Retort to "10 Most Overpaid Jobs"


Well-Known Member
Retort to \"10 Most Overpaid Jobs\"

I thought this was a good response to the article by one of us. Shows that speaking up can sometimes swing a few votes. I x'ed out the name just for CYA even though I would be happy if I was the composer.

*Xfer from email to here played funny on the alignment of the lines


I'm sure many of you read Chris Pummer's idiotic rambling on CBS
regarding overpaid major airline pilots.

Last Monday, the local SLC news/talk radio show (Grant&Amanda on KSL1160) picked
up on Pummer's column and interviewed him on air, where he regurgitated his
views once more.

Having nothing better to do in Anchorage this morning at 1am, I fired off a
venting letter to the show's anchor and was pleasantly surprised to receive a
rather contrite reply. I don't know whether they disclaimed any of the original
show on the air today, but it was nice to see that once in a while our efforts
to educate and persuade others on the true nature of our profession pay off.
The reply and my original letter follow:

<<<<<Hello xxxxxx,

I'm so sorry that we featured that story. I thought about just some of
the points you made as we were speaking with the guy. The biggest
thought that came to my mind was - I WANT the guy piloting my plane to
be well paid. I want him or her to feel rested and confident and
competent, and I want him to be well paid.

In any event, thank you for your email. You make so many salient
points. I'm so sorry for any offense and truly wish we had not done the

My best to you xxxxxx.

>>> original email: 11/12/2003 4:12:43 AM>>>


I was a little more than miffed to read Chris Pummer's '10 most
Overpaid jobs' column on CBSMarketWatch last Friday - - especially since one of them - major airline pilot - is what I do. Not only was his description of my profession grossly distorted in terms of both compensation and job description; it was downright insulting.

You can imagine my further chagrin when you chose to feature this
Sloppy "journalist" on your show Monday morning! I can't speak for the other
Nine jobs he maligned, but his complete ignorance of the nature of my
Profession leads me to question the accuracy of the others he described.

A few points:

1) The median pilot salary at Delta is nowhere near the 250,000 Mr.
Pummer described. Try about half that! Quoting the top end pay one can earn
during the last 2-3 years of a 30 year career is hardly indicative of
the compensation afforded major airline pilots.

2) It takes an average of 10-12 years of college, postgraduate flight
schools (2-4 years' worth), internship, and 3 to 4 thousand hours of
jet experience just to qualify for an INTERVIEW at a major airline. The
cost of such preparation EXCEEDS that of medical or law school and the overall
preparation is easily comparable to what an attorney, dentist or even
general medical practitioner goes through.

3) Mr. Pummer incorrectly described the job as being "almost fully
automated." Wrong. The automation that exists in the current
generation of passenger jets allowed operators to eliminate the 3rd pilot/flight
engineer. The workload remaining for the 2 pilot crew is equal or higher,
especially in abnormal situations, than it was previously.

4) Comparing major airline pilot pay to regionals is not very
meaningful. Pilot cost per seat mile is a more accurate cost comparison - - and in
this, major airline pilots are on par with their regional counterparts! From
the dawn of sailing vessels, a ship's Captain has been paid in part
relative to the size/weight of his/her craft. I operate a 250 passenger, 400,000
pound Boeing 767. The biggest aircraft Southwest operates is a 125,000
pound, 125-130 passenger 737. Most regional airlines operate 50-70 passenger
50,000 pound regional jets. Apples to oranges.

5) Pilots are paid by the FLIGHT hour. For each flight hour paid, we
are required to be on duty 1 1/2 to 2 hours. My monthly schedule works out
to approximately a 40-45 hour work week, PLUS 12-13 nights per month away
from home. It's a FULL-TIME job!

6) Like other professionals, pilots go through demanding continuing
education and evaluation. The qualification standard is 100% on every
maneuver and on every normal and emergency procedure. Fall short and
find another job. Pilots have to maintain and recertify medical fitness
every 6 months. The FAA doesn't like your EKG? Kiss your career goodbye.
Develop diabetes or high blood pressure? Kiss your career goodbye. Go see a
Psychiatrist for depression and get on medication? Kiss your career
goodbye. Pilots are scrutinized by the federal government during all
phases of aircraft operation. Perform a task incorrectly or violate an
approach altitude by 1 foot? Have nice long unpaid leave or find another job.

7) Speaking of pilots, Mr Pummer stated, "Because we entrust our lives
to them, consumers accept the excessive sums paid them, when it's
airplane mechanics who really hold our fate in their hands." Tell that to the
passengers who had to make an emergency return to Salt Lake not too
long ago, when a mechanic failed to properly reconnect an engine generator
drive, resulting in an inextinguishable magnesium fire in the engine. Only
quick, professional action on the part of the pilots and cabin crew resulted
in the safe landing and prompt evacuation of all on board. Tell that to the
United DC-10 crash survivors in Sioux City, Iowa, who are alive thanks to the
outstanding airmanship of Capt Al Haines who drew on years and tens of
thousands of hours of experience in crafting an aerodynamic solution to
a severe hydraulic failure that rendered his ship virtually uncontrollable!
The pilots union that Mr. Pummer derides has for over 70 years fought
for and won improvements in aircraft and airport safety too numerous to
mention. You and I should shudder in fear at the prospect of an aviation system
without the Air Line Pilots Association's involvement!

As a major airline pilot, I am responsible for the safety of hundreds
of people and the operation of a hundred-million dollar jet in any
weather, visibility, airport/runway condition, and airspace congestion level.
The consequences of even a minor failing on my part can be catastrophic,
creating liability in the billions of dollars, not to mention tremendous
injury and loss of life.

I accept that the post 9/11 fallout created huge downward pressures on
Every aspect of the airline industry. My own paycheck and career prospects
Have and will continue to diminish. I accept this as a reality of the
Market place. I just wish that Chris Pummer and others who report on my
Industry and the profession I dearly love and have labored long years to qualify
For would JUST ONCE get it right.

Thanks for your fine show,

xxxxxx xxxxxxx
Boeing 757/767 pilot
Re: Retort to \"10 Most Overpaid Jobs\"

NICE! If they are really regretting the interview I think it would be very appropriate to do a retraction and correct analysis of "over paid" careers.