How safe is it to fly on regional airlines and commuter flights? Now a lawsuit involving a pilot for a regional airline and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) is shedding light on serious problems that affect commuter flights and that could well lead to airplane accidents, airplane injuries, and airplane fatalities.
In far too many cases, it seems that small regional airlines are ignoring mechanical problems, safety issues, and even complaints by crew members and pilots. For example, one commuter airplane had reported landing gear problems seven times without a result – within a month, the plane crash-landed without its landing gear. In many cases, crew members who complain or blow the whistle are fired by the airline company.
In addition small airlines may be training a number of new pilots poorly – another mistake that has lead to small plane accidents in recent years.
Some of the problems stem from the rising cost of flying – and the fliers’ wish to travel as cheaply as possible. In many cases, the regional airline with the lowest operating costs will attract more customers. But it may also be the most likely to crash. Other problems stem from poor pilot pay on regional airlines – many receive paychecks that put their family below the national poverty line and many work long hours that span beyond federal regulations.
Many question whether the FAA’s response to the dangers and poor performance of the regional airlines has been harsh enough. Currently, the FAA has simply asked regional airlines to write a letter outline their plane accident prevention programs.