Disturbing Trend?

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
Lately--as in the past few months--I have noticed a disturbing trend here at JetCareers, and in the industry in general. Maybe it is because of the downturn we are experiencing, or maybe it is a generational shift. Whatever the root cause, it appears that many of us have stopped trying to gain education on important operational-related topics, and are focusing much more on political topics.

I'm not referring to politics in the sense of the Presidential election, although that might be included. The politics I am describing is union politics, labor/management relations, contract issues, and so forth.

If you click the "New Posts" button above, you will quickly notice the threads on this board that get the most attention. "McCain brags that he 'fought...union bosses'," "Republic to Operate 12 Embraer E-170 Jets for Midwest!," "Furloughs and open time;" the list goes on. You'll also notice some threads that could be quite helpful for those of us who are still new to the industry, so that we can benefit from the experience and knowledge of those who have come before us.

Another example of this trend is comparing the "Technical Talk" forum versus the "Airline Pilots" forum. You'll see on the Technical Talk forum that most posts get an average of 5-10 replies. Only two threads on the first page have reached 30 posts. However, approximately 50% of the threads you see in the Airline Pilots forum have reached multiple pages. Obviously many people here have very strong opinions and extensive knowledge when it comes to the issues discussed in that forum, so why not the same in Technical Talk? Which do you think would be more beneficial to you as a line pilot?

Sadly, I think most of the technical discussions here are done by CFIs or CFI candidates. It seems that once we have reached the level of "professional," our desire to focus on the addition of knowledge for flying-related subjects ceases, and we turn towards discussions (ahem, arguments) about union politics increases. Why is this the case?

I cannot recall the last time I have read a major airline interview gouge that has mentioned questions asked about the current United or Delta RFPs, the pay rates at Mesaba versus Pinnacle, or the average days off at Mesa Airlines. The questions I see are related to how you conduct yourself as a crewmember, and technical review. So why do we not spend more time trying to educate ourselves in our tradecraft, so we can become more competitive? Is that not the whole purpose of this board?

I do believe education on political issues is important; however, as young pilots, I feel it is less important than developing our experience level and improving our skill set. As a line Captain, I'd much prefer to fly with a First Officer who has strong systems knowledge and situational awareness, than one who is well versed in the contract talks at an airline other than our own.

It has been mentioned here numerous times that every pilot should have a copy of "Flying the Line, Volume 1 and 2" in their library. Sure, I agree. However, there are a multitude of other books and publications that would be even more important to developing a professional pilot. Here are a few of my favorites:


  • "Fly The Wing" by Jim Webb
  • "Weather Flying" by Bob Buck
  • "North Star Over My Shoulder" by Bob Buck
  • "Fate Is The Hunter" by Ernest Gann
  • "Redefinining Airmanship" by Tony Kern
  • "Darker Shades of Blue" by Tony Kern
  • "Professional Pilot" by John Lowery

Those are just the tip of the spear in non-FAA publications that have an enormous amount of information that would be beneficial to us. Information we could disect and discuss here between pilots, so that we can go to work and apply that knowledge in our day to day flying.

I truly hope that the current trend is due to the events going on in the industry. If this is a sign of the future of the piloting profession, I am fearful. We need to encourage one another for continued personal and professional development, and right now our focus is not going that direction. Maybe I'm wrong... I hope you'll prove me wrong if I am.
 

SlumTodd_Millionaire

Evil Landlord Capitalist
"Disturbing" trend? I think not. I think it's a good trend. I'm glad to see that a lot of our up and coming pilots are getting more educated on such matters. We need pilots that are educated on union issues and politics.
 

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
I agree. However, that seems to be the primary focus, and that is not a good trend. We have had 600-hour pilots getting hired into the right seat of 70- and 90-seat jets who can tell you all about the ails of the industry, but who cannot properly calculate a holding entry.

As an example, how much of the discussions regarding the Pinnacle crash in Missouri focused on the aerodynamic issues that caused the crew to stall at FL410 and "core lock" the engines? Or was most of the discussion related to the First Officers experience level, Gulfstream Academy pilots at Pinnacle Airlines, and the general attitude of the crew? Yes, their attitude was a huge problem... But wasn't their lack of systems knowledge and procedural indiscretions also a large factor in the overall outcome of that flight?

The problem might be that many people want to be airline pilots, not professional pilots. I hope I'm wrong.
 

