Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Bride of Life of a Charter Pilot

If you all haven't already guessed, these posts tend to be more whinging than anything else. If you don't like that, then... I don't know, you won't like it, I guess.

Anyhoo. Here's the company line. For any flight, the standard is a hour and a half show. So, say the flight launches at noon. That means we're there by 10:30 and the airplane is prepped and ready to go no later than 11. Simple. Ahh, but there is a catch. You see, we're federally regulated to a duty day no longer than 14 hours. So, that automatically leaves 12 and a half hours for the flight. Most of our regular passenger understand this and they will work with us to keep from putting our licenses and livelihoods on the chopping block. Not so much the management, but that's for a different discussion. There are some passengers, thank the great ceiling cat that it's only some, that for some reason don't understand that if we bust the 14 hour duty day we're in possibly serious trouble. So, they say they want to take off at noon, but don't show up till four and a half hours later, and then get confused when we say that they have to be back in time for us to finish back home by the 14 hour point from the original show time. Folks, the regulations are very specific about this. We can't be sitting at the airport and still be considered to be "in rest". The second our feet hit the airport, the duty clock is ticking. I'm sorry if that's not convenient for your world, but do you really want a couple of overly tired guys trying to move you along at 450 mph at 43,000 feet, possibly asleep at the controls? Or worse, yet how about landing when you're falling asleep. Trust me, you don't want that. If you don't want to worry about it, buy you're own airplane and crew and you can fly to your hearts content without worrying about the regs. Of course, just because there aren't any regs there, doesn't mean people don't get fatigued. I'm just saying.

Now, I haven't worked for a company yet that doesn't push the duty regs to the breaking point. The paradigm there is the company only cares about making a buck and getting it into the pocket of the company, not the pilots, the company owners and management. If that means sacrificing little things like safety to do it, then so be it. It sometimes becomes a tug of war between the pilots and the company. The company pulling and pulling with veiled threats about your job on one end and the pilots on the other trying really hard to get home alive and in one piece at the end of the day. Fun, ain't it.

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