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(BusinessWeek)   Pay $100K to earn $21K as a pilot? That'll never fly   (businessweek.com) divider line 57
    More: Interesting, regional airlines, Air Line Pilots Association, labor shortage, U.S. airlines, service cut, small market, shortages, co-pilot  
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2905 clicks; posted to Business » on 13 Feb 2014 at 2:21 PM (41 weeks ago)   |  Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»



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2014-02-13 02:39:19 PM  
phdblog.net
"I'm jumping puddles for the next few months. Gotta earn my keep running leap frogs for the weak and weary."
 
2014-02-13 02:42:09 PM  
Not $100k idiots.

Okay to get your certificates, you're going to get through Commercial, Multi-Engine, IFR, CFII, to start.You'll then spend the next couple of years making hardly anything while you build hours. Sure at some point you'll end up doing small cargo and charter flights, until you eventually end up in a regional seat, and maybe a major airline seat next.

To get the first part though, it's going to cost you about $25k-$30k if you don't go to a ripoff 'school' or some such. The local community college is a great place to start, and the credits almost always transfer to a 4 year college in the home state (or more) for your bachelor degree. You'll end up spending another $20k-$25k (or so) on a 4 year degree, because you want the airline operations business degree so you have more choices to actually earn money before landing a major airline flight gig. $50k isn't bad, especially since the last $25k is spread out over about 4 years.

Do most pilots make enough? No, especially when they just start out as CFI's. (CFI is a sucker job, you're a contractor, you make almost nothing if you don't fly) The problem being you need the little plane experience to really learn how to fly. Teaching does make you a better pilot as well. Regionals, also, abuse their pilots horribly. My old CFI quit flying for All****t Air and went to flying for FedEx or UPS as soon as he could.
 
2014-02-13 02:45:33 PM  
People pay $100k for a Bachelor of Arts degree to make $21k too... Society has accepted that as an entry level salary for some people.
 
2014-02-13 02:49:15 PM  
This "crises" was created entirely by the US airlines cutting pay and benefits to maximize profits.  When pilots get furloughed and have to dig ditches (literally, i knew unemployed pilots who could only get work digging ditches or cleaning houses) to make ends meet, while saddling them with excessive debt for the flight training time and degrees (which are often separate costs and frequently not counted together in "student debt" for pilots) then complaining when nobody wants the jobs?

The FAA's taken steps to increase training requirements.  That's a good thing imho, though it does have short term implications as the steady stream of pilots who were just hitting 250 hours for their CPL are no longer qualified.  But once that gap gets filled in over time, the ridiculous salaries will remain.

While meanwhile their counterparts overseas are making 3x, 4x, and 5x as much walking in the door.

"Come join our program.  We'll train you to be a pilot, then you go to work for a regional."

Actually means

"Sign here.  When you're done you'll owe $150k in various debt, and we'll get you an interview with a regional for a chance to make $20k to $25k a year, where you can work 60+ hours a week, only get paid for your time behind the yoke despite the hours of planning and checks you have to do before the flight, may get furloughed for weeks or months due to "tough times", AND you get to "live" away from home for 20+ days out of the month in various hotels or apartments that you'll probably be splitting with 4 or 5 other underpaid indebted pilots.  Sounds good, no?"

Screw these guys, and hats off to the pilots who are in it for the love of flying.  I don't know how you put up with it.

/ PPL.
// almost.
 
2014-02-13 02:50:02 PM  
wow... so, if you learned to fly in the military, you make a lot more money by staying in the military.
 
2014-02-13 03:00:18 PM  
Seems to me this is one of those 'Invisible Hand of the Free Market' things in that if that the shortage is entirely the fault of the airlines not being willing to pay market rates (which are obviously much higher than they're offering) for pilots.

Pay too low, can't find people to fill the job.  Free Market Solution = Raise the pay sufficient to attract the necessary number of workers.

DUH.  COMPETITIVE WAGES works both ways, you shiat for brains corporate stooges.
 
2014-02-13 03:01:50 PM  

inglixthemad: Not $100k idiots.

Okay to get your certificates, you're going to get through Commercial, Multi-Engine, IFR, CFII, to start.You'll then spend the next couple of years making hardly anything while you build hours. Sure at some point you'll end up doing small cargo and charter flights, until you eventually end up in a regional seat, and maybe a major airline seat next.

To get the first part though, it's going to cost you about $25k-$30k if you don't go to a ripoff 'school' or some such. The local community college is a great place to start, and the credits almost always transfer to a 4 year college in the home state (or more) for your bachelor degree. You'll end up spending another $20k-$25k (or so) on a 4 year degree, because you want the airline operations business degree so you have more choices to actually earn money before landing a major airline flight gig. $50k isn't bad, especially since the last $25k is spread out over about 4 years.

