A Cockpit Divided Over Age 65: Can OPERATION ORANGE Bridge The Gap?

In 2007, when the career seemed to be at its darkest hour, the government and ALPA stepped in and rubbed salt in the wound. Age 65 was forced upon us. Not only did the lower half of the seniority list have to digest a massive and unprecedented retrenchment in career expectations and working conditions, our union and government ensured we would do so for another five years.

Cockpits across the industry are bitterly divided over the issue. Elderly captains believe this is their way of getting back part of what was stolen from them during the looting of the industry. First Officers believe that restitution is coming entirely at their expense.

How can that be reconciled? Is it possible?

We believe it can.

We believe it is possible to turn Age 65 into something positive for everyone, but it will take character, strength, maturity, and forgiveness to do it. Here is how:

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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: Continue reading

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Charge More, Merge Less, Fly Better

You can read the original NY Times editorial here.

THIRTY years ago this fall, Congress passed the Airline Deregulation Act of 1978. Since then, America’s airline system has greatly deteriorated.

Our airlines, once world leaders, are now laggards in every category, including fleet age, service quality and international reputation. Fewer and fewer flights are on time. Airport congestion has become a staple of late-night comedy shows. An ever higher percentage of bags are lost or sent to the wrong airports. Last-minute seats are harder and harder to find. Passenger complaints have skyrocketed. Airline service, by any standard, has become unacceptable. Continue reading

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Do Sleepy Pilots Threaten Air Safety?


by Fran Golden

Two years after a fatal commuter jet crash in Buffalo that was blamed in part on sleepy pilots, pilot fatigue continues to be widespread, experts say.

Having a place to sleep may be part of the problem. An ABC News report shows undercover video of pilots trying to catch up on sleep in airport “crash pad” units and crew lounges.

Dr. Martin Moore-Ede, a fatigue expert, says it’s hard for pilots to sleep in the kind of crew spaces they are provided.

Mary Schiavo, former Inspector General of the Department of Transportation, says of the sleeping accommodations, “It’s actually a creative response to a ridiculous situation.”

Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, famous for his Hudson River landing of a stricken US Airways jet, tells ABC the landing probably wouldn’t have happened Continue reading

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NTSB Probes Safety of Airline Partnerships


NTSB probes whether regional airlines are being held to the same standards as major carriers

By JOAN LOWY Associated Press
WASHINGTON October 26, 2010 (AP)

The regional airline industry says safety is its top priority, in part because accidents are bad for business. But pilot unions and the families of air crash victims say safety has been sacrificed to cost-cutting at some carriers.

The Federal Aviation Administration says it holds all airlines, large and small, to the same standards. But a coalition representing corporate travel managers says business travelers don’t believe regional carriers are as safe as larger airlines, and many travelers don’t want to fly them.

Those were some of the sometimes contradictory messages presented at a two-day National Transportation Safety Board forum that began Tuesday. The board is examining the safety implications of “code-sharing” agreements that allow major carriers Continue reading

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OPERATIION ORANGE now has its own page on Facebook.  We have linked to it on the sidebar of this blog.

Pass the link to your pilot friends on FACEBOOK.  All commentary should be directed to FACEBOOK.

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PGP Links

PGP Corporation has been recently purchased by Symantec Corporation.  This
does not present a problem  with the PGP software, keys, or any feature
needed for the implementation of the SOS.  However, Symantec Corporation
will be changing the links to the various PGP versions they offer, and as
such, The Committee cannot keep up with their changes in real time.

We will endeavor to keep the link to the PGP Trial Version as updated as
possible, but the possibility exists that any PGP links we post may fall

To get the PGP Trial version, Continue reading

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Captain Sullenberger Testifies Before Congress About State of Piloting Profession

But, honorable Representatives, while I love my profession, I do not like what has happened to it. I would not be doing my duty if I did not report to you that I am deeply worried about its future…

It is an incredible testament to the collective character, professionalism and dedication of my colleagues in the industry that they are still able to function at such a high level…

When my company offered pilots who had been laid off the chance to return to work, 60% refused. Members, I attempt to speak accurately and plainly, so please do not think I exaggerate when I say that I do not know a single professional airline pilot who wants his or her children to follow in their footsteps…

I am worried that the airline piloting profession will not be able to continue to attract the best and the brightest. The current experience and skills of our country’s professional airline pilots come from investments made years ago when we were able to attract the ambitious, talented people who now frequently seek lucrative professional careers. That past investment was an indispensible element in our commercial aviation infrastructure, vital to safe air travel and our country’s economy and security. If we do not sufficiently value the airline piloting profession and future pilots are less experienced and less skilled, it logically follows that we will see negative consequences to the flying public – and to our country.

