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United Airlines Workers File Lawsuit Alleging That Cockpit Training is Insufficient

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Would you want to fly on an airplane if you knew the pilot didn’t have sufficient training? Unfortunately, according to union pilots at United Airlines, this might be the case. Specifically, pilots currently working for United Airlines claim that the cockpit training they have received is insufficient to prepare them as they learn to follow Continental Airlines’ procedures after the current merger of the two companies. They feel so strongly, in fact, that they have filed a federal lawsuit against United Airlines, asking that a judge delay the implementation of changes to how pilots must fly under the merged airline.

United and Continental Airlines officially merged about a year ago, but they have continued to operate as separate airlines until the company receives a single operating certificate from the Federal Aviation Administration. In order to receive that single operating certificate, the two airlines must have the same set of operating procedures. Pilots argue that retraining is very difficult and akin to learning to "speak Russian using a few mouse clicks" (with computer based training).

Differences in flying procedures can include how to handle emergencies, such as how to level a plane with unbalanced fuel tanks. According to the pilots, they are being asked to learn these complicated procedures within one hour, rather than the eight hours that it is actually taking to complete the training sequences. United Airlines officials claim that the lawsuit is a publicity stunt purposefully filed right before a scheduled rally in New York in which 700 uniformed pilots are scheduled to picket for a joint union contract.