Real Answers from Real Pilots

Can I fly for a part 135 after I've reached 500 hours and still be a part of a cadet program?

(Aaron Levy) #21

Good point Tory, thanks for always leaving a helpful and informative reply.

(W) #22

I know this is not 100% on topic but I was considering going to Key Lime Air, based on centennial, CO at 1200 hrs for a year or 2 before moving to regionals. The reasons for this are that I would gain TPIC and they pay significantly more for their cargo captains then I could earn in the regionals. I was wondering if 2 years as a TPIC at a 135 followed by regional experience would delay or expedite my path to the majors?


I do not see the TPIC time doing much to help you with the majors. The majors want to see turbine PIC time in big, regional, jets, not small things like PC-12s.



I stand corrected on that one. Thank you.


(Arthur) #25

Back to the original question. I was 32 when I started ATP (old self paced program). Flunked out of CFI training because I goofed the drag demo and my steep turns from the right seat. ATP wanted me to pay for and redo the entire course. I didn’t have the money so I left.

Ferried Cessna 172 and 182 for a large Cessna dealership in Texas for 7 months before getting hired at Great Lakes Airlines. Flew SIC on the 1900 (yes it’s legal to log the time and counts towards the ATP) for seven months before the company tanked. I had 578hrs when I was furloughed from my first airline. Thankfully I was hired by a 135 company 15 miles from my house with only 578 hours and received a full PIC type ride for the Cessna Citation 500 series. I currently fly SIC on a C550 basically making first year regional pay (again legal to log the time) and I’m up to 734hrs total time.

I say all of that to say this. Cadet programs/tuition reimbursement programs are all agreements between regional airlines and schools. No deals are made for those of us that are not associated with a school in some capacity. Also, yeah I fly a jet with less than 1,000 hours and yes I had GREAT experiences at Great Lakes like flying in to and landing a 1900 at LAX, PHX, DEN with less than 350hrs I’m also still clawing for my ATP rating at a pitiful rate. Guess where all my friends that finished training around the time I did in late 2016/early 2017 are? If you said the regional’s you would be correct and everyone of them was an instructor for ATP or another flight school except one. Oddly enough that one flew for Boutique after instructing for 500 hours. :man_shrugging:

(Arthur) #26

All the regional airlines are upgrading FO’s to Cpt as soon as they get their 1,000 hrs Part 121 time. The TPIC time doesn’t really mean anything these days in my opinion.

(Tory) #27


Your plan would take either an equivalent amount of time as instructing or actually be longer depending on how long you stayed there. I don’t think it would expedite your efforts to get to a major. Majors aren’t desperate like the regionals. The applicants are all competitive and slapping 1000 hrs TPIC on your resume won’t instantly skyrocket you to the top of the pile. Would it be a good experience? Absolutely. I’m not saying don’t do it, if that’s what you want to do.


(Jeff Hall) #28

Just FYI, I got more clarification around the matter from Boutique and it sounds like they have a lot of pilots come in with 500 TT and work there until they get to 1500 and don’t have any issues in logging their time. Apparently this used to be an issue, but there’s been a law change (as someone pointed out) that now allows FO’s at 135’s to log that time as PIC.

I’m not saying you’re wrong or anything, but in talking with other pilots on other forums and other places, it seems the industry from the perspective of someone coming up and building their time is moving faster than they can keep up. I’m still being told there’s no way in hell I’ll be making more than 20k a year base pay at the Regionals, and being told there probably won’t be a job when I come out on the other end. Of course there are no guarantees in life, but it seems like a pretty bet. I only say that because on the ground, the industry really is moving faster than people can keep up with.



I don’t know where you are hearing that regional pay isn’t more than $20k or that there won’t be a job for you. Both of those are totally counter to the way the industry is going.




I’m really not that surprised. Really the only reason I know what’s going on in the industry is due to my participation in this forum. Pilot’s who’ve been on the line for years simply never look back and most don’t care. You wouldn’t believe how many senior pilots I know who tell me “my child says they want to be a pilot but the Regionals don’t pay and you can’t get an interview, it’s so hard”! They all don’t realize how much things have changed over the years and when I show them they’re shocked.


(Jeff Hall) #31

Pilots I’ve met in person, aviation facebook groups, aviation youtube channels, and a couple other places.