Do most pilots make enough? No, especially when they just start out as CFI's. (CFI is a sucker job, you're a contractor, you make almost nothing if you don't fly) The problem being you need the little plane experience to really learn how to fly. Teaching does make you a better pilot as well. Regionals, also, abuse their pilots horribly. My old CFI quit flying for All****t Air and went to flying for FedEx or UPS as soon as he could.


I disagree.  More of the regionals are looking for degrees in aviation/aeronautics, or related fields.  To stand out above the sea of other candidates, having a degree helps tremendously.  It's no longer just certificates and MET time.

Tangent:
CFI isn't a sucker job if you enjoy it and can afford to be one (i.e. have a spouse working for better pay, are independently wealthy, or living with room-mates).  But you can see the caliber of people who are just transitioning, using their CFI position to build time before an interview.  That's the biggest problem - having people who don't really give a damn teaching others.  Imagine the quality of education if public school teaching gigs were just a transitional step to universities or something similar.   Some of my best teachers have been full time pilots who teach because they love it, or people who made their money elsewhere and teach because they love it.
 
2014-02-13 03:02:56 PM  

inglixthemad: Not $100k idiots.


Give us somewhere you're thinking of.  Because the nearest state-college aviation program to me sure seems to think it's closer to $100k. I'd been under the impression that they were relatively affordable as far as such programs go (not something I've directly followed), but I'm willing to be shown otherwise.  And that gets you to 250 hours, not 1500.  From the wannabe pilots I've talk to, trying to get that additional 1250 hours without paying for the plane (relying on taxi and CFI flying) could take many, many years.
 
2014-02-13 03:02:59 PM  

Nonrepeating Rotating Binary: Seems to me this is one of those 'Invisible Hand of the Free Market' things in that if that the shortage is entirely the fault of the airlines not being willing to pay market rates (which are obviously much higher than they're offering) for pilots.

Pay too low, can't find people to fill the job.  Free Market Solution = Raise the pay sufficient to attract the necessary number of workers.

DUH.  COMPETITIVE WAGES works both ways, you shiat for brains corporate stooges.


^ ^ ^
This.
 
2014-02-13 03:10:27 PM  
I hold commercial, multi, single, ifr, and am a pretty darn good pilot. But I never considered a job as a pilot because I like to eat regularly.

In fact, when I passed my commercial check ride some pro pilot buddies of mine gave me a case of the cheese-and-crackers (the kind from vending machines) as a joke gift saying that is what I'd be eating for the next 4 years.

But- from the airline's perspective, people don't want to pay for a ticket, costs are through the roof, and pilots are going away anyway. Just wait out the market.

/I *hate* the airlines
 
2014-02-13 03:14:13 PM  
Hooray for another race to the bottom. Remember folks, short term profits are always better - listen to those shareholders...

If I may suggest a process improvement for the airlines - anesthetize passengers and stack them to the ceilings like cordwood. No need for seats or other such nonsense.

/ 12 hours logged in cessna 150
// in the early 90s
/// Sr. Airline Analyst
 
2014-02-13 03:14:21 PM  

Gig103: People pay $100k for a Bachelor of Arts degree to make $21k too... Society has accepted that as an entry level salary for some people.


Where "some people" means unskilled positions.
 
2014-02-13 03:16:04 PM  

Charlie Crews' Zen Master: This "crises" was created entirely by the US airlines cutting pay and benefits to maximize profits.


Except, as the article clearly states, major US airline start at $61,000. The low pay is for small, regional airlines.

And the "crisis" is solely a result from federal regulation.
 
2014-02-13 03:19:02 PM  

Nonrepeating Rotating Binary: Seems to me this is one of those 'Invisible Hand of the Free Market' things in that if that the shortage is entirely the fault of the airlines not being willing to pay market rates (which are obviously much higher than they're offering) for pilots.

Pay too low, can't find people to fill the job.  Free Market Solution = Raise the pay sufficient to attract the necessary number of workers.

DUH.  COMPETITIVE WAGES works both ways, you shiat for brains corporate stooges.


You'd think that liberal arts majors would have a decent understanding of written English. Guess not.

This is what happens when you introduce disruptive government regulation into a market. If you multiple the flight experience hours by 6 fold, the cost of gaining experience skyrockets. You had an infrastructure built to give 250 hours, that now needs to give 1,500 hours. That means there are 6 times more people than there should be in flight school. Seats are limited, prices rise.
 
2014-02-13 03:24:15 PM  

Elzar: Hooray for another race to the bottom. Remember folks, short term profits are always better - listen to those shareholders...

If I may suggest a process improvement for the airlines - anesthetize passengers and stack them to the ceilings like cordwood. No need for seats or other such nonsense.

