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Pilot 'Crash Pads' Under Investigation in Loudoun; Officials Plan to Cite Owner

The nation's pilots, strapped-for-cash in a bargain-driven industry, often find themselves bunking with 20 or more co-workers in crash houses - dorm-like alternatives to expensive hotel rooms. They're a solution to underfunding in the airline industry which, some say, could be jeopardizing flight safety.

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By Sholnn Freeman
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, August 8, 2009

Loudoun County zoning officials have launched an investigation into a Sterling Park boardinghouse that was the subject of a Washington Post article Tuesday that examined the living conditions of some of the nation's regional airline pilots.

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Keith Fairfax, enforcement program manager for Loudoun's department of building and development, said zoning inspectors visited Thursday evening to determine how many people occupied the house. A pilot who answered the door said he declined to grant access.

On Friday, zoning officials returned with sheriff's deputies and an inspection warrant, Fairfax said. Officials say they will cite the owner for code violations and are further analyzing the information they gathered, he said. The owner will have 10 days to make corrections before a second inspection or face fines, he said.

The article described how some regional pilots share apartments or single-family houses, known as crash pads, near their airport bases so that they can have a place to rest between flights. Some regional airlines pay new pilots as little as $20,000 a year.

An online photo gallery accompanying the story on Washingtonpost.com showed a picture of the exterior front of the Sterling Park house.

Fairfax said he saw the image on the Web, and "I recognized the property." He also saw the house listed on the Web site Crashpads.com as a boardinghouse. He added that officials are investigating the living arrangements at two similar houses in the county.

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