That’s what I’m saying though, it’s clearly incorrect info from pilots in the majors who aren’t as in the know as folks who are going through training or are current in the regionals. Hell I even had a regional captain tell me that it’ll take me 10-15 years to make any money…which clearly isn’t true either. It seems like the industry is moving really quickly and it’s kinda hard to keep up with it, so it’s I just think it’s a good idea to always be open to new info.

(Tory) #32

Before I query you, know that no offense was taken. Just very confused. So, I respectfully ask you, $20k/yr first year FO pay? No job on the other end? On other end of what? 1500 hours? Or after upgrading to CA at a regional?

From experience and current knowledge that is far from the truth. $35-$50k first year is a more accurate ballpark number.

As far as hiring, regionals are hiring anyone with the hours and medical. And upgrade times range from 0 months to 2 years is about average. I don’t keep track of all the hiring stats, but that what I’ve been hearing from my friends at other regionals.


(Robert Breen) #33

I certainly acknowledge and respect your opinion. I would like to point out that there are good 135 carriers out there - not all of which fall into the ‘low tier jobs’ category. I’m reacting to your comment suggesting the OP stay away from ‘any’ 135 carrier. I acknowledge that there are 135 operators out there that I’d stay away from. Heck, there’s 121 operators I’d stay away from.

I am employed by Cape Air (a 135 carrier) and an ATP commercial multi graduate (I did not complete CFI) with approximately 700 hours. To be clear - I am expressing my opinion and not speaking on behalf of my employer.

Some 135 carriers have developed their own gateway type programs. Cape Air just announced an agreement with Spirit airlines. They also have an agreement with Jet Blue. I’m not going to spell out the entire details of the programs here - if you’re interested just google search for it. It’s out there in the open. I was glad to see other posters called out some of the programs gateway type 135 freight operators have developed.

My point is simply this: Not all 135 carriers are sketchy nor are all of the jobs low tier jobs (I say this specifically comparing the pay and amount of flight time accumulated over time).

I think there are many paths to the airlines. I’m not aware of data that shows that flight instruction is necessarily the fastest or most proven track to the airlines. I believe (note: opinion coming…) the ‘to instruct or not’ question revolves around the state of pilot hiring. When airline hiring slows, flight instruction tends to be the entry level job low time pilots can get. As hiring speeds up (like now), I think the time and ‘proven-ness’ of a non-CFI path versus the CFI path equalize. And I acknowledge that situation will not remain constant. If the cyclical nature of airline hiring is what you mean by ‘proven’ - then I get your point. Flight instruction works all the time. But we are in good times with no end in sight, so I encourage people to take advantage of that if it suits your goals. It did mine.

I wish everyone a great future career no matter what path you choose! Safe Flying!



As I’ve been saying there are most definitely other routes than instructing and there are some decent 135 ops out there. BUT, the average newly minted commercial pilot doesn’t know who’s legit and who isn’t. People generally don’t like to advertise their misfortune but trust me there are ALOT of horror stories out there and we hear about them daily. Cape Air is a fine organization and have been around for a long time but for every Cape Air there are dozens of shady ops. AGAIN there’s a reason why the airlines will start paying out reimbursement money to CFIs and not to 135 pilots and why the 135 ops are soliciting airlines for relationships vs the airlines soliciting flight schools. That btw is your proof.


(Tory) #35

All good points, Robert. I especially like your comment about doing what’s right for you depending on what “suits your goals.” I’m always an advocate for doing what’s right for the individual. I have several friends flying, or have flown, part 135 and they all have/had positive things to say about their experience.


(Robert Breen) #36

The positive take-away here could be this: no matter who the potential employer is… Find someone you trust that is familiar with the operation and talk to them. Personally, I talked to a former pilot about his experiences. I talked to others who had flown with other former pilots. If you don’t know someone reach out to your network (everybody is constantly working on your network, right?) and enlist their help.

On the topic of gateway programs, I’m not familiar with who is initiating the programs in either the case of 135 operations or ATP’s programs. That didn’t matter to me. If I go to a regional I’ll still get the bonus money… But it’s not about the money for me. Everyone is after different goals and I completely respect that.

Best wishes in all of your careers, no matter what path you all choose! Safe flying!

(Jeff Hall) #37

I’m not quite sure you understood what I was saying Tory. I know those pilots are incorrect in saying that’s how much first year FO’s make.

(Tory) #38

I understand now. Thanks, Jeff.