/ 12 hours logged in cessna 150
// in the early 90s
/// Sr. Airline Analyst


Look at the financials of the regional carriers; they aren't making huge bank by cutting pilot pay. They've cut expenses to the bone across the board and regionals are still losing money.

The simple fact is- airlines are a shiatty business. Fixed expenses are massive, fuel costs are doing nothing but climbing, labor requirements are high... And people expect to pay less and less to fly.
 
2014-02-13 04:10:31 PM  
Works on lawyers. Yeah, believe it or not 99% of them aren't Franklin and Bash pulling down 6 figures out of law school.
 
2014-02-13 04:22:16 PM  

pute kisses like a man: wow... so, if you learned to fly in the military, you make a lot more money by staying in the military.


Yeah, but "learning to fly" in the military increasingly means learning to fly one of these:

defense-update.com
 
2014-02-13 04:24:36 PM  
Pay $100K to earn $21K as a pilot? That'll never fly

And yet that's the same model used by American colleges, so it must work, right?
 
2014-02-13 04:34:28 PM  

Bullseyed: Charlie Crews' Zen Master: This "crises" was created entirely by the US airlines cutting pay and benefits to maximize profits.

Except, as the article clearly states, major US airline start at $61,000. The low pay is for small, regional airlines.

And the "crisis" is solely a result from federal regulation.


The crisis hasn't hit the majors...yet. That will take a couple years, but it will start to have an effect on them fairly soon.

You are pretty much right about the regulation, but the airlines are guilty of creating this perfect storm. They got the mandatory retirement age pushed back from age 60 to 65 because they weren't prepared to replace the baby boomers. Pilots starting reaching age 65 this past December. New rest rules were established, but, the airlines wanted 2 years to figure out how to adapt their schedules. That kicked in Jan 4th. Coupled with that is the new mandatory hiring minimums (certain schools are exempt from that rule). In the meantime, there was a large amount of stagnation at the regional levels. In this age of instant gratification, kids opted to do other things that paid much better rather than make shiat money and be stuck at the bottom of a senority list getting abused on reserve. I can't say that I blame them, either.

That brinigs us to now. The major carriers are starting to hire. There aren't nearly as many pilots leaving the military as in the past. People are leaving the regionals, and there aren't many people qualified to replace them. Those that are, are the ones who would be needed to teach anybody wanting to get in the industry.

See how there is starting to be a logjam in the entire system. Over time, the system will correct itself, but, that will take quite some time.
 
2014-02-13 04:43:55 PM  

Bullseyed: Charlie Crews' Zen Master: This "crises" was created entirely by the US airlines cutting pay and benefits to maximize profits.

Except, as the article clearly states, major US airline start at $61,000. The low pay is for small, regional airlines.

And the "crisis" is solely a result from federal regulation.



Major airlines don't generally hire pilots unless they're being poached from the minor carriers.  If I go to flight school, I'm highly unlikely to walk out with my flight time, certificates, and degree, and go straight to work for Delta etc.  They want pilots with several years working for smaller carriers (Republic, Mesa, etc) or hauling cargo.  So a major paying $61k a year doesn't help a new pilot getting into the industry.  That helps someone with a few years experience looking to make a living wage.

If the federal regulation you're referring to is the increase in hours required before piloting as a FO, then no.  I disagree.  That's just the catalyst that revealed the tenuous and/or dwindling supply of pilots entering the commercial markets for employment.  Airlines aren't short on pilots because of the increase in hours required for new-hires.  Airlines are short on pilots because the only pilots willing to work for stale bread and brown water are those who really love to fly, those who have invested so much in their training/career they don't want to walk away now, or those who are suffering through it in hopes of better days ahead.
 
2014-02-13 04:44:33 PM  

pute kisses like a man: wow... so, if you learned to fly in the military, you make a lot more money by staying in the military.


Of course. But in the military, you can retire after 20, then get your pension PLUS your airline salary and other perks in you mid-40s.
 
2014-02-13 04:45:50 PM  

valkore: pute kisses like a man: wow... so, if you learned to fly in the military, you make a lot more money by staying in the military.

Yeah, but "learning to fly" in the military increasingly means learning to fly one of these:


Good. Only a fool fights on their enemy's terms.
 
2014-02-13 05:25:34 PM  
I worked with a guy who was in the AF reserves. He was a pilot for American Eagle. He did everything while he was in the Reserves to be on Active Duty or call up or whatever it was called. He made more as a Major doing paperwork as the flight coordinator at one of the US Consulates for the AF than he did as a pilot. He stayed on active status and in the reserves until they kicked him out for time.

The pay cut and the amount of work he now had to do was almost laughable.

I see him on facebook in his pilots uniform and whatnot. He never says what plane he is flying or where he is going.

