Back to Squawk list
  • 24

Flight 3407 families may face off against Air Force general on pilot experience rules

The Families of Continental Flight 3407 Monday renewed their fight to preserve pilot experience requirements they got written into the law seven years ago, but this time they could be facing their most daunting opponent yet: the chief of staff of the U.S. Air Force. ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

crewdoggy 11
I'm a retired airline captain with over 22,000 total flight hours. I was USAF trained and I don't believe there is any finer training than that of a United States military aviator. That having been said, my son was trained commercially and at the time was qualified to fly the right seat of a regional jet with 250 hours. He is now, 14 years later, a first officer at major airline with over 8,000 hours. Now, 250 hours may be a bit lite on time, but 1500 hrs. is way more then is necessary. The united states air force not withstanding, as usual with our regulatory agencies here in the United States, the squeaky wheel gets the grease. And truly, this is not to diminish the loss of lives on flight 3407, my heart goes out to those people as only a person in the industry's could. But some amelioration of the flight time requirements must be done. We are keeping qualified individuals out of the cockpit way longer than is necessary. An accident is more than just about flight times. It is a cascade of events that leads to an accident. Let's make this right in a way that satisfies both the relatives of flight 3407, the Air Force, and The aviation industry.
Ken Lane 1
I stated from the start that it would affect safety in other areas. When one is "stuck" being a flight instructor to build time when they don't want to be there it is going to affect safety. We may never know what incidents resulted from this scenario but it's a safe bet they have occurred similar to the "Getthereitis" problem that exist in GA.
btweston 1
Some people play the guitar for 10,000 hours and they still sound like a poseur.
btweston 14
My dad has prostrate cancer. That does not make me qualified to tell doctors how to treat prostate cancer.

1,500 is an arbitrary number picked by alarmists who don't entirely know what they are doing. Flight 3407 crashed because the captain, who had 3,379 hours, yanked back on the yoke during a stall while the FO, who had 2,244 hours, did nothing.

Should that cripple the Air Force and airline industry? I tend to think it shouldn't.
btweston 3
Autocorrect boned me in the first line there.
RECOR10 -1
"Autocorrect boned me in the first line there" - sure sure, making excuses....
Jhon Lewis 6
The first officer of Air France 447, Pierre-Cédric Bonin had almost twice the amount of hours required by the standing law, yet he made a very similar mistake as the Colgan air crew in an Airbus A330, which ended up killing him and 227 other people. It's not the lack of training that's the problem, it's the lack of stall training, particularly in airliners, that should be pointed to. If I were the one making the rules in 2010 or whenever, I would set greater focus on stall training in both CRM and type rating training.
btweston 1
Total agreement:
Bill Brown 2
As a Vietnam era Naval Aviator and the father of a currently serving USMC Naval Aviator I agree with Scott Wiggins comments. Collateral duties are a pain but they are highly regarded along with leadership by the business community. I have noted that today's military aviators are getting only a fraction of the flight time I logged.

What I see is that the aviation community is trying to make up for the lack of experience with more automation in the cockpit. I think that sometime in the not to distant future we will see one pilot in the cockpit of the commercial airlines. I had a retired heavy airline pilot refer to the AirBus as the ScareBus due to the high level of automation and machine decision making ... he preferred Boeing products.
Highflyer1950 2
It's a tough one! Either a type rating or ATP should be the minimum qualifications before you start carting people around for profit. The good old days are gone where valuable experience was gained from student pilots trying to kill you every day! I can't say I am against a lower total time for new hires, 1000 hours or so but the prospect of foreign nationals coming to america and being processed through these "pilot puppy mills" and sent back to Ie: India, Pakistan, Africa etc., with 250 hours and a shiny new commercial licence sitting in the right seat of an Airbus or Boeing is scary! The idea that so many pilots are needed and fast, causes too great a speed of upgrading out of necessity rather than experience. Jet Airways B737-800, comes to mind recently where neither monkey up front knew anything about the pressirization system or how to read a checklist, and that is on one of the easiest aircraft to fly. The Military gets a hold of you and doesn't let go until you are trained. Then you just have to spend a couple of years unlearning the yanking and banking because you forgot there were 300 people behind you........smooth is the answer, but definitely doable.
srobak 2
military pilots are not leaving to go to the commercial industry until they are ending their career as military pilots.
30west 2
Much talk about military pay and reasons to leave the military for the airlines in this squawk.

Here is an example of what a U.S military pilot makes at the eight year point ( O-4 pay grade) after he meets his service obligation for his initial pilot training and eligible to resign.

Monthly pay data: Base Pay $6,446 + Housing Allowance $1,929 (not taxable) + Meal Allowance $254 (not taxable) + Flight Pay $650, totaling $9,279 ($111,348/year). Once initial training obligation is met, a $25,000 per year retention bonus is paid for each year of committed extended service bringing annual pay to $136,348 at eight years of service.

