Transcript: Need to Know Rochester for February 5, 2010

Julie Philipp: Coming up on Need To Know the deadly crash of flight 3407 in Buffalo a year ago, leads to a PBS Frontline investigation into the perils of Flying cheap.

 

Miles O'Brien: "You get your money to get that plane from Newark to Buffalo."

 

Roger Cohen: "safety is the number one priority"

 

Julie: PBS Correspondent Miles O'Brien joins us to talk about what he found. And WXXI senior correspondent Peter Iglinski talks about his visit this week to the neighborhood where the plane went down. Also on Arts Friday on Need to Know the key to happiness.

 

Tony Caramia: "I don't go to work I haven't gone to work in 35 years."

 

 

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I'M JULIE PHILIPP, THANKS FOR JOINING ME FOR THIS EDITION OF NEED TO KNOW. THIS WEEK, THE NATIONAL TRANSPORTATION SAFETY BOARD RELEASED ITS FINAL REPORT IN THE CRASH OF FLIGHT 3-4-0-7. 49 PASSENGERS AND CREW, ALONG WITH ONE PERSON ON THE GROUND, DIED WHEN THE COMMUTER PLANE SMASHED INTO A BUFFALO SUBURB ON FEBRUARY 12TH OF 2009.  THE N-T-S-B REPORT CONCLUDES “PILOT ERROR” WAS PRIMARILY TO BLAME, BUT THE BOARD IS ALSO RECOMMENDING COLGAN AIR - THE OPERATOR OF THE REGIONAL FLIGHT - IMPLEMENT NUMEROUS SAFETY IMPROVEMENTS INCLUDING BETTER PILOT TRAINING.  THAT PROBABLY COMES AS NO SURPRISE TO P-B-S FRONTLINE PRODUCER RICK YOUNG AND CORRESPONDENT MILES O'BRIEN.  IN AN INVESTIGATIVE REPORT DUE FOR BROADCAST NEXT WEEK, THE PAIR WILL DOCUMENT PROBLEMS THEY UNCOVERED FOLLOWING THE FIERY CRASH.  IN A MINUTE, WE WILL TALK TO MILES O'BRIEN - BUT FIRST NEED TO KNOW BRINGS YOU A SNEAK PREVIEW OF FRONTLINE, FLYING CHEAP.

 

Miles O'Brien: We're not talking about average we're talking about human beings who are flying my grandmother to Buffalo. Right? Ok, so there are people there living this life and it seems as if they're in an untenable position economically.

 

Roger Cohen: Absolutely not because there are many other people who earn less money than that who work more days in these communities that can afford it and do it, do it responsibly. I just checked the web this morning, you can get a hotel room at the Newark Airport for $50 a night.

 

Miles: $50 a night after making $20,000 a year that adds up it adds up

 

Corey Heiser: very quickly. If you have a base salary of 12 hundred dollars a month, $50 a night for a hotel is gonna disapear relatively fast.

 

Miles:  And of course, I don't know if you've ever tried to find a hotel at that rate near Newark but...

 

Corey: it's not going to be in the safest of neighborhoods

 

Miles: Low pay and high living costs has created an underground housing market in the airline industry they're called crash pads. Some regional pilots let us in their crash pads in a Northeastern city if we agreed not to reveal their location.

 

Pilot: You can picture a 1 and two-bedroom apartment with 8, 10, 12, 14 guys in it roll out mattresses and sleeping on the floor, sleeping on the couch, sleeping on bunk beds, air mattresses, waiting in line for the shower.

 

Corey: I had a crash pad in Albany New York with nine people living in a small two-bedroom apartment guys renting out the couch rent out a big walking closet. And then you'd have 3 or 4 guys crammed in a little 10 by 10 room. Hardly better than a jail cell. We couldn't afford to rent our own apartment. We just did not make enough money to pay for that.

 

Miles: the lives of regional pilots may not be glamorous but they offered young pilots a fast track to the captain's seat. At the major airlines it took pilots on average seven years to upgrade from 1st officer to captain. but not at the regionals

 

Chris Wiken: At Colgen I upgraded very quickly. Within my 1st year I upgraded in nine months.

 

Miles: Boy in nine months you were a captain?

 

Chris: Yes, almost scary isn't it?

 

Miles: that's not a deep reservoir of experience in the cockpit.

 

Julie: WE NOW GO TO OUR SISTER STATION IN NEW YORK CITY, W-N-E-T, WHERE MILES O'BRIEN IS STANDING BY.  MILES THANK YOU FOR JOINING US TODAY.

 

Miles: Julie it's a pleasure, thanks for having me.

 

Julie: why was the plane crash in Buffalo such a watershed event?

