As compared to other airline workers, pilots are the most costly with labor being the largest cost for all airline companies. In fact, contract negotiations between pilot unions and the airline management are usually bitter. Recently, contract negotiations between the world’s largest airlines, UAL Corp’s, and its pilots resulted in the increase of costs throughout the airline or aviation industry. These contract negotiations between UAL Corp’s and its pilots led to the several negotiations between major airlines and various labor groups.
In the previous years, first year pilots were paid less than $ 20,000 while major airline captains earned well over $100,000. While a pilot usually begin at a major carrier with at least eight years of preceding experience, they are paid depending on the years at the airline company and the aircraft flown. A typical month for a pilot includes only fifteen days of work and eighty flight hours a month. On the other hand, these pilots often spend the other eighty hours on duty at airports. However, the pilots are usually paid for the eighty flight hours and not the hours spent on duty at airports.
Notably, pilots are considered as one of the well paid workers and their salaries are usually based on the measure of productivity and responsibility (Hirschfeld, 2001). Airline captains are often paid depending on the aircraft’s size, number of passengers, cargo tonnage and distance moved. Its however important to note that pilots not only have incredible amount of responsibility but they also have incredible training requirements. Even with the responsibilities and requirements that come with this profession, there is a need for setting limits that explain what constitutes a pilot’s reasonable and fair pay.
Throughout the years, pilots’ salary increments have usually been ridiculously wide with most of their labor groups demanding a salary increment of thirty percent every four years. Additionally, there is always a huge annual salary difference between pilots at the bottom of the ladder and senior pilots for majors. Pilot’s Requirements: As I mentioned in the previous page, this profession requires not only an incredible amount of responsibility but also training requirements. As a profession with these requirements, there are other important personal requirements established by the government.
Most importantly, to clearly examine whether it’s ethical for regional airline to pay first year pilots $20,000. 00, it’s necessary to look at these requirements. The requirements include: Age Limits: The minimum and maximum age requirements set by the government varies for various airline pilots. While private pilots and commercial pilots should have a minimum age of seventeen and eighteen years respectively, applicants for air transport pilot certificate should have a minimum age of twenty-three years. On the other hand, the common retirement age on listed airlines is sixty years of age.
Physical Health Requirements: As compared to other professions, pilots are required to meet strict physical health conditions. These pilots are usually given medical certificates which are classified into different categories depending on the respective country. However, each of these categories not only has specific physical health requirements but their certificates are valid for different time periods. In the United States and Canada, trainees for an airline position should take a physician from FAA and Transport Canada respectively (“Looking for a Career”, 2009).
Furthermore, pilots are required to meet special physical demands and strict health standards by regulatory agencies. These demands basically concern body parts like lungs and heart as well as eyesight and physical dexterity. Airline pilots who may be dependent on drugs including prescription may be disqualified from flying. Education: This is one of the most critical requirements for airline pilot professionals and has in the recent part become increasingly intricate and mechanical. With the changing technology, there is a continuous demand for pilots to meet a higher standard.
In fact, for airline pilots, learning is continuous because of the development of new aircraft designs, systems and procedures. As a result of the evolving aviation technology, pilots are not only required to master new systems but they are also required to regularly pass ground school courses and simulated flight checks. Additionally, these pilots are also required to have a thorough understanding of navigation, mathematics, meteorology and aeronautics. This thorough understanding is necessitated by the technicality and complexity of the aircraft’s navigation and communication systems.
A pilot begins to acquire these skills at the secondary level of education with the main weight being on basic sciences such as math and physics. In addition to this advanced math, aeronautical engineering and sciences are necessary courses for pilots’ preparation at the tertiary level of education. These pilots should also have a good attitude and judgment because of the responsibility of taking care of many lives and the monetary value of the aircraft. Licensing Requirements: This is the final and critical requirement for both pilots and professionals in the airline industry.
