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Veteran pilot backup scheme

An under-used resource
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Commercial passenger airline pilots, on very reasonable grounds, are required to retire from active duty at 60.

However, this represents something of a waste of an expensive resource. Quite a few retired pilots continue to fly, as instructors, or privately, or as part of cadet forces. They don't stop being very capable airmen the moment the calendar clicks over.

Another important thing to note is that they are old. This, in piloting terms, is an excellent measure of success and ability. Careless, incompetent and inattentive pilots generally do not get to retire. In fact, they're lucky if the recovery team can find enough bits for a funeral ceremony to be justified.

So why not make use of all that ability and experience ?

We propose that retired pilots should be optionally enroled in a back-seat pilot scheme. This would mean that the get to travel for free on aircraft on which they are certified, if there are spare seats. This costs the airline nothing. If the cockpit jumpseat is empty, then they can sit there. Deadheading crew frequently do this.

If the trip is long haul, they get their hotel and layover expenses paid, or maybe heavily subsidsed, and regular medicals to make sure they at least meet GA flight standards.

Their value becomes apparent when It All Goes Horribly Wrong. Suddenly, their decades of flying experience, and their proven skill at not dying, can make a huge contribution to the survival of the aircraft. If a crew member is disabled by illness, they can assist. They can be an extra pair of eyes and ears, able to look out of the cabin window and know exactly what they're looking at, without the main flight crew leaving their seats. It's not proposed that they should ever actually fly the aircraft in anything other than the direst emergency, but a few hours a year in a ground simulator would be useful.

8th of 7, Dec 14 2018

Rotary aircraft engines https://en.wikipedi..._engine#World_War_I
Castor oil was the lubricant of choice ... a ... side-effect was that ... pilots ... swallowed the oil ... leading to persistent diarrhoea. [8th of 7, Dec 15 2018]

Radon https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Radon
... studies have shown link between ... radon and ... lung cancer. [8th of 7, Dec 15 2018]


       "So, where do you guys keep the castor oil ?"
FlyingToaster, Dec 15 2018

       I can find no fault with this reasoning. Have them take a few courses so they can double as back-up air marshals for an added pension.   

       // where do you guys keep the castor oil ? //   

       Mixed with the fuel, of course ... <link>
8th of 7, Dec 15 2018

       It'll be fine until that flashback of being over Macho Grande...
not_morrison_rm, Dec 15 2018

       No problem ... after all, flying a plane is no different from riding a bicycle (it's just a lot harder to put baseball cards in the spokes).
8th of 7, Dec 15 2018

       The FAA maintains a way to estimate your exposure to radiation on any given flight route. The numbers are magnitudes greater than quakers imagined. The questions is: Do pilots have remarkably higher rates of cancer, or should we all be eaing uranium on a mountainous beach?
4and20, Dec 15 2018

       My guess is that people living permanently at high altitude (and there are plenty of towns and villages above 10,000ft - for instance, Alma, Colorado) receive a higher dose than pilots who spend perhaps a sixth of their lives at 30,000ft inside a plane.
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 15 2018

       // Do pilots have remarkably higher rates of cancer, //   


       // or should we all be eaing uranium //   

       How do you ea uranium ?   

       // on a mountainous beach? //   

       Beside Lake Titicaca, perhaps ?   

       Living in some geological areas - notably those with relatively young igneous rocks, like granite - means you get a much higher external dose from the rock (which is bad) but also in some circumstances a high internal dose from Radon, which is very, very bad indeed as many of the isotopes are alpha emitters with short half-lives, and decay to similarly unstable radioisotopes. <link>   

       Smoking cigarettes while sitting in a cellar lined with asbestos boarded walls, in a region with granite geology, is a good way of shortening your life.   

       In an aircraft you may get cosmic ray (analagous to gamma/X-ray) dose, and phosphate poisoning from pyrolised hydraulic fluids leaking into the air compressors, but there's not much Radon at FL390 ...
8th of 7, Dec 15 2018

       On thing you never hear homeopathists say is "take this very, very dilute plutonium solution, just to be on the safe side."
MaxwellBuchanan, Dec 15 2018

       On the bargain-basement airlines these guys would become the pilots by default.   

