FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt, addressed ALPA’s annual Air Safety Forum and expressed concern for the quality of experience of captains in some of today’s airlines. “There are some airlines out there with senior pilots who have three years under their belt, and, unlike back then — they are going right into jets, flying long days in some of the busiest airspace in the world.” Babbitt says in his speech, “I’m not saying that you’ve got to have 10 or 15 thousand hours before you’re worth your salt, but there is something to be said for having been flying around the system a few seasons.”
Babbitt continues and states that even these “seasoned” pilots must use their collective knowledge and mentor the rest of the pilot group to enhance safety. “This needs to become part of our professional DNA. If you’ve got experience and you’re not sharing it, you’re doing a disservice to our profession.”
He also acknowledged the problem of fatigue and that the FAA is in the process of addressing it. Flight-duty rules will be reconsidered after a study is completed by September 1st, where it will be submitted to the FAA. It will then be passed to the DOT and after 90 days, sent for public comment.
He is right to be concerned. Couple this with the vanity publishing brigade paying to occupy the right hand seat and the clock is ticking. What is perhaps a little strange is that the person raising these concerns happens to be the Regulator in charge! Clearly the "buck" suffers little deceleration as it passes over his desk!
What is perhaps a little strange is that the person raising these concerns happens to be the Regulator in charge! Clearly the "buck" suffers little deceleration as it passes over his desk!
And the FAA have done a total disservice to the industry by pandering to airlines profits instead of flight safety and allowing it to get into this state in the first place.
Please, recognize code speak when you hear it! - He's calling/begging for help and he needs YOU the pilots to get it! There's a heavy status quo that needs to be upended for this kind of change to take place, to cut out the incestuous relationship with some parts of faa-middle management and the airlines they are to oversee (a few short years after their tenure with the FAA go on to cushy positions in-you-know-where) Obviously, the reins of economy, industry and finance have been untended by any kind of oversight for at least the last 8 years in favor of 'unfettered deregulation' and 'make money at all costs' - by calling on senior pilots to speak up, that gives them the 'groundswell' of backing to go up against the SouthWestArlines and their ilk - failure to recruit you pilots FIRST would only have any assistance with duty time legislation,etc, be cast as "socialist govt meddling", shut down (and shot down) before it can even begin.
And WHAT Exactly, is classified as a Seasoned Pilot? I'd say the "Industry" has got exactly the Seasoned Pilots they are looking for, otherwise they would not be allowed the upgrade in the first place................... If the FAA and CAA are not happy with this, then they should amemd the criteria accordingly.
For those of us, the old experienced aviators, retired or soon to be, should remember that the minimum flight time required by most of the US airlines at the time( 1965- 1968) was a Commercial Lic. with an Instrument rating.
(read 180 hrs. SEL, inst. rating) In fact some of the majors hired zero time pilots. The Administrator was hired at the Wings of Man in the same period as myself. I know I was an FLAP (F****** light airplane pilot) and I believe he was of the same experience level.
It is time in this industry that people stop trying to put people in boxes. Each man/ woman is different 6000hrs in command might be ok but not if all on a Cessna 150. Command is relative to experience for the task/ route/ and the passengers to be carried. Low cost with no support from anyone is very different from a major carrier who has ops/eng/ramp/ etc. Is it not time that safety should be the most important concern of all. All the authorities should consider there actions. If nothing will happen then nature will take over and we will be reading about more accidents/ incidents as cost are cut to make a quick buck.
they are going right into jets, flying long days in some of the busiest airspace in the world
So now when the man in charge recognized their potential for creating large holes in the landscape when mishandled, are CRJs and ERJs now officially jets and not commuters? If they are, will it reflect on the remuneration of their flightcrews?
If you’ve got experience and you’re not sharing it, you’re doing a disservice to our profession
Now that's plain insulting. We've been hangartalking ever since the first hangar was erected. Problem is that nowadays stories of the old largelly fall on the deaf ears. You can not explain basic aerodynamics to someone who has problems with basic physics and mathematics and got his shiny licence by learning multiple choice tests' answers by heart. Does this FAA fellow have any aviation background at all?
I recall the accident at Pusan.The commander was 30 years old and had total of 6000 hrs.
By industry standards thats young.