In preparation to become an airline pilot, it’s important to note that there are four levels of certificates of pilots. These pilots’ certificates are student, private, commercial and air/airline transport pilot certificates. However, pilot certificate holders may also have various types of certification or ratings with the exception for pilots with student pilot certificates. These ratings include land, helicopter, sea, instrument, single-engine and multi-engine flying certification. Prior to flying a large aircraft needing two-pilot crew, a pilot is required to have a type of rating. Ethics and Pilots Salaries:
Having looked at the airline pilot requirements in the previous section of this paper, I will now examine whether it’s ethical for regional airline to pay first year pilots $20,000. As I mentioned earlier the requirements of the airline industry basically helps us to understand the foundation of this profession. This foundation is what determines the answer to the question we are examining. By and large, airline pilots go through a lot of preparations and trainings before qualifying to work in this profession. Their responsibility and productivity is significant in determining the salaries of these professionals.
In order to find a better answer to the question we are examining, we need to understand the field of ethics. Ethics or the field of moral philosophy basically involves defending, planning and recommending right or wrong behavior concepts. The field of ethics is divided into three general subject areas namely normative ethics, metaethics and applied ethics by today’s philosophers. While metaethics investigates the origin of ethical principles, normative ethics involves a more practical task which finds out the moral standards that control right or wrong behavior.
On the other hand, applied ethics studies specific controversial issues (Feiser, 2009). Applied ethics usually attempts to resolve these controversial issues by using the concepts of both metaethics and normative ethics. Therefore, controversial issues usually depend on general normative principles, metaethics and discussion of applied ethics. Whether or not it is okay for regional airlines to pay first time pilots $20,000 is a question that falls under applied ethics. This issue has generated debate with supporters of the amount arguing that these pilots should be paid so because of the responsibility they carry on their shoulders.
However, opponents argue that pilots are grossly overpaid and greedy. However, considering the huge salary difference between first year pilots and major captains, this figure raises a lot of questions. Even after probably accumulating in excess of $80,000 in student loans, those who believe that regional airlines should pay first year pilots $20,000 cite the following reasons for their support: Inexperience: Inexperience of the first year pilots may be considered as the one of ethical reasons why the regional airlines pay their first year pilots $20,000.
For one to be promoted to a captain and earn ore money, their experience in the airline industry is quite critical. In fact, for most of these first year pilots, flying half way through the country, sleeping in airport trailers and lounges as well as sleeping in plane floors has become a normal routine as regional airline seeks to employ experienced pilots. Consequently, these pilots are usually paid $20,000 because of their inexperience. Tough Conditions: As I had earlier discussed, there are strict educational requirement for a person to become a professional in the airline industry.
In addition to these strict academic requirements, airline pilots are also required to have a vast amount of experience in order to become professionals in the airline industry. In fact, in early 2000s, regional airlines insisted on candidates with a minimum of 1,500 of total flight hours prior to an interview. This demand was rewarded with a high pay when one was hire as a pilot. However the current $20,000 pay is as a result of the lowering of this demand to a total of 500 flight hours before an interview. It may therefore be ethical for regional airlines to pay this amount.
Additionally, since the 9/11 terrorist attacks, many airline companies especially regional airliners have gone through tough economic times. These harsh economic times have not only been due to the recent recession but also because of the fact that many companies are reducing costs of their businesses. Reasons why it’s unethical: After considering reasons why it may be ethical for regional airlines to pay first year pilots $20,000, I strongly believe that it’s unethical for the airline to pay this amount given the fact that these pilots have already accrued in excess of $80,000 in student loans.
This is because of the following reasons: Day to Day Challenges: This is one of the reasons why it’s unethical for regional airline to pay first time pilots $20,000 especially after they have accrued in excess of $80,000 in student loans. This reason is in opposition to the ethical theory of consequentialism which considers an action to be morally right if its results are more favorable than unfavorable. This ethical theory usually demands the tallying of both good and bad results of an action. This amount of money is less as compared to the fact that these pilots have to pay the loans which may demand up to $1,000.
The unethical prove of this amount of pay is the fact that more than half of the pilots of regional airline commute to work and hold down second jobs in order to make ends meet (McGreal, 2010). I believe that it is totally unethical because these pilots have to regularly pay their loans while struggling to cope with the demands of life. Usually student loan payments exceed $1,000 a month and it may be a tall order for these first year pilots to manage the demands of life as well as pay the student debts (Bailey, 2010).
