Vice Chairman's Message - 12/5/19
Vice Chairman's Message - 12/5/19


December 5, 2019
FedEx pilots safely navigate the most demanding flight schedules in the most challenging conditions all over the world every single day. So it is noticeable when pilot behavior is publicly cited as a cause for problems that the Company needs to fix, as is the case in the news article titled, “Have I spent too much time in the right seat?” Specifically mentioned were pilots staying in the right seat of an aircraft beyond five years and those who fly lines with city purity.
It would hardly be a newsflash to identify quality of life as a major issue for our pilots. For some, obtaining seniority in the right seat is critical due to the difficulty of our system form. Similarly, I have always viewed city purity as a type of fatigue mitigation that could save me from some serious problems in the middle of the night. If real-life proficiency affects simulator training proficiency, so be it. Some people are clearly better suited to night or international flying than others due to a variety of factors beyond their control. If seniority helps, then I am glad that there is the flexibility afforded to our pilots in the CBA. Of note, however, is that we have pilots in Los Angeles and Anchorage who cannot hold captain with more than a decade of seniority. How would you feel to be in that situation and highlighted publicly that you are a potential training problem? We also have pilots who hold a system bid award to the left seat of the B767 but have been unable to bid an ITU date due to the Company’s election to offer more Differences Training. This creates an inverse in seniority and delays movement of senior pilots out of the First Officer seat.  
To be clear, the article didn’t deny the rights of each pilot to decide when to upgrade or where to bid. It did, however, read to many as pilot blaming without acknowledging the effect of Company actions and policies on pilot choices. This is a difficult topic not easily distilled into a short article, but the lack of balance is troubling. For instance, was there any mention of the increased freezes bargained into Section 24 for down/lateral bid bids? How many might want to fly the 777 for a couple of years but don’t due to seat freezes? When they don’t improve the sleep facilities in OAK or EWR, are the pilots to blame for not wanting to be too junior to bid away from there? Will the Company ever acknowledge the pilots’ requests for smaller but more frequent system bids? 
We all look forward to supporting a solution that improves pilot training. I have asked Training Committee Chairman Walt Owen to meet with flight training to see if there are ways to positively address future issues found in their data. I agree with the article that we have an elite cadre of instructors. I would add, with the exception of the Falcon building, that we have excellent training facilities and resources. But we also have excellent pilots who work hard to balance flying our demanding schedule while maintaining a quality of life that we all deserve. The training is for us, and not because of us. Hopefully, we can focus on these positives as we move forward to better training solutions.
In Unity,
Captain David Chase
FDX MEC Vice Chairman