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Deep cuts by airlines left some 100,000 pilots globally working skeleton hours or on long-term leave.

Deep cuts by airlines left some 100,000 pilots globally working skeleton hours or on long-term leave.

Photographer: Boris Roessler/picture alliance/Getty Images

Business
The Big Take

Out-of-Practice Airline Pilots Are Making Errors Back in the Air

Covid has meant months out of the cockpit. As countries begin to open up, mid-air mistakes are mounting. 

Back in the cockpit after time off recovering from Covid-19, an airline pilot forgot to start his plane’s second engine for takeoff, a mistake that could have ended in disaster if he hadn’t aborted the flight.

Another pilot, fresh from a seven-month layoff because of the pandemic and descending to land early in the morning, realized almost too late he hadn’t lowered the wheels and pulled out of the approach just 800 feet (240 meters) from the tarmac.