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  say it can fuel a vicious cycle. A tired and frustrated public tends to let its guard down, triggering more infections and restrictions that in turn compounds the fatigue.
We’re all familiar with the IMSAFE aviation mnemonic. By triggering three of its six components: S-stress, F-fatigue and E-Emotion, the pandemic has inserted itself in our pre- flight planning not only regarding quarantine restrictions and availability of services but in our very fitness to fly the airplane – and we should not underestimate its effect. In a combined industry effort, NASA has prepared a series of surveys to better understand how COVID influences pilots both directly and indirectly due to the effects of the pan- demic. In addition to emotions, fatigue and stress, another monster faces those of us paid to pilot planes professionally: the furlough monster.
You’re Fired!
The stock market’s 57 percent plunge from October 9, 2007 to March 9, 2009 (1929 was 83 percent) was a stark reminder that a modern-day stock market crash is still pos- sible. And does this sound familiar: “Over the next several years, consumer spending and investment dropped, caus- ing steep declines in industrial output and employment as failing companies laid off workers.” That was an internet search response to “what happened during The Great De- pression of 1929.” The follow-on government protectionist strategy of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff and rapidly growing trade restrictions then generated a worldwide depression.
Fast forward to 2020: About 15 million people were em- ployed in restaurants as waiters and cooks and other staff; half of them saw their jobs disappear. Similar losses struck other industries: hotels, entertainment, the conference in- dustry, car rentals and the airline industry. Air travel stalled out last March and has improved slightly, but passenger volumes remain down by more than 65 percent. Without additional government funding, carriers have moved ahead with massive layoffs: American Airlines furloughed 17,500 workers on October 1 and will lay off another 1,500 soon. United Airlines began to furlough nearly 16,400 workers at the start of October. Delta said it planned to furlough 1,721 pilots, and Southwest Airlines has said that it will not cut jobs through the end of the year. The reason to avoid pilot furloughs is largely one of logistics.
The process of bringing back pilots can take 15 months due to the industry’s extensive and intricate training sys- tem, according to Dennis Tajer, a spokesman for the AA pilot union. Paraphrasing Tajer: “It’s a very large ship, and when you stop it, it takes a lot of energy to get it back up and running. Pilots are assigned to an aircraft and a seat position. When we furlough, we furlough from the bottom, so all of our junior first officers, mostly on narrow-body aircraft, are removed. That causes a trickle down of training that has to happen in order to maintain the system, even a greatly reduced system. We’re a vaccine industry. We’re a vaccine country right now,” Tajer added. “We’ve got to have this financial bridge extended across the turbulent river, or we’re going to be walking right into the middle of the river, and the repercussions will be long term.”
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December 2020 / TWIN & TURBINE • 23

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