SlumTodd_Millionaire

Evil Landlord Capitalist
I think you bring up a valid point. Part of the problem is the change in the training culture. Everything has become a huge race to just get the ratings and get in the right seat, and no one has to focus on learning much of anything beyond the bare basics. Back when we had to be CFIs, we spent a while studying this stuff. Now guys go from "zero to hero" in a few short months. Not much time to digest many of the concepts that you're talking about, and once they're already in that right seat, they don't really care to learn any more. I don't think there's really a solution, to be honest. I think it's just a new reality that we'll have to learn to live with.
 

butt

New Member
I think its because the technical stuff you can get anywhere. Everyone went through ground training with their CFI about how engines run, and things like that. When it comes to political matters, very few noobs come through here knowing anything.

That said, I personally am way more interested in the technical aspect of aviation, so threads about engines and obscure regulations interest me way more than labor contracts. And it does kinda suck that not many of those kind of discussions are found here.
 

IrishSheepdog

Sitting in the median
Not much time to digest many of the concepts that you're talking about, and once they're already in that right seat, they don't really care to learn any more. I don't think there's really a solution, to be honest. I think it's just a new reality that we'll have to learn to live with.
I definitely think there is a solution. The solution is to encourage pilots to enhance their knowledge and experience level, rather than become comfortable in their seat and "get by." That is the point of this thread, in all honesty. We spend so much time focusing on informing new pilots about the reality of the political side of our profession, but we are failing when it comes to informing them on ways to enhance their operational knowledge.

We walk into our management offices and argue that we should be paid appropriately for the safety and service we provide the customers. However, now you say we must learn to live with this "new reality" of less knowledgeable, less experienced, and less motivated pilots? How will we ever be able to argue our point, if we show management we are only willing to do enough to "get by?" They'll only pay us enough to "get by."

We always compare ourselves to doctors and lawyers. Do you really believe that doctors should argue for more money, when they're less knowledgeable about the human body and modern medicine than years previous? Do you believe a lawyer can ask for a raise if he never wins cases, and will not keep up on changes in the law? How can a pilot argue for more money if we will not further educate ourselves and expand our tradecraft?

Doctors, lawyers, and the like earn their money through hard work and continuous growth. It seems we're encouraging pilots to earn our money through "doing enough to get by" and sitting on our ass if we don't get what we want. Like it or not, that's how it appears to those outside the industry.
 

germb747

Well-Known Member
I see what you're saying, but I do think we have a good blend of topics to discuss here, and politics is a major part of it. I'm way more interested in increasing my level of aviation and systems knowledge (vice politics) so that someday I might feel prepared to be a captain, but generally that involves thumbing through my GOM/AOM and talking to guys on the line, rather than rely too much on unofficial sources such as this internet forum.

As for FNGs getting jobs in this industry, the cycle has been going on for quite some time, hasn't it? My simulator instructor during initial got on with TWA way back in the day at the ripe old age of 19 after grossly overstating his hours (in fact he had little more than a couple hundred hours). At least we can say that qualifications are much more verifiable in this day and age than it was back then.
 

aloft

New Member
It has been mentioned here numerous times that every pilot should have a copy of "Flying the Line, Volume 1 and 2" in their library. Sure, I agree. However, there are a multitude of other books and publications that would be even more important to developing a professional pilot. Here are a few of my favorites:


  • "Fly The Wing" by Jim Webb
  • "Weather Flying" by Bob Buck
  • "North Star Over My Shoulder" by Bob Buck
  • "Fate Is The Hunter" by Ernest Gann
  • "Redefinining Airmanship" by Tony Kern
  • "Darker Shades of Blue" by Tony Kern
  • "Professional Pilot" by John Lowery
Hey! I own most of those! :)
 

Captain_Bob

Well-Known Member
My thoughts...

Technical answers typically require only one... correct... response. IE: There is only one reason why a system operates the way it does. Once a question is asked and subsequently answered (correctly) in that forum on that subject, then the thread can only so far from there.

Airline Pilot forum and others: These are forums of information and responses to said information. These responses range from the idealogical, the political, the professional, the insane, and yes... even the non-sensical. These threads can run on forever as a result.

Maybe I'm thinking about it too simply...

Bob
 

Baronman

Well-Known Member
I agree with Bob, that would answer why certain threads run longer.

Additionally could it be that there are just fewer CFIs on the board than there once was? I know when I was CFI-ing I would try to answer questions on here, but now I'm not so well versed in some of the topics being discussed. It's been a while since I've done a VCM demo brief.

