In February 2009, Continental Flight 3407 crashed outside of Buffalo, N.Y., killing 49 people onboard and one on the ground. Although 3407 was painted in the colors of Continental Connection, it was actually operated by Colgan Air, a regional airline that flies routes under contract for US Airways, United and Continental. The crash and subsequent investigation revealed a little-known trend in the airline industry: Major airlines have outsourced more and more of their flights to obscure regional carriers.
Today, with regional airlines accounting for more than half of all scheduled domestic flights in the United States and responsible for the last six fatal commercial airline accidents, FRONTLINE producer Rick Young and correspondent Miles O'Brien investigate the safety issues associated with outsourcing in Flying Cheap.
What follows is a riveting expose from the an investigation of how low-cost airlines and regional carriers have changed the airline business and the sacrifices in safety that have resulted from cutting corners in safety, maintenance and training by the airline industry.