You're barking up the wrong tree. Now please remind me what was the experience level of a certain fine Dutch fellow who attempted to take off without clearance and as a result 583 people perished. Or last captain of TC-GEN. Or last captain of HB-IXM.
Why ARE so many planes falling out of the sky?
Because of gravity. And, as Tom Yorke observed, it always wins. If you find this answer trivial or marginaly amusing, congratulations for not being quite dumbed down.
There are some airlines out there with senior pilots who have three years under their belt, and, unlike back then — they are going right into jets
What is it with the bloody septics and their fascination with being ever-so experienced before you can fly, gasp, jets
Jets are easy. They've got decent performance compared to some of those turbo-props you see valiantly struggling airbourne and they get up high, away from all those nasty icing layers and bumpy clouds. All the bolleaux about high speeds etc is just macho BS. If the scenario calls for 250 bananas, you fly it at 250 bananas, simple as.
Likewise, I know our US 'cousins' don't like 'mere' cadets going into the right seat of jets because they haven't done all the hard graft in a prop thingy and obviously don't have a clue what they're doing. Again, just 'green-eyed' envy. I've flown with plenty of 200 hour-ish FOs and they were great. They knew their stuff, were enthusiastic, keen to learn and hand flew very well. Of course I passed on my vast experience , who wouldn't, as that is one of the roles as the Captain.
This article writes a lot and says little. If you've got the experience to gain an ATPL then you're good to go. If you've got the experience your company requires, then you're good to go. Just because some desk jockey doesn't like the idea of a 20 something captain, sitting in the left seat with 'only' 3000 hours doesn't mean he's right .
PS: No I'm not an ex-cadet but have flown next to plenty in both seats and very happy with them, even with low experience levels.
Cue 411A with, 'you can't possibly fly something as complicated as a jet without having first amassed several thousand flying hours'
I've flown with plenty of 200 hour-ish FOs and they were great. They knew their stuff, were enthusiastic, keen to learn and hand flew very well.
That is very true! It is a lovely warm, short sleeve shirt environment. The thing often lacking is the fear factor. That moment in your experienced past when you frightened yourself just enough to realize you shouldn't do it again.
200 hours and stuff and enthusiasm, isn't really enough time or experience to have incorporated this ingredient into the mix. They may not have frightened themselves yet, but one day they will! That first time shouldn't be with 250 passengers in the back and another 200 hour-ish cadet in the right seat, who knows his stuff and is enthusiastic, and keen to learn and flies very well!
There's a slight cross of threads here. In JAA land there is talk of going from zero to full type rating in 1 go. The days of 250hrs single spam-can flying including 50hrs VFR navigation etc., and for the lucky ones 2 hrs aeros, the 50hrs airways training have long gone. It's now reduced to 150hrs total. G/H must have suffered. The talk is for an MPA type rating with much conducted in a sim. Do I hear 'cost recuduction' as the driving force. The supporters of the scheme would say that if you want an airline pilot then train an airline pilot, not a crop sprayer. However, if you want an air-taxi pilot or a quality GA pilot, anything from a Beech KingAir to a GV or any golbal biz-jet, how do you train and licence them? They live in a different world requiring different skills. I wonder if the various CEO's sitting in the back of their private golbal flying gin-palaces realise how low the total time of many of their pilots is. You talk of cockpit experience. If you have been trained properly, and fly in a solid airline with a quality training culture, then the modern button pushing FMC will generally do the job you were trained for. the cadets are efficient, keen and become very competant quickly, especially in the density of modern short-haul multisector flying day. Long-haul cadets are a different story. My experience of the quality cadets is they are fine everyday nothing goes wrong pilots. A straight forward standard day is a breeze. However, you are now getting captains of 300ohrs, only seen 1 airline, 1 type of operation and perhaps had little go wrong in their apprenticeship. In the LoCo's there are no station managers and engineers at every destination to make 'those' decisions. The captain is there and it's his call. Is 4 years exposure enough? 15 years ago the norm in charter was 5000hrs or 4000hrs 6 years in the company and an above average continual performance. That would generally have had 7000hrs total cockpit hrs as a minimum. The flying world is more congested; the commercial/time pressures are more; the airfields often flown to are less euquiped (although the Greek islands of 20 years ago were pretty spartan). But the cadets are used to ATC, Radar, ILS's etc. Some of the more out of the way places are a handfull when left to do it on your own. TOTAL cockpit time can now be as little as 4000hrs on type with TOTAL company experience 4 years. Is there enough experience to make those decisions when needed? Is there enough experience to resist the bullying of so many outside influences? Is there always the experience there in the RHS to ask their opinion when meeting a new dilema.
