I’ve never flown on Jet Blue, but I’ve heard a lot of good things about them. However, if the following turns out to be true, I will never step foot on their planes.
Jet Blue wanted to squeeze just a few more working hours out of its pilots but it needed the facts to prove that a change in FAA regulations wouldn’t lead to a spate of crashes and flight errors. Its solution? Hook up
5030 odd pilots to monitoring devices and make them illegally work in excess of FAA protocol in a makeshift clinical trial.
And it isn’t just Wired and BoingBoing talking about it. From the Wall Street Journal article Pilot-Fatigue Test Lands JetBlue
In Hot Water (should be a free link):
The airline says it never intended to mislead anyone at the FAA, and the JetBlue spokeswoman chalked the situation up to “a miscommunication,” though, she says, in retrospect the company understands “we have to widen the circle of consultation.” JetBlue said: “Safety is our bedrock value. It is the fundamental promise we make, and keep, to our customers and crew members.”
The spokeswoman says there were no in-flight emergencies during the test period, and safety was never compromised because a third pilot was always on board to take the controls if needed. The JetBlue pilots who participated in the experiment volunteered for the assignment.
That’s a heck of a miscommunication, even if they thought they had the approval of “lower-level FAA officials,” and even if they had a third pilot on-board to take over if needed.
The FAA officials who green-lighted this should be fired. The pilots should be fired. The Jet Blue executives who approved this stunt should be fired. But before any of them are fired, they should all be locked into a room with a stack of expensive stationary, decent pens, and the passenger lists from the flights in question, and hand-write a personal apology to each and every person whose lives they so casually played God with.
10/28: Updated links so, y’know, they work.