Crew Competence on DL Connection Carriers

 
Old May 14, 09, 7:18 pm
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: VPS
Programs: DL DM/2MM, Etihad Gold, HHonors Diamond, SPG Gold
Posts: 4,787
Crew Competence on DL Connection Carriers

In light of what I've heard and read regarding the the Colgan Air crew that crashed the Q400 on approach to Buffalo, I am disturbed to think that some ASA, Comair, SkyWest, etc. crews may be operating MY flights under similar circumstances. Notably, neither the pilot nor the FO appears to have had adequate sleep the night prior; both were under-qualified (IMHO); and the FO, in particular, was making only approx. $12.50 per hour!

Are these conditions unique to Colgan or are they pervasive among the regionals? Do ASA, SkyWest, Comair, et al. have similar standards, expectations and pay rates as Colgan?

I've already been considered moving most of my flying to PNS vs. VPS, so this is just another important reason to do it sooner rather than later (and avoid the RJs to the extent possible).
DLfan is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 7:20 pm
  #2  
 
Join Date: Dec 2003
Location: Marietta, GA, USA Delta PM, Hilton Diamond (for now), Bonvoy Titanium
Posts: 3,435
I know some of you don't have the option, but this has been my complaint with the regional planes all along. Pure lack of experience. I'll drive an extra hour on the other end or make a connection if need be to avoid flying on what I call "death tubes".
jfulcher is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 7:30 pm
  #3  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Programs: DL PM, HH Diamond, Fairmont Prem, SPG Gold, Priority Club Plat/IC Amb, AmEx Plat
Posts: 10,839
All the regional airlines have similar standards. But let me say, it seems that the ill-fated Colgan Air flight was almost the perfect storm. The sum of numerous factors and not caused by one singular thing.

Crew rest periods and sleep is an issue with both mainline and regional carriers. So the issue isn't exclusive to RJ carriers. Many mainline pilots commute from their homes to their base. All pilots are required to meet FAA requirements and airline requirements (this is where there may be a difference as airlines have more rigorous standards).

Having flown hundreds of thousands of miles on all types of airplanes (including on a Colgan Air Dash 8 Q400), I've never felt unsafe on either mainline or regional. Flying is still safer than driving.

This site is a good way to search flight incidents. Interestingly enough, Colgan Air only has had one incident in 18 years.

http://www.aviation-safety.net/database/operator/
AndyTLe is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 7:35 pm
  #4  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Sep 2003
Location: VPS
Programs: DL DM/2MM, Etihad Gold, HHonors Diamond, SPG Gold
Posts: 4,787
Originally Posted by AndyTLe View Post
Crew rest periods and sleep is an issue with both mainline and regional carriers. So the issue isn't exclusive to RJ carriers. Many mainline pilots commute from their homes to their base. All pilots are required to meet FAA requirements and airline requirements (this is where there may be a difference as airlines have more rigorous standards).

Having flown hundreds of thousands of miles on all types of airplanes (including on a Colgan Air Dash 8 Q400), I've never felt unsafe on either mainline or regional. Flying is still safer than driving.
Pilots who make more than $12.50 per hour have options. Sure commuting is common, but the pilot flew from FL to Newark and no one knows for sure where he stayed the night. It is known that he did not have a crash pad or other such accomodations. The FO flew in on a red eye from SEA. Again, with a higher scale, she may have been able to move out of her parents home and closer to work.

I've never really felt unsafe in an RJ either...until now.
DLfan is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 7:46 pm
  #5  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Programs: DL PM, HH Diamond, Fairmont Prem, SPG Gold, Priority Club Plat/IC Amb, AmEx Plat
Posts: 10,839
Originally Posted by DLfan View Post
I've never really felt unsafe in an RJ either...until now.
There has to be some personal responsibility involved. If you are unfit to perform you duties (in this case it may have been fatigue), then you should remove yourself or call in sick. That applies to EVERY job. The FO didn't have to take a redeye to work this flight, she could have made alternate arrangements to fly in earlier or to find somewhere to stay. Airlines don't force their pilots to commute, pilots choose to do so. If commuting was an issue, then either leave the business or find another airline that will better suit your situation. If the pay isn't suitable, change jobs.

If you've listened to the testimony and tapes, the pilots themselves broke several protocols set forth by the FAA. This includes non-essential conversation on approach to BUF airport. As with any industry, there are rules and regulations. Failure to comply has consequences. Unfortunately, they paid with their lives.
AndyTLe is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 9:07 pm
  #6  
 
Join Date: May 2008
Programs: DL Plat AA Gold Airtran Elite HH Diamond Marriott Plat *Wood Plat
Posts: 242
tragic incident all around, but what gets me the most is the revelation in the latest news articles that the captain failed numerous checkrides and Colgan was unaware of all but one. I'm not a pilot but I would have figured there was more to the FAA qualification system than sheer "honor" system, although I suppose that's how pilots record their hours, etc. But wouldn't the pilot administering the checkride have some paperwork to turn in to the FAA? or is it just "hey man you failed, better luck next time, no harm no foul?"
gte157q is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 9:23 pm
  #7  
 
Join Date: Apr 2003
Location: Atlanta
Programs: AA Lifetime Gold, Marriott Silver, Starwood Platinum
Posts: 3,656
Originally Posted by gte157q View Post
tragic incident all around, but what gets me the most is the revelation in the latest news articles that the captain failed numerous checkrides and Colgan was unaware of all but one. I'm not a pilot but I would have figured there was more to the FAA qualification system than sheer "honor" system, although I suppose that's how pilots record their hours, etc. But wouldn't the pilot administering the checkride have some paperwork to turn in to the FAA? or is it just "hey man you failed, better luck next time, no harm no foul?"
Colgan definitely dropped the ball on his training portion. If this had been addressed who knows what may have happened
Mainline or regionals.....all pilots start off somewhere. There is no reason why you shouldn't feel safe on either one because they are trained to do the job. I know pilots who have flown for my airline 20+ years and has thousands of hours under their belt. Regionals have a higher turnover rate hence getting more of the younger pilots. Pay at a regional is always going to be less then that of a mainline pilot simply because they are operating a larger aircraft. Tell you the truth I hear more about mainline accidents then regional ones. Just my 2 cents....esp since I fly on these planes weekly and I put my trust in these guys.
zsmith2 is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 11:44 pm
  #8  
 
