"I see no way in the world that you could ask someone to make less than $20,000 per year and afford an apartment or a home or nightly hotel rooms in a city like Newark," says Josh Verde, an airline pilot who quit his job at Express Jet last year. "There's just no way to do it."
Verde says the airlines know what's going on and understand it's an impossible request. "They just sort of say, you know, 'Figure it out.' " Airlines do provide hotel rooms during the middle of an actual trip, Verde says. But it's the night before the start of a trip that pilots are often scrambling for sleep.
The FAA's proposed rule-making on flight-time/duty-time will do some things to help tired pilots. The rules will increase the mandatory rest period pilots, currently 8 hours, and decrease the maximum length of a pilot's work day, which is currently 16 hours. But in some cases, the number of hours a pilot can fly each day could increase.
Congress passed a law last August requiring that the FAA address pilot fatigue, among other safety issues raised by the Colgan crash by an August 2011 deadline. But the law does not require the FAA to address the issue of "commuting," or of sleeping arrangements for airline crews. Instead. it calls for a study by the National Academy of Sciences, to be completed this summer.
Neither the Airline Pilots Association, the country's largest pilot union, nor the airline industry trade group, the Air Transport Association, would sit down with ABC News for an interview on fatigue and commuting pilots, though Jean Medina of the ATA provided a written statement.
"The safety of our customers and our employees is our top priority, and we agree with the FAA that pilots must act responsibly, and only fly when rested," wrote Medina. "Our industry's outstanding safety record is a result of the strong commitment of all stakeholders, including our professional flight crews who understand their obligation to report to work rested and prepared to fly."
Linda Shotwell, head of ALPA communications, thanked ABC News for requesting an interview on pilot fatigue, but said in an email, "Unfortunately, we do not have anyone available at this time."
Scott Maurer, who lost his daughter Lorin, 30, in the Buffalo accident, says something needs to be done to fix this impasse. "It's a horrible situation for pilots. These two areas, pilots and industry need to work closer together. And if they can't get that done, then it's up to our government to step in and intercede and make something happen."