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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

Old 16th Dec 2010, 22:55
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There are airmen and there are pilots: the first being part bird whose view from aloft is normal and comfortable, a creature whose brain and muscles frequently originate movements which suggest flight; and then there are pilots who regardless of their airborne time remain earth-loving bipeds forever. When these latter unfortunates, because of one urge or another, actually make an ascension, they neither anticipate nor relish the event and they drive their machines with the same graceless labor they inflict upon the family vehicle.
Ernest Gann

A few airlines still employ airmen(most notably SWA) but most look for SOP automatons or that dreaded word "flight manager".I would say the old breed is probably just about dead or retired out by now and the automatons have taken up permanent residence.The Stepford push-button pay-for-everything-yourself type is meek and subservient and shows good crm.Hes popular with the beancounters because he plays by the book,minds his p's and q's and knows theres no place in todays world for a real pilot.They are sheep in sheep's clothing,perfectly contented with and attuned to the "graceless labor" of todays flying.

I would be very surprised if Qantas does not cherish airmanship and traditional stick-and-rudder.I believe they still look for a pilot, not a suit.Someone tell me Im wrong.

Anyone can do the job when things are going right
Ernest Gann

A pilot,ok system operator.may go a whole lifetime without a single emergency.Such is the reliability of todays machines.So yes the beancounters can get away with employing suits who push buttons and fly by rote.That makes the professional airman redundant,a figment of our imagination.We have the FMC and magenta line so who needs navigation?Can you see todays pilot doing what Gordon Vette did over the pacific ocean 30 years back when he saved a lost GA pilot?We have FADEC so who needs flight engineers but the skies were much safer with them.Sophisticated autopilots and FD's(great tools) quickly dull your senses and make you very dependent if you let them.But Im no Luddite and agree you have to change with the times.Ill attend the crm classes with the politically-correct chat and try not to quote Gann and Ill try not to grimace when they say a pilot is a "flight manager" or that experience is over-rated or that a cadet with 200 hours sitting in the right seat of a commercial jet is perfectly viable and not there because it lines the pockets of the beancounters.Ill do it because I love the view from the office..But Im not happy about it.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 23:03
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SWA doesn't hold a monopoly on airmanship. We had lots of guys who could fly a crowbar approach etc.

But our managers bought planes (and got rewarded with a villa in the south of france...if you know what I mean) that are less flexibile in their flying.

I remember one small airline I flew for, that later grew into the largest regional there is...the ticket counter girls kept on saying: we can run this airline without pilots by just selling tickets on other airlines.

Management is kicking our asses...any union out there should consider changing the railway labor act (in the USA) to allow all pilots to walk off the job simultaneously
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 23:30
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Actually, that is wrong. MPL students are hired as future captains, same as their peers that did go through a normal abinitio course before them. After 1500 hours on the line, around 2 years, their MPL CPL will be converted into a normal frozen CPL and in the course of a normal upgrade/command course will generate enough PICus hours to issue a normal ATPL.
I have seen 2 MPL syllabi, and neither of them contained enough PIC time for either a CPL or an IR. They were WAY different than a traditional ab initio course, with MANY fewer airplane hours!

Please forward a link to the relevant regulation that says an MPL will be converted into a CPL.

Maybe the JAA recognizes PICus hours as PIC time, but the US FAA does not. Do any other authorities recognize it? I don't know that the FAA recognizes PICus as anything other than SIC time...
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 01:52
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Wow! After reading a few of these most recent posts it would seem that a lot of the current pilot’s pilots are just about ready to give up on the profession that they claim to love and profess to miss should the current trends continue. I was brought up on the concept of being able to recognize when something wasn’t as you would desire, determine what would be necessary to make the appropriate corrections, and begin work to see that those corrections are made.

Here, it is unlikely that the pilot vacancies that appear to be on the horizon are going to be able to be filled with the same sort of back-grounded pilots that originally filled them back when they were last vacant. Some have said that only the same type of pilot applicant will be acceptable. What they don’t seem to recognize is that particular course of action is simply not going to be an alternative. So … now what? Join the “oh poor me” club? Grumble your way to retirement? What?

