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tv   [untitled]  CSPAN  June 20, 2009 5:30pm-6:00pm EDT

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pilot out for a psychological exam. is there something else going on with that individual? the third time of that failure, trying to master the same maneuver are the same airplane, and pilots' jobs are at risk at that point. >> so this was an oddity that the captain of this light -- of this flight failed five times over a period of years? the records did not go back far enough to dig up this information. >> i think again we have to make sure we are comparing apples with apples. if he had problems with basic airmanship skills and had to be retrained in there, but we cannot get away from the fact that he met all of -- all of them at the faa standards and they met the standards that their employer had saiet.
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>> is the training for a regional pilot the same as it is for pilots in the major airlines? >> yes, it is, senator. >> do the regular airline companies pay as low as $20,000 a year and put someone even alongside a trained capt. in the cockpit? >> as a practical matter, the pilots that are heard by the mainline have significant -- significantly more seniority on average in their pay at a higher level pay as of function of collective bargaining. it is generally also conditioned on number of hours in a particular type of aircraft,
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whether or not the pilots has been in command or whether they are a first option. there are a number of factors involved in pay. effectively, the exclusive jurisdiction of collective bargaining and seniority. >> before someone achieves the status of capt., is there requirement in the regionals that they fly a particular number of hours? >> they require 1500 hours of total flight time and be 23 years of age. those of the basics. that is not a lot of time. in many cases, pilots do x. see that before they check out as captain, but in rapidly expanding environments is a concern. it is also the concern of how much actual experience. time is not the only generator. you flew a b-52 for 20-r
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missions, it is not the same kind of training as an airline environment. time does not cure it all. >> for the record, our average captain and a regional airline has a 500 hours and are -- has8500 hours and an average first officer has 3000 hours. >> the captain of an airplane that has less skilled co-pilot has to have had more experience than the basic experience. that might be a good rule to put in to play. when you look at what is required of the passenger flow
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today in major airlines, or regional, the passengers are examined so thoroughly to make sure that they cannot bring down an airplane. while we look at the skills and training and reaction ability of pilots, that is much more casually done. i think we can learn from that, not to change the security process, but rather to say that the person who is up in the front of that airplane has to really be able to manage all situations. mr. maurer, i know it is painful trip for you to review this, but you do a noble job when you say let my loss be a lesson for others. we have to take that very much
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to heart. >> mr. cohen, how many regional airlines are an operation out there today? >> as it has been talked about, the term regional airline is more of a term almost of art rather than science. there are 31 member raa member airlines, and those 31 members carry 90% of the passengers in scheduled service. >> how many of those would be profitable today? how many are actually making money? >> mr. chairman, some of them are privately held, so they do not report, and i just do not have that intermission available. rex of those who are not
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privately owned, could you get that information? >> would be glad to get it to you and provided to the committee, absolutely. >> let me understand your business model, because i think that bears on some issues here. as i understand it, the cost of the ticket that i would purchase is not determined by that regional, it is determined by the carrier they contract with. is that correct? >> for the majority of business operations, yes. >> how are you revenues determined? is it based on that ticket cost? >> there is a variety of business arrangements which are proprietary in nature, but is my general understanding that it can be one of a couple of ways, that probably the predominant way is what is called fee for