 

Miles: A year ago there were so many factors at work that made that crash happen.  there were trends that had been building for a long time in the airline industry that a lot of people in the industry were fully aware of, certainly the pilots. The fatigue issues, the work rules issues, the pay issues, the training and the fact that these rgional, commuter airlines have become such a dominant player in the airline business. A little more than half of all of our flying is done w/ all these regional airlines. So all of that funneled in as factors on that accident, that's when you get a watershed, when all these things that have been a source of concern lead to an accident. Unfortunately we saw a lot of these things coming and  not much was done about it.

 

Julie: We have seen a lot of reporting done by the media about the safety of these airlines.  these airlines are so important to the economies of small cities like Rochester and Buffalo so it's an economic story, a safety story. How did you boil it down into a one hour Frontline?

 

Miles: There is alot of material that end's up on the cutting room floor.  You really have to boil it down to the essence of the story and what we discovered was the story that was told by the pilots themselves. the pilots who have lived this life it was so compelling and  revealing to see those crash pads this will speak volumes about how the industry has envolved.  We could have gone on about experts and trends. But all we had to do is look at the picture of a crash pad and suddenly you understand the life of these people who are flying you from point A to point B. It was difficult and yet it all came down to a few pictures and a few key interviews.

 

Julie:  This is the first time that some of the pilots have spoken publicly since the accident how did you get in touch with them and get them to open up to u?

 

Miles: Well I am a pilot and I converse with a lot of pilots and there are some forums where pilots exchange information. we dove into the water asking what people thought about the regional system about the way that the airline system has evolved. we were flooded with responses. And on top of that we went to some existing Colgen pilots who will remain nameless and asked them if there were recent departures from Colgen who'd be willing to share their story. It was not that hard to find people, because there are a lot of people out there who feel very strongly about this some people really wanna see this change. Chris has since left the business but he loves flying, he love aviation. he saw an industry that his dream was not about.

 

Julie: It's pretty obvious that industry officials were not so eager to talk about the Buffalo crash and problems with the industry. How hard was it to get that side of the story?

 

Miles: We tried repeatedly To get people at Colgen and they refused. we attempted on repeated occasions to get into a simulator  to get an idea of what happened on that night flying into Buffalo we were shut down in that regard as well. It all came down to the Regional airline Association, Roger Cohen who basically sat down and sat in the hot seat for us and took the heat for an entire industry. It would be nice to hear from the industry a  little bit more from the big players and comment ~ he spoke little bit about continental and the regionals and the history behind it but the fact is that the people who are sitting in offices right now would not hold themselves accountable to us in this documentary and I think that unfortunate I think they owe us more.

 

Julie:  I think people are wondering why there seems to be a different standard between pilot training and experience for these regional airlines compared to the major airlines. Can you explain that at all?

 

Miles: Well there is one set of rules. The FAA sets the bar at this level for all the airlines large or small thats a change that occurred back in the mid-90s when there was a series of crashes back then. There used to be 2 sets of standards now there is one standard. But the FAA standards many would suggest are too low the regionals absolutely meet the bare minimum the large players go way above and beyond those FAA minimums. there's a lot of reasons why they do that because crashes are not good for business if you want to be crass. But also what they discovered is there's a series of safety measures which actually help them on their bottom-line  find out problems the way that there flying approaches that can help them with require in fuel consumption that's how they save money by putting in the safety systems they're very expensive to get up and running the smaller players don't really have the capital to do it. So they're kind of scraping along at the bare minimum of the FAA standards and it's not the same. And here's the rub,when u get on that flight from Newark to Buffalo, it says Continental on the tale and you think you're getting continental safety but this is a regional airline that is operated by a different set of rules of the bare minimum compared to what continental does people need to be aware that they are getting a different level of service and had to anticipate it doesn't necessarily affect the paint job and the logo of the airline.

 

Julie: what surprised you most during this front line investigation?

 

Miles: It was this sort of aviation sweatshop that we have created in the airlines.  of this nobody's forcing people to take these jobs but they take these jobs thinking that they will one day be the captain a big airplane. So there's this huge carrot that's out there and they're willing to sacrifice tremendous amounts of sleep and commute long distances to get paid poorly to do that but I don't what I didn't fully appreciate was how much its affecting safety.  if you're making a 16- $18,000 a year in Newark.  you're not going to be able to live in that area in any reasonable way. So they commute from towns that are much less expensive.

what that does is put them behind the 8 ball the minute they begin their trip. They're young and they want to fly but the situation requires superhuman effort to fly these jobs. The other very interesting thing was how quickly these people end up in captain seats. There is not a deep resevoir of experience in these cockpits.

 

Julie: What do you think the viewers should walk away with after viewing it next week miles?

 

Miles: I think that they should walk away with their eyes wide open about what they're flying make sure that u see who is actually flying that flight in might say continental, might say delta but it's actually a different company. Insist.Push where u can if you have the opportunity to get some rules change so that the smaller players the bar is raised for them. so they have to play the same set of rules. Asking these companies to spend more money to raise their safety levels is a difficult thing.

