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Deteriorating Working Conditions and Safety Implications make International News

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Deteriorating Working Conditions and Safety Implications make International News

Old 6th Apr 2016, 20:52
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Deteriorating Working Conditions and Safety Implications make International News

thedailybeast.com / Clive Irving: Andreas Lubitz and the Global Pilot Scam Threatening Your Safety

Andreas Lubitz and the Global Pilot Scam Threatening Your Safety - The Daily Beast

Very well written and quite accurate article, although I'm not sure how I feel about Andreas Lubitz becoming the poster child for the safety problems our industry is facing due to deteriorating conditions for newcomers, or flight crew in general. These problems will in all likeliness NOT orginate from mental illness as in Lubitz' case, but from financial burdens and pressures potentially crippling a flight crew member's ability to always perform in the best interest of safety - in other words, to speak up when necessary, regardless of experience level and/or seniority.

It is a scandal that many aviation authorities and regulatory bodies around the world, especially in Europe, are turning a blind eye to allow practices such as 'pay to fly' or 'forced self-employment contracts' at AOC holders.

Possibly this will only end once airlines, authorities, regulatory bodies and their management find themselves in court defending against damage claims for gross negligence in the wake of an accident, but it is a sign of hope that journalists and international publications are starting to pay attention.

Transcript:

Airlines in Europe push young pilots to the edge in a desperate struggle to live with huge debts as they fly without any job security. It’s enough to drive some mad, like the Germanwings flier who murdered 149 passengers.

Looming behind the actions of Andreas Lubitz, who deliberately flew himself and 149 others into a French mountainside a year ago this week, is an increasing body of evidence that something is seriously wrong with how young pilots are trained, recruited, and treated by many of Europe’s budget airlines.

Last week’s report by French investigators into the crash focused on Lubitz’s record of psychiatric problems and the failure of his family, colleagues, and the airline, Germanwings, to detect what some of his doctors already knew: He should not have been flying and, indeed, should have been hospitalized.
But the report gave brief attention to work pressures that probably contributed to his increasingly desperate state of mind—pressures that are felt by thousands of pilots as a result of how a number of airlines now treat them as a cost to be ruthlessly controlled and exploited rather than an indispensable asset central to the safety of flying.

It is now clear that, in addition to Lubitz’s medical problems, nobody detected or caught the part played by what the French investigators called the “socio-economic” pressures on his deeply troubled state of mind.
The investigators point out in their conclusions: “One of the explanations lays in the financial consequences he would have faced in the case of loss of license. His limited Loss of License insurance could not cover his loss of income resulting from unfitness to fly.”

And the European Cockpit Association, representing 38,000 European pilots, applauded the French report for recognizing the link between “employees’ socio-economic risks” and aviation safety and said that it needed to be “more in the focus of the aviation industry and European institutions.”

Indeed, in Europe nearly half of the pilots between the ages of 20 and 30 are flying without the security of being directly employed by an airline. Thousands of young pilots like Lubtiz often face a long chain of debt and financial stress.

Lufthansa, the parent company of Germanwings, charges students it selects for training a fee of 60,000 euros out of a total cost for training of 150,000 euros—Lubitz had taken out a loan of 41,000 euros to pay for his training.

But the costs of satisfying the ambition to become a pilot can be a lot higher than those faced by Lubitz.

The Irish budget carrier Ryanair, for example, unlike Lufthansa, pays nothing toward the costs of qualifying as a pilot, which can be as high as 130,000 euros before even getting into a Ryanair cockpit. All this occurs at an age when mortgages and new families frequently add to the obligations. Lubitz reportedly planned to marry his girlfriend.

At the core of this widely practiced regime are “bogus” employment contracts—a term used to describe how young pilots are hired through an agency, not the airline, as though they are self-employed contractors, thereby stripping them of normal professional employment security and benefits.

This practice (for various reasons not possible for airline pilots in the U.S.) is part of profound changes that are putting new stresses on pilots in Europe, including one that was cited in the French report on Lubitz: the high costs to students of learning to fly and the debts that they incur, often lasting for years.

