According to an October 16, 2009 Memorandum, the Department of Transportation Office of Inspector General (“DOT OIG”) will be conducting an audit “to identify and assess trends in commercial aviation accidents including any correlations between pilot experience and compensation.” The audit is in response to a request from the Chairmen and Ranking Members of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation and Subcommittee on Aviation Operations, Safety, and Security following the National Transportation Safety Board’s (“NTSB”) determination that pilot performance was a contributory factor in four of the last fatal commercial aviation accidents involving regional carriers. Specifically, the NTSB cited pilot training, fatigue, qualifications, and compensation as potential safety issues.
Add this to the list of activities currently being undertaken within the aviation industry regarding the issues of pilot fatigue and pilot qualification. However, it will be interesting to see what the DOT OIG has to say about pilot compensation and its impact on safety. Further, if the DOT OIG determines that the current level of pilot compensation does, in fact, have a negative impact on aviation safety, I will be curious to see what types of recommendations it may make to “correct” the situation. Stay tuned. You will likely be hearing more on these issues in the near future.