Sorry folks – I am a bit more “pro-active” than that. I’m going to see what the forward thinking proponents of the aviation system may have to offer – and I’m going to offer my two cents – for whatever those guy may think it to be worth. So … sit on the side lines … offer your criticisms if you choose … complain to whomever you care to … make your remaining time in this industry as painful as you care to … that’s your choice. However there are some who believe that attempting to make a difference will make a difference. It is that group of professionals with whom I will choose to exchange ideas, offer suggestions, listen to objections and other ideas. There is little doubt that such effort will produce something more worthwhile than what may be achieved by simply complaining about what the industry used to be.
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 07:09
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Intruder, of course i was speaking about JAA stuff here, or rather EASA as JAA is now a thing of the past.

Our students do get issued an MPL which is limited to multicrew operation in their training airlines (MPL is always restricted to one airline only), after 1500 hours experience they can apply and get issued either a normal ATPL or CPL, depending on additional training, with a command course they will get an ATPL as a command course contains enough PICus hours. Not likely in our case as usual time to upgrade is somewhere around 10 to 15 years or more and they do not need to get a PIC typerating until then anyway, we might introduce a senior FO position for augmented crews which would need a PIC rating and ATPL, but currently we fly without that.

The one thing even their CPL will have is a restriction for multicrew operation if they would do a minimum MPL course, to get around that you can simply allow a few more airplane hours and a full PPL during training or require them to get additional training. However MPL training has to be done in the environment of a specific airline and can not be offered without guaranteed flying in that airline for at least 1500 hours. Traditional "open" ATPL training providers can not offer a MPL unless they partner up with an airline. There are not all that many MPL schemes around in europe, i know of Lufthansa, Swiss and a few others who do it, but the majority still needs an integrated course.

A normal integrated course will usually give 200 airplane hours, the MPLs i know of do around 70 to 120 airplane hours plus around 300 to 400 full flight simulator hours, of which there are none in a traditional integrated course. A required element of the MPL course is upset recovery training, which has to be done on a real airplane, in our case that's 2 hours on an aerobatic plane, students have the opportunity to pay for a few more hours and get their aerobatic rating as well and many do that, there is no requirement for that in a traditional course.

So on one hand we do have the "traditional" integrated course which requires around 200 hour of airplane training plus a few hours FNPT but allows single pilot flying, on the other hand we do have the MPL with around 70 to 120 hours in airplanes plus a few hundred hours in full flight simulators and additional training steps which allows single pilot ops on SEL (via the integrated PPL) and multi crew flying for anything other than PPL and who was trained within the airline he will be flying for using their SOPs and training philosophy after a very very thorough selection process.
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 12:33
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From the basic phase on(Seminole hours, FNPT and MCC on either Bus or Boeing) however everything is done using multipilot procedures
In New Zealand, cadets from various Asian operators were trained to operate as a crew on Seminoles. One cadet would be nominated as "captain" and flew from the LH seat while his colleague in the RH seat would be the copilot or PNF. The PNF would raise and lower the gear, run the radios, haul the flap lever manually up or down, read long checklists and generally do what copilots do. The Seminole is designed to be flown as a single pilot trainer yet this was not permitted by the flying school. Every flight was two crew because that what was what the sponsoring airline demanded. So procedures were invented to give the copilot something to keep him busy and checklists arranged to look like airline checklists. All this in a simple trainer like a Seminole.

. When the students were practicing for their forthcoming instrument ratings, an instructor would be in the RH seat and act as the PNF. Very few command decisions were made by the PF since some had language difficulties and could not communicate effectively with ATC.

The instructor also effectively did everything as described previously. All the PF had to do was flying headings and maintain speed. Mostly the autopilot was used. The instrument rating route was flown several times until the student knew it off by heart. Basically it was a triangular cross country flight. During the actual instrument rating test (flown as a two crew exercise) again the testing officer acted as PNF doing all the radio work and basic navigation, tuning navaids, doing the gear and flaps etc.

The end result was at no point did the student make all the decisions required of a single pilot operation. They were rarely truly in command because the flying school did not trust them to go out of the circuit area without an instructor. Within a few miles radius of their aerodrome two cadets could fly as two crew but it was the PNF that did all the radio etc.

Training cadets to use two crew procedures in a single pilot trainer was nonsense. Far better to bite the bullet and if the cadet was competent then he should have been flying solo and making real command decisions rather than playing airline pilots in a Seminole...
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 14:10
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But didn't you say that one cadet would play the role of PF whilst the other would play the role of PNF? So assuming they switched every cadet would have learned both roles?
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 15:17
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Golf Sierra,

if there is an instructor on board, there is never, ever that feeling of "self reliance" on part of the student. Because the student knows, that the instructor will fix it.