“There are plenty of people ready to lend you the money to become a pilot, certainly in Europe, even though the job market is quite precarious in your first few years of flying,” Capt. Martin Chalk, the president of the International Federation of Airline Pilots’ Associations, IFALPA, told The Daily Beast. “I am aware of more than one airline where their recruiting and training programs are profitable to the airline. They don’t care if the pilot fails because they have made their profit from them anyway.”

The full extent of the stressful conditions facing pilots became clear only after work by researchers at Ghent University in Holland. In 2014, at the request of the European Commission, they set out to survey airline employment practices across Europe. More than 6,600 pilots, out of a total of around 65,000 in Europe, responded to the researchers, an unusually high response rate for a survey.

Much of what the pilots said was alarming and the researchers quickly realized that they were looking at an unsuspected level of concern among pilots about not just the experiences of their workplace but the implications of these experiences for airline safety.

“Originally, the surveying was not done to unearth safety-related issues,” a veteran pilot told The Daily Beast. “It was done to identify employment-related issues. But the safety implications became an emergent outcome that wasn’t expected. But it wasn’t necessary to do that study to find that causal link. It was self-evident to people like me.”

The Ghent University researchers realized that what was happening as a result of the competition among pilots for jobs was similar to what had happened in the international shipping industry, where lax labor laws had been exploited to drive down costs and strip crews of job security—what the researchers called “a race to the bottom.” This should, they said, “raise an intense sense of urgency with regard to flight safety…we call upon all stakeholders to act on this clear warning. In the civil aviation industry it’s minutes past midnight.”

One of many pilots quoted by the researchers repeated that warning.
“The race to the bottom needs to be regulated by the European Union before passengers get killed. People are committing suicide because of this outrageous way they are being treated.”

Another said, “This industry is a disgrace. European employment law and working regulations do not seem to apply to the aviation industry, and those that are certainly not enforced.”

In answer to questions from The Daily Beast, the International Air Transport Association, IATA, said, “Issues concerning employment contracts are the prerogative of individual airlines. We are confident in the present system of pilot training and safety, however we believe that further standardization of activities and the creation of a performance oversight environment may help to drive further improvements.”

The IATA spokesman said he was not familiar with the Ghent University report and did not respond to the specific question of whether IATA had studied it. IATA’s principal role is lobbying governments and regulators on behalf of the airlines, not advocacy on behalf of either airline employees or the public.

IFALPA, on the other hand, represents more than 100,000 pilots employed in nearly 100 countries. Capt. Chalk, whose day job is as a senior captain on a major international airline based in Europe, says, “Stresses have been created that weren’t there before. We need to ensure that a highly competitive marketplace doesn’t have collateral damage. We shouldn’t be allowing airlines to erode safety margins, working pilots beyond sensible fatigue or stress limits.

“Even when people are taken on it will be on a piecemeal basis where, from month to month, they get whatever work their employer gives them. They often have high loan costs to pay, and all that bundles up into a very low standard of living for a period that may appear to be unending. It is a question with Andreas Lubitz, he was 27 years old and had only been flying for Germanwings for 18 months. He doesn’t appear to have had any other form of career.”

Capt. Chalk wanted to make it clear to me that he wasn’t including all airlines or even all budget airlines in his warnings.

“Some airlines are better than others, and the answer is not to pick on budget airlines but, rather, to ensure that regulators are insisting on minimal levels of safety that are prescribed at a global level.”

However, in the responses to the Dutch researchers, among the European budget carriers one stood out as the most egregious. They wrote: “The conditions at Ryanair are observed to be an area of concern… the position of pilots is becoming increasingly more precarious.”

Ryanair, based in Ireland, dwarfs all other European airlines. From January to November last year it carried 99.9 million passengers, and is planning to carry as many as 180 million by 2024. (In 2015 the total number of passengers carried by all U.S. airlines was 798 million.) In the six months ending Sept. 30, 2015, it had record earnings of 1.09 billion euros and expects its year-end profits to be up by at least 35 percent on the previous year.

