Tuesday, October 6, 2009

Op Ed: My Rant to Time Magazine, the FAA, and the American Public

I read this story on Time magazines web site this morning and it really got my blood boiling. The article is titled "Too Tired to Fly: European Pilots Want Shorter Shifts". I'm not angry because European pilots want shorter shifts. I fully agree and support their argument. I'm angry because the writer focused strictly on the E.U. rules and hardly mentions the U.S. He cites in one sentence at the bottom of the article that after the Buffalo, NY crash, U.S. authorities worked quickly to overhaul U.S. flying time. That flight happened in FEBRUARY and NO rules have been changed. That is not working quickly when peoples lives are at stake.

It angers me that nowhere in the article do they cite FAA regulations for pilots and duty times. Markus can work 16 hour days with only 8 hours off in between flying. And, he can do it up to 6 days in a row. Think about how you would feel at your desk job working from 6 a.m until 10 p.m., and then having to be back at work at 6 a.m. And, they are sleeping in a hotel and eating airport food with no time to exercise and barely enough time to get 6 hours sleep. Then multiple that by 6 days. Would you want that person flying your plane? I wouldn't want them driving a vehicle on the road, much less flying a plane carrying 50+ passengers 3,000 miles above the earth.

Why doesn't our government do something about this? Media outlets focus on ticket prices and delays going up but hardly ever do you hear about the pilots and how they are working around the clock and putting lives at risk. And, it's even worse for the flight attendants. Their main purpose on being on a flight is to provide assistance to passengers in case of an emergency, not to provide peanuts and drinks.

Bottom line: time is money. The FAA has these rules on the books and until the American public demands better or more lives are lost, it will stay this way. I don't want to lose my husband because he was too tired to do his job. I don't need studies to tell me that 16 hour days are too long to work when you are FLYING A PLANE. So why does the FAA?

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