Join Date: Jan 2008
Location: EAU
Programs: UA 1K, CO Plat, NW Plat, Marriott Premiere Plat, SPG Plat, Priority Gold, Hilton Gold
Posts: 4,551
Personally, I think the most significant factor in the crash was that the pilot was not qualified to fly, and the system failed to identify this particular pilot as not qualified to fly.

There should be some number of failed tests where they say "Hey, you know, we realize you want to be a pilot, but you are just not suited for the job and need to find a different career."

While it certainly didn't help that the weather was bad and the co-pilot was bot inexperienced and tired, it was the pilot who physically overpowered the auto-corrective systems for a full 7 seconds before crashing. 7 seconds is a long time to not do the right thing, and that's not because you're tired - that's because you just didn't know what the right thing to do was. Which is not surprising when you failed so many check-rides.


As far as commuting to the job goes, at sub-$30k/year, you're not going to be living within driving distance of a base like EWR. And when your regional-airline flying is a 2-3 year stint, at $30k/yr, you can't really afford to move there and back either.


So, we get what we pay for - mostly safe air service at good prices.
raehl311 is offline  
Old May 14, 09, 11:49 pm
  #9  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Oct 2005
Location: Ponte Vedra Beach, FL
Programs: DL PM, HH Diamond, Fairmont Prem, SPG Gold, Priority Club Plat/IC Amb, AmEx Plat
Posts: 10,839
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
As far as commuting to the job goes, at sub-$30k/year, you're not going to be living within driving distance of a base like EWR. And when your regional-airline flying is a 2-3 year stint, at $30k/yr, you can't really afford to move there and back either.
Agreed, living in/around NYC is cost prohibitive. However, the commute could be shorter. There are plenty of cities up and down the East Coast that have a reasonable cost of living. You would think those would be a better option as many of those cities are within an hour's plane flight rather than 3 time zones away on the opposite side of the country.
AndyTLe is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 6:36 am
  #10  
 
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: OKC
Programs: DL DM/2.5MM, Global Entry, Titanium_Marriott, GHertz
Posts: 6,156
This thread is helping me a little since one is landlocked in OKC with DL and NW offering only RJs to anywhere. Once upon a time we had at least one 88 (ATL), but maybe never again.
Xeno is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 7:46 am
  #11  
 
Join Date: Jun 2006
Location: STX
Programs: Used to have a bunch of shiny metallic cards. That was one life ago.
Posts: 1,804
Originally Posted by raehl311 View Post
Personally, I think the most significant factor in the crash was that the pilot was not qualified to fly, and the system failed to identify this particular pilot as not qualified to fly.
Originally Posted by gte157q View Post
tragic incident all around, but what gets me the most is the revelation in the latest news articles that the captain failed numerous checkrides and Colgan was unaware of all but one.
+1

The reports out of the NTSB are alarming, esp when you consider Pinnacle owns Colgan. I'm normally a rational person, but I, too, will be trying to route my travel away from regional carriers (with the possible exception of Shuttle America, which I have found to be WAY above and beyond in terms of service).

I know the stats. But, I've also worked in demanding, so-called professional industries with horribly low pay and seen firsthand the kind of impact that has on morale, attention to detail and respect for policies and procedures.

Add to that the fact that the airline totally missed that they had a captain unfit to fly and it's all a bit too risky for my blood.
jbatl is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 7:55 am
  #12  
 
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 2,030
There's a similar discussion going on in the AA forum, but from the looks of it, it sounds as if Colgan training/conditions are particularly bad. At least in the instance of American Eagle, which I would imagine to be somewhat on par with Comair, ASA, etc, the minimum standards seem to be quite a bit stricter.
aa4ever is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 8:50 am
  #13  
TTT
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: 45 North
Programs: DL DM MM, HH Diamond, SPG Plat
Posts: 9,472
I flew Compass last night and the pilot and FO were both in their 20s. Flight was smooth and normal, but it had me thinking about the Colgan crash. I knew these two kids didn't have the life experience to draw on if they needed to act quickly, I just hoped they were trained well.

In the SkyClub I was reading about Compass's training program and it seems to be pretty rigorous (30-45) days at simulator training another 1 week ground school and 30 of home study.

The FA, OTOH, looked as if she was about to fall asleep on approach. There is no question, jobs at any airline wreck havoc with your circadian rhythms!

It is pretty eye-opening to look at airlinepilotcentral.com's pay scales for the regionals. Looking especially at their first few years of FO and Captain pay.
TTT is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 9:04 am
  #14  
 
Join Date: Jun 2002
Location: Kingdom of the Sun
Programs: DL GM/MM
Posts: 3,707
I'm wondering when people will start making comparisons with medical interns and their shift and rest patterns...
Pharaoh is offline  
Old May 15, 09, 9:08 am
  #15  
TTT
 
Join Date: Nov 2004
Location: 45 North
Programs: DL DM MM, HH Diamond, SPG Plat
Posts: 9,472
Originally Posted by Pharaoh View Post
I'm wondering when people will start making comparisons with medical interns and their shift and rest patterns...
That's a good point. But usually their split-second decisions don't affect 50-75 people.
TTT is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread