Airbus A350 flight simulator
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

Did This Crash in 2009 Cause the Current Shortage of Pilots?

It did result in the creation of the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administrative Extension Act of 2010...

The Bombardier Q400 airplane which operated as Continental Airlines flight 3407 — which was officially a Continental Connection flight by a regional airline called Colgan Air as a codeshare flight — crashed into a private house during its final descent into Buffalo Niagara International Airport on Thursday, February 12, 2009 at 10:17 in the evening Eastern Standard Time.

Did This Crash in 2009 Cause the Current Shortage of Pilots?

No one aboard the airplane survived — which departed from Newark and included 44 passengers, five members of the flight crew, and one person who was inside of the house at the time of the crash in Clarence Center in New York. The cause of the accident was attributed to errors on the part of the pilots.

Families of the victims of the crash lobbied the House of Representatives of the United States to enact more stringent regulations for regional carriers — as well as to improve the scrutiny of safe operating procedures and the working conditions of pilots…

…and the eventual result was the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administrative Extension Act of 2010 — which is also known as Public Law 111–216 — which required some of the changes in regulations.

However, John Stossel claims that the Airline Safety and Federal Aviation Administrative Extension Act of 2010 is the main reason why airlines are reportedly currently experiencing a shortage of greater than 12,000 pilots.

Despite the experience of the pilots, members of the House of Representatives demanded that all pilots must have a minimum of 1,500 of flight time before they are officially hired as pilots of commercial airlines. The previous requirement was a minimum of 250 hours.

Marvin Renslow — who was 47 years of age and the captain of the ill-fated airplane — already had 3,379 hours of flight experience at the time of the crash. Rebecca Lynne Shaw — who was 24 years of age and the co-pilot of the airplane — already had 2,244 hours of flight experience. The errors were that Renslow allegedly failed examinations; and that fatigue was a factor that played a role in the fatal crash.

Stossel argues that the substantial increase in the minimum hours of flight experience not only does not improve the overall safety of commercial aviation with regard to pilots; but that people who want to become pilots cannot afford the time nor the money to meet the minimum requirements for a job which has historically not paid well at all during the first several years of the career — with an annual salary of as low as $21,000.00 to start.

The shortage of pilots is not only because fewer people want to become pilots due to the aforementioned stricter conditions to become a pilot; but also because airlines relieved too many pilots of their jobs during the height of the current 2019 Novel Coronavirus pandemic when demand was low, and many of those pilots chose not to return to their jobs. The number of commercial pilots steadily decreased by approximately 25,000 from 2010 to 2016 — and that was before the pandemic.

Airbus A350 flight simulator
Photograph ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

The shortage of pilots is only one reason as to why more flights are either delayed or canceled in recent months. As one of numerous examples, service will be reduced by approximately 100 flights per day by Delta Air Lines effective as of Friday, July 1, 2022 — primarily in markets which are frequently served by Delta Air Lines in the United States and Latin America region — and the decreased service will be in effect through Sunday, August 7, 2022 in order to minimize disruptions and “bounce back faster when challenges occur.”

With almost 250 flights canceled yesterday alone, Saturday, May 28, 2022, the customer service agents who officially represent Delta Air Lines during what is becoming a frustrating Memorial Day weekend seem to be feeling the pressure, as at least one of them allegedly snapped back at a customer who has supposedly been waiting on the telephone on hold for greater than two hours by saying in a message on Twitter “Can you calm down and allow me some time to work please ??”

Final Boarding Call

The summer of 2022 promises to be a memorable one for passengers of airplanes — and not a good one at that due to higher fares, more crowds, reduced service, and less frequencies of flight schedules…

…and this problem will not be alleviated in a significant manner anytime soon — regardless of the reasons for all of the issues which passengers are experiencing…

All photographs ©2017 by Brian Cohen.

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