We face remarkable challenges in our industry. In order to ensure economic security and an uncompromising approach to passenger safety, management must work with labor to bargain in good faith.

Download Captain Sullenberger’s Congressional testimony here.

Sully and I have over 70 years of experience and 40,000 flying hours between us. New pilots in the jet aircraft of our affiliate airlines have 300 hours. When I began at US-Airways, the Company required several thousand hours just to gain an interview for a pilot position. It is certainly in the interest of the traveling public to have experienced crews in the cockpit.
Along with Captain Sullenberger, I have concerns for the future of the Airline Pilot Profession. Experienced crews in the cockpit eventually will be a thing of the past…

Many pilots like Captain Sullenberger and myself have had to split their focus from the Airline Piloting Profession and develop alternative businesses or careers. I myself am a general contractor. For the last 6 years, I have worked 7 days a week between my two jobs just to maintain a middle class standard of living…

An aviation career was something people aspired to their entire childhood, as I did. Now I know of NO ONE who encourages their children to enter the airline industry.
From our perspective, it is clear that the current state of the management/ labor negotiation process is broken. Negotiations drag out for years in stagnation with little clarity for those of us who have spent our entire lives training to be on the front lines of safety for the American flying public. We aren’t asking for special privileges, but for a level playing field inside the NMB negotiating process. There is not a balance in the negotiating process and the state of the airline piloting profession is proof.
I would respectfully urge members of this subcommittee to work with other relevant committees to promote better balance between airline management and airline employees, especially in the area of creating an environment for efficient and effective negotiations inside the National Mediation Board process, thereby eliminating years of negotiating stagnation.

First Officer Skiles’ Congressional testimony is available here.

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60 Year Old Pilot Dies In Flight


18 months after the Congress, FAA, and ALPA extended the pilot retirement age to 65, Continental Airlines flight 61 lost its captain midway across the Atlantic. Luckily, there was a third pilot REQUIRED BY REGULATION to be on board the aircraft due to flight time considerations, otherwise 275 people would have been entrusted to a single pilot to land the aircraft.

The FAA’s new fatigue mitigation proposal would remove that third pilot on most flights commanded by captains who are over 60.

Read our response here.

Only you can put a stop to the FAA piling one bad decision on top of another in the interest of industry profits. Join us in supporting legislation to prevent erosion of aviation safety.

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go! Airlines Pilot Pushing – Honolulu

go! Airlines Pilots Speak Out About Unsafe Scheduling

The audio of the above video is less than optimal. To assist in understanding what is being said, we have included the transcript of the entire video.

We encourage you to view this and form your own opinions. This kind of scheduling by “regional” carriers is the kind of marketplace practice that causes reputable and safe carriers, such as Aloha Airlines (now defunct due to go! Airlines), to either Continue reading

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The Committee would strongly encourage everyone to view the PBS FRONTLINE episode on the state of the passenger aviation industry, with its focus on the Colgan Air crash of February 2009.

We have linked to the online presentation in our BLOGROLL to the left as well as the transcript of the entire program.


We will present this without editorial review and encourage you to draw your own conclusions. It is the opinion of The Committee that PBS depicted the state of the industry with complete accuracy.

Take the time to view this. Your life depends on it.

FLYING CHEAP can be viewed here.


UPDATE:  PBS “FRONTLINE” has a companion piece regarding the dangerous trends to outsourcing the maintenance of your airplane to China, Central America, and largely unregulated and unsupervised operations inside the United States.  We would encourage you to view this piece and realize that outsourcing your safety in the interests of corporate profits knows no bounds.

“FLYING CHEAPER” can be viewed here.


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Regional Airlines: You Get What You Pay For

It is not the objective of The Committee to generally impugn the qualifications and records of pilots flying regional jets and turboprops for outsourcing operations. The staffing of outsourced operations has a wide spectrum of experience and nothing in our remarks should be taken to generally disparage any pilot because of his or her employer. Many pilots choose to be outsource pilots for major carriers due to family and other considerations.

Our emphasis is how the managers of both the outsourced operations and the mainline carriers generally disregard experience in the interest of cost containment. This practice is obviously dangerous and speaks volumes about the priorities of government and industry. Additionally, this practice generally brings a cloud of doubt Continue reading

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