Around the Airport

Friday, June 11, 2010

The Myth of Flight Hours - Follow up to The Myth of Professionalism

If I were given the option to permanently affect the future of one word I think it would be “hero.” How would I change it? That’s simple; I would attach forever this statement, “Beware of false prophets.”  Unfortunately, those who make the rules for aviation have a passion for them.

The recent push for airline new hires to have a high minimum number of flight hours prior to employment is one great example.  Spewed with the greatest fervor from those who are deemed experts in aviation, this idea simultaneously stinks and perpetuates what is possibly the most well known myth of aviation; hours equals ability.  And yet, as I write this, there are more and more of the these so called experts influencing more people of power than ever before and it's up to us to stop it.  Let it go and we could have another famous quote, “Never before, have so many, done so much, with so little real knowledge, to screw so many, out of so much.”
OK folks, for those of you with a penchant for heroes, please sit down and brace yourself because what I have to share with you could be traumatic; the crew of “The Miracle in The Hudson” are among this group. But don’t fret, they are not the only ones who believe hours equal experience. Through the years, this idea has destroyed thousands of aircraft, brought the death of thousands of people, and created many sleepless nights for those in charge of aviation damage control.  Yet with all the history and all that we know about this problem, we are now being told our airline pilots need more hours before they can work for a 121 carrier. How blatantly stupid can you be?

Admittedly those with no knowledge of aviation are likely to see this as a good idea, but for someone who supposedly knows aviation to fall for this myth reveals a real lack of understanding. This leads me to the reason for my follow up on “The Myth of Professionalism.”

A great friend of mine used to say “Some have 5000 hours and some have one hour 5000 times” and he was right. He had flown civilian, military, and commercial and he knew that in the end, it is the quality of one’s flight training and experience, not hours logged that makes the pilot. Unfortunately, the training in this country has gone to crap and students no longer get any experience before joining the airlines.

So what are we to do to get better pilots?  Maybe we should air our dirty laundry.  After all, everyone knows that admitting your problem is the first step to recovery.  How about it?

Hours for jobs is an extremely poor idea. Mass production is a bad idea. And pilots flying with no real world experience is not a good idea either. What we need right now are people who are willing to stand up and speak the truth.  I was trained at a 141 school and was ripped off, military pilots are not any better than civilian pilots, and reacting to a perceived public outcry with bad ideas only causes more problems are just a few of the things I would like to hear from those who claim to know what they are talking about.  This would also show me that they are willing to admit a reality that might be uncomfortable for many different groups to face.  Give me a kid who's been flying medical specimens in Barons, single pilot, or doing the same for the FedEx feeder service in Caravans at all times of the night in all kinds of weather and I'd put him up against any airline pilot that came from the military or 141 school on any day of any year because I know the truth.  He might only have 800 hours and he might have been flying in a single crew aircraft, but he'd wipe their butts all over the cloud covered canvas in which we work.   Sadly though, it is these pilots, perhaps today's best pilots, who are being singled out by Congress, the FAA, and false prophets alike as not qualified due to their lack of hours and single crew experience.

This is a bad idea folks and I hope you take the chance to let those involved with this process know how stupid it really is.  If you manage to reach them, offer this solution to their desires.

Pull the file on every major airline accident in the last thirty years.
Find the highest pilot and note how many hours he or she had.
Require everyone flying for an airline to have a minimum of that many hours.
Fire and forbid any pilot with less hours than this to work for a 121 carrier.

Since these people are so serious about safety and they believe hours equal experience, it only makes sense that the person with the most hours of experience to ever fly a plane into the ground would set the minimum limit for new hires.  Historically speaking, no commercial pilot with more hours than that has ever had an accident and we could all feel safe that there would never be another accident; ever.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Young People!
The new website is simply FANTASTIC...easy and fun to negotiate...fantastic photography and is (and _has_ been since day one, informative, inspirational, thought provoking and well written for the aviation enthusiast as well as grass-loving taildragger pilots worldwide!!

Hoping to get down in Sept.
david lord