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Congressional pilot requirement hurt PenAirTell North Platte what you think

Mike Sharkey, the North Platte Regional Airport Manager, said PenAir’s problem can be summed up in two words -- pilot shortage -- the same problem that made North Platte former airline -- Great Lakes – unreliable.

“Our ‘good friends’ in Congress passed a law that created a hell of a pilot shortage that is hurting a lot of small airlines,” Sharkey said.

Great Lakes Airlines became less-than-reliable in 2013-14, confounded by a Congressional requirement that hiked the amount of flight time and ground training that is required to become certified pilots.

Nearly four years later, the same underlying situation has taken away another airline from Nebraska.

“The shortages will always be here unless our friends in Congress do something about it,” Sharkey said. “And it doesn’t appear like they have any ability to do that.”

The federal law basically says a copilot has to have the same amount of flight hours, qualifications and certifications as the Captain (pilot).

“The law basically dried up the hiring pool, because those guys aren’t available,” Sharkey said. “As pilots retire, there are not enough people coming in filling gaps.”

“That is absolutely right,” said PenAir vice president Melissa Anderson. “The problem needs to be addressed.”

Sen. Deb Fischer and Rep. Adrian Smith try to help, Sharkey said.

“But there are a lot of powerful people, including Sen. Charles Schumer (D-NY), who has taken it upon himself to protect the world from what he believes are the dangers of flying on small airlines,” he said.

It is an example of government fighting with itself. The DOT contracts with airlines to provide service to small communities, sets rules and pays subsidies, but the legislative branch passes regulations that make it impossible for small airlines to fulfill their obligations.

“That is exactly what is going on,” Sharkey said.

He said the size of the pilot shortage increases every day.

Small airlines generally have enough airplanes, but the pilot shortage forces them to cancel flights.

Sharkey said PenAir was building up customers – “not anywhere where they should have been at this time -- but the pilot shortage, causing cancellations, hurt them,” he said.

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The North Platte Bulletin - Published 8/8/2017
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If you plan ahead you can get a ticket for $49. :)
Posted by ReadItAlready    - 8/13/2017 5:38:31 AM
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NebraskaLand National Bank You've got a
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Good thing pro baby-killing & political-thief Schumer wasn't in charge of signing off on qualified WW1 & WW2 pilots.
Posted by J-Mac    - 8/12/2017 10:50:52 PM
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Actually it's $79 one way to Denver from McCook (using Boutique Air).
Posted by brosmith    - 8/12/2017 9:25:34 PM
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Great post "ReaditAlready", hope you are accurate! What is your answer to this Mr. Sharkey and airport board memebers?
Posted by mineands    - 8/12/2017 6:44:00 AM
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I'm not so sure it's the pilot shortage here in NP, more the cost of flights. Why spend a fortune to get to Denver when one can fly out of McCook for $49?
Posted by ReadItAlready    - 8/11/2017 8:18:14 PM
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Sen. Charles Schumer + one airplane crash = no small rural airport service.
Posted by momof3    - 8/10/2017 10:59:59 AM
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We can blame the other party, or the media for not presenting all sides of the bankruptcy for free... or, we could form our own educated opinion and express it to our elected representatives (sending a copy to the news media for publication.) Pointing fingers does not solve issues.
Posted by George Lauby    - 8/9/2017 3:08:38 PM
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In my opinion, this article did not present all sides of the issue. I hope the writer does more research about the other sides of this issue and presents articles about the topic.
Posted by Agatha    - 8/9/2017 11:50:30 AM
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Part of the shortage of pilots is due to boomers retiring because they have reached 65 which is a mandatory retirement age for commercial pilots. Pay is an issue that the pilots' union has been trying to get increased.
Posted by Agatha    - 8/9/2017 11:48:29 AM
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Have you looked at beginning wages for airline pilots? They begin at levels even worse than many day labor workers make so there really isn't a great motivation for young people to train to be airline pilots. As for expecting Trump to be any help, think again. He already has made statements to eliminate these little, nonessential airports. He isn't going to save us APatriot. Not unless you are a member of one of his resorts that all of us tax payers are supporting "bigly" as Trump would say. Now that Republicans control all three branches of government and they are the ones that will solve this problem, then let's get on with it. Like I use several said, "This is not a simple fix"! I think better pay would do a lot to fill the pipeline with trained pilots.
Posted by new to flatrock    - 8/9/2017 10:57:34 AM
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Good luck with waiting for Trump to drain anything but the rest of the little dignity and credibility that is left left in his Presidency. I am sure the regulations are hurting our small airlines but it is my understanding that the present regulations came out of some horrific small airline crashes where the copilots were not adequately trained to handle the airplane after the pilots were unable to fly for various reasons. I want Penn Air and other small airlines to succeed and I definitely want North Platte to continue to have air service but if you or your loved ones are in the passenger seat and the plane is in trouble or the pilot is having issues, you want the best trained back up you can have to get you down safe, right? This is not a simple fix.
Posted by I use several    - 8/9/2017 10:41:57 AM
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Good old Chucky Schumer, he is always trying to protect us from our selves. Just like gun control. He hates our President so much that he is willing to destroy America to get at Mr. Trump I can't wait until the swamp is drained of Schumers ilk and we can make America great again.
Posted by APatriot    - 8/9/2017 5:53:10 AM
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