Although Ryanair originally followed the business model pioneered by Southwest Airlines in the U.S., using only one type of airplane, the Boeing 737, and turning flights around much faster on each stop to get the most efficient use of equipment, the company’s notoriously hard-charging boss, Michael O’Leary, has since developed his own business model that screws down far harder on his airline’s costs; Ryanair’s unit labor cost is 6 euros per seat-mile, compared with Southwest’s equivalent of 35 euros.

Capt. Chalk’s problem with the Ryanair model is that it “moves risks from the employer to the employee.” And as a consequence, he says: “If you take away employment security from safety-sensitive staff you cause them to be much more careful about raising issues that they feel the employer doesn’t want to hear.”

One clear effect of this tension is that because pilots responding to the Ghent University survey were assured anonymity the number of Ryanair pilots who seized the opportunity to speak out was unusually high, 650 out of a total of around 3,000. (In contrast, out of 3,662 British Airways pilots only 73 responded.)

Of the total number of Ryanair pilots (the actual number can fluctuate between 3,000 and around 3,400) around 1,400 are captains and 1,700 are first officers. Between 85 and 90 percent of the captains are on permanent employee contracts, whereas as many as 80 to 90 percent of the first officers are on the self-employed contracts—the so-called bogus or agency contracts—where the pilot is acting, in effect, as a one-man company hiring out his services.

As the veteran pilot (who requested anonymity) points out, that’s a situation in which the majority of captains have job security and most of the first officers do not.

“Anybody who thinks there is no difference in the way those two groups respond to safety issues is living in Alice in Wonderland.”
Experienced captains get the better deal, he says, because “they are a core group and are much more difficult to replace.” On the other hand, “a first officer on an agency contract doesn’t get paid if he doesn’t fly.”

The airline’s pilots have frequently complained about how the company assigns home bases to its crews—these are the cities throughout Europe where crews are based according to the routes they fly. Generally senior captains can choose the cities closest to where they live, but first officers have complained of arbitrary assignments at short notice.

For example, last month the Ryanair Pilot Group that represents more than half of the airline’s pilots, complained that pilots at two German bases, Frankfurt-Hahn and Bremen, had been told that because fewer flights were being operated from these cities in the summer they would have to move to other cities. The pilots, said the Group, had been given just eight days to respond with their preferences without any indication that they would be met.
Ryanair pilots replying to the Ghent University survey also cited lack of sick leave as a source of undue pressure.

As one Ryanair pilot told The Daily Beast: “The typical pattern is that a pilot who has had more than five sick days in a year will get a notification on a Thursday or Friday to go to a meeting either in Stansted [near London] or Dublin the following Monday or Tuesday. In that time they have no possibility of getting professional advice over the weekend, and they won’t be told any specific details of what the meeting will focus on. It will be pointed out to them that it’s not really acceptable to be sick for more than five or six days in a year.”

Every six months all Ryanair pilots, captains and first officers, are required to have what is called recurrent training, where they are checked for their flying proficiency in a flight simulator. For every hour a Ryanair pilot flies passengers, 4.2 euros are deducted from his pay to cover the costs of this training.

However, despite what many pilots see as an unusually relentless pressure applied to the human costs of operating at Ryanair the airline has a virtually flawless record—not one fatal accident in 30 years of rapid expansion.
As Capt. Chalk noted: “Ryanair, along with all the other low-cost airlines, are very vocal that they do not compromise on safety. In large part, that is true. They often have young fleets of airplanes. I have no evidence that they cut corners with engineering, or that they don’t fulfill all the training criteria.”

It is also important to acknowledge that regimes like those at Ryanair and other low-cost carriers are, of course, part of the bargain that has been struck between us, the passengers, and an airline industry that has delivered a level of value and convenience that only a few decades ago would have seemed unattainable, and in doing so they ended a system of cartels that had kept fares beyond the reach of many.