A37575,

what about the requirements of solo flight time, pic time, etc....or do they not have those requirements for a license/rating?
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Old 17th Dec 2010, 15:53
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I'll take the pilot with 3000 hours who has experienced serious in-flight emergencies and survived to fly another day than the guy with 10000 hours who hasn't (unless the 10000 hour pilot rectified a problem on the ground before it became a problem in-flight ).

ECAM Actions.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 07:12
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What matters is whether a guy/gal is 'switched on' (to use a rather coarse description). I've flown with low hours pilots new to airline operation who exhibit far more ability, skill, resourcefulness, intelligence, human cooperation, composure, planning, foresight, caution, thoroughness and normal, predictable behaviour than many very high hours 'pilots' with vast airline experience. In fact, some of the latter category shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an airliner cockpit.

So don't tell me how many hours a pilot has, or how much airline experience, or whether they know what Reynold's Number is. Give me a (often surprisingly short) time operating with them in a two-crew cockpit; that's by far the best test of their basic, most important qualities, as listed above. Such an assessment is also remarkably resistant to the test of time.

That's not so say you give them an airline command position without sufficient experience. Regardless of innate abilities, command does require a decent spread of exposure to a range of situations. Again, however, there are a surprising number of long-established Captains with vast hours who should be shown the exit.

To answer the thread question more directly, there isn't a lack of decent airmen/pilots. There is, however, a lack of decent recognition of who they are. As a consequence, many poor airmen/pilots are recruited and allowed to prevail.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 07:40
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Very well said!
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 11:31
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what about the requirements of solo flight time, pic time, etc....or do they not have those requirements for a license/rating?
It was few years ago so I don't have that info.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 11:40
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Regardless of innate abilities, command does require a decent spread of exposure to a range of situations.
Fortunately with the excellent reliability of modern jet transports, engine failures, systems failures and even weather radar failures, are things of the past and the "decent spread" of situations is relegated to nothing more serious than an FMC failure. Although, I must say that to todays pilot, an FMC failure is sometimes enough to raise a sweat on furrowed brow on a pilot brought up on the marvels of automation.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 13:30
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Fortunately with the excellent reliability of modern jet transports, engine failures, systems failures and even weather radar failures, are things of the past
No they are not.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 18:04
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Problematic ones are !

l remember 3 mayday calls l made in 5 flights, fully signed off as airworthy aircraft. The fleet type was being changed and money could not be "wasted" on parts renewal for someone else`s benefit.

Anyway, Lonewolf l thankyou for your interest but you are wrong.

Should this be on Rumours and News ?
Terms and Endearment more likely.

Last edited by overun; 19th Dec 2010 at 02:44.
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Old 18th Dec 2010, 23:29
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What matters is whether a guy/gal is 'switched on' (to use a rather coarse description). I've flown with low hours pilots new to airline operation who exhibit far more ability, skill, resourcefulness, intelligence, human cooperation, composure, planning, foresight, caution, thoroughness and normal, predictable behaviour than many very high hours 'pilots' with vast airline experience. In fact, some of the latter category shouldn't be allowed anywhere near an airliner cockpit.

So don't tell me how many hours a pilot has, or how much airline experience, or whether they know what Reynold's Number is. Give me a (often surprisingly short) time operating with them in a two-crew cockpit; that's by far the best test of their basic, most important qualities, as listed above. Such an assessment is also remarkably resistant to the test of time.

That's not so say you give them an airline command position without sufficient experience. Regardless of innate abilities, command does require a decent spread of exposure to a range of situations. Again, however, there are a surprising number of long-established Captains with vast hours who should be shown the exit.

To answer the thread question more directly, there isn't a lack of decent airmen/pilots. There is, however, a lack of decent recognition of who they are. As a consequence, many poor airmen/pilots are recruited and allowed to prevail.
Absolutely spot on that post, couldn't agree more.
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Old 19th Dec 2010, 03:14
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The more experience, the better.
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Old 19th Dec 2010, 10:12
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Here! Here!
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Old 19th Dec 2010, 12:14
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A member of the caterpillar classes

There is all the difference in the world between a pilot with ten years experience and a pilot with one months experience one hundred and twenty times. This is why someone who came up the hard way through instructing, crop dusting, biz jets, and so on, is likely to be a better airline pilot, when something goes wrong, than an ex cadet with 250 hours. You would not hear, "what's it doing now", on the CVR. What you would hear is, "expletive, expletive, turn the bloody lot off I'll fly the expletive ship". This attitude is far more likely to leave to a good outcome even if it results in a river landing than have all attention focussed on a computer screen at the expense of less entrancing tasks like looking out of the window.
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Old 19th Dec 2010, 13:33
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SNS3Guppy:
You have directly ridiculed a point I raised, and I gave a reference from where I drew my comment from: the CX Wannabe's Forum. You denied a FACT without researching it first. So, allow me to indulge the disbelievers: (as frustrating as it is to do the research to prove what I knew, hence the reference!)

