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Ecommerce explosion fills skies with inexperienced air cargo pilots

THE sudden explosion of ecommerce demand has put far too many inexperienced cargo airline pilots who fall prey to pilot error for lack of training, reports the Miami Herald

Ecommerce explosion fills skies with inexperienced air cargo pilots

THE sudden explosion of ecommerce demand has put far too many inexperienced cargo airline pilots who fall prey to pilot error for lack of training, reports the Miami Herald

14 June 2019 - 19:00

THE sudden explosion of ecommerce demand has put far too many inexperienced cargo airline pilots who fall prey to pilot error for lack of training, reports the Miami Herald.

'They can't afford to lose a single pilot,' said Atlas pilot Dan Wells, who has been with the company for 24 years. 'So when they get one, they retrain and retrain. In the old days it was cut and dry. They'd cut you loose.



'When I started, a candidate had to have 5,000 hours of flying. Now it's 1,500. Southern Air's recruitment website says qualifications for the 737 are 1,000 flying hours, 1,500 for the 777,' Captain Wells said.



An Atlas spokesman rebutted this: 'There is simply no correlation between the number of new hires and safety incidents.'



But the problem has been acknowledged by the Federal Aviation Administration (F). As more military veteran pilots retire, cargo carriers have struggled to replace them with equally trained candidates.



Others say that blaming pilot error just touches the surface of the problem. 'Part of the idea is that human error is the problem. It isn't,' said Shem Malmquist, a Boeing 777 captain at a different cargo airline and professor of advanced aircraft operations at the Florida Institute of Technology's College of Aeronautics.



'We're putting people in situations where we expect them to fill the gaps we couldn't envision. They don't have the ability to do it. When they can't, we just say human error. That's a simple way of looking at it that doesn't solve the problems,' he said.



An F spokesman said the F has not seen an increase in complaints from Atlas Air pilots on its hotline in the last 12 months.


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