Learn to Fly
7 day IFR Rating
Note from Darren: "Captain
Anonymous" is back with his fourth
article. He is a pilot for a major airline and holds the position
Captain in a
widebody jet. Just a few years from retiring, he holds a
schedule which has him traveling approximately 11 days per month.
The rest of the month, he spends thinking about the things he now
writes here. Yes, he is opinionated and abrasive but I would
expect nothing less from a true
gentleman who's been flying for 36 years. I am not responsible
for his opinions and they may not represent my own values and opinions.
Capt Anonymous: Pressure Rising
by Captain Anonymous
Guest Column, June 2007
The pressure is
building and the younger pilots are starting to crack. Look at
these headlines (right).
While pilots who fly widebody like myself have it a little easier than
the rest, the majority of pilots are under considerable strain.
I'm particularly concerned about the pilots at my own airline but this
is affecting the whole industry. Folks, we used to have the best
and brightest in the cockpit. With pay scales what they are, the
best and the brightest can get more lucrative
employment in other fields. United and Northwest are recalling all
their pilots who were furloughed after September 11th. Most
aren't coming back according to our union. For all the other
professions, we're paying near minimum wages to marginally
qualified new employees. As cheaper workers
infilftrate the ranks, slower service in all areas (cleaning, fueling,
mechanical, unloading) and quality of the work is affecting the
passengers. My airline is staffing airplanes with the bare minimum
numbers of flight attendants which was unheard of 10 years ago.
cutting costs and paying less and expecting everyone to hang tight or
"we're going to replace you with a cheaper worker" with zero experience.
As a result, we are having all kinds of financial problems, suffering
all kinds of life changes that we never anticipated when we started
this career. I don't have a fancy
triangle or a safety engineer's theory, but I can tell you that on
the short list, the problems are:
Some of my fellow pilots have left for greener pastures in other
fields, others have committed suicide. Yes -- suicide. This is
serious and I'm
not sure where its going to lead, but I know its ugly. There is a
new attitude among airline employees: a quiet, hostile, defensiveness
which seems to be spring loaded for disaster. Up until 7 years
ago, airline employees loved what they did and stayed with their
airlines for a career that typically lasted a lifetime. Salaries
were above averages, benefits were above averages, and people were
motivated. We're now 7 years after September 11th and passenger
counts are greater than they were before that event. We're doing
all the same work with 100,000 less airline employees. That's
another way that airlines strip away layers of safety that has made us
the safest industry in the USA. The medical field kills 100,000
people a year but if aviation did that, no one would ever fly in
another airplane again. What do you think is going to
happen? The most recent declaration to the CVR was, "I hope the
automation saves us, I'm not sure I can do it." The pilot was
referring to landing a planeload full of people after a 14 hour day
which started at 5am.
- Increased divorces, child custody problems
- Loosing it, snapping, feeling on the edge
- Lifestyle changes due to massive wage cuts
- Credit problems and bankruptcy
- Pilot's worrying about their cheating spouses
- Lack of or loss of retirement benefits/pensions
- See more Life
The people that remain at the airline love their jobs, probably dream
about the old
days, and hope everything gets better. Of pilots, I think that
One of my fellow pilots said to me, "Where's the breaking point?"
These stressors are factors that the accounting department can't
calculate. This is going to increase the costs of labor.
One of my fellow pilots went on record in the Wall Street Journal and
said, "An airline career is not worth it anymore. It's a very different
profession than it was 23 years ago when I started."
- 10% "life is great - we're going to make it"
- 30% broken spirited but hopeful
- 60% angry, passive aggressive, and only doing the
I've only got a few more years before the age 60 rule retires me.
I've got more questions than answers. The next wave of layoffs
and bankruptcies are just around the corner. Its been like
clockwork since the 70's gas crunch, the 80's controller strike, the
90's gulf war, and September 11th -- all happening at the beginning of
each decade. It scares the hell out of the younger pilots.
They don't see the
bright light at the end of all of this. And when they do, its
a train right?
Special note to
Anthony: Bought my last BBQ grill from Grill Doctor, imported
from Europe. My last pair of sneakers were made in Thailand purchased
in Panama. Haven't stepped foot in a KMart since the 70's.
Haven't shopped at Sears since Montgomery Ward made lawn mowers.
We have Lowes and Home Despot but Elliot's is closer and has almost
everything. Ace Hardware is closer too but most likely there's a
whole lot of cheaply made Chinese goods there too. I did learn
this week that my ice maker is Chinese, which frosts me a bit.
You ultimately support my point. We create nothing in American
anymore except pushing paper around. American inguinuity is
disappearing and we're all going to suffer economically for it. Anthony's Post.
Happy Birthday to my wife, turned 34, met her at work and life has been
paradise since. That's it for this month... lets spool up
these engines and get
the hell out of here.