FRONTLINE exposes the major airlines' trend of outsourcing flights in "Flying Cheap"

Tonight, FRONTLINE will present “Flying Cheap,” a story about the airline industry and the dangerous safety issues associated with the little-known trend of major airlines outsourcing flights to smaller regional carriers. The story will focus on last years tragic Continental Connection Flight 3407 crash, which plummeted into a home in Clarence Center, New York, killing 50 people. Although the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 aircraft was flying under the name of Continental Connection, it was being operated by the regional airline Colgan Air.

The National Transportation Safety Board recently released their final conclusions on the cause of this crash and determined that pilot error was to blame. The NTSB also contributed the accident to Colgan’s inadequate training and ineffective operating procedures. The NTSB also said that “Colgan Air did not pro-actively address the pilot fatigue hazards.”

Today, regional carriers, which have a poor safety record when compared to major airlines, operate more than half of all scheduled domestic flights in the United States. In “Flying Cheap” FRONTLINE correspondent and veteran safety expert, Miles O’Brien, will investigate this trend and how it has affected the safety of our air travel. The program also vows to “examine how well the Federal Aviation Administration, the agency responsible for overseeing safety of the airline industry, has been doing its job.” This edition of FRONTLINE will air tonight, February 9, 2010, at 9 P.M. ET on PBS.  YouTube Sneak Peek