The Skies Are Now in Question | Interview with Matt Sattler, Pilot
December 16, 2021
Matt has been an airline pilot for 17 years, with a perfect flying record. His career took an unexpected turn when he found himself, like many, facing down an employer-mandated vaccination policy. Matt is now embarking on a new venture called FreetoFly. Watch the interview here where he discusses his experiences during the Covid19 global crisis.
On Matt’s experience as a pilot in today’s aviation industry…
It was something that I wanted to do since I was about five years old. And you’ll find that’s a fairly common story that a lot of pilots have been lifelong aviation enthusiasts. I’ve amassed over 10,000 hours of flight experience all with a 100% safety record. I never failed an evaluation.
We were notified at the end of September that if we didn’t get vaccinated that our jobs would be temporarily terminated and potentially permanently terminated. Where we stand right now is we’re all on what they call unpaid leaves of absence. And the terms of that leave are six months without pay.
On airline employees affected by mandates…
Within my own company, about 55 [employees]. We don’t have exact numbers and across Canada, there’s several hundred. I would say in, in total, somewhere around three, maybe even 400 across Canada, this includes not just airline pilots, but different medivac pilots, as well as possibly even corporate pilots, government pilots and helicopter pilots.
On safety issues resulting from enforcing vaccine mandates…
There’s no question that it will absolutely impact the general safety of the industry. There are many very experienced pilots who have been terminated or put onto this leave of absence program and those pilots are being replaced by brand new rookie pilots.
Now, in theory, a rookie pilot does come into an airline with a fair degree of experience that they’ve amassed outside of that airline. So, it’s not life and death type of concern, but you are replacing those pilots who have the most, or a lot of experience with newbies.
There will be an appreciable effect, but to what degree, I’m not quite sure.
On restriction of movement and quarantine rules for travelers…
It’s really surreal that something like these mandates could happen in a country like Canada. Your ability to move freely, to feed yourself, to care for yourself is primal. There is no more of an inherent right than the right to one’s own self care. When you take something like that, so fundamental from somebody, it really means that the government is operating now from a place that is quite tyrannical. What I find curious about these types of anecdotes is how inconsistent and incongruent they are with science, if it was really a concern that this person was exposed to COVID then what benefit does it have sticking them into close, confined quarters with other potentially sick people. To me that seems like more of a super spreader event than a hockey game or a football game in the state of Florida.
On vaccine mandates in the airline industry…
In the previous 15 years prior to COVID, I think I might’ve heard of two pilots dying in flight. And then since the COVID vaccine mandates over the last year or so I’ve heard about six.