Atlas pilots call Amazon Air's contract a 'ticking time bomb'
ATLAS Air pilots, who fly Amazon's Prime Air cargo planes, like the one that crashed and killed all three aboard near Houston last week, are overworked, reports New York's Business Insider
ATLAS Air pilots, who fly Amazon's Prime Air cargo planes, like the one that crashed and killed all three aboard near Houston last week, are overworked, reports New York's Business Insider.
Thirteen pilots who work for airlines that Amazon Air contracts with have told the Insider that their pay and benefits fall below industry standards.
'It's a ticking time bomb,' said Robert Kirchner, an Atlas pilot and executive council chairman of Teamsters Local 1224, adding that those working on Amazon flights tend to be less experienced.
He blamed Atlas management. 'They don't recognise pilot fatigue,' Capt Kirchner. 'They think its people are goofing off. We have to constantly show them some of these schedules. Ninety-nine per cent of the time, we're able to prove to them that this is fatiguing.'
The fatal Atlas Air Flight 3591 was flying from Miami to Houston. It fell from 6,525 feet to 3,025 feet in 30 seconds, according to Flight Radar 24.
In October, a Boeing 747 cargo plane operated by Polar Air, a subsidiary of Atlas Air, veered off the airway at the Northern Kentucky Airport. It came to stop on soft ground.
An Atlas Air Boeing 767 cargo airline had a hard landing in July at the Portsmouth, New Hampshire. Creases around the fuselage and 'substantial damage to the aircraft' was found after the flight inspection.
For decades, Amazon moved its cargo through air cargo services from UPS, USPS and FedEx.
But in 2015, Amazon started taking air cargo in-house. Air Transport Services Group and ABX Air told Motherboard that they were leasing two cargo jets each to Amazon, which was building an air hub at Ohio's Wilmington Air Park.
Four years later, it's becoming clearer that that air cargo network is crucial for keeping down the company's ballooning shipping expenses. Year over year, Amazon's worldwide shipping costs jumped by 23 per cent in Q4 2018, from US$7.4 billion to more than $9 billion.
Amazon now has 40 Boeing 767s, with plans for 10 more. Last year Amazon expanded two-day-shipping availability to 'almost anywhere' in the US with its additional Amazon Air capacity. Free one-day shipping is now accessible for the 'majority of Prime members in the US.' Three additional Amazon Air gateways are underway in Ohio, Illinois and Texas.