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Co-pilot in the Colgan death flight made the princely sum of $16,200 per year

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BeyondGeography Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:18 PM
Original message
Co-pilot in the Colgan death flight made the princely sum of $16,200 per year
Colgan Air Pilots Faced Long Commutes, Low Pay, Second Jobs

Manassas-based Colgan Air today struggled to defend itself as details emerged about the low pay of its pilots, their long commutes and the need of some to hold second jobs to make ends meet.

Under questioning from the board, Mary Finnigan, Colgan's vice president for administration, reported that Rebecca Shaw, co-pilot of the crash plane, drew an annual salary of $16,200 a year. The board also said that Shaw once held a second job in coffee shop while working as a pilot for the airline in Norfolk, Va.

Asked by a board if the Colgan expected Shaw to reside in the New York area, near her base in Newark, Finnegan responded: "Pilots are told what the pay scales are. Our pay scales are within the industry standard."

Later on, asked if Colgan made cost-of-living adjustments to assist employees who reside in expensive areas such as New York, Harry Mitchel, Colgan's vice president of flight operations, said no program existed for pilots. But, he added that Colgan had such a policy for managers...

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/20...


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DJ13 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:21 PM
Response to Original message
1. Thats disgusting
Any company that would endanger lives by hiring people at that wage level needs to be shut down.
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TwilightZone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:23 PM
Response to Reply #1
2. Nearly all of the regional airlines do the same thing.
Can't get rid of them all.
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Kceres Donating Member (839 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:31 PM
Response to Reply #2
9. This is true.
Most pilots would PAY to fly and the small operators know it. Until the pilots build up their hours, which could take years, they will be exploited beyond all reason. I will not fly on puddle-jumpers!
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:13 PM
Response to Reply #1
20. She was fully qualifed...regardless of wages. Puddle jmpers are the minor leagues
of aviation. Hours are long and the pay sucks, but you get the skills and hours you need to move up. This is scarcely news
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Vinca Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:24 PM
Response to Original message
3. Where does Colgan do their recruiting? Mickey D's?
It really makes you want to hop a commuter plane. :sarcasm:
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grannie4peace Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:25 PM
Response to Original message
4. how much profit do those bastards make?
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TransitJohn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:55 PM
Response to Reply #4
17. OH they make.
Most of these small regional airlines are heavily subsidized like $200 per passenger per flight as part of the Essential Air Services boondoggle. I benefit from EAS, as my employer flies me in and out of Laramie here where I live, and doesn't make me drive to either Cheyenne or Denver.
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KansDem Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:26 PM
Response to Original message
5. I don't think we needed to learn that she screamed during her final seconds...
...as reported on NPR this morning. I find such "reporting" to be in extremely poor taste...
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
6. That's $8.40 an hour
My son works at Safeway and has made more than that since his first year.
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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:35 PM
Response to Reply #6
15. Actually it works out to $16.20 an hour.
If she flies the FAA maximum of 1000 hours per year.
Still not very much for that job.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:36 PM
Response to Reply #15
24. *sigh*
And nothing for the time in another city, waiting for a flight back home? Or the hour or two necessary to get ready for the flight or get out of the airport? Or file paperwork? Of anything else that goes along with the job?

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trof Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 07:01 PM
Response to Reply #24
27. Nope. Sux.
I was an airline pilot for 35 years.
But I got paid a hell of a lot better than that.
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sandnsea Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 07:03 PM
Response to Reply #27
28. And your extra duties
were udoubtedly used in negotiations to increase your salary too.
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Postman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
7. Ain't the "free market" great?
:sarcasm:
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rcrush Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:28 PM
Response to Original message
8. The airline industry cant last like this.
Its becoming less worth it to travel by air all the time. Having to deal with the stupid TSA, ridiculously high prices, air planes falling apart with no maintenance being done on them and so on.

Air travel could be made obsolete by cross country lite rail trains. Train operators may even get paid a decent salary!
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TransitJohn Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:58 PM
Response to Reply #8
18. Air fares are cheap.
Not expensive. I can fly to Vegas for a fraction of what it'd cost to drive there. And no one will run light rail across country...that's madness. Light rail is to commute across cities.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:15 PM
Response to Reply #8
21. This is not a new consition. Puddle jumper salaries have always been very low
They are the minor leagues of aviation where pilots build hours. Been that way since before deregulation
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LiberalEsto Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:35 PM
Response to Original message
10. I think school bus drivers earn more than that nt
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
11. She almost saved the plane.
She knew enough to trim out the flaps when the plane stalled. Too bad the idiot pilot didn't have enough presence of mind to push the nose down in a stall.

