Sir - Would W J Foden ("...but basically it's an easy job", Flight International, 13-19 March, P37) care to fly in aircraft piloted by people trained only for the aviation equivalent of a passenger-service or heavy-goods vehicle? I suspect that, if so, he would be alone in the cabin.

More serious are his remarks that, because the British Airline Pilots Association (BALPA) uses safety as an argument, " the context of working conditions, we have lost the intellectual argument".

The British Air Line Pilots Association has fought and gained the support of the European Parliament for changes to the Joint Aviation Authorities' proposals on flight and duty times, which will protect people like Mr Foden from themselves.


General Secretary


Middlesex, UK

...Aviation puts safety first, so the best people that money can buy are needed.

Candidates are carefully selected and only 5% pass modern airline-screening tests, so it is not the "vast majority of the population", who can do this "easy job".


Ober-Hilbersheim, Germany

...As a jet-transport captain, formerly in the Royal Air Force, I would like Mr Foden to state his qualifications for arriving at his conclusion. Training history, licence held, types flown and aviation appointments would do, to start.


Marlow, Buckinghamshire, UK

...Is Mr Foden a rejected airline pilot who has never made the grade, or a frustrated lorry or bus driver with delusions of grandeur? If the job of an air-transport pilot is such a breeze, why do British Airways and the Royal Air Force spend millions on the selection and training of the right candidates?


New Territories, Hong Kong

...I trust that the world's major airlines will stop squandering their resources on recruitment and selection and instead invest in larger car parks for the anticipated convoys of heavy-goods vehicles and "suitable training" for their drivers.


Swarkestone, Derbyshire, UK

...There is one huge difference between being in command of an airliner, rather than a lorry, bus, or train - you cannot park an airliner if anything goes wrong. Also, Mr Foden's assertion that "...the vast majority of the population could easily be pilots" is rubbish. They may learn to fly on a summer's day, but sit them in the left-hand seat of a Boeing 747 on approach to Hong Kong in appalling weather, and then they would see how easy it is not.


Lymington, Hampshire, UK

...There is no such thing as "an advanced level of decision-making" (except, perhaps, with the managers). What is important, is whether a decision is based on enough information - it is better to make a decision, than none at all.

Managers have days or hours to make a decision and, usually, a lot of money is involved. Airline pilots have minutes, or seconds, and usually many lives are involved, including their own, as well as money.


Huizen, Netherlands

...Mr Foden's letter raises the suspicion that he comes from a family of former lorry makers.


Manchester, UK

Source: Flight International