officer barely made any "hey, that doesn't look right, does it?" comments...even less than the comments the first officer on this flight made:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Air_Florida_Flight_90

...despite the fact that the Burbank flight touched down at 194 knots - about 40 knots faster than a 737-700 usually touches down at.

I'm not saying that all military pilots are a bunch of jocks who can't made decisions - that's obviously not the case. But I won't ever believe that a military pilot with 2,000 hours is better in an airline cockpit than a civilian pilot with the appropriate training and ratings.
Do you like movies about gladiators?
 
Tango-Bravo
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RE: WSJ: Airlines Lower Bar To Fill Pilot Ranks

Fri Dec 21, 2007 12:57 am

Quoting Jawed (Thread starter):
This is scary.

But not at all surprising.

Quoting Ferrypilot (Reply 1):
Never underestimate the ability of young men to rise to a challenge.
The Captains of four engine bombers in WW2 were usually only 21 years of age.

And the rate of losses was scary. And, yes, many of those accidents and fatalities were non-combat losses attributable to pilot error. In a time of all-out war, you have to do what you have to do.

Had regional airlines been made to pay pilots a wage that puts them above poverty level and not imposed sweatshop working conditions, there would be no problems with hiring sufficient numbers of well-qualified experienced pilots.

By contrast, at the outset of WW2 there was a sudden and unforeseen need for large numbers of military pilots and few who had received any flight training much less any flying experience. Lack of qualified/experienced pilots at the outbreak of WW2 is not at all surprising since very few in the U.S. had experienced any type of flying at all at that point in history, much less sitting at the controls of an aeroplane.

The regionals' situation was altogether preventable whereas the WW2 pilot scenario was not realistically preventable.

[Edited 2007-12-20 17:09:44]

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