Monday, October 26, 2009

Unpacking my overhead compartment

I haven't blogged much lately, but that doesn't mean I haven't been thinking about blogging and aviation in general. Someone has to post non-technical aviation stuff of interest to wive don't they?

The bill making it's way through Congress to require all airline pilots to have an ATP rating and 1500 hours, for instance. With all of the aviation blogs I follow (about 12 pilots and 28 wives- I use google reader, I don't actually have to check all these every day...), only one mentioned the bill and that was only a one line reference. It's kind of a knee jerk reaction to the very publicized accidents this past year. This bill is going to have a major impact on upcoming new pilots and the pilot mills that crank them out. As well as the costs to the airlines of having to get their guys trained. It has the potential to effect A if he is not able to return to work for another year. What happens if he doesn't meet the hours or training requirement in time because he's been disabled? Does he lose his job because the airlines have to have everyone trained by a certain date? It remains to be seen if the bill will pass.

There were two WTF incidents this week. The well publicized missing the airport by 150 miles incident (funny post here re that one) and also a DAL plane that landed on the taxiway instead of the runway in ATL. Seriously? I could see this happening at a new outstation, but at the hub? The airport they probably fly in and out of most frequently? How do you explain that one? Way to enhance the dependable, professional, well-trained image.

On a positive note, I've been in contact with the committee chair of our company Critical Incident Response Program (henceforth known as CIRP). I asked two questions that have been pestering me for a while and got responses to both.

My first question was whether there was a role for wives to volunteer with any of the committees within the pilot group. I have an interest in the CIRP group and also having wrangled my way though the long term disability issues, the LTD committee. I was told that wives were welcome to attend the CIRP training (that conveniently was held the week prior to my asking about it, damn) and that currently there was one spouse certified. Hopefully I'll be able to join that committee in the future.

My second question has been burning since A's own technical malfunction a few years ago. What gets communicated to a spouse if there has been a major incident? How does she find out? What happens next? I was told that the airline notifies the wife and then the CIRP committee steps in. They have a checklist of things to be done in the week following an incident. There is no manual or anything though. I had asked the gentleman if the CIRP committee had ever considered putting out a flyer or electronic resource for wives about what would happen in the event of an accident. I even volunteered to help make it. My request was based not only on my own experience but also on the fact that when I asked everyone I knew what was supposed to happen, not a single person knew beyond a vague "well I guess the company would notify me...". Wouldn't all wives feel a touch more relaxed knowing what to expect in the event of an emergency? And hasn't research shown that the happier a wife is leads to less stress a pilot has which leads to being more able to concentrate on flying (hint, the answer is yes, I have the research to prove it...). And really? How hard is it to make a flyer? I even told him (which may not have been well received since I have yet to hear back from him) that the next time he was in the crewroom he should take an informal pool of how many pilots knew who would notify their wives and what would happen during a critical incident and how many of their spouses also knew that info. I'm betting the percentage is low. Do you know what would happen in the event of an accident? Does your spouse/partner? We'll see where this all leads.

I'm also working up an email to ALPA (the largest pilot union) to request that they do an article on pilots, depression, and the FAA access to medical and mental health records. Based on some of the responses to my post about pilots and depression, there needs to be some clarification around those issues. Hopefully I'll get around to that this week. It's on my endless to do list...

For those of you who are academically inclined, I found two books about pilots that might be interesting. Both have small bits of info about wives and families as well. Anxiety At 35,000 Feet by Robert Bor is about clinical aerospace psychology and the mental health of pilots. Pilots Under Stress by Stephan Sloan and CL Cooper is a comprehensive write up of an extensive survey done of British pilots in the mid eighties. The pilot wives article I wrote about was actually piece of this study. It covers spouses and family lives a bit more in depth. I'm working on reading both of these in my "free time".

I think that's all the aviation news I've stored up to comment about.

1 comment:

Runblondie26 said...

I’ve always wondered the same thing.

DH has given me the following instructions if something were to happen: pack up the baby immediately, go to a hotel, and don’t speak to anyone without an ALPA attorney present. I have no idea how I’d learn about it in the first place though. The Pilot’s Wife by Anita Shreve is probably not most accurate representation, lol.