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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."


PHD. MBA. MHS. Type rated on A350, A330, B777, B747-400, B747-200, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration. Fighting for Aviation Safety and Airline Employee Advocacy. Safety Culture and SMS change agent.

Friday, September 2, 2022

For the Love of Aviation

Breakfast in Narita is a Fun Read! 

Jean, Jeff and Kathy in the Good Ole Days
Northwest Airlines 

I met Kathy McCullough, Retired Northwest Captain, and the author of Breakfast in Narita, back in 1997. She is a good friend who was one of the first female pilots at Northwest Airlines. I am honored to write this post because I understand the effort it took to bring her current book to life, and what she experienced to be able to tell this story.  

Ten years ago Kathy McCullough began writing this novel. Four or five years ago, I did my first read and edit with four more to follow over the years. While it takes a team to write a book, I understood the world this story originated and the importance to get it right. As an author it's hard to tell a story when you  you're in the center of the action in real life. It becomes necessary to step outside the drama in order to tell the story, and allow the characters to have a life of their own... to share the challenges of women in aviation but make it a fun read. Because honestly, it was not always that much fun. Unless you made it fun, which Kathy and I did on many occasions. 

While this book is fiction with a sinister plot that includes corruption to the highest and most disgusting level in the pursuit of financial gain, the events of what Kathy lived are true. 

Since June 6th there were 20,447 views on LinkedIn visiting the post on Sexual Harassment in the Airline Industry. And 15,224 views on the follow up Not my Problem, Think Again. Thanks to an FAA report and Dr. Tony Kern for his great insight as to the inability to have a positive safety culture with this type of behavior ongoing, we are one step closer to solving the age old problem. 

Breakfast In Narita: 

Kathy lived in this world, and I understood the story she was trying to tell. I am glad she invited me to be part of her team. While dining in Haneda, dinner and dessert, at the gym, in the tub, while locked in my hotel, I had the opportunity to read this novel for the final time. And I smiled as I read this version because this is the book she was looking to write. She did it! 

There I was... Reading Breakfast In Narita 
While Having Dessert in Haneda


Kathy:

"My grandmother encouraged me to write as a child, and I loved creating stories. It was my goal to be a published writer long before Amazon existed. I sold some stories to Woman’s World and Cricket magazines, so I knew I could do it. After all, I heard Laura Ingalls Wilder started writing Little House on the Prairie at age 65. 

I used to drag a heavy word processor around the world with me. When you wake up in the middle of the night in a hotel room, there are not many things you can do. That’s why I have two nonfiction books, and a lot of journals and other writing. Breakfast in Narita is fiction because I'm hoping the real characters from this book have grown in their retirement years. At least they won't be causing anyone grief in the future. Besides, fiction is a fun challenge, or at least I thought it would be. 

I thought writing Breakfast in Narita would be easier to get it down on paper than it was. Creating believable characters and making their dialogue sound real is hard. I took tons of classes and went to writing conferences. Show don’t tell. I am very good at “telling” a story, but showing is different. Also, I didn’t want my main character to sound whiny or mean, although there was plenty to whine about. There were so many false starts and so many times I gave up and quit working on this book. Then a flight attendant friend-of-a-friend read my nonfiction book, Ups and Downs. She loved it. 


She loved my voice and told me I had a gift. That’s what I needed to make me finish this. Encouragement and confidence. Now I’m glad I did, because the feedback has been incredible. A goal accomplished!"

For Your End of Summer Read
I recommend:


Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


Sunday, August 14, 2022

Not My Problem

 Think Again!


There were 20,421 views on LinkedIn alone in response to the June 8th post Sexual Harassment in the Airline Industry as a result of Dr. Kern's article, An Honest Discussion Men Need to Have Right Now. Not to mention the thousands of views from other social media sites. If you have not read that post yet, I think you should. Dr. Kern had written his article in response to the FAA's report "Breaking Barriers for Women in Aviation."

Today is Part Two
Dr. Kern's second article: 

Dr. Kern believes there are two reasons why women don't speak out when they are sexually harassed: (1) Fear of retribution and (2) they don't want to play the victim card. Sometimes it's also easier to simply look the other way and pretend the behavior doesn't exist. Other times women think by ignoring the behavior, they are being accepted as part of the group. Furthermore, if the behavior doesn't happen to them, it's easy to believe it's not occuring at all. As I mentioned in my post Sexual Harassment in the Airline Industry, the problem may be due to the deviant behavior of management. 

