PBS Frontline To Air Report On Colgan Crash, Regional Safety

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In the wake of Colgan Air's Continental Flight 3407 that crashed outside of Buffalo last year, reporter and pilot Miles O'Brien has stepped up to front an investigative documentary, "Flying Cheap," to air on PBS and online, Feb. 9, 2010. In the report, O'Brien looks into the regional carrier culture through interviews with past Colgan pilots. He compares those pilots to the pilots of carriers under whose name regionals like Colgan frequently fly ... such as Continental. In a written preview, O'Brien writes that regional pilots, are "less experienced, the hours are longer, the pay is much less and the training is not as extensive." They are also, in his opinion, "flying the most demanding routes in the airline business -- lots of time in the weather, in high traffic areas -- and lots of segments." In a preview of the documentary, one former Colgan pilot tells O'Brien he was flying eight, nine or ten flights a day. "Since 2002 the last six fatal commercial airline accidents have all involved regionals," writes O'Brien, who then asks, "An unfortunate coincidence?"

O'Brien notes in a recent article that the co-pilot of flight 3407 had "been making less than $16,000." In the upcoming Frontline special, he asks Roger Cohen, president of the Regional Airline Association, about living within those financial constraints. Cohen states that there are "many other people who earn less money than that, who work more days in these communities, who can afford it, and do do [sic] it. And do it responsibly." The PBS Frontline documentary "Flying Cheap" was produced by Rick Young and Catharine Rentz.