This year nearly half the world’s population, 3.5 billion people, will be flying on scheduled air routes throughout the globe. And the safety record has never been better: In 2015 there were only three fatal accidents worldwide. That included the Germanwings mass murder-suicide and the Russian Metrojet crash in the Sinai that has been attributed to terrorism.

Those numbers translate into one death for every 40 million passengers.
How has this been achieved? Two things have happened simultaneously and coincided in their effects: radical new business models that make flying accessible to many more millions of people, and a technological leap in the safety-critical elements of commercial aviation. So staggering is this advance that if the ratio of fatal accidents to the number of flights remained where it was in 1962 we would be seeing a serious air crash every other day instead of barely any in a whole year.

In this transformation the pilots haven’t got smarter, the airplanes have, as well as all the navigation aids that support them. One by one the original main causes of crashes have been virtually eliminated: engine failure, metal fatigue and structural failure, weather, human error. (Last week’s crash of a FlyDubai Boeing 737 in Russia seems to have demonstrated that weather, if it combines with a chain of other factors, can still be lethal if due caution is not exercised by pilots and air traffic controllers. Fly Dubai has a budget-airline business model and the BBC is reporting that the pilot involved in the crash was about to quit because of fatigue problems—and that another pilot had fallen asleep at the controls from exhaustion.)

In an analysis made by Boeing, the three threads that characterize airline disasters—the overall accident rate, the fatal accident rate, and the total loss of an airplane—have all fallen steadily over the decades to a point where they very nearly merge at zero.

But pilots will always remain at the core of safety, the last resort in an emergency. And the demand for them will increase. Boeing has predicted that by 2034 as many as 558,000 pilots will be needed worldwide.

At the moment in Europe, though, there is a surplus of qualified pilots. (There is a shortage of pilots in the Middle East and China, and in North America the pool of pilots will soon be inadequate to meet growing demand.)
Cockpit automation has meant that the new generation of pilots has never had the “seat of the pants” instincts wired into them that older generations brought to the job. Nonetheless recent experiences (notably the crash of AirAsia Flight 8501 in December 2014) have shown that, more than ever, pilots need to keep sharp reflexes and well-trained responses for those moments when a human needs to intervene if the technology fails.

For that reason it would be dangerously complacent to see safety solely in terms of what shows up in accident statistics.

In the culture of budget airlines, for example, there could be, Capt. Chalk warns, “a growing risk that the management hasn’t yet become aware of, and may not be aware of until it manifests.”

And the veteran pilot adds: “If the criterion is simply, ‘Did we kill people?’ then safety isn’t a problem. But safety is not an absolute, it’s a spectrum of possibilities. The real question is not how many events you have had, but how many times did you come close?”

Of course, given all the pressures and personal hardships described here that are faced by aspiring airline pilots in Europe, the question is: Why do young people, as they clearly do, continue to enlist for pilot training? One pilot quoted in the Ghent University report said, “The flight schools are selling a dream to 18-year-old kids.”

And Captain Chalk agrees: “There is still an allure to flying, people will bend over backwards to get into the job.”
But then he cautions: “In this profession it’s not until your mid-thirties that you are getting to a point where most people would anticipate being in their mid-twenties. Income stability available to most professionals in their mid-twenties, certainly by the end of their twenties, is pushed back here a number of years beyond. It’s something that the Germanwings report didn’t address."

