Monday, February 13, 2006

Fasten Seatbelts

As a pilot, I'm pretty alarmed by the news that the minimum number of flying hours for trainee commercial pilots is to be halved under new rules that are being rushed through despite protests that the changes will be unsafe.

The Times reports that newly qualified pilots are to be allowed to take control of airliners after only 70 hours’ flying experience. Under the present rules, pilots must accumulate at least 145 flying hours before being entrusted with carrying passengers.

The new training scheme, due to be introduced by the end of the year, places far more emphasis on flying in simulators. The time that trainees spend in simulators will almost double, from 90 to 170 hours

But the British Air Line Pilots’ Association argues that a simulator is no substitute for real flying experience and I'm inclined to agree. Seventy hours flying experience from the lad or lady at the "sharp" end of the aircraft would not give me great confidence. I used to joke that after one hundred hours one stops being a danger to oneself and starts being a danger to others and I'm far from convinced by this new proposal. Fortunately most pilots won't even be looked at by an airline if they ask for an interview with less than 250 hours in command, so I guess this applies to direct entry trainees.

What do you think?


Anonymous said...

Lift off always seems so very clinical and one might as well be in a simulator. However landing is always interesting, different everytime, down on one wheel, down on both, down on none! I won't be too worried about it. I worked at LGW for 14 years and them American Airline pilots thought they were still flying missions over the Mekong Delta in Vietnam. One of them in the early 90s just missed crashing through our office and landing on a taxiway.

Anonymous said...

anon again!
yet another foolproof plan of saving MONEY at the expense of the paying public. Airlines that follow this practice, should be boycotted, at least! How do we find out which airlines use this system?

Anonymous said...

Just what us poor s*ds living here in Ramsgate under the Manston flight path wanted to hear.

Anonymous said...

Especially as, from what's being said here, it looks like all these learner pilots will be practising on those freight crates that fly in and out of Manston.

Nervous passenger said...

A little worrying when you consider most L-drivers have 20 one hour lessons and extra road practice with family or friends before passing a test. I should imagine bus and lorry drivers do far more hours.

If I was a simulated passenger I would have no problems being flown by a simulator trained pilot. As a real passenger it would be nice to know I had a real pilot used to flying real planes.

DrMoores said...

I guess they won't tell you even if you ask nicely at the checkin. That said, simulators are a great way of practising for dealing with any emergency, the only trouble, is that when it does go "pear-shaped' up there, the simulator and the aircraft feel very different indeed!

Anonymous said...

Still, at least it'll go with the simulated meal they serve up.

Anonymous said...

Just watched the Ryanair programme on TV this evening and was amazed to learn that the max hours per week for passenger plane pilots is 25, and a max of 900 per year.

I wish I got paid that much for working 18 hours a week.

Its hardly enough hours to get bored.

Anyone else see the programme? What did you think?