It seems like for the last 2 years there have been very few seasoned CFIs around. With the freight and regional hiring boom very few would get that CFI experience. Instead the more pressing issue in their life is who will get the new CRJ-900 or Q400.

I'm a little embarrassed at the lack of knowledge shown in the cockpit. Perhaps it's a product of a Gleim, ALL A-T-P, get through as fast as you can because a job is waiting for you atmosphere. I was just having a discussion with someone over True Airspeed, they had very little understanding of what it was vs. the indicated speed that is "blown up" right in front of them. Not knowing this alone isn't a deal breaker but it is indicative of the very shallow depth of knowledge that now seems acceptable.
 

typhoonpilot

Well-Known Member
We walk into our management offices and argue that we should be paid appropriately for the safety and service we provide the customers. However, now you say we must learn to live with this "new reality" of less knowledgeable, less experienced, and less motivated pilots? How will we ever be able to argue our point, if we show management we are only willing to do enough to "get by?" They'll only pay us enough to "get by."

Good point Matt.

I find that U.S. pilots tend to underperform in training, but they sure know how to argue how bad the training was and why it should be different :).


Typhoonpilot
 

jrh

Well-Known Member
Take this with a grain of salt because I've never flown the line for any place other than flight schools, but here's my take on it...

Most pilots, primarily outside of the flight training sector, don't push themselves to learn because they don't have to. What incentive is there? They're going to get paid the same and have the same QOL no matter if they crack a book or not. As long as they don't get fired, they're set. It's simply the nature of the work.

Students coming up through training have an incentive to study hard because if they don't, they might fail their next checkride. They haven't been around long enough to know exactly what "good enough" is yet, so they usually over-prepare (a good thing, BTW).

Flight instructors have an incentive to strive for improvement because rewards are directly tied to being better than the competition. Flight instructors who know their stuff cold, have great customer service skills, etc. develop a reputation as the "go to" guys for their local area and receive more business, or command higher pay, or both. Basically, flight instructing is inherently based on the better instructors having better lives, as a general rule.

When it comes to flying for bigger cargo and airline operations, pilots become numbers. Everything is more standardized and less personal. As long as the plane gets from point A to point B like it's supposed to, nobody knows, nor do they care how far above minimums the pilots were. Pilots who strive for excellence might get more personal satisfaction from their level of proficiency, but there are almost no tangible benefits.

Not saying that's necessarily a good thing, just something I've observed over time.
 

JrsyGuy

Well-Known Member
You will also notice that when new pilots make posts with questions that some determine to be general knowledge you have some 'experienced' pilots start bashing the training they got from the 90 days and out places. Being an ATP product myself I will personally say I agree that the training wasn't exactly what I was hoping for, but I went to a local FBO for my private and I believe that ATP's training was better then I received at my FBO. But when individuals on this site constantly bash guys like myself it is a discouragement for us to ask questions or get involved in technical conversations and further the learning for everybody.
 

OldTownPilot

Well-Known Member
I know I should hang out in tech talk more given my background, but I always seem compelled by the drama in the airline forum.......its like a good flick that you have to watch over and over and over again, even though its the same actors and the same plot every time you return.
 

tgrayson

New Member
when individuals on this site constantly bash guys like myself it is a discouragement for us to ask questions or get involved in technical conversations and further the learning for everybody.
There's probably also the effect that when a pilot gets to a certain level of experience, he no longer feels that it's appropriate to demonstrate ignorance on certain subjects. I've seen a number of instructors chastised for asking questions with criticism like "How can you be an instructor and not know X?" You're right, very destructive towards intellectual curiosity.

Most technical questions come from 1) student pilots 2) those preparing for the CFI, or 3) those preparing for airline interviews. In other words, those who are scared. ;) Once the goal is achieved, the curiosity goes away. Not for everyone, but for a large percentage.

I noticed a large decline over the past 7-8 months, but I think that's mostly due to reduced numbers of people going through training.
 

germb747

Well-Known Member
Is it just me, or has the attitude on this forum become much more 'cut throat' in the last few months?
 

HeyEng

NAHB Doesn't Give a Crap
I have noticed this, and of course the "downturn" could be a little bit responsible. I have noticed the "same 'ole posts" and my visits to JC have been reduced because of it...you know, second verse, same as the first.
 
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