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departure, or that basically the regional airline is given a schedule and is paid in some fashion based on the number of flight hours, the number of trips, the performance of those trips and so forth. there are regional airlines that are wholly owned subsidiaries of major airlines. that may be a different relationship. there are some independent line regional airlines, a smaller group there. some business models actually have a little bit where the ticket price may be split, but that is a very small percentage. >> is it impacted by the number of people on the plane, so if you are flying 50 versus five, your revenues are going to be better? >> only in those were the regional carrier would be sharing in the risk of the
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revenue for the flight. but again, these are proprietary, so it is just my general understanding. >> there are statistics as to how many of the regionals have gone bankrupt. that is a public sort of event. how many would that be? >> i have been the president of the regional airline association a little over 2.5 years, and of our members, i believe two may have gone out of business in those two years. again, i can issue the exact information. >> on the pilots themselves, i started out as a young lawyer, and had you asked me at age 23, are you ready to handle the most complex cases in a courtroom setting -- i would have said absolutely. i have my law degree and or
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certificate, let's go. i was not anywhere near ready. is the regional airline regarded as the training ground for pilots? you go there and pick up some hours, you do some flying back and forth, and you pick up those hours. eventually you will get to a big carrier and eventually go transcontinental. i do not know what the next deaths would be. is that the case? >> unfortunate, that is what this system has produced, and it is not the safest model, sir. >> mr. cohen, averages mean nothing to me. when i walk on that airplane and stick my head in the cockpit and say i feel so good that the average salary here is whatever you told me it was. i would never say that. i want to know that they are
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trained and ready and can handle thunderstorms and icing and keep me out of trouble. so your average is just not land anywhere with me. they miss the mark completely. what would be the minimum salary per year that a pilot would be hired to come on board? >> mr. chairman, i do not have the minimum. again, the average, which i believe we have provided some information to the committee, i can give you that of our member airlines -- i can provide that going forward. >> i want you to get that figure averages mean nothing. >> between $16,000.18000 dollars a year for a full-time job, unless they are on reserve. >> i have travelled extensively
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when i was in the cabinet. i must admit i get tired of it. one of the things that really hammered beeme was a constant te changes, the poor guy, and lack of exercise. when these folks are traveling from out at the west coast over to the east coast, and have gone through all this time changes, how does the computer? if you see someone who has spent the whole night, can they literally landed new jersey and get on a plane and start flying? >> it is possible. it is also true that they may have flown that flight across the country, a five hour flight in the middle of the night, and then be expected to sit around for a couple of hours and then fly the trip. i would put it in the terms of
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is it any more restful sitting in coach seat trying to get to work for two hours, or driving to an airport for two hours? i think we have to look at that. obviously the subject of commuting has some focus, especially on our first duty day. on the first duty day, are you sufficiently rested to do next 16 hours of duty? that is what we have to look at how those extensive periods. in this case, what also is drawn is that the co-pilot could have flown that trip instead of just written on it, and in legal to fly that afternoon and lie that trip. that is a fact. >> i am out of time, so i will zero in on this in a very focused way. let's say i grew up in florida, and i get my training in florida, and i am used to thunderstorms, but i have no idea ideaicing is about.
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could a regional hire me to fly the northern route? >> mr. chairman, no. that person would be trained extensively in the type of operations that he or she is going to be flying. >> i would disagree with that statement from this point. that pilot has checked passed the minimums for all types of operations at all types of weather. if his or her experience has been specifically in one area or region of the country, they could be thrown into the worst weather of the northeast or the amount line or whatever without further training. we have to talk about the specific training at different points. when you move pilots around the system, we must continue the training cycle. i think it is deficient in that area.