When he left the consulate, we went thru his desk and he had thousands of pictures of him, his girlfriend, her girlfriends, and ex girlfriends in various poses positions and states of undressed...actully...i don't think there were any clothes. his replacement wanted to send the box of pictures to southcom or jiatf south care of his commander but he shredded them instead.
his tech guy just wiped his blackberry when he looked at the pictures. phone was full of action shots.

My wife and I are friends with a long haul pilot from united and his family and he tells me a lot about the industry. some interesting stuff since i am a frequent traveller. he is an actual lead/captain/pilot for 747, 757, 767, 777, and a few more. he used to fly the china route. now he flies out of chicago. catches a flight out of fll or wpb or mia and gets to chicago where he is 'based' and then flies almost all domestic routes now. doesn't want the intl stuff anymore.
 
2014-02-13 05:35:51 PM  
The guy who comes out to fix my John Deere lawn tractor is a former Delta Captain.

So you've got that going for you.
 
2014-02-13 05:54:15 PM  
This thread again?
 
2014-02-13 06:22:42 PM  

Tanukis_Parachute: I worked with a guy who was in the AF reserves. He was a pilot for American Eagle. He did everything while he was in the Reserves to be on Active Duty or call up or whatever it was called. He made more as a Major doing paperwork as the flight coordinator at one of the US Consulates for the AF than he did as a pilot. He stayed on active status and in the reserves until they kicked him out for time.

The pay cut and the amount of work he now had to do was almost laughable.

I see him on facebook in his pilots uniform and whatnot. He never says what plane he is flying or where he is going.

When he left the consulate, we went thru his desk and he had thousands of pictures of him, his girlfriend, her girlfriends, and ex girlfriends in various poses positions and states of undressed...actully...i don't think there were any clothes. his replacement wanted to send the box of pictures to southcom or jiatf south care of his commander but he shredded them instead.
his tech guy just wiped his blackberry when he looked at the pictures. phone was full of action shots.

My wife and I are friends with a long haul pilot from united and his family and he tells me a lot about the industry. some interesting stuff since i am a frequent traveller. he is an actual lead/captain/pilot for 747, 757, 767, 777, and a few more. he used to fly the china route. now he flies out of chicago. catches a flight out of fll or wpb or mia and gets to chicago where he is 'based' and then flies almost all domestic routes now. doesn't want the intl stuff anymore.


Your friends sound like a kick.  Also, nice guitars in your profile.  What music do you like to play?
 
2014-02-13 06:50:54 PM  
This is illuminating in the context of the "SKILLS GAP" talking point that's going around this suck-ass economy as some kind of justification for not hiring anyone.

When companies begin being willing to TRAIN EMPLOYEES and INVEST in their workers, things will begin to turn around. But thanks to NAFTA, we're in a race to the bottom.

I hear Mexican pilots are the schnizzle, though.
 
2014-02-13 08:09:37 PM  
This is why I got out of the industry.

Problem was, I had already spent the money. Still have the certs, collecting dust.
 
2014-02-13 08:13:59 PM  

Bullseyed: This is what happens when you introduce disruptive government regulation into a market. If you multiple the flight experience hours by 6 fold, the cost of gaining experience skyrockets. You had an infrastructure built to give 250 hours, that now needs to give 1,500 hours. That means there are 6 times more people than there should be in flight school. Seats are limited, prices rise.


I suppose in Libertaria Utopia, the educated consumer decides of his own free will which of the hundreds of available airlines have a sufficient long term safety record, actually inspect and maintain their aircraft, have skilled and experienced pilots and so forth, after doing his own careful and thorough research on the matter, right?

Meanwhile, back in REALITY, I want someone with a bit of experience flying that speeding aluminum can in the air.  Costs more than a Walmart greeter, you say?  Good.  It should.
 
2014-02-13 08:16:58 PM  

dead: I hold commercial, multi, single, ifr, and am a pretty darn good pilot. But I never considered a job as a pilot because I like to eat regularly.

In fact, when I passed my commercial check ride some pro pilot buddies of mine gave me a case of the cheese-and-crackers (the kind from vending machines) as a joke gift saying that is what I'd be eating for the next 4 years.

But- from the airline's perspective, people don't want to pay for a ticket, costs are through the roof, and pilots are going away anyway. Just wait out the market.

/I *hate* the airlines


I could have written this. 12 years ago.
 
2014-02-13 08:20:12 PM  

Charlie Crews' Zen Master: inglixthemad: Not $100k idiots.

Okay to get your certificates, you're going to get through Commercial, Multi-Engine, IFR, CFII, to start.You'll then spend the next couple of years making hardly anything while you build hours. Sure at some point you'll end up doing small cargo and charter flights, until you eventually end up in a regional seat, and maybe a major airline seat next.

