Pilots have become increasingly vocal in recent weeks they are overworked and tired. Is this a clever union negotiation tactic or are pilots truly exhausted? And if they are exhausted, do we really want them flying our children?
Pilots Claim Exhaustion – A Real Concern Or Shameful Bargaining Chip?
Delta Air Lines pilots are protesting around the country in hopes of securing a new contract. Pilots are in short supply around the world and the Air Line Pilots Association (ALPA) is taking advantage of the opportunity to negotiate the best contract possible.
In a childish tactic that mimics what United pilots used to do, Delta pilots won’t be wearing their hats for the next several weeks.
That will show them…
But it goes beyond that.
In the days ahead, pilots at American Airlines and United Airlines will vote on double-digit pay raises. It is understandable that Delta pilots don’t want to be left behind. Senior captains on widebody jets stand to earn over $400,000 per year and with the future uncertain, pilots may not be in nearly as strong of a bargaining position next year.
But these pilots are crossing a rubicon when it comes to contract negotiations. Specifically, Delta pilots have alleged that they are tired..even exhausted (see image above). Whether deliberate or not (and I believe it is very deliberate), the implication is that pilots are currently being overworked and that puts safety at risk.
Take for example the recent incident of UA2627. A United Boeing 737 Max 9 (N37513) traveling from Chicago (ORD) to Pittsburgh (PIT) with 168 passengers and six crew members onboard, was cleared for a visual approach and landing on runway 28C. Instead, the aircraft lined up with runway 28L and landed there. There were no near-misses, but that seems to me a pretty glaring oversight. Is this evidence that pilots are simply exhausted?
Perhaps pilots can explain to me why they are exhausted if the rule prohibiting them from flying more than 100 hours per month (14 CFR § 121.481) has not changed. I realize pilots are fed up with last-minute changes to their duty assignments (and rightfully so). But if minimum rest periods remain on the books and they cannot fly more than 100 hours per month, why are we suddenly hearing about fatigue during contract negotiation time?
Are we truly at risk because airlines are asking too much of their pilots? Do we jeopardize our safety by stepping onto an airline these days?
The last six years in the United States have shown us that fear is a powerful tool to control public opinion. I know many pilots and consider many friends. They are decent people and of course they want a fair shake during a time of record airline demand and rising ticket prices.
Reducing all of this to pilot greed when they should just be happy for the pay they are making instead of exploiting this moment after raping U.S. taxpayers during the pandemic is probably not fair. But using fatigue to imply the skies are not safe is a dangerous game. Strangely, I hope that this alleged exhaustion is real, because if this is merely a bargaining tactic it is incredibly shameful.
images: @Delta_Pilots / Twitter