Atlas Air Criticized by Pilots Prior To 767 Crash (Updated)


Photo: Nathan Coats

Update:Captain Daniel C. Wells, Atlas Air captain and president of the Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224, released the following statement on the Atlas Air plane crash. Teamsters Local 1224 members flying for Atlas were on the flight. “Our union stands together as a family and in support of our members’ families. Our focus is on our friends and colleagues who were on that plane, and we are doing everything we can to support their families. Teamsters Local 1224 representatives are already on the ground supporting this investigation. We also thank the first responders who rushed to the scene to help.”

Atlas Air, which was operating the Boeing 767-300 contracted to Amazon Air that crashed on approach to Houston over the weekend, had come under fire by some of its pilots claiming high workload and low pay. According to a report in Business Insider, “Thirteen pilots from the airlines that Amazon Air contracts with have told Business Insider that their pay and benefits are below industry standards.”

In addition, BI reports that “All but one of the pilots said that means those who work with Amazon Air tend to be less experienced. Most of these pilots have asked to remain anonymous for fear of retribution.” Captain Robert Kirchner, Atlas pilot and executive council chairman of Teamsters Local 1224, speaking to BI said bluntly that “It’s a ticking time bomb. They don’t recognize pilot fatigue … we’re able to prove to them that this is a fatiguing schedule.”

Since the accident, Atlas has set up a Family Assistance Center to assist the families of the crew members killed in the crash. “Our thoughts and prayers are with all those who have been affected,” said Bill Flynn, Atlas Air Chief Executive Officer. “This is a sad time for all of us. Our team continues to work closely with the NTSB, the FAA and local authorities on the ground in Houston. We would like to commend the efforts of all of the first responders. We sincerely appreciate their efforts and support in the investigation.”

Amazon, in an attempt to increase its ability to deliver within one or two days to most American addresses, has been moving from a dependency on established freight carriers with its own airline, and has expanded its fleet to 29 Boeing 767s, a large number of them retired from American Airlines as that carrier upgraded to the Boeing 787.