 

Julie: thank u miles we look forward to front-line

 

Miles: Julie it was a pleasure

 

Julie: MILES O'BRIEN, CORRESPONDENT FOR P-B-S FRONTLINE, FLYING CHEAP.  MILES JOINED US FROM OUR SISTER STATION W-N-E-T IN NEW YORK CITY.  YOU CAN WATCH P-B-S FRONTLINE FLYING CHEAP TUESDAY NIGHT AT NINE RIGHT HERE ON WXXI

EARLIER THIS WEEK, WXXI SENIOR CORRESPONDENT PETER IGLINSKI WENT TO THE BUFFALO SUBURB OF CLARENCE CENTER TO TALK TO PEOPLE ABOUT THE AFTERMATH OF THE PLANE CRASH - AND THE IMPACT IT HAS HAD IN THAT COMMUNITY OVER THE PAST YEAR.  HE'S HERE NOW IN THE STUDIO, THANK YOU PETER. I know you are going to be filing some radio reports next week about this but can you talk about what life is like for the people on Long Street where the crash happened?

 

(Peter)  I think it depends where they were at the time of the crash.  I spoke to a barrista at the local coffee shop and she moved to Long Street less than a year ago after the crash and her perspective is a little different. She talks about some people who have moved out of the neighborhood because  they bascially had PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder but she finds it, the day to day, the warm, carring communities,  the kind of communitiy where they'll have block parties, they have their own the New Year's Eve ball drop, they do things but there's this constant reminder that things are different.  She feels that people are going about their day, they are coping quite nicely.  She feels the warmth,  they baked cookies when she moved into the neighborhood but there is that stress.  But I think for the people who were there at the time of the crash it certainly much harder than the others.

 

(Julie) You talked to the town supervisor of Clarence Center. What did you learn from him?

 

(Peter)  He's clearly proud of his community. They're coping.  He has no pretense about what to expect with the anniversary.  He wants it to be another step forward,  remember the loved ones and make progress, put one foot in front of the other, let the healing continue.  He doesn't see an end in sight for healing, there will always be that memory.  But he just wants the healing to continue.  They recently did a satisfaction survey in the town within the last year. 93 percent of the town's residents are satisfied with the town and its services.  He said that the consultant had never seen numbers like that.

 

(Julie)  So tragedy sometimes pulls people together. How are they going to mark the one-year anniversary of an event that is so hard to describe and digest?

 

(Peter) It's interesting.  Some people who were close to the tradgedy wanted nothing to do with the anniversary.  They are now coming around, they are now taking part in the planning, actually taking hold of the wheel.

There will be a 10 mile walk, starting at 9:30 in the morning from Clarence Center to the airport. Apparently there will be contingencies if there is horrible weather.  They realize in winter it can be dicey at times but they will be walking 10 miles to the airport.

 

(Julie)  Are there any memorials, flowers at the site, that sort of thing at this point?

 

(Pete)  Right now the owner of the property does not want a memorial there and there is talk about a park-like setting.  Not a park with swings and things like that but a park-like setting.  The town hall certainly has a memorial wall that has the jacket worn by the disaster coordinator that is framed, resolution from the state legislature and things of that nature.

 

(Julie)  Things having a long lasting impact on Clarence Center. Thanks.

 

(Peter)  Absolutely.

 

(Julie)  We look forward to your reports. IT'S TIME NOW FOR THE BUSINESS SECTION FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.

 

(Music)

 

 

(Julie)  MATT DANEMAN,  BUSINESS REPORTER FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE joins us fresh from New York City where you were covering the annual shareholders meeting of Kodak.  Tell us about that?

 

(Matt)  It's good to be back.  Kodak, in its annual shareholders strategy meeting, basically what they do is sit down with a couple hundred Wall Street investors, analysts, and layout the groundwork and framework a road map of where Kodak is going to go in 2010, 2011, 2012 trying to say as you watch this company here are the business lines that we are going to get into, he are the bench marks of how we think we are going to perform and things of that nature.   Kodak talked about a lot of things that it talked about in the past such as ink jet printing being a key part of this company and driver of profits for the future it hopes and some suprising new things like their direction of putting more of their film infrastructure into working in areas outside of strictly film.

 

(Julie)  There is some interesting, new ideas coming out with that.

 

(Matt)  Exactly, here's a company that's got factories and buildings and all sorts of equipment dedicated to the manufacture of film here in Rochester.  What they want to do now is use some of that technology know-how and go into other areas of business, for example gellatin is a major part of the manufacturing of film, Antonio Perez was talking about maybe they can make gell caps for the pharmaceutical industry.  They are already doing things like making circuit boards in Asia, using technology that is related to the manufacturing of film. This would never be a major component of Kodak's business but a sideline business of using its technology know-how of this other stuff for other industries so they can still use it productively.

