Low Pay Led To Little Sleep Led To Crash

WASHINGTON — The head of the National Transportation Safety Board on Wednesday told executives of Colgan Air, whose plane crashed outside Buffalo in February, that paying new pilots as little as $16,000 a year without taking into account that some would commute across the country to their jobs constituted “winking and nodding” at safety policy.

Members of the board said that the crew of the twin-engine turboprop that crashed, killing all 49 people on board and one on the ground, was set up for fatigue and inattention before they even took off, partly because of the structure of the commuter airline business.

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Does your company’s pay, benefits or scrimping on crew change costs lead to a dangerous work environment?

There were many factors that caused that crash:
Possible fatigue
Inadequite training
Inadequite experience
Noncompliance with regs
Inattenntion to matters at hand
Dependance on technology

It wasn’t just fatigue. There was a “chain” of events. If any link in the chain had been broken, that tragedy MIGHT not have occurred.

I’ve flown that airplane type…a bunch. I can say with certainty that ice didn’t cause the crash directly. Inexperience in icing conditions may have. Fascination with icing may have. Preoccupation with icing conditions may have.

Bottom line: Pilot error caused the crash. Now, what caused the pilot error remains to be seen.

I’m not blaming these two pilots entirely. They did screw up, but were they taught how not to screw up or allowed to gain the experience not to screw up? I’m blaming the system that allowed them into the cockpit together, mostly. Two low-time, inexpereienced pilots sharing a cockpit is a recipe for disaster. The bottom line: The highest bidder isn’t always the best but the lowest bidder almost always isn’t. Try telling the bean counters, cfo’s and ceo’s that.

If the flying public only knew.


Same story for shipping. Finding a mate that is not sleep deprived aboard a ship is almost impossible. Nemo is right, it all comes down to error chain management. But, I think that companies are allowed to give a wink and a nod to regulations (or even common sense) when it comes to rest allowed in a working day. The pilot and co-pilot did make mistakes, but they had the deck stacked against them from the start. Yet, they are now being blamed for the accident, they are not blameless, but what about the executives that designed their operation to be run like that? They will scolded, possibly fined, nothing else. Yet, if one of those pilots had survived, what would happen to them?