If they had been talking about icing procedures rather than their lousy pay and working conditions, they might have lived.

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mn9driver Donating Member (877 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:08 PM
Response to Reply #11
14. Negative.
Flap extension lowers the stall speed of the wing. It's possible that she thought the tail had stalled due to ice, in which case retracting the flaps might be the right thing to do, but this was a wing stall and retracting the flaps may very well have made the problem worse.

The captain's frantic and incorrect recovery attempts were what doomed them, though:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lxywEE1kK6I
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:50 PM
Response to Reply #14
16. They had just extended landing gear at 170 knots, speed dropped 20 knots, plane stalled
Edited on Wed May-13-09 04:13 PM by leveymg
Already at 15 degree flaps. Wings were iced. Altitude 2100 feet. The only way to end the stall was to pick up airspeed, promptly but not too suddenly.

She was entirely correct to retract flaps, but the bozo at the stick yanked back the yoke and firewalled the throttles, instead of putting it into a gentle nose-down dive followed by a steady power increase once the controls responded. What he did made the nose suddenly pitch way up, airspeed dropped to less than 100, and the plane rolled right - he steered hard left. It spun - no surprise about that.

Actually the plane didn't go completely inverted, recovered flight and stopped rolling at about 700 feet, started flying straight but in a steep dive at about 110 knots. Looked like they might have had a chance to save it there, but that's where the flight-recreation video at WSJ.com ends. See if you can find it and watch.

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mn9driver Donating Member (877 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 05:06 PM
Response to Reply #16
25. Do you have a type rating in a large aircraft? An ATP?
Do you fly part 121? Are you a check airman?

I'm not really in the mood to argue with people about this unless they have all of the above. Like me.
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leveymg Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 05:10 PM
Response to Reply #16
26. Aircrew responded as if it were a tail stall
Edited on Wed May-13-09 05:29 PM by leveymg
But, they didn't even get that completely right.

Tail Stall

Another hazard of structural icing is the tailplane (empennage) stall. Sharp-edged surfaces are more susceptible to collecting ice than large blunt surfaces. For this reason, the tailplane may accumulate ice before the wings, and may accumulate ice faster.

Because you cannot readily see the tail, you may be unaware of the situation until the stall occurs. Few pilots have any experience recovering from tail stalls.

Tailplane Stall Symptoms

Tail stalls usually occur during an approach when flaps are at full extension and/or the aircraft is being flown near the upper speed limit for flap extension. There may be few or no symptoms prior to flap extension. Symptoms include:

Abnormal elevator authority, vibrations, and or/effectiveness.
Sudden uncommanded nose down pitch

Autopilot performing excessive pitch trimming.
Recovery from Tail Stall

To recover from a tail stall, you must take actions that are almost completely opposite from those required to recover from a wing stall. If flaps are extended and you experience lightening of the controls, difficulty trimming, or buffet in the control column, immediately retract the flaps and maintain or reduce thrust -- in other words, undo what you just did.

Pull yoke back (opposite to action for a wing stall recovery). This reduces angle of attack of the tailplane and moves it away from the critical angle.
Retract flaps.
Maintain or reduce thrust.


Looks like the Captain mistook the stick knocker for the nose pitch down of a tail stall. But, the nose down didn't happen right after the flaps were extended. Made a botch of it. Seems like the sort of mistake made by someone with inadequate training in that type aircraft and limited skills and knowledge of icing hazards.

If they weren't sure whether it was wing or tail icing, would you agree allowing a gentle nose down and cutting the flaps to five degrees would be a safe initial response? I defer to your experience, knowledge and credentials.




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guitar man Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 02:37 PM
Response to Original message
12. my god
That's exactly half of what I make...and I'm poor :(
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mn9driver Donating Member (877 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 03:03 PM
Response to Original message
13. This is the standard pay and life for these folks.
The entire airline industry has taken huge financial hits since 2001, but the regional airlines were already on the bottom of acceptable pay and benefits when the cuts started coming. The pilot mills turn out 600 hour, multi engine, instrument rated pilots which just so happens to be what most of these operators accept as their "minimum" requirements.

These freshly minted pilots often carry student debt upwards of $100,000. Their loan payments are huge. Two or three jobs is the norm. The FAA only cares about the number of hours you spend flying--if you want to work every other hour of the day (or night) in a coffee shop to make ends meet, they don't care---as long as you maintain your "fitness" for flight duty. That way, if you fall asleep at the controls, it's your fault for not being "fit".