Total hrs to fly a jet is not such a big deal, but total experience to be a captain in todays world is another question. To echo a previous writer; I was flying regularly over the Alps in winter from N.Europe to land in N.Italy. Nice big shiny jet up above the weather with all the grunt needed to rise above most challenges. We had a minimum of 6000hrs in the cockpit. I jump-seated once on a Saab 340 MXP to BSL, in summer. Beautiful. We talked about the winter. MSA 16000' on special routes; PNR's; engine out escape routes between various wpt's. etc. etc. A whole other world and somewhat scary. I've also been over some mountians in a PA-31 and only just being able to maintain cruise speed at clb power due ice build up. Losing a donk was not an option. These guys had turbo-props; a real confidence booster, but still their SE ceiling was below MORA. They had to do a lot of pre-flight planning depending on Wx. and then in-flight monitoring was never ending. Total cockpit time was 3000hrs. Captains were 2500 total. The oldest person in the crew was the senior cabin crew of 2. The same must be true of some operations around the highlands & islands. The lowest experience is flying in the most dangerous conditions with the most under-powered a/c. Market forces dictated that, but the operators of big shiny jets could perhaps do more. Some will say markets forces will apply there also. Cheaper pay yourself training, lower salaries and attract the low experience and promise them the holy grail; a shiny jet and possible command beore they're 30. Perhaps the FAA are waking up. I would have thought it was the insurance companies who would have more of a say. Should they have allowed 5000hrs to be reduced to 3000hrs? Horses for courses, perhaps.
What about all these "highly experienced" captains who have been around the block so many times they no longer feel they need to be alert???? I've flown with many in a ..wait for it.. a JET who are more interested in the sport page of their paper while intercepting the ILS in busy airspace then watching the airplane
does the fact they have a bigger logbook than others make them better pilots? I think not...
I will grant the claim that modern jets are easier to fly than older piston or turboprop airplanes WHEN EVERYTHING IS WORKING.
However, it is the times when things are going to sh!t that experience counts. That is when canned procedures no longer apply, and the pilot has to think, plan, fly, and review contingencies all at the same time. That is when a 150-hour MPA will likely fall apart rather than be a helpful part of the crew.
It is NOT the sunny day VFR flight that is the problem for the low-time pilot; it is the night, IMC, icing, low-fuel fight that will become problematic in a hurry, and fatal if not dealt with properly. IMO, that is the difference between a successful water landing and evacuation in the Hudson, and a heap of burning parts & bodies in Buffalo.
Someone is bound to ask why the experienced AirFrance crew didn't turn around before hitting that thunderstorm over the Atlantic. Good question, but we aren't even sure who was flying at the time...
Modern airplanes are very forgiving -- to a point. However, after that point is reached, the margin between success and disaster is very thin indeed...
The way I read Babbitt's comments has more to do with recapturing some of the benefits of experience on the F/D beyond Stick and Rudder. He's asking for a reinvigoration of the Captain's role in the equation, not some sleazy ploy to gain free training for cadets. As a group, Command pilots have the most palpable power, and squander it of late as a result of shifting their own to areas that should have little or none, but take advantage of the 'freebie' anyway. Jobs are diminishing, that is fact, wouldn't it be nice if 'what's left' of the experience pool has the Bull by the Horns, and dictates increased safety, more rest, attention to Mx, better pay, etc. ?? How often does the leader of the authority extend a hand ? As I said, if it's a 'trick', Have a beer and tell me "I told you so."
Sounds sensible to me... too many newbies have yet to learn that a good pilot is much more than someone who has a grip on the FD... it involves real life/real problem experience in all weathers/terrain/equipment and crew idiosyncrosies... it's time the CAA/FAA started to re-think experience requirements not in terms of simple logbook hours but in valid experience.