If senior leadership behaves poorly, they set the example for others to follow. This behavior becomes the culture. Culture includes the norms and behaviors of everyone in the organization. But culture begins at the top. Culture also dictates who the organization will employ, which will often be the same cookie cutter selection they have always chosen. The aviation industry even has a culture of its own. 

Dr. Kern has brought to our attention that it is impossible to have a positive safety culture when sexual harassment is prevalent. He discusses the need to change and how that might happen. I do believe it's possible to change culture. But I also know what it feels like to be at the pointy end of retaliation when attempting to create change for the better. Therefore, I understand why people are reticent to come forward to create change of any kind. There is no right answer to this problem other than to start at the top. Unfortunately when a CEO is also the Chairman of the Board in an organization with a negative safety culture, that change becomes difficult to manage. Even Board members may fear retaliation if they attempt to rid themselves of the bad example. The negative culture persists.

I highly recommend you read Dr. Kern's article

Then... let's all think how to solve this problem. 


Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 

Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Pilot Faculty Position Available

In Puerto Rico

Inter American University 
of Puerto Rico School of Aeronautics 
needs you! 


Exciting news! A fellow ERAU PhD Aviation program graduate, Dr. Jonathan Velazquez, Dean of the School of Aeronautics at the Inter American University of Puerto Rico, has reached out looking for a full time faculty position. All classes will be taught in English. The job is in Puerto Rico. And I'm thinking this could be an opportunity of a lifetime. Time is running out. You only have until August 8, 2022 to apply. Phone numbers and contact information below. 

Tenure Track Professional Pilot Faculty Position: 
The School of Aeronautics is seeking a full-time faculty member for the undergraduate Aircraft Systems Management (Professional Pilot) program. 


This is a 9-month tenure track appointment
 
The selected applicant should be in place by the second week of 
August 2022 for the fall 2022 semester

Responsibilities: 
  • Teach courses as assigned such as: 
    • Private, instrument, commercial, and/or instructor pilot ground schools. 
    • Applied Aerodynamics  Advanced Aircraft Systems 
    • Aviation Weather 
    • Aviation Safety and Security 
    • Air Carrier Operations 
  • Advise students on academic matters and career planning. 
  • Teach selected courses in-person and via videoconferencing simultaneously. 
  • Serve on division, college, and/or university committees as assigned. 
Minimum Qualifications
  • Master’s degree in Aviation or related field. 
  • FAA Advanced Ground Instructor (or Certified Flight Instructor) and Instrument Ground Instructor (or Certified Flight Instructor Instrument) certificates. 
  • Experience in fields applicable to aviation.
  • Ability to apply current instructional technology in classroom and distance learning. 
Salary: 

In accordance with the current salary scale for teaching staff of the Inter American University of Puerto Rico. 

To Apply: 

Send your job application, self-identification forms (Veterans and People with Disabilities), Resume, Letter of Intent and academic credentials and Vaccination Certificate (full cycle) against COVID-19 to: 

Inter American University of Puerto Rico, 
Bayamon Campus, 500 
Dr. John Will Harris Rd., 
Bayamón, PR 00957. 


Apply by August 8, 2022

You may obtain the documentation necessary at www.inter.edu 

Due to the COVID-pandemic, applications can be sent to the following email addresses (as long as the documentation is also sent via regular mail): 
wfigueroa@bayamon.inter.edu
etorres@bayamon.inter.edu.

If you have any questions, you may call the Human Resources Office at
 787-279-1912, ext. 2056

All the best!
Enjoy the Journey! 
XO Karlene 


Wednesday, July 13, 2022

Pilot Shortage

A Government Funded Event

The government bought and paid 
for this pilot shortage
with your taxpayer dollars!

While I do have an MBA, it does not take a masters in business to see that this summer pilot shortage should have been avoided. A quick Internet search indicates that the government paid airlines insurmountable funds to survive the "Covid" challenge: An $85 Billion Rescue May Only Delay the Pain and Taxpayers spent Billions on Bailing out Airlines.  

How Airlines Used 
Your Taxpayer Dollars

Airline management used your money to pay extremely large sums to their most senior pilots to encourage them to retire early. Some airlines paid pilots 55 hours a month for three years, to leave with all their benefits. Those benefits are a high value too. To put this into perspective, that's approximately $20,000 a month. That is a modest number, as in some cases that payment was significantly more. To compensate for that process, airlines are now paying pilots 2-3 times more per trip to encourage them to fly overtime, causing a world of fatigue and pilot unrest. Literally. The results are passengers are being grounded for their summer travel and pilots are exhausted. Don't think this is for summer only. The airlines are so far behind the power curve that they are sending instructors to fly during summer months, cutting much needed training, which will exacerbate the problem come the holidays. 


