SJS PRESS August 2010

Long hours, little rest, and paltry pay that only empty crab pots bring. A scene from a crab fishing boat on the Bering Sea, right? More like a day in the life of a regional airline pilot. How is this possible? Could it be the aftermath of a Shiny Jet Syndrome outbreak? Perhaps. The Press has another explanation.

To compare the task of piloting regional aircraft to that of a crab fisherman's duty seems like a long shot. But the logic lies in the arrival of the newest regional airline crew planner and scheduler, Sig Hansen. "Captain" Sig comes to the airline business during his fishing off-season. He does this to fulfill his need to grind workers to the bone. "Crew on a fishing boat versus crew on an airplane. It's all the same to me," Sig cackles. "First I have to be a planner to make the sort of trips I like. Ones that fatigue crews to the max. Then I hop into the scheduler's seat so I can make life even harder on them. All for company profit of course...and a little self satisfaction."

ThisisSigMany pilots know the harshness of Sig's schedule. "I feel I haven't slept in days. Wait. I haven't," says one pilot. "The scariest part of this job is making that call and hearing 'Scheduling, this is Sig.' You'll be working endless hours for sure." See the bottom of the page for an example of a "Sigged" schedule.

Captain Sig laughs when he hears complaints from his whiny pilot group. "These guys need to grind. That's what we pay them to do. If they don't like it, they need to get off the plane and go home. They're lucky to have a chance at this gig. We have plenty of applicants waiting in line to fill the ranks."Sig'sCrew

Sig's tactics leave the most energetic pilots looking tired. Lack of sleep and airport sits take years off his pilots' lifespans. "I don't know if it is the stresses of the job or the nonexistent rest I get, but I'm feeling haggard," a 26 year old copilot states.Sig'sFO "My hair has grayed and people think I'm in my 50s not my 20s. Sig has really done me in." Even upper management appears to fear this scheduling machine. The CFO of one regional airline tells The Press "I went to tell Sig to perhaps let up a little on our flight crews. He sent me away with an all night assignment to redo the company's books. I didn't even get to leave my office for a bathroom break!"

There is no doubt that Captain Sig enjoys his job of pushing his crews, both fishing and piloting, to the brink. Bad weather, sickness, and injury do not limit his crew grinding aspirations. A pilot must do his best to steer clear and ignore phone calls from crew scheduling to avoid contact with Sig. If a pilot does contact scheduling, one can only hope that Sig is at sea and not on the line.


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