“When I began my career somebody paid for my training and I signed a commitment to work for them for a period of time, and so long as I worked for that period of time the training cost was absorbed by the company. They sank a significant investment in me and they wanted to see a return.
But the path I took to get my job is no longer available. It doesn’t exist any more. It is a very difficult prospect now. I’m not sure I would encourage my children to take up flying."
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Old 6th Apr 2016, 21:24
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I'm guessing flydubai could have said they haven't had a fatal crash in their history until a week ago.
That's the problem with safety, you never know when it will break down. As I have been unfortunate enough to have seen.
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Old 6th Apr 2016, 21:44
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I seem to recall that Lubitz was on over €60000 pa, just 3or 4 years into his career. The average UK graduate leaves university with a debt of £65000 with no guarantee of a well paid job at all. Whilst some of the comments in the thread have some validity, suggesting that money was at the route of Lubitz's issues is well wide of the mark.
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Old 6th Apr 2016, 22:36
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Yeah, that's what I meant by questioning Lubitz as the poster child for the problems mentioned in the article. He's not suitable for that, the problems are not in the realm of mental illness but in the very concrete and willfully construed socio-economic factors that degrade safety. Most of the article deals with those, bizzarely it took a case like Lubitz' to draw attention on them.
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Old 6th Apr 2016, 23:46
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Driving the workforce right along all legal and industry lobbied limits all the timit doesn't equate to safety either, comparable to driving a sports car all the time along the rev limiter. Yes, it will work, for some time.

Unfortunately now and then reality bites and some companies that think safety is too expensive will get to try an accident.

I always felt the best and final prevention for such unwelcome experiences are competent, confident, sharp pilots at the pointy end who have the ability to say 'no' if circumstances require. Companies may lack fantasy what they're setting themselves up for if they're not allowing those qualities to build.
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Old 7th Apr 2016, 00:24
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Only three fatal accidents in 2015 worldwide?
Ghent university in HOLLAND?
Mr. Irving doesn't seem to be very good a research.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 06:36
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sanity check!

a case could be made against the sanity of those who in the present state of the industry get 60,000+/- into debt to start flying. The chances of a decent return on that investment is diminishing.

The deteriorating working conditions only work because the pilot group and individual pilots accept them.

Safety implications: let's say, I'm in debt, I can't make money any other way-that could be equally viewed as a motivator to be extra safe, to study the regs and systems like your life depended upon that knowledge. I remember when I first started driving. When in dad's car, I was very safe since I knew I had hell to pay if I messed it up in any way. I only relaxed when driving my own cars. And after a few close calls...

looking for all the possible reasons why a pilot f..ks up...it all sits squarely on his/her shoulders. It's called personal responsibility. growing up.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 07:15
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Good point. I think the various XAA's should legislate for growing up. It should start with ICAO and filter down. Finally, a realistic and achievable answer to one of our industries biggest problems.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 07:20
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Originally Posted by stator vane View Post
looking for all the possible reasons why a pilot f..ks up...it all sits squarely on his/her shoulders. It's called personal responsibility. growing up.
Thankfully the industry has progressed to understand that there are many contributing factors in any incident and there is more value in trying to prevent them rather than simply identify the final human element as the unique cause.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 08:24
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I agree 2Planks.

Whilst such concerns are subjective, to suggest that a young man employed by a reputable company on a full-time contract, earning €60,000 a year, who had most of is his training costs paid by his employer was sufficiently stressed to commit mass-murder is misleading. Even at airlines where such terms & conditions don't exist, the biggest stress I've noticed from the right seat is worries about which fancy car to buy next.

After a working my bum off at school to get good A-levels, paying for a 3 year degree and 2 years post-graduate qualification, my first salary as a lawyer was £16,000 rising to £30,000 when I quit for flying 5 years later. For all the complaints about pay, pilots are still far better paid than their contemporaries in other industries.

But back in the flying industry, Deep and Fast is thinking on the same lines as me. Airlines who don't treat their employees with as much care as Germanwings ought to take this tragic event as serious warning sign.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 15:13
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Journey Man, I take it you are an industry bystander, not actually in it! The science in finding cause is used more to apportion blame than to aid in prevention, and the level of coverup and white washing is far more than even most insiders would believe. The industry is beholden to politics and money. Don't for a moment think that safety is a major consideration.
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Old 10th Apr 2016, 19:18
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legislate?

that's just more of the same. You want others to make a law to make pilots responsible?

