Poll: Is FedEx’s Single-Pilot Cargo Twin a Good Idea?


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  1. I have flown cargo in a variety of planes including Caravans, piston twins, and a Saab 340. Also have experience in single pilot certified turbines such as the Piaggio P180 and 500 series Citations. Others have pointed out Caravans are flown single pilot which is true. But until the icing AD that came out in 2006 for the C208, there were almost one pilot per year getting killed because he/she got into icing conditions the plane could not handle. With the icing exception the C208 is a pretty forgiving airplane something some larger twin turbo prop planes are not. The Piaggio has a autofeather system that has a mandatory pretakeoff check to make sure it is working. That plane can be a handful on one engine and will not climb if the autofeather system fails on an engine out situation. Although certified for single pilot ops it is a lot of airplane for one pilot to handle. The Saab is also a handful on one engine when the autocoursen doesn’t work. I can’t imagine flying a Saab 340 single pilot when the s#$*t hits the fan. The 500 series Citations are fairly easy to handle one engine out since the systems and switches are set up for single pilot ops, along with no prop to deal with. Unfortunately the accident record does not reflect that especially when you take insurance costs into account.

    • Well, Diamond Twins reportedly have very forgiving engine out handling. Don’t you have to know the plane and mission and training to answer the question? Do we know how the plane will perform?

    • Most of FedEx and most other freighters fly primarily at night. Flying on the backside of the clock can be very fatiguing. Judgement and reaction time can suffer even on a routine flight. Has this ever affected your flying?

      • Excellent point, of course it has. CRM is another matter. Two pilots bring two points of view when tackling problems. It’s hard to imagine how an automated ATR or one of its descendants would give a hint to the sole pilot that his judgement of a situation might need review. How are automated systems going to handle multiple malfunctions that do happen but are currently left for pilots to sort out? Where will future single captains gain the experience required for their work?

    • I think they are doing it to save money. No doubt the insurance will go up. But, the penny counters think the increased insurance cost is still less than another pilot as mitigation to insurance claims. Also for cargo, an extra pilot takes up space and weight.