I'm going to try to update more often now. At least there's been a lot of material in the news and in my personal life.
Today is the hearing on Colgan 3407. I've read the CVR transcript, it's pretty terrifying that the airplane did what it was supposed to do and yet we still had a crash. There's really no excuse for pilot error anymore, not with the sort of training we're given nowadays. I'm not in safety (though it's what I'm going to get my Master's in when I start that in a few weeks) but I know from experience that you're asking for trouble if you have a left-seat to left-seat upgrade between two different aircraft types. The accident would most likely have turned out differently if the captain had responded correctly to the stick shaker. 6.7 seconds of stick shaker is outrageous.
If I had flown the Dash 8 I could give better commentary, but from what my friends who are flying the Q400 tell me, you NEVER have the autopilot on during icing conditions. NEVER. And I think we're looking at, once again, a crew fairly new to the airplane using the AP to compensate for the workload they had.
The FO also had complained that she was sick and exhausted. She commuted from the Seattle area to the east coast for the trip, on a red eye. Now that's personal choice, but it's not smart. When I was based in SJU, my trips usually started at 0500. I commuted from MCO on a flight that arrived in SJU at 1500 the day before. This killed one of my days off, but the only other flight I could take arrived at 2100 that night, and I didn't want to risk being exhausted the next morning. You have to make sacrifices and realize your own physical limits.
As for calling in sick...it's a problem in the airline world. Personally, I get one or two sinus infections every year. I have a deviated septum and when I get a sinus infection it tends to last for 2-3 weeks. You can't call in sick for 2 weeks when you're flying the line, so at a point, you have to just decide to grin and bear it (usually at the point when I can survive without dayquil). You're not 100% but crew schedulers aren't airline pilots and don't understand that you need a few more days off.
It's funny how obvious, common sense things get a bit convoluted when they get mixed in with airline procedures.