Let’s Pay Pilots A Professional Wage

The pilots in the cockpit of the Colgan Air turboprop that crashed near Buffalo in February were underpaid and overtired, and these conditions were related.

When pilots can’t afford to live near the hubs they fly from and can’t afford a hotel room to get rest before a flight, those pilots will take long commutes and try to sleep wherever they can. Those pilots will be tired.

And pilot fatigue is very dangerous, as The New York Times explained in a story about hearings on the crash. The Times reported that the first officer on that flight, who was earning $23,900 a year, commuted across the country in an all-nighter to get to work and said she would sleep on a crew lounge couch.

That’s just plain indecent and unfair, in addition to being horribly unsafe. Pilot pay has to be addressed, along with serious new regulations about crew fatigue. That will mean higher air fares, and it will be worth it.

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