Perhaps the government was acting in good faith. However, when giving an open checkbook to airline management who do not care about operating an airline, do not care about safety, do not care about the flight crews or passengers, but instead care only about lining their pockets with the intent to take the money and run-- passenger travel and safety will be in jeopardy. 

Either the current airline flight cancellations are occurring because airline management has absolutely no idea how to operate an airline, or they have devised a shell game creating an illusion of management. A staged pilot shortage enables airline management to cancel less lucrative flights, raise prices, and feign ignorance of what pushing pilots to their limits will do to performance, reducing many levels of safety due to fatigue in the process. 

The  Solution is Simple! 

1) Offer those pilots that have already been paid to retire an opportunity to return to the flightline. These pilots will take a day in the simulator, maybe two, depending on currency and they will be qualified. 

2) Enable those pilots who were forced to retire at 65 to return to the flight deck and fly until 67 to get the airlines through this challenging time. They too will require minimal training. 

Captain Rich Seiler, forced to retire at 65 six months ago, is still playing semi-professional senior baseball, is physically fit, competent and wants to fly.  It simply does not make sense to ground him and other pilots like himself that could be helping in this time of need. 

Union and Pilot Objections and Solutions: 

SENIORITY:  "It's not fair they come in over our seniority." SOLUTION: Place them on their original equipment, base of their choice, at the bottom of the seniority list in that base. 

UPGRADE:  "It's not fair, it will delay my upgrade." RESPONSE: Maybe for the short term. But growth is immense and airlines expect to hire 14,500 new pilots over the next 8 years. This is not a long term solution, but simply until the airlines get caught up with training.

DOUBLE PAY: "They'll take my overtime trips" RESPONSE: There are overtime trips being cancelled now. There is more than enough to go around for everyone. 

OVER 65 PHYSICAL HEALTH:  Pilot's fitness is assessed whether they are 55, 65. or 67. That make no difference. Either a pilot is or is not fit. Age is not the issue. NetJets employs pilots to fly that are older than 89. 

COGNITIVE ABILITY:   There are tests to check cognitive ability. While every person has a different baseline, these tests could be utilized to determine a decline in the performance of a pilot for their own level. 

Negotiations 

I would think with contract negotiations in progress at all airlines, that creative minds on both sides could solve the problem by simply signing a contract that works for everyone and enables this 12-24 month fix, with a long-term contract secured. 

Flying Fatigue

Flying fatigue is similar to flying drunk. Federal regulations have created limits to avoid pushing pilots to fly too many consecutive hours that would impact performance. However, the previous FAA administration has approved airlines to place pilots on duty for more than 25 hours due to this pilot shortage with the excuse being Covid, and called it a "workaround".  Currently airline management believe that it is okay for these extended duty times as they and the FAA manipulate the meaning of a deadhead. Therefore, until we allow our retired pilots to return, even those over 65, passenger safety will be in jeopardy because of an FAA/Airline workaround that induces fatigue instead of mitigating risk. 

FAA Challenge

I challenge the FAA to justify why it's safer for a 64 year-old pilot to be on duty for over 25 hours, versus a healthy qualified 65 year-old that has 40 years of experience flying airplanes, to be a safer option for passenger travel. 

The Solution is Simple
The Question is 
Why Aren't they doing this?

Enjoy the Journey 
Karlene Petitt PhD, MBA, MHS

Saturday, June 25, 2022

Aviation Needs Your Help...

Justice Depends on It!

As you know I have been writing aviation thrillers that have taken a life of their own due to a litany of ongoing events. This is the situation-- in every story there is good and evil. But what happens when the good wins ... but evil prevails? That is not how the world should work. That is definitely not how the story should end. 

I need your help to support the real Darby Bradshaw in her fight for justice. Her attorney has recommended a GoFundMe account to help with her legal fees, that are well over $600,000 and adding up daily, but she has refused. She even sold her home to help finance this fight for safety. Darby's case has turned into a battle of attrition where the airline is utilizing vexatious litigation with stockholder funds to destroy a pilot who was promoting safety.

