OPERATION ORANGE: Who wins? Who loses?

“What is in it for me?” Why should I support or oppose OPERATION ORANGE’s “Fair Treatment of Experienced Pilots Act – Part 2?”

Almost all legislation has “winners” and “losers,” and this is no exception. The general rule of thumb is that the “winners” are those who have contributed mightily to Congressional campaigns to see the legislation to completion, and the “losers” are those that kept their checkbooks closed. This legislation is different in the sense there is no money going to Washington as lubricant.

The lubricant is our labor.

Generally, the “winners” under the FTOEPA2 will be those who have been the “losers” over the past 30 years, and the “losers” will be those that used the last 30 years to loot the industry.

Here is how we see all the players and how they stand to benefit:

Furloughed Mainline Pilots

The upward mobility at the mainline carriers will continue as it becomes financially unviable to maintain a fleet of small jets with pilot labor costs equivalent to that found at the mainline carrier. Airlines will move flying from the outsourced operations to its traditional in-house flying because they will no longer be able to whipsaw you against kids asking for $20,000 per year to service over $100,000 in debt. They will shifting capital to where it is the most efficient, and in the air transportation business, economy of scale rules the day.

Welcome back. The career is now worth having.

Junior First Officers

12 years on reserve is coming to an end. With the shift toward mainline flying, and away from outsourcing, you are about to realize the career expectations you had prior to the past decade of government sanctioned hollowing out of the industry.

Management won’t be able to send your job to a $20,000/year pilot, with no experience, who is willing to work up to the FARs, or even beyond them.

Management won’t be able to use a PBS system to schedule you for 28 days a month, and only pay you for 17. Your days off won’t be limited to 30 hour layovers in Detroit or Toronto. You will get the opportunity to actually participate in the raising of your children, rather than just having them send you pictures of their milestone events, while you sit in a crash pad in Queens. Perhaps if you were able to sleep in the same bed as your spouse, more than 5 nights per month, you wouldn’t need the services of a family law practice.

Senior First Officers

You have been 5 feet away from your goal for the past 20 years, and when this passes, you will get the opportunity for that fourth stripe. You job won’t be outsourced to a 26 year old captain, with 1501 hours working for $45,000 per year, who is assisted by a 23 year old first officer with 250 hours.

Junior Captains

You finally get the authority you have had chipped away over the past 15 years. If you are fatigued, you can call-out with confidence you won‘t be harassed, threatened, or pressured to fly.

You can know that all your hard work can’t be capriciously transferred from your account to management’s account at the behest of a bankruptcy judge.

You won’t be assuming captain’s responsibilities at first officer rates. If they push you to fly extra, you will be paid handsomely for it, rather than at straight rates.

Most importantly, when the captain speaks, the issue will be settled.

Senior Captains

You get the opportunity to make up what management/government stole from you over the past decade. Your pay scale will reflect your responsibilities and how much you contribute to the revenue stream.

Your grueling longitudinal transits will have the assistance of enough augmentation pilots to ensure you are well rested in the terminal phases of flight. You won’t be flying into the WOCL without augmentation and adequate rest facilities.

Regional Jet Pilots

Section 5 of the “Fair Treatment of Experienced Pilots Act – Part 2” was written for you. This gives you the ability to have protections as the industry changes.

These changes are coming and you should welcome them. The RJ is economically unviable. If it was not, the RJs would not be getting bigger and management wouldn’t be trying to get the mainline to exempt 2 class, 100 seat aircraft from the existing scope clauses with their mainline pilots. The RJ is going away, like it or not. The only questions concern “when” and “what happens?”

“When” is now. Without this legislation, your RJ is going to the desert sooner or later, and with it, your job. It is better to make this happen while you are still young enough to reap the benefits.

“What happens” is that there will be a tremendous updraft of hiring at the mainline as the airlines recapitalize from their short-sighted, labor busting ideas of the past 15 years, to the more viable and popular B737 and A319 jets flown by mainline pilots. Your alternative is to fall onto the continuum between being trapped as a victim of your own success, working for $45,000/year and 20 days per month, as you destroy the domestic segment of the mainline operation, or cast aside by management as they ground your economically unviable RJ.

Our legislation puts you in line, right behind the furloughed mainline pilots, for the mainline jobs. As you can see by the pay scales and working rules, the mainline jobs of the future will be categorically superior to anything the regional airlines will offer.

The airlines will have to hire from the preferential hiring pools and the most experienced and reliable pilots from the regional airlines will jump effortlessly into the mainline jobs.

In the meantime, you will enjoy the pay scales of the mainline narrow body fleet, which will enable you to put a big dent in those flight school debts.

If you take a longer view of the situation, you can see that you are probably the biggest benefactor of the various pilot groups regarding OPERATION ORANGE.

New Entrant – Non Union Pilots

You won’t be able to undercut the existing experience level on both price and working standards in order to establish yourself. You will have to go through the long road of building and honing your experience in order to transport the public, just like everyone else.

Join the rest of us and build a profession worth having. Sorry, no shortcuts.

Scab Labor

We have nothing for you. This legislation puts you at the back of the line for years and years to come. You will have to think of other methods to break into the industry rather than just back-stabbing those trying to keep safety and career standards high enough to be worthy of the world’s most premiere air transportation system.