To get the first part though, it's going to cost you about $25k-$30k if you don't go to a ripoff 'school' or some such. The local community college is a great place to start, and the credits almost always transfer to a 4 year college in the home state (or more) for your bachelor degree. You'll end up spending another $20k-$25k (or so) on a 4 year degree, because you want the airline operations business degree so you have more choices to actually earn money before landing a major airline flight gig. $50k isn't bad, especially since the last $25k is spread out over about 4 years.

Do most pilots make enough? No, especially when they just start out as CFI's. (CFI is a sucker job, you're a contractor, you make almost nothing if you don't fly) The problem being you need the little plane experience to really learn how to fly. Teaching does make you a better pilot as well. Regionals, also, abuse their pilots horribly. My old CFI quit flying for All****t Air and went to flying for FedEx or UPS as soon as he could.

I disagree.  More of the regionals are looking for degrees in aviation/aeronautics, or related fields.  To stand out above the sea of other candidates, having a degree helps tremendously.  It's no longer just certificates and MET time.

Tangent:
CFI isn't a sucker job if you enjoy it and can afford to be one (i.e. have a spouse working for better pay, are independently wealthy, or living with room-mates).  But you can see the caliber of people who are just transitioning, using their CFI position to build time before an interview.  That's the biggest problem - having people who don't really give a damn teaching others.  Imagine the quality of education if public school teaching gigs were just a transitional step to universities or something similar.   Some of my best teachers have been full time pilots who teach because they love it, or people who made their money elsewhere and teach because they love it.


The first isn't just the certificates, it's an Associate in Applied Science (AAS), includes you getting a 2nd class medical, Commercial Cert, ASEL, AMEL, IFR, CFI, CFII, High Performance, High Altitude, (complex is implicit with the multi-engine & commercial), and associated gen eds, plus an internship. The one thing it lacks is turbine time, but no regular school can keep a couple (insurance would kill) turboprops around. Realistically that's a small hurdle, because you'll move up doing other flights as your time is built. Small charter turboprops being the most common.

Next, you will be working on a Bachelors in Aviation Management typically. You can do 95% of it online, as some tests are proctored according to my old CFI.

CFI sucks solely because you're trying to make enough to eat and put a roof over your head. The way they're paid, it's rough. The average small FBO can't afford to pay 5 CFI's decently for being CFI's so they're often contractors (sometimes with a 'line' job at the FBO) that only get decent pay when they're flying with a student.

Well, my old CFI had a couple of special students. Only one in a decade that he suggested not continue as the guy seemed to be spatially challenged. He pinned the plane, HARD, every landing. He tried various things for a couple of months: had him fly with different CFI's, tried sims, everything he could think of, to no avail. No matter what visual cue tricks he (and others) tried to give the guy to help with landing. He still pinned it hard enough to flex (a lot) the Cessna gear and dragged the tires more than a few times.

Pity I guess, the guy was impossible to disorient (unusual attitude training) and could execute perfect turns. He just couldn't get the landing done without pancaking the landing gear.

I'm not a CFI, but I've debated it. I'm just too nervous I'd impart a bad habit on someone, and later they'd get hurt. CFI's have a lot of responsibility for the average 22 year old. Even older, I'm nervous about it.

-tips

Look at your close technical colleges - AAS with pilot certificates
Hang out at your local airport FBO's that do flight training
Get to know the cargo / charter folks
Definitely use an accredited Part 141 school, but not one of the pilot mills
 
2014-02-13 08:37:08 PM  

Charlie Freak: This is why I got out of the industry.

Problem was, I had already spent the money. Still have the certs, collecting dust.


Ditto. Working FSS but havent touched controls since 2011.

Buy the dream, live the nightmare.

Anyone who thinks that ~50k can get most ratings, you are right. However...paying off a 50k note on the salary of a CFI for a few years then a regional pilot for a decade or so is laughable. Add interest and forebearance to the mix and that cost just soared into six figures territory.

/would not recommend this career to anyone
 
2014-02-13 08:44:11 PM  

Outlaw2097: Charlie Freak: This is why I got out of the industry.

Problem was, I had already spent the money. Still have the certs, collecting dust.

Ditto. Working FSS but havent touched controls since 2011.

Buy the dream, live the nightmare.

Anyone who thinks that ~50k can get most ratings, you are right. However...paying off a 50k note on the salary of a CFI for a few years then a regional pilot for a decade or so is laughable. Add interest and forebearance to the mix and that cost just soared into six figures territory.

/would not recommend this career to anyone


The guy that got me into flying was a navy rotor jockey. He always said:

'Get a good paying real job, fly for fun.'

I heeded that advice...
 
2014-02-13 08:46:29 PM  
The only pilot shortage there has ever been or ever will be is high time experienced guys willing to work for cheap. The new guys don't have much choice of course. Unfortunately, the commuter airlines have gone from a small portion of the air carrier pie to about half of it meaning there are fewer good jobs than ever. To quote the VP of Operations at Mesa when I was there: "There's no pilot shortage. I can walk outside and say I need pilots and in 30 minutes there will be 500 of them standing out there."