Even if they reduced the pay to nothing, people would still apply. Unfortunately, the love of flying does NOT automatically confer the ability to do it safely and consistently over the long term and in a variety of conditions. As the pay goes ever lower, the folks who CAN do the job are less and less likely to apply, while there is still a bottomless pool of the "other" category of pilots waiting at the door.

Even organized pilot unions have a difficult time raising pay and benefits due to the Railway Labor Act (which includes airline unions), which makes it just about impossible to legally strike or take any kind of job action. It's even illegal to TALK about "illegal" job actions, as many pilots and union officers have found out.

You can expect this kind of accident to happen again.
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Atman Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:02 PM
Response to Original message
19. I took a puddle jumper from Palm Springs to LA, and my pilot looked all of 19 years old
Freaked me out...she was a beautiful young woman, but YOUNG was the operative word. I'll always remember it because of the stir it caused and the uncontrollable laughter that erupted when the flight attended announced the name of our gorgeous young pilot -- Captain Slitz. Even the flight attendant couldn't help but chuckle.

.
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ProgressiveProfessor Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:16 PM
Response to Reply #19
22. BTDT, but just about everyone looks young to me these days
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MindPilot Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 04:17 PM
Response to Original message
23. The same in virtually every industry.
In fact I would call it normal at this point.

Hire the incompetent; they are cheap and for the most part will get by with the bare minimum. Every now and again something will get fucked up but that is the just the cost of doing business.

In the meantime those who are competent and do their jobs well get layoff notices.
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Sen. Walter Sobchak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 07:21 PM
Response to Original message
29. One of my friends flew for a regional
Edited on Wed May-13-09 07:25 PM by Sen. Walter Sobchak
At thirty she was still living with her parents who offered to match her salary if she would go back to university to get a real job, she stuck it out till she made Captain and left to fly corporate jets, where flying a smaller version of the same plane (Canadair Challenger instead of a Canadair Regional Jet) magically doubled her salary.

She hated everything about the job, she hated the TSA, she hated the management, she hated the union even more - that was sexist and corrupt but she had too much to invested to walk away as a First Office burnout.

Another friend is with Skywest would return to the airforce if it didn't mean ending back in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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lib2DaBone Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 07:54 PM
Response to Original message
30. CNN Now going nuts.. "How Could This Crash Happen"?
What part of Corporate greed do people not understand?

Reagan busted Patco and "trickle-down" economics has kept American workers in servitude since 1980.

They dangle the carrot in front of these regional airline pilots. (.."Just bust your ass with us and you too can make big bucks on a 737") The cost of training and education can range well over $100,000 for these kids ...just to get a job on a Dash-8... but they do it for their love of flying.

Do the Regional Airlines give passengers a break on their ticket price because they pay their pilots less? OF FRIGGIN COURSE NOT! What.. are you dreaming?

They paid this 24-year-old girl $16,000 a year. $8.14 an hour.. (and she was a 1st.officer!) Why do you think she was sleeping on a sofa in the pilots waiting room when she was sick? Because she enjoyed it? Why do you think she worked at a coffee shop part time? She could not afford a hotel room... and the tight-ass CEO Bankster/Gangsters in charge of the company want it that way. What do the CEOs care if a few hundred people die as long as their stock is up? Pure Reaganism in action.

I am surprised they have not brought in HB-1b Pilots from India for $3.00 an hour to fly these planes. If they can outsource these jobs to China and make a quick buck.. it will happen. The Passengers sitting in the back be dammed.
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Canuckistanian Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Wed May-13-09 10:09 PM
Response to Original message
31. That has got to be the worst case of disconnect, ever
Someone directly responsible for the lives of hundreds of passengers a day being paid not much more than the average Burger King manager.

Something is seriously out of whack here.
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nichomachus Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-14-09 10:52 AM
Response to Original message
32. The pilot worked in a grocery store
I remember reading at the time of the crash that the pilot worked several nights a week stocking shelves in a grocery store to make ends meet.

Capt. Sullenberger had to start a consulting business to increase his income after the airline cut his salary by 40 percent and terminated his pension. The passengers in the Hudson crash were lucky he hadn't already quit for a more lucrative job, leaving their flight in the hands of someone less experienced.
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DU GrovelBot  Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu May-14-09 10:52 AM
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