This is a new era. Master SCAB Lists can be downloaded to any PDA/smart phone.

Don’t be a SCAB – it is for life and we don’t forgive.

Competent Airline Management/Shareholders

The race to the bottom is over.

You have the opportunity to work with labor as an asset, rather than a funding source for short-sighted, capital destroying schemes. You no longer need to worry about your peers substantially undercutting you on the pilot labor front. You can concentrate on building a reputable brand with top notch customer service, reliability, and safety.

If you succeed, your shareholders will likely reward you for your efforts. You will be at the top of world-class airlines, rather than the undertakers for dysfunctional, cash-burning machines. You can build and not just shuffle pieces around.

Incompetent Airline Management/Financial Alchemists

We have nothing for you except what you gave to the First Officers of your once-great airlines – pink slips.

Perhaps you can spend your soon-to-be-abundant free time apologizing to the American people for what you have done to their air transportation system. The outsourcing…being herded like cattle…the congestion…being stuffed onto sardine cans called “regional jets”…the abysmal customer service…the shoddy foreign maintenance…the dilapidated facilities…and the wholesale looting of the industry disguised as “executive incentives.”

Enjoy retirement and all that executive bonus money you have.

Large Jet Manufacturers

Large gauge jets will be in high demand as the incentive to park your jets in desert, in order to get training-wage pilots in training-wheels jets, comes to a long overdue and welcome close.


The skies will become less congested as airlines use larger aircraft to transport their passengers. The FAA should welcome the changes as oversight will become much easier and the standards will be pushed higher.

Viable middle-class jobs will be built, not just in the pilot ranks, but throughout the airline industry. Your tax base will rise as airlines become more profitable. Complaints will drop as reliability is restored to what it was decades ago.

Not all politicians will welcome the change. The notion that skilled labor can stand up to Wall Street and their various Congressional lobbying efforts will likely send shudders through many entrenched politicians. There is a political fortune to be made in embracing a rising American middle-class, and one to be lost by outsourcing them to the lowest bidder.

This fortune has no allegiance to any political party.


You are the biggest winners. Yes, you will pay a little bit more to fly, but it is a trivial amount compared to what you get. The sheer volume of passengers will rejuvenate the mainline carriers and they will eventually replace the current crop of managers with those seeking to treat you with the dignity you expect when you purchase your ticket.

When you buy a ticket on a carrier, you won’t have your safety farmed out to the lowest bidder, with fatigued, under experienced, and overburdened pilots. Airlines will compete on service, safety, and reputation to earn your business.

You will have an air transportation system that was better than anything your parents had.

Support us in this effort.

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9 Responses to OPERATION ORANGE: Who wins? Who loses?

  1. Tim Dennis says:

    Sounds ok on the surface, but how are you going to fix the errors of the past, i.e. the eastern, pan am, usair pilots who got the shaft due to other pilots, or will that not be addressed?
    AA pilots that did it to TWA pilots
    Delta pilots that did it to Eastern pilots
    Delta and United pilots that did it to Pan Am pilots

    • The Committee says:

      We can’t fix the past. We can prepare the future.

      It is time to look to your fellow pilot with unity. The provisions of our proposed legislation raise the pay rates high enough to make up for many past problems.

      Some eggs can’t be unscrambled, but you can insist the omlette be to your liking.

      Is this an obstacle or opportunity? Are you a Type 3 pilot or a Type 1 pilot?

  2. scott Wohlfelder says:

    let me know what I can do!

  3. Anthony penizotto says:

    It’s about time

  4. Devon Dunning says:

    Let’s make this a career again!

  5. Captain Tom Dussman says:

    This is interesting and thought provoking stuff. Many working pilots–and most outside the profession–would consider this to be a fairly massive change to the status quo.

    Question: Is one goal of the Operationorange campaign a potential 1-2 day so-called “sos” to highlight the current state of pilots’ professional lives, and frame the proposed legislation?

    If so, an open discussion of the potential legal and professional liabilities and ramifications must be conducted.

    Keep up the good work.

    • The Committee says:

      If by “status quo,” you mean the working paradigm for agreements under the RLA, you are mistaken. This effort is not directed at any specific carrier for an amendment to a specific working agreement. The RLA does not apply and no “status quo” need be maintained.

      If by “status quo” you mean the way the regulatory paradigm surrounding pilot labor, then we would agree. The current regulatory paradigm is toxic to everyone, except politicians and airline management. We seek to change the laws, which has been an avenue neglected by our pilot associations.

      The SOS isn’t a two day “consciousness raising.” It is a protracted protest to peacefully and lawfully bring about the necessary political pressure to change the laws.

      Try to envision who can last longer? The pilot workforce sitting at home for a few days, or every airline in the country grounded? They can barely staff the current schedule; how are they going to replace anwhere from 1/6th to 1/3rd of the pilots? The slightest hiccup in airline transportation makes it to the top of every news outlet in the nation.

      This is a big hiccup. We can sit at home longer than they can pay their bills without daily revenue.

      Our latest entry covers our view on the legalities. Summary: the SOS is political protest protected under the First Amendment, which takes precedence over any RLA entanglement. The RLA covers working agreements, not laws.