I'm not saying there is any one factor, but especially in this day and age of accessible information, the only reason a pilot isn't aware of the possible factors of fatigue, illness, pressure from management to work long hours is his/her own choosing to be ignorant. The pilot should know more about the aircraft, systems and actual flying than is required. when knowing the responsibility sitting on their shoulders, they allow these things to happen, I do consider it to sit squarely in their lap.

I do what I can by prompting the first officers I fly with to "fly" the airplane rather than let it fly them.

Kerosene himself said it succinctly: "competent, confident sharp pilots...who have the ability to say no"...in spite of the pressures from management.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 00:10
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stator vane

looking for all the possible reasons why a pilot f..ks up...it all sits squarely on his/her shoulders. It's called personal responsibility. growing up.
that's just more of the same. You want others to make a law to make pilots responsible?
Your location seems to make you immune to detect the underlying problem worldwide:
You can’t aks for a law in regions where the law is in the hands of management. They adapt it in a heartbeat to suit their greed. Responsibility of frontliners is reduced to the required service and when it is applied in the name of safety, as there is a small lipservice paragraph in their books, the interpretation will be twisted to make it non compliance with company regulations.
That is what is considered deteriorating working conditions. Maybe undetectable from an office chair.

I'm not saying there is any one factor, but especially in this day and age of accessible information, the only reason a pilot isn't aware of the possible factors of fatigue, illness, pressure from management to work long hours is his/her own choosing to be ignorant.
You are showing a blatant ignorance of the working environement in the ie. ME. Or, if you were familiar with it, you would be showing a frightening amount of arrogance.
You can be well aware of a problem without being able to react correctly and being ignorant. It is called being powerless in regions without union or in a dictatorial environment.
I know, i know, we could all leave if we didn't like it. Believe me, most of us are working on it. But in the mean time statements like yours don't help and you are not gaining any respect or credibility.

I do what I can by prompting the first officers I fly with to "fly" the airplane rather than let it fly them.
The problem in these regions is, that they don’t want to be encouraged by you. They are more afraid of the higher-ups and will choose the other way any time. Would you force them to handfly? Although your tone suggests that, I guess even you would just stop short of that.

Kerosene himself said it succinctly: "competent, confident sharp pilots...who have the ability to say no"...in spite of the pressures from management.
Just about like the poor females in the Hindukush region would be able to say no if they didn’t feel like it ……

It is so easy from a nice office seat near STN to tell fellow pilots all around the world what to do. You were invoking “accessible information” to make a sound statement or judgement. It would have been great if you’d have taken your own advice before ignorantly blaming others.

Your statements might not be wrong, many of us might underwrite them, but even Marx's theories were not stupid.
It's all about applicability, or shall we say situational awareness?
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 00:38
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Lubitz was earning a sum and occupying a seat that many American regional pilots dream of.
To equate the actions of an individual with serious mental illness who somehow slipped through the cracks with a typical young pilot who has incurred a substantial debt in his efforts to break into the industry is absurd.
Things are apparently not easy for young pilots seeking to make a career of it on either side of the Atlantic, which explains the ease with which certain Middle Eastern and Asian carriers are able to staff their cockpits with zero training investment of their own.
It has ever been thus.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 01:51
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You want others to make a law to make pilots responsible?
No. I was being facetious in the vane hope that it would highlight how ineffective your assertion that pilots "growing up" was the answer.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 15:19
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Glofish vs Stator Vane:

Just to clarify what I've said in a post above:

I always felt the best and final prevention for such unwelcome experiences are competent, confident, sharp pilots at the pointy end who have the ability to say 'no' if circumstances require. Companies may lack fantasy what they're setting themselves up for if they're not allowing those qualities to build.
The ability to say 'no' depends both on personal qualities as well as corporate cultures that support it, where management have understood the possible consequences of not doing so. Accident reports are full of cases where crew members failed to speak up in spite of better knowledge.

