This from USA Today : “In nearly every serious regional airline accident during the past 10 years, at least one of the pilots had failed tests of his or her skills multiple times, according to an analysis of federal accident records.
In eight of the nine accidents during that time, which killed 137 people, pilots had a history of failing two or more “check rides,” tests by federal or airline inspectors of pilots’ ability to fly and respond to emergencies. In the lone case in which pilots didn’t have multiple failures since becoming licensed, the co-pilot was fired after the non-fatal crash for falsifying his job application..”
The experience level of airline pilots continues to drop due to retirements, layoffs and pilots who are leaving the profession due to the deterioration of the quality of the career. It should be a time for increased hiring and training standards but this is not the case. Over the past two decades the emphasis has been on cost reduction. Classroom time has been cut. Flight simulator time in many cases been cut. Training in the actual airplane is almost non-existent. Manuals provided to the pilots have been trimmed down to eliminate sections that someone sitting in an office has determined as unnecessary.
Automation has reduced the basic skill set requirements for pilots. In the pst it was almost unheard of to have an airliner in operational use enter into a stall. Today, lack of airspeed monitoring comes up in accident investigations.
The airline customer has shown that the cheap fare is the driving market force. The traveller assumes that all airlines are equal when it some to safety because the FAA is overseeing them. In fact, safety standards are all over the map. The standard starts in the carrier’s flight operations department and trickles down to the line pilots. The mindset of those in charge and the commitment to establish a high quality standard for crews is key. Those in charge must have the fortitude to wage a battle with the airline’s corporate executives to spend money for an unseen benefit.
Continuing to sign off a marginal pilot is cheaper than letting him or her go and hiring a replacement.