Last month I told you about two flight crews who forgot to start the second engine on their regional jet before take off. Yes, people can make mistakes, but this is a pretty big mistake.
Since then I have found more information on one of the incidents. It turns out that the Trans States pilot who forgot to turn on his second engine, was not a new pilot, but a very experienced one. Michael White, the airline’s former chief pilot and currently its director of flight operations is the one who made this mistake.
White is stating that his second engine shut down on its own and Tran States is supporting his statement. Two pilots who were flying in the passenger cabin at the time said they felt the second engine was never started, which contradicts White’s story. The FAA isn’t buying White’s version of events and has opened an enforcement case to see if White is trying to cover up his mistake. The Wall Street Journal is stating that pilots have told investigators they have felt intimidated to back up White’s version of this story.
“We don’t believe that any member of management has tried to dissuade pilots from telling anything,” an airline spokesperson told the FAA. He added that the FAA has “never told us there was any kind of investigation involving intimidation or coercion,” of pilots.
After the incident White was barred from flying passengers, but has since passed a proficiency test and is once again able to fly.
I was able to speak to a Trans State’s pilot about this situation, via email. Due to their obvious fear of repercussions, I will not be using their real name. For ease, I shall call them “Pilot Smith.”
Smith confirmed that White is not your average pilot, “The Captain [White], who was on a line check (which is a type of test we are required to do, once a year for currency in the aircraft) and is our director of operations (aka management). He is someone who hardly EVER flies and yet dictates our rules and regulations on a daily basis, with emphasis based on punishment if WE (pilots) do not follow them.”
Smith talked to me about how much they love their job, but it has only been getting more difficult. Most pilots have to put their time into regional jets before moving on to larger aircraft to make more money and have better hours. However, due to the poor economy, pilots are having to spend more time and are becoming more experience. Even though they have the hours and the experience, they still are “stuck” in the regional airlines realm. Smith feels, “It is of the utmost importance to keep safe, fly smart, and offer the best customer service I can to our passengers.” However Smith stated it is difficult to do all of that, while having to work so many hours and being in a hostile work environment.
No matter what, Smith loves flying and will continue to keep doing what they love, “I love flying an airplane and will never miss the feeling of taking off into the great blue yonder.”
I have a feeling the truth about this will come out. The date logs should be able to show if the engine was started or not. If it turns out that the engine did stop on its own, I will be the first to apologize to White and Trans States Airlines. However, if it turns out that White didn’t start his engines and the airline was part of a cover up…well let’s just say I won’t be happy and you will know about it!Image: AV8NLVR