Regional airline should consider paying the first year pilots more than $20,000 in order for them to manage paying their student debts and cope with life. With this amount of pay, the ethical theory of consequentialism is not put into consideration since these pilots begin their jobs deeply in debt. In addition to these huge debts, most of these pilots are often forced to fly half way around the country prior to commencement of work. Seniority and Selfish Ambitions: As compared to major airline captains who earn between $150,000 and $215,000 annually, regional airline pilots are paid much less.
However, regional airline senior pilots earn much more than their first year counterparts. The seniority ladder is quite evident here but the salary difference is huge. While I agree that first time pilots in regional carriers cannot be paid the same amount with their senior counterparts, there is a need of setting a fair and reasonable pay for these pilots. In addition to this, these senior pilots make it unethical for regional airlines to pay first year pilots $20,000 because of their continual demand of pay increase through pilots’ unions.
These increment demands are usually driven by selfish ambitions of these senior pilots. These senior pilots demand premium pay through the powerful pilots’ unions (Smith, n. d. ). The selfish driven payment increment demands falls under the ethical principle of psychological egoism. This ethical principle of psychological egoism basically concerns the intrinsic selfishness of humans. This ethical principle also upholds that self-oriented interests eventually motivate all human actions.
Over and over again, airline companies are usually forced to budge into these payment demands. As a result, first year pilots who usually begin their careers in the toughest conditions are not paid enough to reside in major cities where there employers are. Due to their less pay and the huge student debts that they have to pay, first year pilots of regional airlines end up relatively poor. It’s not ethical for senior captains to continue earning close to $250,000 annually while their other counterparts who have student debts in excess of $80,000 earn $20,000.
Responsibility and Demands: By and large this is one of the major reasons why it’s unethical for regional airlines to pay first year pilots this amount considering the responsibility that pilots carry on their shoulders. These pilots not only carry the responsibility of the passengers as well as loads of mail and freight but they also carry the responsibility of controlling the multi-million dollar aircrafts. The responsibility of these pilots has also been increased with the recent technological advances in the aviation industry.
These technological changes have not only improved the speed, safety and design of the aircraft but they have also changed the demands on the pilot. These increased demands on the pilot are also necessitated by the strict academic requirements and complexity of air-traffic system. Consequently, these demands have made the piloting job to be very challenging and fatiguing. I believe that it’s unethical for regional airline to pay their first year pilots $20,000 considering these responsibilities and the nature of the piloting job.
Regardless of the airline company they work for, first year pilots and professionals in this industry are not overpaid (“Ten Most Overpaid Jobs”, 2003). For first year pilots, this amount from regional airlines is not their full market value. Conclusion: Having looked at both sides of the debate on whether it’s ethical for regional airline to pay their first year pilots $20,000 even after accruing over $80,000 n student loans, I strongly believe that is totally unethical for them to be paid such an amount.
The academic qualifications, responsibilities and demands of these pilots are not different from their senior counter parts. Furthermore, these pilots have huge student loans that they should pay on a monthly basis. With all these facts in consideration, the amount raises serious ethical questions than it answers. References: Hirschfeld, S. (2001, March 1). Pilots Pay Smeared In U. S Air Woes Outcry. Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://www. airliners. net/aviation-forums/general_aviation/read. main/403979/ “Looking for a Career” (2009, April).
Air Line Pilots Association, International (ALPA). Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://www. learningforlife. org/exploring/aviation/alpa. pdf Feiser, J. (2009, May 10). Ethics. Retrieved from University of Tennessee at Martin website: http://www. iep. utm. edu/ethics/ Bailey, J. (2010). Pilot’s Dream Run into Reality. Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://www. nytimes. com/2008/04/10/business/worldbusiness/10iht-pilots. 4. 11877334. html? pagewanted=1&_r=1 McGreal, C. (2010, January 11). A Pilot’s Life: Exhausting Hours for Meagre Wages.
Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://www. guardian. co. uk/world/2010/jan/11/pilot-exhausting-hours-wages “Ten Most Overpaid Jobs” (2003, November 15). PPRuNE: Professional Pilots Rumour Network. Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://www. pprune. org/rumours-news/108925-ten-most-overpaid-jobs-us-no-9-pilots-2. html Smith, P. (n. d. ). Overpaid Pilots? Retrieved July 27, 2010, from http://toolkit. bootsnall. com/transportation-travel-guide/air-travel-guide/ask-the-pilot-collection/general-maintenance/overpaid-pilots. html
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