Single pilot flights being considered for staff shortage fix

Business

(NewsNation) — Airlines have been plagued with cancellations and delays since the beginning of the pandemic, and as a result, airlines have paid more than half a billion dollars to customers who had a flight delayed or canceled since 2020.

While reasons for the inconveniences have been blamed on everything from severe weather conditions to airline mismanagement, NewsNation affiliate WNCT reports that airlines across the world have been honing in on fixing pilot shortages as a solution.

The plan, according to the Tuesday report, is to shrink the cockpit staff. If approved, it will cut the number of pilots on some planes in half from two to one.

The pitch has already gained international steam, with more than 40 countries — including the U.K., Germany, France and Spain — having already asked aviation safety regulators to look into the logistics.

The European Union is responding with caution, telling the International Civil Aviation Organization the move would have to be just as safe as it would be with two pilots, WNCT reported.

But it’s a hard sell for those actually behind the controls.

“Well, it shouldn’t be any surprise: They’re looking at saving money and we’re looking at saving lives,” Capt. Dennis Tajer told NewsNation’s “Rush Hour” on Tuesday.

Tajer has been with American Airlines for more than 30 years. He says having a partner for safe decision making is at the core of what they do, especially for emergency situations.

“It could be a passenger disruption while in flight; it could be the weather, a major system malfunction like an engine fire; low visibility approaches. The bottom line is, eye to eye, soul to soul, contact is what is going to make the difference in these scenarios,” Tajer said.

Col. Jay Joseph, who flew for U.S. Airways, agrees, adding it will be tough to get passengers on board.

“The ramifications — the downside to it — are so far-reaching, you’ll never be able to find a path to get the general traveling public on board with,” Joseph said.

Additionally, aviation attorney and pilot Timothy Loranger, speaking Tuesday on “Rush Hour,” said he sees no path forward here for single pilot flights. 

“It’s very important to create an environment where people feel safe. My gut tells me that the FAA and other governmental agencies will be very hard-pressed to improve something like this,” he said.

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