Civil Aviation Authorities around the world exist for the sole purpose of ensuring safe aerial transportation for the public. It's their damned responsibility to know what's going on at the airlines they license and oversee. There can be no excuse for them to 'overlook' when airlines become creative and invent money-making schemes from junior pilots or create workplace conditions akin to master and serf from times long past. In conditions as those the person able to say 'no' will become the rare exception, not the rule.

I'm waiting for the first case where a thrifty aviation damages lawyer will sue the pants off those implicated in creating and accepting conditions that became contributory to an accident. Perhaps only then we'll start to see things change.

Meanwhile, if you find yourself in a situation where you feel pressured to do things that you feel are unsafe, remember you owe it to yourself and those you carry responsibility for to draw the line and say 'no', no matter the material consequences. All your dreams of a career in aviation are no good when you find yourself in an accident you could have prevented.

No one will thank you for putting your head in.

Fly safe.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 18:36
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In a word it's called 'integrity'... 'nuff said !
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 19:12
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Please forgive me if I don't really get what is going on here.

Someone actually brings up the awful working conditions some pilots must endure on a daily basis. This makes big news.

And some of you are complaining about this? Because Lubitz had some crazy? Isn't the whole point that the issue is finally being raised?

Personally I would think this is awesome. Lubitz employment contract might not be typical of the average ME or Ryanair pilot, but... the issue is raised and somewhere the awareness is setting in. That is a good thing, don't you agree?
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 20:03
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MrSnuggles has it right.

It is discomforting Lubitz is headlining concerns about deteriorating conditions and safety implications in our industry, but so what?

There's public exposure, finally there are journalists who run the story. That's a good thing.
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Old 11th Apr 2016, 22:11
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The race to the bottom and deterioration of working conditions is a modern disease of uncontrolled capitalism: managers are paid bonuses if they reduce costs and achieve ambitious targets, often managers are brainwashed to a point where they genuinely believe that constant improvement is possible and indefinitely achievable, this approach has been causing new form of slaveries in all industries where workforces are squeezed to the extreme and pushed to the limit. This is especially true when constant improvement is applied to costs. The LowCo model is the biggest threat to our wellbeing and our health, not just in aviation, many examples of the LowCo model are in retail, travel, hospitality, manufacturing, IT, and many other industries. I am seriously worried about the mental health of our modern societies: a few top earners making millions, the vast majority working under "inhumane" or "challenging" conditions (long hours, minimum rest, excessive workload, etc), it is not a coincidence that mental health is becoming a serious and frequent issue in most modern societies. Working hard should be a pleasure, the pilot job should be amazingly rewarding and fascinating as it used to be, but we do not need to go as far as pilots to notice the deterioration in working conditions over the recent years, even working for an airline as cabin crew or ground staff used to be a dream job until a few years ago!... these dreams have now gone, unfortunately corporations have taken advantage of human beings and the results are obvious: poor working conditions, fatigue, stress and so on.
I am not a communist and I still believe that capitalism is the best option however due to human selfishness and unlimited greed we need to find the right balance or we will perish, we need to push our governments to introduce better working conditions for all and protect what we have achieved over the centuries, we also need to reinforce industrial relationships through strong and better engaged Unions. The German model is a good example of modern capitalism and government regulations: very high productivity against good salaries and excellent working conditions, most of the North of Europe can be taken as a good example of controlled Capitalism. Very different from the USA where the aberrations of uncontrolled capitalism are becoming more and more evident: e.g. not only pilots conditions but a vast proportion of the entire US economy is based on poor mass working conditions, e.g. low wages, long hours, minimum vacation, no sickness payments, etc (just ask airport workers in there as an example)...e.g. tips as main source of income in the hospitality and food industry, and so on.
We cannot indefinitely reduce costs, we will pay a massive price in the long term if we do not legislate in favour of good working conditions. It is very simple really.
I was also very critical against Unions in the past but I have to admit now that without good Unions the general population working conditions are totally unprotected from exploitation. It is already happening.
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