I’ve always found it interesting that so much in aviation is determined by seniority. The system had its genesis in a more stable era before airline deregulation, but it has endured and even spread in the tumultuous 40 years since. Originally established by unionized major airlines, seniority has become the standard at every U.S. national and regional carrier, unionized or not, as well as most Part 135 outfits, fractional operations, and even some corporate flight departments. The reason is twofold: First, aviation is a 24/7/365 kind of industry, meaning someone has to fly that zero-dark-thirty departure on Christmas morning, and pilots are much more willing to do so early in their careers if they know that someday they’ll be free of such obligations. Second, if length of service is not the standard in determining the orders of the rosters, equipment assignments and upgrades, then inevitably cronyism and willingness to “move iron” become the determining factors. In aviation, however, this isn’t a great measure of a valuable employee. Good pilots refuse to fly sick, won’t take an illegally broken airplane, and may require more fuel in marginal weather. These are all “unproductive” decisions but, nevertheless, contribute to the company’s bottom line in the long run through the maintenance of a strong safety culture. The seniority system helps ensure that pilots aren’t penalized for making safe decisions.