All-Encompassing Worker Woes

When discussions about working conditions for pilots take place, it is important to remember that many private sector jobs require round-the-clock attention and long periods away from home and family, for no added compensation. I agree that commuter airlines’ copilots are grossly underpaid, but keep in mind that the high cost of earning an Air Transport rating plus an associate degree is nearly comparable to that of pursuing a STEM (science, technology, engineering, math) education. 

Each of my four career employers mandated global and domestic travel on weekends and evenings. During the 1960-95 post-college era, half of all my workdays were spent traveling on company business domestically and globally, for long stretches of time. Long workdays are the norm for private sector salaried employees, as well as for commuter airline pilots.

Joseph J. Neff

Indianapolis, Indiana

Pilots Are Too Accepting

I respectfully suggest that most of the reader comments over the past several weeks regarding the looming pilot shortage miss the point.

Warnings of a shortage have been active since the age of airline deregulation in 1978, if not before. The conversation has varied in intensity but has never gone away. The perennially predicted causes are:

• An upcoming wave of retirements 

• The high cost of training and low entry-level pay

• Long hours/days away from home. 

The causes have been repeated so often that they have become “facts.”

But these facts are wrong. Yes, the difference between training costs and entry-level pay is enormous and the long hours away from home are a sacrifice, yet the jobs continue to be filled.  

The market has shown that carriers can maintain staffing levels without improving either of those factors.  

If there had ever been a shortage, the market would have responded as all labor markets do—by amending these conditions. 

I don’t like the situation, but pilots agree to work this way. Things will continue as they are unless pilots refuse en masse to accept them. Does anyone think that’s likely?

Walt Ross

Flemington, New Jersey

Driving The Decision

I served as a forward air controller when I was in the Air Force and can pinpoint one important reason (merely one of several) that the U.S. Army loves the A-10. It is the same reason that has the Air Force trying to get rid of it. 

Because the venerable aircraft cannot perform a raft of different missions, the Army knows it will be available to support them with close air support (CAS) when they need it, and not scheduled elsewhere by the air commander.  

Because the A-10 cannot do many different missions, the Air Force knows it cannot schedule it away from CAS, thereby limiting the air commander’s doctrinal “flexibility of airpower.” 

USAF Lt. Col. (ret.) David Skilling

Marietta, Georgia

Ask The Marines

I got a chuckle out of reader Leonard Capon’s comment: “Sending F-35s to attack insurgents would be comparable to delivering newspapers in a Lamborghini” (AW&ST March 16-29, p. 6), which takes the U.S. Air Force to task for attempting to dispose of the A-10.

I wonder what he thinks the U.S. Marine Corps F-35s will be doing as they replace the AV-8B Harrier in service? Now, don’t get me wrong, I love the A-10 and what it brings to the fight, but I am curious why all the Air Force bashers are holding fire on our good friends in the Corps, who are making the F-35 their close air support (CAS) platform of the future? The USMC has far fewer CAS options than the Air Force, yet the Corps is convinced the F-35 can do the job. Has anybody asked them why?

USAF Lt. Col. (ret.) Drew Metcalf

Tucson, Arizona