I recommend FEDEX and UPS to aspiring pilots. Skip the passenger hauling biz. It's as bad to work for them as being a customer.

The CFI game is an evil trap but what can most guys do? I never liked that the most inexperienced pilots were doing the teaching. Same problem in the military. People always move on as soon as they can.

The comments on college are right on too. And how long until we beat up doctor payments until you can't get anybody to do that? The lower paid family practitioners are already hard to find in places. The race to the bottom continues.
 
2014-02-13 08:51:09 PM  
One last thing, a good school will have a similar statement:

'It is important to emphasize the concept of entry level in this occupational area; as a general rule, graduates of programs of this type cannot expect to qualify immediately for employment in Airline Pilot positions. The industry, as a whole, has developed a set of specific levels based on flight hours of experience.'

That's at least half honest. I'd prefer they'd tell you that you'll graduate with 250-300 hours, and you'll need another 250 to get in the seat of a small twin prop cargo hauler, 100 more yet for right seating small charter twins. That's before turboprop / turbine time...
 
2014-02-13 08:54:03 PM  
Crazy
 
2014-02-13 09:14:57 PM  

inglixthemad: One last thing, a good school will have a similar statement:

'It is important to emphasize the concept of entry level in this occupational area; as a general rule, graduates of programs of this type cannot expect to qualify immediately for employment in Airline Pilot positions. The industry, as a whole, has developed a set of specific levels based on flight hours of experience.'

That's at least half honest. I'd prefer they'd tell you that you'll graduate with 250-300 hours, and you'll need another 250 to get in the seat of a small twin prop cargo hauler, 100 more yet for right seating small charter twins. That's before turboprop / turbine time...


Haha, my school told me "You'll have a job lined up before you graduate. They're practically hiring warm bodies." Then the catastrophe that was 9/11 was simultaneously an opportunity for the airlines to completely gut labor and get the regs written in their favor. Fortunately, I saw this current problem coming, so I got out. Unfortunately, I had already spent the money (~$75k).
 
2014-02-13 09:21:25 PM  
My best friend flies for a regional carrier. We graduated HS together, he went to get his pilots license, I went to school for my EE degree. He got laid and I did math. 10 yrs later he makes bumpkis and I make more than that. He bemoans his lot in life since his salary is so low and he is responsible for ppl's lives. I call him a glorified bus driver. Flying with him when he was learning stalls was the most terrifying moment of my life.

/flew with him a few times as my pilot, that's pretty dang cool
 
2014-02-13 09:21:43 PM  
So are they saying that we pay these people to much and that the piloting needs to be totally automated?
 
2014-02-13 10:09:32 PM  

detroitdoesntsuckthatbad: My best friend flies for a regional carrier. We graduated HS together, he went to get his pilots license, I went to school for my EE degree. He got laid and I did math. 10 yrs later he makes bumpkis and I make more than that. He bemoans his lot in life since his salary is so low and he is responsible for ppl's lives. I call him a glorified bus driver. Flying with him when he was learning stalls was the most terrifying moment of my life.

/flew with him a few times as my pilot, that's pretty dang cool


Stall practice isn't a big deal. Set up, pull back, keep pulling back, further yet newb, controls go sluggish, nose forward a little, full power (if it was a slow flight stall), right rudder, ensure you're level with the horizon, start to retract flaps as speed allows.

Basically you're just practicing landings and go arounds. Takeoffs and pattern work take the most time. That's when you're crunching numbers in your head. Lots of checklist work as well.

Region of reverse command gets some people at first too.
 
2014-02-13 10:25:26 PM  
I've got my own horror story involving ATC, a company that's mainly a DoD contractor, a $40k tab and being aged out being hired by the FAA a month after I got my CTO license.

That being said, the pilot job is just two tiers above truck driver. There's the iron law of wages happening there.
 
2014-02-13 10:38:48 PM  

inglixthemad: One last thing, a good school will have a similar statement:

'It is important to emphasize the concept of entry level in this occupational area; as a general rule, graduates of programs of this type cannot expect to qualify immediately for employment in Airline Pilot positions. The industry, as a whole, has developed a set of specific levels based on flight hours of experience.'

That's at least half honest. I'd prefer they'd tell you that you'll graduate with 250-300 hours, and you'll need another 250 to get in the seat of a small twin prop cargo hauler, 100 more yet for right seating small charter twins. That's before turboprop / turbine time...


Those 135 freight jobs aren't there like they used to be. Most people go right from instructing into the right seat of an RJ. There are a few people who were lucky and got a right seat gig doing charters, but the vast majority come from instructing these days.
 
