Regional carriers cover about fifty percent of departures in the United States. The regional industry was created by major airlines by the creation of central hubs so at to feed their network. The aim of creating the regional carriers was to lower cost by reducing expenses. Outsourcing to regional carriers reduced the cost since the major airlines did not have to pay pilots, flight attendants, and mechanics. It was a measure to deal with stiff competition from discount airlines who put pressure on the other airlines. Moreover, it was also a way of attracting more customers as the passengers would not have to worry about checking luggage while changing planes.
The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the National Transport and Safety Board (NTSB) play a major role in the aviation industry. The main role is regulating and setting standards which are to be followed by airlines. They also have the role of ensuring safety by conducting oversight, inspection, and issuance of licenses. In the case of accidents, it is the duty of the FAA and the NTSB to conduct investigations and brief families on the findings. The NTSB makes recommendations based on their findings to prevent more accidents from taking place. The FAA plays a major role in changing and adding of regulations and ensuring implementation by the concerned parties.
There are has been a growing concern on FAA doing proper oversight on the airlines. Some people have suggested that FAA protects airlines which interfere with the overall performance to ensure safety. Previously, the FAA had two missions to ensure safety and promote aviation. However, the interpretation of the term promotes presented a loophole which raised safety concerns. Individuals also claim that the changes made will not have any impact as it was only a change of terminology. Moreover, there was a footnote which stated that the FAA is not willing to change the way business is done.
In the late 1970's the government deregulated the airline industry. The deregulation led to competition and lower airfares for customers. It also led to the increase of regional airlines which are smaller and carry fewer passengers. They also have different standards from those of major airlines. The qualifications required for a pilot to fly a plane are also lower than those of a major airline. The pilots are less trained and earn less money compared to their counterparts in major airlines. There is a concern on the living standards of the pilots and the long hours they have to fly. The regional carriers focus more on the money they make out of finished flights rather than the comfort of pilots and safety of passengers. Some regional carriers do not have the capacity to handle the workload and end up overworking their staff. There are incidents where pilots operate planes they are not qualified to fly and have never interacted with its features.
There are a series of events that led to the crash of Continental-Colgan 3407. Based on how Colgan operates there is a possibility the pilots were not qualified to fly the plane and did not have the required experience to handle the situation. Moreover, according to the contract signed by Continental, Colgan was liable for any safety issues which includes accidents. Different parties made recommendations to ensure that fewer accidents occurred. First, the push for legislative change to improve safety standards, pilot qualifications, training standards, and fatigue policies. Secondly, the suggestion that major airlines take greater responsibilities for safer operations, training, and mentoring of regional carriers. Lastly, a recommendation to ensure better living standards for pilots by the provision of pilot work-rooms.
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