QUOTE: (!!)
"Hi, a quick run-down of my flight experience:

At the time of my application I held a CPL, just got a grade 3 instructor rating, and had just began training for a MECIR. My total hours were 300 of which about 15 hours were from a one day per week part time job as an instructor.

I was a little nervous about my interviews as well, it's quite normal and I'm sure they know that. The staff did their best to make me feel comfortable. After my interview I wrote down as many of the questions I could remember. Here are some of the questions I was asked in my stage one 45 min interview:

Human Resource Questions:

1) Describe yourself
2) Do I play any team sports?
3) Why change careers?
4) What do I do in my spare time?
5) What did I like about Hong Kong? (I told them I'd been there before)
6) What did I do in Hong Kong?
7) What do I know about the cadet program?
8) What do I know about the SO?
9) Do I know what the living conditions are like in Hong Kong?
10) Why work part-time as an instructor?
11) What do my parents think of me being here at the interview?
12) What did my parents think when I decided to become a pilot?
I didn't deny any "facts."

The fact is that you have no experinece, and weren't interviewing for a pilot position. You were interviewing for an entry-level training cadet position. Not at all the same as the former DEFO type positions. Of course you can be expected to be asked what your parents think of you being at the interview. You can also be expected to be asked if you want milk and cookies at the break, and what color your favorite crayon is.

You're not being hired at that stage to be a front line pilot, inflight relief pilot, or even a qualified coffee-maker. You're being hired to be a student, and most who hire into that position are going to be young enough that asking what their parents think is a legitimate question. HR typically asks a variety of questions which are entirely unrelated to one's flying background or skills. Psychological tests extend as far as questions such as "If you had to kill your mother or your father, which one would you kill?" Being asked questions about honesty, preferences in sports, and other topics outside aviation are common tactics, and are designed to explore your personality, your ability to think on your feet, your consistency in your answers, and so forth.

You'll note that all the questions you cited in the group involving your parents were of the same nature, and all unrelated to flying. In fact, the questions regarding your parents were the most closely aligned with flying, of any HR questions asked. Your post, then, was deceitful. You attempted to suggest that CX (et al) today prefers to ask questions not about flying, but rather about your parents. In fact, to quote, you said "Interview questions used to be along the lines of "How did you accrue your hours? What lessons did you learn? Tell me about Vmca / Vmcg (piston vs twin jet).... How does the IRS work (then strap down gyros, etc...) Nowadays it's: "What do your parents think of you becoming a pilot?" (refer CX Wannabes forum)."

This is tantamount to a lie, then, because you go on to tell us that you were asked questions regarding dutch roll, lift generation, induced drag, and flap operation. You've attempted to assert that airlines are more interested in mindless, unimportant information, when interviewing a candidate, than in the candidates qualifications. This is smoke, and a lie.

Did you not pass the interview? Are you upset? Do you feel you were asked questions that weren't the "right questions" to get you in the door? Or were you hired, and still not satisfied? Let me stop you right now: if you weren't hired, then whining about it will only be a case of sour grapes. If you were hired, then whining about it is poor form and will likely result in some grief from your employer. If you weren't hired, then join the throng of others who haven't been hired, be happy for the experience and education, and move on. If you have been hired, then be happy for the job, learn all you can, and move on.

You're not by any chance taking potshots at betpump5, the uninformed philipino troll, are you? If so, that's a very poor comparison to make with the rest of the pilot body, and you know it.

This thread is about the diminishing standards or professionalism and airmanship. So please, when you state "Let's get real" then please argue from an informed position where FACT not (wishful) opinion is employed....
In the US, standards are being raised, insofar as the minimum, and insofar as airline operations are concerned.

This isn't wishful thinking, but fact. That it will have any bearing on safety is largely questionable, as hours mean nothing; experience, more, and training well received, the bottom line.

