At Washington Times: Democrats demonize Sinema for standing up for air travelers

Jun 29, 2023 | op-ed

Dr. John Lott has a new piece at the Washington Times.

.

If you believe Senator Tammy Duckworth (D-IL), fellow Senator Kyrsten Sinema (I-AZ) has “blood on your hands” for fighting to reduce the number of hours of training necessary to become a pilot. A headline at The Intercept claims her motive is campaign cash: “Kyrsten Sinema moves to slash pilot training after taking airline cash.”

.

Airlines are cutting flights to smaller cities, raising airline fares, and facing a pilot shortage with no safety improvement for various reasons. Sinema has a partial solution.

.

What is causing the problems isn’t a mystery. The Obama administration increased the number of flight hours pilots needed to be licensed to fly U.S. passenger and cargo airplanes sixfold, from 250 to 1,500 hours. That training costs hundreds of thousands of dollars. They also imposed strict limits on the number of hours licensed pilots can fly (in any 365-day period, they can’t fly more than an average of 2.7 hours per day). When you combine that with thousands of Baby Boomer pilots who learned to fly during the Vietnam War, reaching the mandatory retirement age of sixty-five, and vaccine mandates, you have a perfect recipe for a pilot shortage.

.

The regulation even required 750 hours of training for pilots who received military training and 1,000 hours for graduates of four-year aviation universities, making it hard to believe that it was anything but an attempt to reduce the number of new pilots, raise the wages of existing ones, and help the unions.

.

The push for the increased training arose from the crash of Colgan Air Flight 3407 near Buffalo, New York, in February 2009. All 49 passengers and crew members died. While commercial airplane crashes are extremely rare, the accident triggered cries for more safety regulations.

.

But as often happens with the government, special interests used the event to push regulations that were unrelated to the causes of the problem they were supposed to fix. Even if the 1,500-hour rule been in place in February 2009, Flight 3407 still would have crashed. The pilot, Captain Marvin Renslow, had 3,379 hours of flight experience. Co-pilot Rebecca Lynne Shaw had over 2,200 hours, including 772 hours spent flying the type of plane that crashed.

.

Incompetence, not lack of training, was the cause of the Colgan Air crash. When a stall warning went off in the cockpit, Renslow raised the plane’s nose, which is the opposite of the training pilots receive. Renslow had failed five “check ride” proficiency tests conducted in cockpits or simulators. One National Transportation Safety Board safety expert observed, “It does raise a flag when you see five.” 

.

Renslow neglected to tell Colgan Air about the three check rides he had failed before being hired, and the Federal Aviation Administration does not make such failures public. Those three failures would likely have kept him from being hired. And he failed two more tests after being hired by Colgan, so the airline knew Renslow was a problem. But the powerful pilots’ union protected Renslow. No one is proposing curbing the union’s power.

.

The costs of the new training requirements are huge, and prospective pilots generally have to foot the bill themselves. The first 250 hours are supervised by a flight instructor and cost about $200 per hour. The next 1,250 hours of training don’t require an instructor, but they still cost about $150 per hour in a single-engine plane. The total cost, then, for single-engine training is about $237,500. The cost of training in a multi-engine aircraft is higher still. There’s no limit on how much someone can train in a week, but getting the required hours usually takes a couple of years.

.

How flight students are supposed to finance this additional training is anyone’s guess. And training pilots is risky for airlines since they may leave for another airline after getting their hours, but they often have no other option.

.

Even back in 2012, Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, predicted what would happen: “Absent a game-changing shift in the supply of trained aviation professionals, particularly pilots, communities even larger than Wichita — and certainly those smaller — are in jeopardy of losing some, if not all, of their scheduled flights. This could cut off communities from today’s global economy, where airline service is as important as an Internet connection.”

.

Who benefited from these new regulations? Commercial airline pilots. Salaries rose when there was a shortage of pilots. The regulations are a gift to the unions, but they came at the expense of all American air travelers and a less efficient air traffic system. Flights would be cheaper and more abundant, especially for smaller markets, if not for the new rule.

.

Senator Sinema, who was a Democrat up until the beginning of this year, is being demonized by Democrats, but she is the one who is standing up for air travelers across the country.

.

John R. Lott, Jr., “At Washington Times: Democrats demonize Sinema for standing up for air travelers,” Washington Times, June 28, 2023.

johnrlott

0 Comments

Archives

64% of Likely Voters describe current situation with migrants at the border with Mexico as an “invasion” of the United States. Democrats, Liberals, those making over $200,000/year, and with graduate school education are the least likely to believe that.

64% of Likely Voters describe current situation with migrants at the border with Mexico as an “invasion” of the United States. Democrats, Liberals, those making over $200,000/year, and with graduate school education are the least likely to believe that.

As shown in previous surveys, the highest income people, the ones with the most education, are least likely to be very concerned about illegal immigration. The data for the Rasmussen Reports Survey is available here....