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>> i would just wrap up with this very good thought. i ask these questions, and i will be very candid about it, because i worry that because of economics or whatever, we are trying to do this on the cheap. we are hiring pilots at a very low wage. i do not know how you would live on that salary. we are ending up with people who are trying to build their hours to move out of the regional system. if that is the case, that is very worrisome. mr. cohen, prove to me i am wrong. the burden is on the airlines to prove the safety of our travel. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. mr. maurer, thank you very much for your testimony. i have experienced tragedy in my
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family in a plane crash with my father, but even to more extreme that the plane was never recovered. it took a tragedy back then to change the rules of requiring locator beacons in planes because of that incident. it was the largest air recovery attempt in this country's history. it seems always when we deal with air traffic safety, it is always a tragedy that moves us to the next page. i appreciate you being here. i am very, very sympathetic for personal reasons, but as i was listening to the testimony, mr. cohen, i feel like you are on the hot seat, and i appreciate you being here. as i was listening, i asked my staff, because all associations of conferences and meetings and so forth, so while you were testifying, i said go and get me a copy of your last conference
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which was held in mid-may. it was a five day conference. this is now two or three months after the significant incidents in the regional airline's history. but yet when i look through the conference agenda of 4.5 days, i see very little mention of safety, except in the last couple of days. i am assuming through the discussion of the conference you had conversations. i know as a former mayor, when the katrina disaster happen, we spent the whole conference on because of the importance of safety in our communities. so as to talk about the ideas and suggestions, it is on you, and i can only look at what has been done in your comments today. i want to take a couple of steps, and if you want to
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quickly come to the convention, that is great. i am not going to read the agenda, because you know the kind of things that were covered. it seems to me that should have been in the four brought -- in the forefront. it seems such an important issue. >> to that point, senator, reason why raa was created, and every year for the last 34 years has been to promote safety within the industry. the safety directors of our member airlines meet for the entire length of that conference. that is a meeting at which everything is shared, again, to protect these issues, with the faa, with members of the ntsb that are there, and it is not a public meeting, so that they can
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share those experiences. so you are exactly correct. that it is not on the public website. they meet for 10 hours a day in a windowless room. we would urge you when they meet here the next time, i would urge members of this committee -- you are invited and we would love to have you there. >> we do share the outcome of last conference meetings with the committee? if it needs to be confidential, i am happy to oblige. let me go to another issue regarding the pay rate. it surprised me that you did not know the beginning salary or a range. as the association ever done a salary study? i am guessing that must have had some analysis in the many years you have been there.
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can you provide that to the committee? >> we will provide you with a member -- information of our member carriers, what is publicly available. we will get that to you. >> we can keep things proprietary information, so i would like you to stretch further, if you can. >> the issue on the pay, and you mentioned the compensation pay is not necessarily a driving factor. i would disagree with you, because as a former mayor of managing over 500 police officers, paramedics, and fire, i did not want them to have a second job. i wanted one job. so we pay them very well. the net result was we had very limited problems because of that. they did not have to worry about their family and taking care of them, so i want to disagree with you on that and ask you the simple question, and taking it
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at $23,000. in alaska, we have some great regionals from the ones that operate currently there. the pace seems to me an important factor in creating quality, so that quality of the pilot dozen literally fly to the majors to keep them for long term careers. do you honestly think, and i am going of the pilots association , that $23,000 is adequate for us to have people flying in plains. i do not care if it is one person, 20 people, or 50 people. >> the pay at virtually every one of our member airlines is collectively bargain. >> that is not my question. as a former mayor, i deal with collective bargaining all the time. is it the right kind of pay to
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have, and should be required minimums that are guaranteed pay levels for pilots in regional plans. this is a question i asked last week to folks. >> center, we believe that the industry is -- this very complex issue, we believe fundamentally that the quality of the people that we have flying is good. we would like to get even better. that is one of the reasons why we have strongly supported a number of the issues that have been discussed today, to get better training, and there is an investment here, too. it is interesting that this committee that is responsible for spending billions of dollars. we believe there can be some money spent on the human capital
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in our aviation safety system. we would strongly support that. >> that we ask both -- let me ask both of you. it is a very simple question. that is the whole issue of downtime and faa's minimums that they currently have. i know each of you have mentioned that. do you think the minimums are too low? for downtime as well as other training and other issues -- do you think they are too low and need to be raised up? >> i assume you are talking about flight and duty time now. i think they are probably appropriate. no. 2, we made a commitment at the faa's action on monday to
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enter into a science based study to determine whether or not they are currently opprobrium or not. there has been a recent proceeding on all prolong flying that the faa has done that was science base. plenty of skilled people available to do that. we probably ought to incorporate the issue of commuting. we ought to incorporate that into the process. we would strongly endorsed a process being established by faa to look at flight and duty time, current standards, how they might differ for regionals with lots of takeoffs and landings versus long haul. all that needs to be put on the table. >> if you could be very quick on the response. >> we believe there has been enough study. we are ready to move forward with it. we believe there is enough science on the record.