2014-02-13 11:01:12 PM  

Charlie Crews' Zen Master: This "crises" was created entirely by the US airlines cutting pay and benefits to maximize profits.  When pilots get furloughed and have to dig ditches (literally, i knew unemployed pilots who could only get work digging ditches or cleaning houses) to make ends meet, while saddling them with excessive debt for the flight training time and degrees (which are often separate costs and frequently not counted together in "student debt" for pilots) then complaining when nobody wants the jobs?

The FAA's taken steps to increase training requirements.  That's a good thing imho, though it does have short term implications as the steady stream of pilots who were just hitting 250 hours for their CPL are no longer qualified.  But once that gap gets filled in over time, the ridiculous salaries will remain.

While meanwhile their counterparts overseas are making 3x, 4x, and 5x as much walking in the door.

"Come join our program.  We'll train you to be a pilot, then you go to work for a regional."

Actually means

"Sign here.  When you're done you'll owe $150k in various debt, and we'll get you an interview with a regional for a chance to make $20k to $25k a year, where you can work 60+ hours a week, only get paid for your time behind the yoke despite the hours of planning and checks you have to do before the flight, may get furloughed for weeks or months due to "tough times", AND you get to "live" away from home for 20+ days out of the month in various hotels or apartments that you'll probably be splitting with 4 or 5 other underpaid indebted pilots.  Sounds good, no?"

Screw these guys, and hats off to the pilots who are in it for the love of flying.  I don't know how you put up with it.

/ PPL.
// almost.


The pilot time requirement increase by the FAA was solving a problem that didn't exist in the first goddamn place.  Plus, it was in reaction to the Colgan 3407 crash, which in no way was related to a lack of flying time (both had WELL in excesss of the 1500 minimum the FAA now says you must have in order to be a truly 'qualified' pilot), and was more of a crew rest/ crew training issue.

The 1500 hour minimum is just a feel-good edict that's good for generating news headlines and scaring idiots into thinking they're riding in a pressurized aluminum death-trap, just because their co-pilot doesn't have this magical arbitrary number scribbed down in their logbook.  I can get 1500 hours of flight time in my logbook flying Piper Cubs =/= me being a competent or able pilot.  If the FAA was really making the decree about 'safety,' then they would have specified a finite amount of hours required IN TYPE.
 
2014-02-13 11:11:57 PM  

Nonrepeating Rotating Binary: Bullseyed: This is what happens when you introduce disruptive government regulation into a market. If you multiple the flight experience hours by 6 fold, the cost of gaining experience skyrockets. You had an infrastructure built to give 250 hours, that now needs to give 1,500 hours. That means there are 6 times more people than there should be in flight school. Seats are limited, prices rise.

I suppose in Libertaria Utopia, the educated consumer decides of his own free will which of the hundreds of available airlines have a sufficient long term safety record, actually inspect and maintain their aircraft, have skilled and experienced pilots and so forth, after doing his own careful and thorough research on the matter, right?

Meanwhile, back in REALITY, I want someone with a bit of experience flying that speeding aluminum can in the air.  Costs more than a Walmart greeter, you say?  Good.  It should.


The big problem that I see is that information is nearly impossible to get.  Unless you find a ticket to fly on a big carrier with a new plane that hasn't hit the regional leasers yet it's a crap shoot if the plane you're on is really an AA or Delta or just a regional rental with the paint job and lousy interior.  When I flew an AA plane owned by AA, experience was alright, but when I flew an AA that was leased from someone else and just branded AA it was horrible.  I guess if you're paying full retail on the airlines website you could get the data, but if you use the travel sites you're probably not going to know until you get on the plane if it's going to suck.

Spirit airlines just blows goats.  I'll never get on one of those things again in my life.
 
2014-02-13 11:23:13 PM  

mrlewish: So are they saying that we pay these people to much and that the piloting needs to be totally automated?


Whenever I hear bullshiat like that, I bring this up:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hudson_River_Miracle

Stephen King wrote in the novella 'The Langoliers' (that they turned into the awful movie) something to the effect of "They want to pay pilots six figures to do checklists and follow procedures and, hopefully, never be really really needed. Every so often, one of us IS needed, and steps up. A few minutes of mortal terror and good decisions and lots of people walking away from a hopefully salvageable wreck."

Like, say, Cap't Sully in the above article.
 
2014-02-13 11:36:05 PM  

Outlaw2097: Charlie Freak: This is why I got out of the industry.

Problem was, I had already spent the money. Still have the certs, collecting dust.

Ditto. Working FSS but havent touched controls since 2011.

Buy the dream, live the nightmare.

Anyone who thinks that ~50k can get most ratings, you are right. However...paying off a 50k note on the salary of a CFI for a few years then a regional pilot for a decade or so is laughable. Add interest and forebearance to the mix and that cost just soared into six figures territory.

