1549's Jeff Skiles Takes On 3407 And Pilot Standards

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Jeff Skiles was serving as first officer to Sully Sullenberger when US Airways Flight 1549 successfully ditched in the Hudson and last week he sat beside Scott Maurer, father of a victim of Continental Connection (Colgan) Flight 3407, to push for changes in minimum federal standards for pilots. While 1549 ended relatively well, all aboard Flight 3407, plus one on the ground, perished when that commuter flight fell into a Buffalo suburb early this year. Skiles said the cockpit transcript from Flight 3407 indicated to him that the pilots of that flight "had no idea what they were doing and shouldn't even have been there," GoUpstate.com reported. Skiles and Maurer held a press conference at the Maurers' home Thursday, asserting that standards for commercial pilots should be similar, regardless of how many passengers they're flying. "You used to have five years or more in the industry before you could even look at getting a job at a regional airline," said Skiles, who added that the "fast-food wages" at commuters means "you cannot get trained professional pilots" to fill those jobs. Skiles and Maurer are urging legislative action, and some feel there's more to the problem.

James Ray, media spokesman for the US Airline Pilots Association, argues that commuter carriers fly under the radar in that they don't compete for customers. They earn passengers through contracts with major airlines, which Ray says often go to the lowest bidder. Skiles told reporters that his paycheck and benefits account for less than $3.50 of each ticket's price, adding, "Would you pay that to have Sully and me up there in the cockpit?"