How far can you push a pilot before he breaks?
Pilots are humans, too. Never forget. We have emotions, concerns and problems just like anybody else. The JetBlue incident is, unfortunately, not one of a kind. As pilots are pushed towards their limits, emotionally and financially, we are going to see episodes like this. Good thing, the JetBlue incident ended safely after a divertion.
If you haven’t read about it, I am going to give you a summary of it.
A Jetblue Airbus A320-200, registration N796JB performing flight B6-191 from New York JFK,NY to Las Vegas,NV (USA), was enroute at FL340 about 55nm north of Amarillo,TX (USA) when the captain suffered a panic attack and behaved entirely incoherent forcing the first officer to seek assistance by cabin crew and passengers to overpower the captain, lock him out of the cockpit and have him restrained in the passenger cabin. Another Jetblue pilot flying as passenger assisted the first officer while diverting to Amarillo for a safe landing about 20 minutes later.
– The Aviation Herald
Now, while the investigation is in progress, this is certainly not the time to speculate too much on this specific incident, but rather look at this as one case in the bigger picture.
It is not unknown to pilots, aviation enthusiasts and others, that commercial pilots are pushed to their limits every day. Early wake-up calls, fighting jet lag, technical problems with the aircraft, crazy weather approaching, and the list just goes on. And while pilots need to be 100% focused on the task at hand, they are constantly afraid of furloughs or pay cuts. How far can you really push it?
My answer: It depends. And it really does. Everyone is different and handles stress differently.
But what can we do? The situation in the airline industry doesn’t seem to be heading in a better direction yet. Younger pilots, like my self, will in the future accept lower wages, more time on, less time spent at home with your family. I doubt we will turn down “that first job offer” either because we are not making as much money. If I know my self well, and I think I do, I’ll be willing to accept lower pay checks, stress and fatigue to get that first job. Just to get a foot “inside” But is that a good thing? Not necessarily and I can understand that.
All I can do for now is just prepare my self. I might not be able to afford a brand new car, or buy my own house right after I get my first pilot job. And I’m fine with that. Being a pilot is not a high-status profession anymore. And I’m not seeking a high-status profession either. I want to be a pilot because of passion for aviation and love for flying. That’s all.
This girl just wants to fly.
I read somewhere that when you get a first officer position, spend money like a flight engineer. When you get upgraded to captain, spend money like a first officer.
I like that thought. Spending money conservatively.