CHICAGO—Airline pilots should be rated by their passengers, says a prominent doctor group. The National Association of Doctors (NAD) feels that pilots should be judged on such metrics as friendliness, communication skills, and proficiency at executing landings.
Since the pilot is truly “Captain of the Ship,” she should also be rated on the performance of the gate agents, flight attendants, and baggage handlers, claims the proposal.
NAD spokesperson Dr. Brendan P. Rogers said, “I am tired of being kept in the dark about things like turbulence and delays.” He added that most of the time he doesn’t even know the names of the pilots and copilots of the planes he flies in.
The NAD position statement calls for airlines to distribute cards clearly identifying the pilots to all passengers. Dr. Rogers does not feel this would add any extra work for the flight attendants because they could pass out cards while passengers board.
The cards would contain a link to an independent website where passengers could input their flight numbers, dates, and opinions about the actions of the pilots and crews.
In addition, the doctors would like to see the airlines post each pilot’s scores on simulation trainers and the specific number of hours flown as captain or co-pilot in each type of aircraft in the airline’s fleet. Those scores, hours, and the passenger ratings should then be publicly available and linked to airline ticket booking sites. This would enable passengers to select flights based on the skills of pilots.
The proposal has resonated with passengers. Philip Inzaghi of Milan, Italy, a frequent business flyer, thinks the idea is great. “The time has come for air travel to become more transparent,” he said.
“Passengers have been nickeled and dimed to death in the last few years,” the president of NAD, Dr. Samuel Allardyce, said in an interview with Surgery Watch. He went on to say, “Airlines had better not try to charge more for flights with higher rated pilots.”
In the second phase of the pilot rating system rollout, all pilot landings would be recorded on video and judged by other pilots. A similar system has been in place for at least 50 years in the US Navy, which records all landings on aircraft carriers with other pilots grading them according to accepted standards.
The physician organization expects the plan to be greeted with strong resistance from airlines and pilots but feels that if enough public pressure is brought to bear, it will have to be accepted.
The Air Line Pilots Association declined to comment.
Skeptical Scalpel is a retired surgeon and was a surgical department chairman and residency program director for many years. He is board-certified in general surgery and critical care and has re-certified in both several times. He blogs at SkepticalScalpel.blogspot.com and tweets as @SkepticScalpel. His blog averages over 1400 page views per day, and he has over 10,700 followers on Twitter.