Airline Pilot Ranks Face Double-Whammy From Babbitt, Skiles

"Fly right, or don't fly at all," is the admonition for airline pilots from FAA Administrator Randy Babbitt. He spoke in reference to the pilots of Northwest Flight 188 who were so engrossed in their laptop computers that they overflew their destination airport by some 150 miles. Showing little sympathy for the pilots' plight, Babbitt continued, "there is no substitution for situational awareness." He also criticized the pilots of Colgan Flight 3407, which crashed on approach to Buffalo last winter killing all on board and one on the ground, saying they were guilty of not paying attention. Meanwhile, pilot Jeffrey Skiles of US Airways Flight 1549 fame took the assessment of Flight 3407 a step further. He questioned the experience of the pilots and the "fast-food wages" they were paid. The Colgan pilots, "…had no idea what they were doing and shouldn't even have been there," Skiles said in a report posted on the Internet.

Mark Phelps is a senior editor at AVweb. He is an instrument rated private pilot and former owner of a Grumman American AA1B and a V-tail Bonanza.

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