We started this conversation yesterday in the comment section, and I think it’s deserving of its own topic. The Colgan Air accident involved a couple of pilots who were exhausted. One had just flown in on a redeye the night before and shouldn’t have been flying that plane. Thanks to this incident, commuting and fatigue are getting their time in the spotlight, and it’s important that this gets discussed.

First, I’d like to make it clear that this is in no way a regional airline issue. Pilots at nearly every airline commute and fatigue is an issue regardless of what size plane you’re flying, though it is more taxing to fly 10 short hops a day than it is to fly one long haul flight over the ocean. Also, at the regional level, low wages can make commuting more of a necessity than a choice depending upon where that pilot is based.

 People often think of commercial pilots as making hundreds of thousands of dollars a year, but the reality is that it takes a lot of suffering to get even close to that point. After getting a private pilots license, most pilots will scrap along, building hours any way they can with the hope that an airline will pick them up. Sometimes, that first job may be at some sketchy cargo airline hauling crap on ancient airplanes in the middle of the night. For others, that job will be for a regional airline.

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  • Cranky Flier

    My name is Brett, and I’m an airline dork. I’ve had the bug since I was young. As a kid, I never missed a chance to go to LAX a…

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