Look Familiar?

Training, Tax Credits Among Ideas to Solve Pilot Crisis.  That’s the title of the article in the WSJ.   The story is the same as the one doctors are going through.  Here are the highlights if you can’t read it:

  • A looming U.S. airline pilot shortage is prompting novel proposals for expanding participation in flight-training programs.
  • Both government and industry officials recently have emphasized the need to find new, long-term ways to increase the flow of would-be pilots.
  • Expanding the pipeline of pilots “is not a future problem; it is upon us now.”
  • Some proponents want to see low-interest loans or various other federal subsidies go to fledgling aviators at flight schools or academic institutions.
  • Others advocate scholarships or loan guarantees provided by prospective employers.
  • Enrollment has been declining for years in private flight schools, where students can spend up to $150,000 to train to the point where they become eligible for commercial flying jobs. Under the current training system, young pilots typically pay for most of their own training.
  • Once they get their first airline job, starting pay often is under $25,000 a year. “The profession is not as attractive today as it once was,” Rob Burke, an FAA training official, told an international meeting this past summer.
  • Germany’s Deutsche Lufthansa runs its own basic training program, turning candidates without any flying experience into newly minted co-pilots in less than two years.
  • Many of the new Chinese aviators sitting behind the controls of big passenger jets have substantially less than the congressionally imposed 1,500 hours of minimum flight time confronting U.S. pilots.

So what is going to be the industry’s fix for the pilot shortage?  Isn’t it obvious?   They need to create a new mid-level position.  Let’s call it, I don’t know, a Pilot Assistant or a Flight Practitioner.   These pilot extenders would help curtail the shortage by flying smaller plans in rural areas of the country.  They would have less education and less training but the public is convinced that it would be the only away to fix the problem.    Besides, they wouldn’t be allowed to fly on their own.  They also would not be used to fly large commercial planes where there are plenty of pilots…..at least for a few years.     Then they would only be working with the pilot as a team member and in no way meant to replace the pilot.    That is until the Pilot Assistant Association and Flight Practitioner Organization lobby enough to change the legislation and……

You can finish the story.


Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  5 comments for “Look Familiar?

  1. big picture doc
    November 23, 2012 at 4:25 pm


  2. Jon Pangia
    November 21, 2012 at 4:02 pm

    My uncle, an aviation attorney, has always decried the practice of putting the youngest, most inexperienced pilots in the small propeller planes with the toughest weather, least ground support, smallest airports, and toughest routes. The most experienced pilots fly the big jets where they aren’t even allowed to land or launch the plane manually (especially in bad weather) because the computer does it with such better precision (yes, those people applauding the landing in jets are praising the computer not the pilot).

    This is even worse than medicine. Guess where the less experienced pilots are going to be placed. Just like in medicine, everything will be fine and we won’t notice or mind the difference. Until we do. I hope I’m on the ground when that happens.

  3. November 21, 2012 at 12:27 pm

    This is not at all like medicine.

    Oh, wait. I just woke up. I was sleep-typing.

  4. Prince Costanzza
    November 21, 2012 at 8:39 am

    I do not usually disagree with you Doug. PAs do great work and they are our colleagues.

  5. Sir Lance-a-lot
    November 21, 2012 at 7:05 am

    Aw, c’mon Doug, you know that these pilot extenders would never be allowed to fly alone or unsupervised – even when they were the only one in the cockpit, a Supervising Pilot would be constantly available by radio, even video link, so if they ran into a situation they just weren’t sure about, they could just call and everything would be fine.


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