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we will make our recommendations directly to the faa and work with the associations to move that process forward. >> can you share that with the committee when you do that? >> of course. >> thank you very much, mr. chairman. the tragedy of the colgan air flight brought that safety of airlines back into the public eye. for me it was eerily reminiscent of the crash of the senator from minnesota. the issues were eyes, pilot training, and fatigue. --ice. when i hear of underpaid pilots who are tired and pilots who are not earning enough money, it reminds me very much of that. in addition to that, you have a factor pilots living far away from their bases, leading to long commutes and a lot of time spent waiting in the air ports.
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there have been some questions about 50, but i had a question about the reimbursement for hotel rooms in the evenings. i know that some of the larger airlines pay for hotel costs so that the pilots can get sleep before ships. our regional carriers doing the same thing? >> and pilots are on duty, the minute they check-in, their hotel costs on duty are paid for 100% by the company. they also receive a travel per diem. it is the same main line and region. there is no distinction between the way those are done between major airlines and regional airlines. >> does anyone have anything to add? >> there is of paramount difference, but where you are going is, is the pilot getting adequate rest in a place to get that rest before he or she
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begins her first trip out of whatever domiciled have been assigned to. the answer, quite simply, is no. they are not provided by the airlines. >> so they fly to start their first trip from somewhere and there may not be a way for them to get reimbursed for a hotel then, because it is not in between flights? >> that is correct. >> was that the case here with the colgan light, because i know she was spending the day in the airport. >> i seriously doubt -- i can say without a doubt they were not given a place to get adequate rest or provided for or compensated for a hotel room so that they could get adequate rest. >> we heard last week that regional pilots are more likely to become tired and fatigued by flying because they are flying more flights today rather than one long flight. i am sure that could happen with major carriers to.
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in other words, they are doing more takeoffs and landings in one day, and they may be actually more prone to fatigue. do you think that is true? >> having spent more time fatigues than anyone else up here on the panel, i can say there is a lot of different ways of lowering your readiness level. the fatigue of a 16 hour flight is different, but just as important as a pilot who is flying seven different landings and takeoffs in the middle of the winter weather or summer weather. it is different, but it all adds to the same place. a tired or fatigue pilot is not at the peak of his or her performance. >> the issue of fatigue is a very serious one. it is right at the top of our strategic safety initiative, including the exploration -- there is a lot of new signs out
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there on fatigue. the possibility of exploring fatigue testing, let's start gathering the data. let's start testing people for fatigue. we have the ability to do that now, but we do not currently. we would strongly urge it. >> i think that we know. i have read enough sleep studies to know that if people do not have enough sleep, and i am not disputing that testing is good, but the bottom line is, if they do not have enough sleep because they are sitting in an airport and have not slept the night before because they are flying from far away and do not have enough money to pay for a hotel room, i think you are want to have problems. i was glad that administrator babbitt this money is -- this money is going to propose a new rolrule. i wanted to talk about the deicing issues, because that was clearly an issue here. the first officer told the pilot
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in the crash, i have never seen icing conditions. i have never the ice. i have never experienced any of that. this was clearly a factor in the crash. our regional aircraft more susceptible to problems associated with eisenger and some of the larger aircraft because of where they are flying are the levels that are flying? >> certainly, some of the airplanes that fly in the lower levels, the service to 20,000 feet are more likely to pick up more icing. certain turboprops are more susceptible to it, although most of them are more than adequate to handle those conditions. you cannot stay in it forever. the fact that the first officer, and this will sound strange, because there has been such a focus on some sterile cockpit violations. i am relieved that we knowha


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