Lastly, note the Qf SECOND Officer's experience: 8000 hrs. In far, far too many airlines from what I have seen nowadays, hours like that without a commuter jet command would deem this pilot a failure. At QF he is still deemed an asset.
To which airlines do you refer that would suggest eight thousand hours deems a pilot a failure? Not having flown for a commuter deems a pilot a failure? Utter claptrap. What of the military pilot with two thousand hours (high time, for many military pilots) who seeks and obtains a position? What of the corporate pilot with five thousand of those eight thousand hours as pilot-in-command of turbojet high performance airplanes?

You have a problem with an eight thousand hour pilot being "deemed an asset?" Why, pray tell?
The AI FO in the Mangalore tragedy had just over 3600 hrs TT if my memory serves me correct and up for command as he was "highly experienced" (but not experienced or trained enough to take over control having his go around calls ignored).
Your point here is what, exactly?

So, the point still stands: are airline standards diminishing? In my opinion, YES. This is from my witnessed accounts and the trend of increasing incident rates at airlines like SIN (refer Airline accident ratings), anecdotal studies show where younger, less experienced pilots are fast tracked into LHS / RHS without the previously had experience (that was needed to be respectfully & professionally paid for: reference is personal knowledge of internal SIN Safety Dept info, sorry can't give the source).
I don't know singapore and haven't flown on them, and won't therefore comment on them.

In the US, training is taken seriously, with substantial oversight. To make an attempt at suggesting that a pilot's ability to perform is tied to his total hours is ridiculous. Training, aptitude, background, attitude, experience, intelligence, judgment, and so forth determine the pilot's value in the position. Total hours are relatively unimportant. For the pilot who comes to a company without a full pedigree and 30 years in the cockpit, there is training. For the pilot who comes to a company with a full pedigree and over 30 years in the cockpit, there is the same training. You understand this relationship? Both parties must pass the same training to the same standard of performance.

In my initial class at my present employer, about half the applicants who started the class made it to flying the line. That class was composed of a wide variety of backgrounds, ranging from regional operations to military to firefighters to corporate to extensive airline. Of those who interviewed for the position, the initial class makeup, having passed interviews and sim checks, was but a fraction, and half of those completed the training successfully and were hired. Of those who did complete the training and go on the line, there was no question that they could perform to the standard, and were therefore acceptable for the job. Once on the line, an unyielding line training program took place.

I'm no slouch. I grew up flying formation under powerlines as a kid, crop dusting. I have been there and done that, quite frankly, and I'm sure I took the longest out of any in our initial hire class to complete the initial operating experience training and get released to the line. I can assure you that I wasn't given a pass, and that any one of the check airmen with whom I flew in the airplane or the simulator wouldn't have hesitated to wash me out of the program, as they did others.

Historically our captain upgrades have run at about a 50% pass/fail rate. That is to say, up to half of the applicants from within the company, every one a fully qualified line pilot, generally with several years experience flying for this company (as well as any others in their past), haven't been able to pass the training, line training, or checkride. That isn't indicative of poor pilots, but an unyielding program that gives no quarter. In other words, the company is serious about their training program. The company has put punishments in place that include penalties for failure to upgrade, to put a curb on those who apply who aren't absolutely ready for the training that follows. Applicants who don't make it are seatlocked, can't bid out, must acquire an additional five hundred hours in type before thinking about it again, and still can't apply until their seat lock period is up. Two training failures, and they lose their job. No recycling people repeatedly through the pipeline.

Perhaps this sounds to you like a decrease in the quality of pilots and training, but it sounds a lot to me like a training department that takes itself seriously, and a company that takes it's pilot standards equally as seriously. As I have watched the evolution of the training programs, company approach to safety, and the line checks and quality assurance that goes on, I have only seen a gradual improvement in the tone, effort, design, and nature of that program. Additional line spot checks have been implemented, additional simulator training, and thorough reviews and oversight by the FAA, by company personnel, by a professional standards committee, by internal monitoring programs, by pilot feedback, and by roving check airman have served to elevate the bar.

Rest assured, we're not alone.

Now, if you want to hold up CX as indicative of diminished standards, bear in mind that by reputation, CX has always had the toughest interview, and had always held a high reputation for being a tough training program. You may be barking up the wrong tree, particularly if you're attempting to draw a parallel between the cadet program and any airline's program of hiring actual pilots. There's a gulf of difference between hiring a cadet (a trainee) and a line pilot.

So, let's not keep confusing SAFETY with LUCK.
I really don't think anybody here is doing that. Upon what rocky foundation to you base this myth?
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