NEW YORK – It’s been seven years since a regional airline crashed into a home outside Buffalo, New York. The crash killed everyone on board and one who was inside the home.
As a result of that accident, lawmakers and regulators dramatically increased the number of hours required of an airplane’s first officer; from 250 to 1,500. The hope was to improve safety but the change also had an unintended effect that airlines are feeling today:
There’s a dramatic pilot shortage.
“Many airlines keep putting profits above safety,” New York airplane injury attorney Ross Cellino said. “Instead of paying experienced pilots a proper wage, some of these companies are willing to settle for an amateur just to keep a low operating cost.”
According to airplane accident lawyers in New York, prospective pilots spend about $150,000 to get the training, education and the hours needed to fly a commercial aircraft. Here’s the problem: entry-level salaries at some regional airlines are under $30,000. With that kind of earning potential, you can see why many would-be pilots are staying grounded.
Even the companies with well-paid pilots are cutting back in other areas. Flight attendants and the maintenance of non-vital systems are usually the first to go but New York airplane injury lawyers say these cutbacks may sound minor but have been known to cause serious injuries to passengers.
“Many people have been burned on an airplane or they’ve suffered injuries after they were hit by a cart,” Cellino said. “Travelers may have noticed airplane interiors have taken a beating as well – things like overhead baggage bins can break, causing luggage to fall on a passenger’s head.”
Over the last few years, several researchers have determined that airplane injuries are on the rise. Recent news articles, like this one, tell stories of passengers getting hurt on an airplane, especially during episodes of turbulence.
Safety advocates say almost all of these injuries could be prevented if airlines and their staff members used caution. Attorneys at Cellino & Barnes say everyone in the airline industry – from the pilots to the flight attendants – could benefit from extra training.
As Congress considers scaling-back the required hours for pilots, passengers continue to spend hundreds of dollars on boarding passes – and many would feel that money is better spent on a more experienced airplane staff.