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The View From 33

ALPA Council 33 Newsletter
Capt. David A. Smith, Chair
The close of 1998 allows us to look back at the United Airlines pilot statistics from the UAL MEC pilot database. We hired 543 pilots in 1998; this is a little more than onehalf of the 1997 total. The average age of the United pilots (not counting those over age 60) was almost 49 years old. The average age of the 1998 new-hire was a bit over 35 years old. The UAL second officer seniority list has a total of 9,807 pilots.

On the seniority list, 425 pilots were over 60 years of age; of that total, 151 are on "medical/illness" status. There has been a definite decrease in the number of pilots electing to remain at United past age 60 over the past few years. In 1998, only 53 pilots elected to stay beyond age 60.

A few months ago United distributed its monthly publication, "The Pilot Schedule," which showed a bar graph of manpower requirements. At the bottom of this graph was a figure that purports to be a projection for "medical, etc." retirements for future years. The company shows this figure at around 103 per - year. The "medical, etc." label is rather vague but, regardless of its definition, it is grossly overstated. If we assume that 30 pilots retire early each year (historical average), then all these retirements (early, medical, termination. deaths, etc.) must be subtracted from the pilots' normal age 60 retirements. This was not accomplished on the graph in the "The Pilot Schedule."

The UAL MEC Membership Committee's data shows that United's graph overstates each year's retirement by 70 to 75 pilots. Normal age 60 retirements between now and the end of 2008 project to only 3,38 1. Even if you add up the overage-60 pilots by doing away with the S/0 seat, you get only 3,649. Deaths and early retirements do not increase these numbers, as they should be subtracted from their age 60 retirement-year figures. If you add up United's figures you get 4,546. We believe this to be an overstatement of projected retirements by a magnitude of some 20 percent!

Why the big explanation concerning this point'? Simple. Statistics can be used to prove any point a person wishes to make. The company put out a graph that paints a too-rosy picture of your upward advancement. The reality is that our simple database, with its extremely low budget, produces a top-notch, quality product. We don't believe the company was intentionally trying to mislead the pilots; we simply believe they were wrong.

Your union dollars pay for a lot of great things. One of the best is the small budget we give to maintain the UAL MEC database. Mr. Bill Powell is the expert on the issue of the United pilots and their statistics. As a retired United pilot, he works tirelessly on your behalf. The United pilots owe a large debt of gratitude to Mr. Powell. His work is simply amazing.

Thanks for your continuing support of the UAL Membership Committee.