/would not recommend this career to anyone


One of my employees married a former Midway pilot.  This version of Midway shut down in 1991.  His could have gone to another regional carrier but would have had to start out at rookie pay.  He chose to drive a truck instead and says that the money is better and he's home every night.

I flew on a regional on Christmas morning 2013.  The pilot had to scrape the windshield.  I feel for those guys.  They have to love what they're doing to put up with what they do.
 
2014-02-13 11:38:10 PM  
ricbach229:

The big problem that I see is that information is nearly impossible to get.  Unless you find a ticket to fly on a big carrier with a new plane that hasn't hit the regional leasers yet it's a crap shoot if the plane you're on is really an AA or Delta or just a regional rental with the paint job and lousy interior.  When I flew an AA plane owned by AA, experience was alright, but when I flew an AA that was leased from someone else and just branded AA it was horrible.  I guess if you're paying full retail on the airlines website you could get the data, but if you use the travel sites you're probably not going to know until you get on the plane if it's going to suck.

Spirit airlines just blows goats.  I'll never get on one of those things again in my life.



Usually when you book your ticket, you can see "Operated By American Eagle/Chataqua/Piedmont/PSA" on that segment of the itinerary. Alternatively, if your flight number is 3000 or above on American, it is operated by a regional.

Also, agree on Spirit. Stay clear of them. Spend the extra $50 up front, you'll save money in the long run.
 
2014-02-14 06:11:33 AM  
I may be wrong about civilian crews, but aren't low-time pilots generally paired with at least reasonably experienced aircraft commanders? That's how it works in the military.

One of the new main issues we see with pilot errors is reliance on automation -without the hand-flying skills- to back it up. In the Middle East, AirBus380 flies YOU. The manufacturers and purchasers of the aircraft trust the machine more than the pilots.

The problem there is you've compounded the dangers. Now hand-flying is criminalized (yes, it's actually illegal for some procedures), so the proficiency to verify the automated procedures is lacking, but a new requirement of being proficient in the automating equipment itself has arisen. The USAF fights pretty bitterly against overreliance on automation, but that's not the economic thing to do for the commercials. Better automation means lower time guys can get in the seat and fly. But when emergencies come up, they don't know how to handle them, or the aircraft, manage a crew, or make timely decisions.

/Pilot
//USAF aircraft mishap investigator
///did I do these right?
 
2014-02-14 10:30:31 AM  

Charlie Crews' Zen Master: Tanukis_Parachute: I worked with a guy who was in the AF reserves. He was a pilot for American Eagle. He did everything while he was in the Reserves to be on Active Duty or call up or whatever it was called. He made more as a Major doing paperwork as the flight coordinator at one of the US Consulates for the AF than he did as a pilot. He stayed on active status and in the reserves until they kicked him out for time.

The pay cut and the amount of work he now had to do was almost laughable.

I see him on facebook in his pilots uniform and whatnot. He never says what plane he is flying or where he is going.

When he left the consulate, we went thru his desk and he had thousands of pictures of him, his girlfriend, her girlfriends, and ex girlfriends in various poses positions and states of undressed...actully...i don't think there were any clothes. his replacement wanted to send the box of pictures to southcom or jiatf south care of his commander but he shredded them instead.
his tech guy just wiped his blackberry when he looked at the pictures. phone was full of action shots.

My wife and I are friends with a long haul pilot from united and his family and he tells me a lot about the industry. some interesting stuff since i am a frequent traveller. he is an actual lead/captain/pilot for 747, 757, 767, 777, and a few more. he used to fly the china route. now he flies out of chicago. catches a flight out of fll or wpb or mia and gets to chicago where he is 'based' and then flies almost all domestic routes now. doesn't want the intl stuff anymore.

Your friends sound like a kick.  Also, nice guitars in your profile.  What music do you like to play?


i'm white and middle aged...blues and classic rock and maybe some country (the two tunes i've played recently at gigs are both dwight yoakum songs- 1000 miles from nowhere and blame the vain). i also play bass and saxophone.

i mostly write a sort of jazzy reo speedwagon/boston type of stuff. i don't listen to reo (three songs in my ipod) but that is what someone told me some of my comopositions reminded them of...not sure if i should be happy or sad. I write what i like the sound of and what i like to play. I also write some dinosaur rock type riffs. if they were a little heavier, like sabbath, heaven and hell, or even a little acdc. my voice is way too smooth for what i like to listen too and wish i could perform.

i end up having to sing my own stuff because i haven't found a singer who had similar tastes and we meshed with (both directions). I'm an only child so that might explain a lot too...
 
2014-02-14 10:31:38 AM  
There's almost zero reason not to be a criminal these days.
 
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