Pilot Union Sues Airline Over Shortage of Training Pilots

15th Apr 2022

American Airlines – Allied Pilots Association – has sued the airline in a US Federal Court over a shortage of Instructor Pilots. The airline is currently using ‘rank-and-file’ pilots to fill in during training.

The Allied Pilots Association said the recent move use pilots as partners during training simulations “degrades the training experience and risks long-term damage to the airline’s safety culture.”

“Having failed to plan properly for the recovery in air travel demand, American Airlines management now finds itself having to deal with the consequences of being the only major airline to have furloughed pilots during the pandemic,” said Allied Pilots Association President Eric Ferguson in a statement.

“Management was clearly ill-prepared for the rebound in airline traffic and has been selling tickets for flights the airline may be unable to operate due to a shortage of properly qualified pilots, despite management’s recent assurances to the contrary,” he said.

“This program is designed to give line pilots the opportunity to support the flight training simulator program, which is good for our pilots and provides even more training capacity to support continued growth,” American Airlines spokeswoman Shannon Gilson said. “The pilots volunteering are highly qualified and experienced, and are responsible for the safety of our customers and fellow crew members every day.”

The legal proceedings started following American Airlines allowing ‘rank and file pilots’ be ‘seat fillers’ after a single day of training.

That practice could compromise training, said Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the Allied Pilots Association.

“You need a trained professional in there who knows what they should do and what they shouldn’t do so it’s a pure evaluation,” Tajer said. “They are only asking for one day of training and it takes three to six months to train a check airman.”

American Airlines said it hired and trained more than 575 pilots in 2021 and another 600 so far this year, according to a letter the company sent to pilots and check airmen Wednesday. It’s now training new pilots at a pace of 50 to 70 a week with hopes to get about 2,000 new pilots on board this year.

Source: The Dallas Morning News

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