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Jul 17th 2010 9:57PM Complaining to the BBB is as good a use of your time as staying at Emelda and Lawrence's house.
Feb 9th 2010 3:25PM With all of the fees airlines are charging, it's pretty clear that our money isn't being invested back into the companies, but lining the pockets of the executives and helping the numbers look good for shareholders (who are historically morons if you look at how poorly airlines have done in "increasing shareholder value"). It's a pity that while executives are criminally liable for misrepresenting financial statements, they have no liability when it comes to people dying because they were too cheap to properly run the airline safely.
Airline employees have gotten some of the worst of it, since the cuts have been so steep. But in some sense, they're lucky, they still have their job in their industry. Take a look at the Rust Belt areas of the country to see where jobs have been shipped overseas in bulk, and those people were reduced to working for Walmart, if they could find work at all. However, the difference in ringing things up at a Walmart and flying a plane on the cheap is that the latter puts the lives of people at risk. Flying cheap is just another aspect of a broad cheapening that's affected every sector of our economy, that's driven by greed and a perverse but pervasive message that we are to expect everything to be cheaper and cheaper. It just happens to be one with the most dire consequences.
Feb 4th 2010 8:57PM "I don't understand why they've been reluctant to properly address the role of fatigue in a number of accident reports."
Given their history, and their general antagonism with the FAA and the airlines, I doubt they're concerned with pushback from those folks.
But this disjointed report, where fatigue isn't listed as a contributing factor, but clearly is noted in the report, represents where the NTSB finds the science of sleep and may be too conservative (esp in board member Sumwalt) in how it factors in the effects of fatigue. He noted a number of benchmarks from a study conducted for the NTSB, and noted that only one benchmark was met. Maybe he's misinterpreting the study (although no staffer corrected him if he did), but it appears that the NTSB is being particularly conservative in this area. Is it because not enough studies have been done? Science is slow, one study is generally not considered definitive and needs to be followed up with similar studies to ensure what one study shows is consistent. The media likes to tout breakthroughs all the time, but it takes years for initial results to be validate. A lot of the time, those breakthroughs couldn't be reproduced.
However, even if we can't fully understand the science of sleep, it would be prudent to have better sleep policies for pilots. Because even without further studies, we all know that better rest is how pilots can effectively keep fatigue at bay.
Feb 4th 2010 8:26PM "It was precisely this reaction time and judgment that are to blame in the Colgan accident. I'm sure if you had asked Captain Renslow about the proper response in a stall, he would have been able to recite the steps verbatim."
On the first point, his reaction was to pull on the controls within a second of the stick shaker going off. I think it would be reasonable to argue, however, that fatigue likely played a role in the crew's lack of awareness and not scanning the instruments. The violation of sterile cockpit could've been a way for Renslow to stay awake, or he was just manic from lack of good sleep. But on the second point, I'm not too sure. Remember that he not only pulled on the stick, but increased the throttles (and the FO raised the flaps). Could it be they were confused by the NASA video Colgan showed them that detailed tailplane stall? However, again, you can say that what the NTSB characterized as a reaction of "startle and confusion" could be again a result of fatigue: of being out of it until the dreaded stick shaker came to life. Maybe you can be completely sure that Captain Renslow would be able to demonstrate proper response, but given the skimpy training he got at Colgan and his unfortunate history, I couldn't be so sure.
Unfortunately for the late Captain Renslow, his past not only came back during this investigation, but overshadowed fatigue. Interestingly, there are parallels to other regional carrier crashes, and many of those reports highlight "unprofessional behavior" in the cockpit (a few even cite fatigue as a contributing factor). Perhaps that can be used as a clear sign that a pilot is in dire need of rest.
Dec 11th 2009 8:58PM Frankly, your letter needs a major rewrite. It was too easy to construe it as whining about how the Man (specifically the Man in DFW) is keeping the FAs down. And given the skimpy "facts" of the case (a semi-anonymous post to Consumerist that hasn't been corroborated or otherwise documented), I really wonder why you even bothered writing it until it's clearer what happened on that flight.
Worrying about "airline bashing"? The reason we the general public bash airlines is because with very few exceptions, your industry has been incapable of keeping itself out of bankruptcy court (with taxpayer dollars to boot), all the while finding every avenue to screw customers and seemingly provide them with the worst customer service imaginable. Your companies' annual reports read more like NTSB crash reports than those of a proper company (and it's CFIT every year).
It's an impression, sure, but one that has been carefully cultivated over the years, and is partly our fault for being cheapskates. But the bulk of the blame has to fall on the airlines and their culture of withholding information from passengers, trotting out Federal Law to scare us into submission, and utterly refusing to acknowledge they've done anything wrong that have poisoned our relationship with your industry. Heck, I've only heard of ONE instance where an airline CEO publicly apologized for a fatal plane crash. Apologized and took some responsibility, not simply expressed condolences and sent the lawyers in. Of course, some lawyers made him do it. Chalk it up to our litigiousness, but it's impossible to provide "great customer service" if you can never utter "I was wrong". Sincerely. Not in the Pan Am Smile way.
You (FAs and other union employees) blame the Man (management). The Man blames you. And we the passengers, frankly don't care. All we know is that both of you (with an assist from the TSA) have screwed the pooch when it comes to customer service. And given that we're cheapskates, it's not going to get any better. But, it ain't just about money...
Most Disney resort castmembers are paid less than most FAs for equivalent experience (of course you have all that airplane stuff to learn and do), and they put up with huge crowds, screaming children, and people who walk around like they own the joint everyday. And they don't have the heft of Federal Law to keep guests in line. Yet, they'll provide a better customer experience on a more consistent basis than all but a handful of airlines.