Stanstamper’s Blog

March 24, 2009

Common sense Aviation…

Filed under: 1 — stanstamper @ 7:14 pm
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Every two years I am required to attend a two-day Flight Instructor refresher seminar in order to maintain my Flight Instructor Rating.
At the Dallas meeting, I sat next to a pilot for American Eagle, who flew Embraer jets.
He had been flying for about eight years, and no matter how hard he tried, he said he simply couldn’t make it farther up the ladder to fly for American Airlines in one of their bigger jets.
He also said that his company was hiring pilots fresh out of flight school as co-pilots, with very little flight time. Also, he said, the starting pay was less than $19,000 per year.
I was shocked.
He said that finding someone who had basic flying skills was not a problem, it was finding someone who could quickly program or re-program the aircraft’s computer as it approached an airport, that was the most difficult.
Recently, many passengers died in New York State when a turbo-prop aircraft fell out of the sky. It was piloted by two relatively inexperienced pilots in very bad weather conditions.
Yesterday, I was disappointed to learn that the Obama Administration has begun taking steps to shut down a program which allowed commercial pilots to take extra training so as to be allowed to carry a pistol on board their aircraft.
The Washington Times condemned the Obama administration for diverting $2 million from a program to train and certify commercial pilots in the proper use of a firearm, which has effectively closed that program.
Instead, the administration wants to hire additional field inspectors to help discipline pilots who step out of line. The Times called this “completely unnecessary harassment of pilots.”
About 12,000 pilots have been authorized to carry handguns while flying aircraft as part of the Federal Flight Deck Officers Program. Congress authorized the program in a 310-to-113 vote following the 9/11 attacks to help prevent terrorists from turning jetliners into flying bombs that could be used to attack key sites like the White House, the Pentagon, or Capitol Hill.
Most general aviation pilots and flight instructors scratch their heads at why someone who is responsible enough to be in charge of a $100 million aircraft with hundreds of lives on board, can’t be trusted to carry a concealed firearm, to provide additional protection to passengers.
Another trend that needs to be stopped is not paying pilots as much as we would pay a truck driver. Does that make any sense?
I will personally be a bit more selective in what type of flights I book in the future. Passengers should not let the Airlines put a buck in front of their safety and should speak out more on the issue.
When I get on an aircraft, nothing pleases me more than to see some grey hair on the guy or gal in the left seat like the recent Hudson River hero, Capt. Sully Sullenger. And though I’ll never know, I hope he or she is one of the 12,000 who have completed the Flight Deck Officers Program that allows them to carry a firearm to defend all passengers if the need arises.


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