       Could they double as stewards?
RayfordSteele, Dec 15 2018

       No, definitely not. Interacting with the cattle is beneath the dignity of pilots. That's what the PA is for.   

       // these guys would become the pilots by default //   

       They'd probably really enjoy that. The passengers, maybe not so much ... then again, they might do a better job than the youngsters these outfits hire. There's a woeful lack of proper stick-and-rudder skills in some pilots because they've never flown light aircraft, which actually have to be flown by the pilot, without ILS, power assisted controls, INS or autopilot. Watching a fully-qualified full-time commercial jet-jockey, with several thousand hours in the book, in the right hand seat of a single-engined puddle jumper for the first time, is quite a revelation. The comment after many minutes of erratic progress in more or less the general direction of the destination, along with the frequent, unplanned changes in altitude and attitude, was "This is actually quite a lot harder than I thought it would be"; though the little beads of sweat on their forehead said more than words ever could.   

       The question "You want the landing ?" elicited something close to panic, followed by a polite but emphatic refusal including arm gestures.   

       On the plus side, he did say he'd enjoyed the experience and would definitely come flying in a small aircraft again. Although perhaps not with us ...
8th of 7, Dec 15 2018

       ^ Ha!
My flight instructor buddy, (crazy bastard RIP), let me both take of and land in a 35 mph crosswind on my 20 minute introductory flight when I mentioned I'd been in air cadets when I was a kid.

       Most awesomely nerve wracking fifteen point landing you ever saw. Told me he'd show me how to get out of a flat spin as soon as I could solo.   

       I sure miss that crazy bastard.   

       // let me both take of and land in a 35 mph crosswind //   

       Did he tie a Hachimaki around his forehead before taxiing from the apron ? That is WAY above the crosswind limit for most GA ships.   

       // fifteen point landing //   

       So few ... we too aspire to, one day, achieving such virtuosity.   

       The theory seems to be "You're paying a landing fee, so make sure you get value from it. Each bounce counts as one landing, so long as all three wheels touch, however briefly." It can, however, work out more expensive in the long term when you factor in the cost of new oleo struts, replacing loosened rivets, and dental work to fix displaced fillings.   

       // I sure miss that crazy bastard. //   

       "Any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind".   

       <Moment of sympathetic silence/>
8th of 7, Dec 16 2018

       hmmm might have been Kilometers per hour come to think of it.
He said, "You're doing alright. You can take it down but if I yell, your hands and feet better be off those controls like Now.", and then he didn't yell.
Like I said, he was crazy. It was fun.

       One thing about your idea though; aren't cockpits locked even to the crew on flights nowadays?   

       "There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots..."
Wrongfellow, Dec 16 2018

       // aren't cockpits locked even to the crew //   

       They're locked, but usually have an electronic codelock. And they can be opened from inside. The crew do need access to the toilets from time to time.
8th of 7, Dec 16 2018

       //"There are old pilots, and there are bold pilots...//   

       Yeah he died just when I'd gotten ten hours under my belt. He left a message on my answering machine asking me to co-pilot with him for a grand off my license that I heard the day after I found out he'd smashed into a mountain.   

       I wonder a lot if he would still be here if I'd gone with him.
He was very meticulous, just... I don't have a better word than crazy, adrenaline junkie maybe, but even that's not quite right.
I got the impression that he knew he wouldn't be here long and wanted to 'experience' as hard as possible while putting it off as long as he could. <shrugs> Might just be hind-sight.

       //They're locked, but usually have an electronic codelock.//   

       I just assumed the crew used the same forward cabin john as everybody else. I need to examine my assumptions.
Not like I'm looking to be placed on any sort of list for asking this but... what is to stop high-jackers from extorting the cockpit code from any of the cabin crew if subdued?

       Wait, I'm sure that question has already been asked by people more qualified than me and it's hard enough to get over the border as it is so I'm just going to let that one go.   

       This is a well-thought-out idea to promote safety and curb waste with little investment and using existing resources. I can find no fault in it.   

       You're new here, aren't you? Welcome to the Halfbakery.
whatrock, Dec 17 2018

       Thanks ! Does anyone here like cats, by the way ? We don't, but we don't want to upset or offend anyone ...   

       <Removes tongue from cheek/>
8th of 7, Dec 17 2018


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