03 January 2010

"The Middle Seat" 2010 Wishlist - Safety.

Scott McCartney WSJ's Middle Seat Columnist has done his annual wishlist for 2010.

He covers several very important areas:

Airport Security
The TSA in general
Flight Safety - Pilot Fatigue.

I applaud his taking this stand. But will anyone listen?

I would like to pick on one issue which is that of Pilot Fatigue. Firstly I am not anti-pilot - far from it - but I do believe a certain degree of reasonableness is required on the part of the Pilots, together with the authorities and the airlines.

The issue I have is with the domicile. Pilots are stationed in a domicile and are required to start their journeys from the domicile irrespective of where they might actually lay their hats on a regular basis. The case of the 2 Colgan Pilots (involved in the accident of CO3407) who both had extensive journeys to their respective domiciles before coming on duty is a case in point. The Pilot rest issue is exacerbated by the travel to and from their domicile's so that in due time the pilot's are not actually getting their legally mandated rest. This poses a severe strain on the pilots mental and physical readiness that is not addressed. Crew Rostering has become much tighter in recent years and the issue of Air Crew (not just pilots) stand down time. No one is not at fault here. The authorities (FAA and the DOT as well as the NTSB) are more than aware of the issue. The Pilot representative bodies and the airline managements all share responsibility for this problem. Ultimately it must be the Pilot's own responsibility to determine if he is safe to fly or not. The system must work so that this is not a case of someone pushing themselves beyond their own limits. Sadly - this is an issue that remains largely unaddressed.

With better knowledge and tools it must be the responsibility of the authorities to investigate and rule accordingly.

The fact that American is under investigation for no less than 3 landing accident or mishaps in the past month should be a warning sign to everyone. This is not a subject that needs further study. There has been quite a lot. It is a subject that demands action.

So let's deal with this soon. Like now.


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