 

(Julie)   They talked about where they are going, did they talk about where they have been? Obviously not the most solid financial footing, there has been this recession.

 

(Matt)  Definitely so.  Here's a company in 2010, best case scenario hopes to finish flat, lose a little bit of money after in pays for restructuring but they are not looking for solid growth in 2010, hoping more that that changes in 2011, 2012 and you could see on Thursday as the news came out and as Kodak was talking about this, Wall Street's reaction, Kodak's stock went down 10% for the day because, once again, here's a company  eventhough it indicates that it is coming out of the recession, that its sales are starting to pick up, for 2010 they are not looking at doing anything all that substantial or all that much improved so investors are not so hot. 

 

(Julie)  Lets move on to PaeTec and their plans for their headquarters in downtown Rochester?

 

(Matt)  Here's the situation of just more bad timing impacting a company. PaeTec announces that it's going to build its headquarters downtown, have a 1,000 people in there, the recession comes along, other business woes come along, the company's stock prices are quite a bit down and subsequently the footprint of that building has continued to shrink too.

 

(Julie)   Previously they announced they were going to shrink it a bit.

 

(Matt)   Exactly so, but from that original conception of it being the tallest skyscraper in Rochester now we are looking at a footprint of a building that could be three or so stories, it would house just 1,000 employees as opposed to haveing much more additional space for rental, for retail, for other offices. You can really see the plans that PaeTec originally had gone with become much more conservative.

 

(Julie)  Part of the reason for that is a little bit less money coming from the state?

 

(Matt)  Exactly so, and just like we talked about the finances of this company have really not been up to par from where the company had been when and the position of strength that it had when it first announced its headquarters.

 

(Julie)  Thanks so much for coming in today Matt.

 

MATT DANEMAN IS BUSINESS REPORTER FOR THE DEMOCRAT AND CHRONICLE.  AND NOW AN ARTS FRIDAY FEATURE.  LOCAL JAZZ PIANIST TONY CARAMIA IS CELEBRATING TWO MILESTONES THIS MONTH - HIS 20TH ANNIVERSARY TEACHING AT THE EASTMAN SCHOOL OF MUSIC AND HIS 60TH BIRTHDAY.  WXXI ARTS REPORTER BRENDA TREMBLAY AND VIDEOGRAPHER MARTY KAUFMAN PRODUCED THIS PROFILE.

 

MUSIC

 

Brenda Tremblay: When Tony Caramia realized he accidently scheduled a recital this Super Bowl Sunday, he was a little chagrinned

 

Tony Caramia: I'm calling it the Super Bowl warm up instead of having chips and dip come and see us dip and play piano and then you can do your Super Bowl.

 

Brenda: He doesn't have any interesting commercials he says only has 10 fingers playing a b-day themed concert of unusual classical and jazz gems he discovered through months of research.

 

PIANO MUSIC

 

Brenda: Tony describes himself as an uncomplicated guy who loves his daily work and his wife Lisa to who he's been married for 25 years he also likes to keep it open mind after three decades of teaching in performing he found fresh inspiration from pianist Fred Hirsch who visited Rochester in 2006. Hirsch held master classes with Tony's students and performed in Kilborn Hall.

 

Tony: so I gave this concert and it was wonderful and afterward he was signing autographs and I went to him and said thank you for being such a wonderful teacher to my students and he hugged me and I thought that was a very gracious thing. And he said anytime you're in New York look me up. Well I happen to be in NY the following January and I emailed him and asked can I come and take a lesson and he said sure. And that was the first-ever jazz lesson I have ever had.

 

Brenda: That lesson continues to resonate with the pionist.

 

Tony: He said It’s like playing tennis,  your right hand does something the left hand does something. He didn't play, he just listened to me. That has helped me a lot.

 

Brenda: Tony says his taste in music has changed over the years in the late '80s he dove into ragtime and composers such as Scott Joplin but as he turned 60 he found his passion for jazz reignited

 

Tony: I'm in fairly good health. I think that my work really does energize me and satisfies me. I hear too many times about people who don't like there work and probably make oodles more than I do and it's just not about that. My wife will attest to this I look forward to going to school I don't go to work I haven't gone to work in 35 years this is not just something that sounds nice I really can't wait to get to 26 Gibbs street.

 

Brenda: Tony Caramia will offer a birthday recital at 26 Gibbs Street this Sunday afternoon at 3:00 I'm Brenda Tremblay WXXI news.

 

Julie: YOU CAN LISTEN TO BRENDA EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING ON CLASSICAL WXXI-FM 91-POINT-FIVE.  I'M JULIE PHILIPP, THANKS FOR WATCHING NEED TO KNOW.  HAVE A GREAT WEEK.

 

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