(Not really Darby, but who should play her in the movie)

Today I am asking the entire Aviation Community and anyone who loves to travel (and read) to please help with this fight for safety and justice. I am not asking anyone to donate money, I am asking everyone to help the real Darby by buying books. Even sharing this post on your social media platforms can help. I am giving 100% of all proceeds directly to the real Darby Bradshaw's legal battle. Buy them for yourself, gift them to others, and know that you are helping create an industry that we can be proud to call aviation, and leave a legacy to those coming up behind us. Please help Darby to continue to survive, as she has already faced the most challenging 6 years of her life that may not end for years to come. 


In Flight For Discovery, we never imagined that Global Air Lines would go to trial after everything that Darby and her attorney discovered. Not to give away any plot points, but in real life, Global went to trial and lost. Global appealed, and they lost again. Global is paying seven attorneys from two of the largest law firms in the United States millions of dollars to defend an indefensible position. This law only provides for "reasonable" attorney fees for the complainant. Depending how long the bad guys drag it out, she could win but financially lose. Darby is not crying... she is standing her ground. Management on the other hand are behaving like two-year-olds.


Global has lost on every front. Today Global managers are stomping their feet and crying. They are throwing all their toys at the wall to see if one sticks, hoping to get their way. We are unsure if the law firms are promoting the current ridiculous litigation, or if this is an executive decision to delay the inevitable and the CEO has told the legal teams to spare no expense and destroy Darby. 

While Darby has won, and won again, the legal proceedings continue. The Department of Labor Administrative review board (ARB) remanded her case back to the original judge because her award was unprecedentedly "too high". There was a reason for that award. While the ARB removed her forward pay and damages, they also decided to allow the Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) to reopen the record and allow for new testimony to determine if he was correct in his assumption that the retaliation would be ongoing through the end of her career, and cause her great harm. 

The ALJ will soon learn that he was correct in his predictions, but he could never imagine the depths that the Global management team would go to harm Darby. These legal battles are financially draining-- Global's intent. 


Since Global's recent loss they have (1) filed a petition for review, (2) prematurely filed an appeal in another court out of jurisdiction and prior to the case being closed, (3) filed a motion for a protective order, or, in the alternative for reconsideration, or, in the alternative to certify for an interlocutory review, (4) filed a motion for leave to file reply in support of it's cross-motion for stay, (5) filed an opposition motion to for additional hearings to consider further evidence of lost future earnings, emotional distress, humiliation, and loss of reputation as a result of the airlines adverse action taken against her and engaging in protected activity and for pre-hearing discovery schedule, and (6) filed a 186-page brief in the court they do not belong, to answer a singular question. 

With each event Darby's expenses increase. She needs your help. There are good people working behind the scenes to help me ensure this process never harms anyone else again. Unfortunately, nobody could have possibly known how ineffective the AIR21 statute could be until Global airline management broke the law and then snubbed their nose at it, were too arrogant to quit, and opted to spend millions in litigation versus training pilots or adequately staffing the airlines, at stockholder and passenger expense. 

PLEASE
 ORDER YOUR BOOKS 
TODAY!


Help the Good to Win 
and Prevail! 


NOVELS: 

MOTIVATION: 

NON-FICTION: 


CHILDREN:


All Proceeds Go to the real Darby's Litigation Costs
You can purchase them on my blog or on Amazon. 
Ebooks are the easiest and there is no shipping expense.

COMING SOON: 

Flight For Justice
Flight For Revenge
The Truth Behind the Flight For Series
Weaponization of Mental Health

Enjoy the Journey!
And THANK YOU!!
XO Karlene 



Monday, June 6, 2022

Sexual Harassment

In The Airline Industry



Dr. Tony Kern wrote an article in the Skies Magazine addressing Sexual Harassment and the impact on safety in the airline industry, in response to the FAA's report "Breaking Barriers for Women in Aviation." Dr. Kern want's to shout to the world that something is very wrong, and he could not be more right.


Numbers Speak Louder than Words


This is not just a line pilot issue, but many of these numbers involve management and union representatives. The very people who should be setting a positive example. Imagine a line check airman pounding on a female pilot's door at 1 a.m. trying to get her to go out and drink with him on a layover during her captain upgrade training. When she doesn't go out with him he gives her a negative write-up with no recourse. What about a regional director who is talking to a chief pilot and check airman, discussing how a female pilot's pants fit and uses the term cameltoes. He's still a director. Think about the female captain who has her phone taken by a union representative, and he takes pictures of himself and posts them on her facebook page via her phone. She doesn't say anything because, "What good would it do anyway?" Then there is a female pilot who is touched and harassed, and when she turns the union representative down and walks away he throws something at her, she turns and it hits her in the eye, sending her to the emergency room? She doesn't do anything and asserts, "He was just messing around." Fear of retaliation and being labeled is real.