Currently, at 20 years of service Retired Pay is 50% of Base Pay plus bennies...medical, the most significant. A pilot retiring at about age 41-42 is prime for hiring at the majors and will have an almost 25 year civilian flying career.
Chris Bryant 6
I believe a lot of Navy and Marine Corps pilots tend to leave because it's really a horrible job.
The flying is fun, but then you have all the collateral duties mentioned in a post above, plus they're always scrambling for parts, and the real topper - you get to be away from your family for 6 months at a stretch, being slingshotted off a deck and then trying to land on a moving postage stamp at night in weather.
Yeah, there's just not a lot to keep a guy doing that for 20 years besides pure love of country.
katty wompus 1
This is what you signed up for. Suck it up and stop whining.
30west 1
Chris, I agree with you 100%
btweston 3
So why are they getting out early? I don't think they like being in the military.
30west 1
See Chris' comment above.
Mike Mohle 2
I can't believe that I will admit I agree with Chuck Schumer about something--that no changes should be made! The US Airlines have had an even better safety record since this law was implemented, maybe due to the higher minimum hour requirement, maybe other factors too. In any case it has not hurt. It is all about pay! If the Air Force paid more, pilots would be retained and would not bail, and if Regionals paid entry-level pilots more, then the overall airline pilot shortage would be gone in short order.
bentwing60 1
Follow the money, new hires do. Kinda hard to pay off $100,000 in college and flight training debt on $2200.00 a month. And if they can't do that math, do you want to be in the back with them in the front. Charge steerage by the pound, in this fat ass country pilots could make more than doctors.
Charge by the width - if your bleeding into another seat you have to buy it !
linbb -1
And how much do you think AF pilots make? Hell of a lot more than 20k a year closer if not 100k. Look before you post.
Mike Mohle 5
I have friends that are AF pilots that have a wide range in pay. Then why are they leaving to take a big pay cut at the airlines which was one of the points of this article?
Scott Wiggins 5
Mike, you can't overlook morale as a key factor in why pilots leave the military. Pay is probably the least of their concerns. Operational tempo is a big one. Our services are too damn busy fighting wars in third world dumps. We are over-committed plain and simple. Collateral duties is another. I can't tell you how much time I spent doing all things other than flying as a Marine Aviator except to say that 90% of my time was involved in non-flying duties. Really really stupid to take highly trained pilots and over-burden them with collateral duties. I was at various times a logistics officer, maintenance officer, admin officer, safety officer, training officer etc., in addition to my flying duties. Throw in ground training requirements like marksmanship training, gas chamber, physical fitness tests and its far more than a full time job. Finally, I would say that the relentless assault on our troops with sensitivity training for gays, females, blacks, Hispanics, transsexuals and other "whiners" is killing morale. Our young pilots understand that training to fight the nation's battles is the most important thing and that all the rest is varying degrees of BS. Many are leaving out of disgust!
bobanderson 4
Retired Army Aviator here, father of a USAF C-17, pilot so I know a little bit. What Scott Wiggins said is 100% correct.
Mike Mohle 2
Hi Scott. First, thank you for your service. Yes there does not seem to be much actual "flying" and we pilots want to fly. Maybe the Air Force officer in the article needs to have more input from guys like (both in and out of active duty) to bring attention to the real issues regarding their retention problems -- although I doubt their attitudes on "PC" issues will be changing any time soon.
joel wiley 1
Thanks for your service. You omitted 'morale officer'.
bentwing60 1
Thank you for your service!
Sounds like whoever is getting their morale killed, because of tolerance, shouldn't be there!!!
btweston -1
Sounds like being a Marine wasn't your thing. That's ok. When I was in we frowned upon self-centered racists and homophobes.
josh homer 1
Exactly! I guess that's normal again.
btweston 0
Yeah lots of racist and homophobic know-it-alls on the web these days. Some even pretend to be Marine aviators.
katty wompus -2
So all of the gays, females, blacks, Hispanics, transsexuals, and other "undesirables" should just go the fuck away so the white male good old boys can party on, happily blowing up those brown people and the faggots too. Nice. Party On, dudes.
Chuck Pergiel 1
US Military pilots are quitting the Air Force to take jobs flying regional jets for $20K a year? None of this makes any sense.
All that's needed here is Captain minimum hours for regionals that fly with low hour FO's the shortage will continue as well as less service to regional airports
Jim DeTour 1
Can't see how the Air Force is for lowering requirements seeing they would want hours requirements raised instead of lowered so that they could retain more pilots. Insurance agencies are normally the main pusher for more hours as requirements. Of course we won't be seeing recurrency check rides in actual aircrafts since that would cost money and aircraft time. Having the hours also doesn't guarantee the pilot has a grasp enough to handle what starts or causes an accident. Like mentioned even the best pilots can make the error leading to major trouble.


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.