When the going gets weird, the weird turn pro. - Hunter S. Thompson

15 May 2009

Overworked, overtired, underpaid, undertrained and inexperienced

You will hear all kinds of spin and posterior-covering as the NTSB continues its hearings, but here it is in black and white for you: the flight crew was overworked, overtired, underpaid, undertrained and inexperienced. Period.

Some rules were broken. Before the flight Captain Marvin Renslow slept in the crew room at Newark after commuting from Tampa. First Officer Rebecca Shaw flew through the night from her home in Seattle and was up all day before signing in for her final trip.

And the crew did not maintain a “sterile cockpit” (meaning no chit-chat) as they descended below 10,000 feet.

Otherwise, they - and the airline - apparently met the minimum FAA requirements.

But those minimums still allowed:
  • A captain to flunk no less than five flight exams and still hold the “left seat”.
  • Those long commutes between a pilot’s home and base.
  • The airline to pay pilots paltry wages.
  • Only 8 hours of rest time (from wheel-stop to sign-in for next flight).
Reading the transcript of the CVR is a gut-wrenching experience for me. I can only imagine what it must be like for someone who lost a loved one that February night.
Miles O'Brien: From Sully... to Sullied (TrueSlant)

(via James Fallows)

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