The extent of sexual harassment today is not just about off-color jokes or dirty pictures in the cockpit that we experienced years ago. It wasn't long ago that I listened to a phone recording from a captain to a flight attendant who was working to become a pilot. The message her captain left was that she "would make a better flight attendant than a pilot, and the only reason a woman should be in the cockpit is to give a pilot a blowjob." Airline management took no action when this was reported.


What makes a captain, a regional director, a chief pilot, a training captain, or union representative think they can behave this way? Perhaps it goes back to the culture of the airline. If a married airline VP gets his assistant pregnant and nothing happens to him despite senior management knowing, or a CEO who sleeps with flight attendants, and gets one (or more) pregnant, which becomes the talk of airline, this type of behavior sets the example for all others. The numbers in the FAA report don't lie.

I highly recommend you read Dr. Kern's article:


Enjoy the Journey
XO Karlene





Monday, May 30, 2022

Solutions to Mental Health

By Improving the Cultural Environment

Last week in the post: Mental Health and Culture, I presented the negative impact and power that corporate culture has on the mental health of a pilot, and how a toxic work environment can negatively impact any employee.  Today I want to share how airlines could improve the mental health of pilots, and the entire workgroup overnight, if they were truly concerned. 



With all the rhetoric about concern for pilots' mental health, I suggest there are some easy steps that could be taken to improve the mental health and associated performance of our pilots. 

1). Sign the pilot contract and remove uncertainty. There is absolutely no reason that airline pilots should wait 4-5 years, or longer, to get a contract to improve working conditions. The stress of this uncertainty is impacting the mental health of all your pilots, and contractual requirements are necessary to reduce fatigue. 

2). Airline management should honor Federal Regulations and stop extending flight crews to ungodly hours on duty via corporate "workarounds" despite the FAA's approval. Placing pilots on duty over 24 hours may be deemed a workaround, but that practice is in violation of any SMS. This practice is causing excessive fatigue and is a safety concern. 

3). Staff the airline properly to enable employee downtime. Granted, airline management allowed early retirement of far too many pilots to rid itself of the most expensive pilots, despite being allotted government money as a result of Covid. But two wrongs don't make a right. Fix your mistakes, don't cover them up with pilot pushing. 

4). Pay all pilots adequately versus paying some double time to incentivize pilots to fly fatigued. This statement circles back to point 1: Sign your contract. 

5). Management should be held to higher standards than those they lead. Hypocrisy angers most people, and the double standards of ethics and compliance sets the bar for other employees very low.

6). Scrap the doctor note requirement (that is easily obtained) and treat your employees with respect. Every U.S. pilot is required to sign a release asserting that they are fit to fly prior to departure. Unfortunately, some airline management has determined that these professionals cannot make that determination prior to arriving to the airport. Perhaps we should have a doctor sign the release at each departure certifying pilots are fit to fly, if pilots cannot be trusted to know their health. 

7). Allow pilots to use their allotted sick leave for mental health days without question. If a pilot were to have an argument with their spouse that has put them on edge, is dealing with a troubled teen, a crying baby, or just wakes up on the wrong side of the bed, that pilot should be able to use his or her allotted sick days for a mental health day. Those who know they should not be in a plane will act accordingly and call in sick anyway. If required, they will find a doctor to write them a note. No doctor will ever force a pilot to fly. My question is, why is the company forcing pilots to lie so the pilot can ensure a safe operation

8). Management should practice what they preach. Nothing sickens people more than observing behavior that contradicts the marketing mantra that is known to be false. 

9). Stop paying doctors to falsely assert pilots are alcoholics or mentally unfit because they report safety concerns. Meaning, stop retaliating and just solve the problem instead of killing the messenger. 

There will always be pilots with multiple issues outside the workplace that they are trying to deal with. The FAA wants those pilots to come forward if they need help. Everyone, management included, advises us to seek help before it's too late. The problem is, if all a pilot needs is some time to deal with issues at home, to exercise, sleep and get physically and mentally healthy, then wouldn't the first step be to take some time off? Why wouldn't that first step be to use their sick leave to get some much needed rest? If a pilot has sick-leave available, why is that pilot prohibited from using that time until he pushes himself to sickness or mentally breaks? 

10). The FAA should mandate that any pilot who needs time off should be allowed to use company allotted sick leave without question. 

“Take your time healing, as long as you want. 
Nobody else knows what you’ve been through. 
How could they know how long it will take to heal you?” 
— Abertoli


Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene