Real Answers from Real Pilots

Scheduling and Time Off during Training?


(Blake Johnson) #1

Hi all,
I have been reading through most of the discussions today and i’m encouraged to see i’m not the only one wrestling with some of the same questions/concerns.
I did have a few questions I didn’t already see about the actual training process and working as a CFI.
With the full time ATP 180 day program, is there any flexibility with taking time off? Say you have a trip scheduled before you start training or you’re in a friends’ wedding and need to take some time off, is that possible in the program or not realistic until you’re a CFI?

As far as scheduling goes, I get that seniority is key for ‘winning’ trip bids but what do you do on ‘off’ hours when not flying? Since you’re paid for flying, are there other ways to supplement your pay to help with loan debt or is that not realistic? 85-100 hours a month leaves 60-75 hours of ‘workable’ time.
Is that FAA limit going to change you think with pilot shortages or is that similar to DOT (dept of transportation) hours which keeps drivers from working too many hours and not being ‘sharp’?

Sorry, realized that’s a lot all together…
thanks!

Blake


#2

Good questions Blake,

As for the time off you have SOME flexibility but not a whole lot. The program is based on consistency. If you need a day here or there it should be fine but I wouldn’t be planning any vacations in the middle. It’s a commitment and the training is based on preparing you for the airlines. Trust me if you ask for time off during airline training you’ll end up with ALOT more than you bargained for!

First off as much as the airlines would love it, it’s a matter of safety and the rules just changed but the max time is the max time period. Many pilots I know have side jobs since flying does leave you with a significant amount of down time. Problem is in the beginning (when you really need that cash) is when you have the least amount of control over your schedule. In that case you need to find something that gives you flexibility (real estate, internet sales come to mind). The other thing is most airlines have an Outside Work clause in their contracts that states you must have any outside work approved by the company. The idea being they don’t want you doing anything that could conflict (even perception wise) with being an airline pilot (the airline doesn’t want you walking into the cockpit and some passenger recognizes you from the strip club last night etc).

Adam


#3

Blake,

Welcome to the forums and thanks for posting! As to flexibility in the program, there really isn’t very much. One of the ways that ATP is able to train you so quickly is by making maximum use of the time available. I would recommend finishing your trip before you start training. As to the wedding, they might be able to work with that, depending on how much time off you need for it. That is a great question to direct at the admissions counselors as they could give yo the final answer on that.

I chose not to work on my time off, but many pilots do work. Flying 85-100 hours per month will take you every bit of 18 days, leaving 12 days off. Of course you will need time to rest up, cut your grass, do laundry and spend time with your family, etc… The pilots that work side jobs typically do things that have flexible hours like financial planning or selling real estate. It would be difficult to have a regular job. Your best bet is to enjoy your time off and figure out how to live within your means. Remember that your pay will increase over time as you move up in the industry. I wrote an article about pilot pay, you can find it here: What Do Pilots Really Earn?

I do not see the FAA flight time/duty limits changing. The FAA just had a major overhaul of these rules in 2014. The update addressed some fatigue issues in the industry and was a positive change for us, right now the unions and airlines seem pretty happy with them. 100 hours in a month is a very full schedule and refers only to 100 hours of actual flight time. That does not include all of the time that pilots spend on duty before, in-between and after flights, or the time spent in hotels.

No worries on posting questions, that is what we are here for. Keep them coming. I look forward to working with you as you explore this career option.

Chris


#4

Looks like Adam beat me, he is always the fastest :slight_smile:


(Blake Johnson) #5

Great info, thanks. And that makes sense about the commitment to the program. What about when you’re working, the days off you have, can you use those to leisure travel/vaca? Is there paid vacation? Guess these are general benefit packages questions.


#6

That’s one of the best perks of the airlines, the travel benefits. As a pilot you can pretty much jumpseat on any airline anywhere. This am I was in NY visiting family. The Hawaiian flight was full so I jumped on United to get home.

Most (if not all?) airlines offer paid vacation. How long and how much varies with seniority and the airline itself.

Adm


#7

A post was split to a new topic: Jumpseating


(Evelyn Aaron) #8

Hello all,
Can you offer some insight as to what some of the before, during, and after duties are that are mentioned in the above post?


#9

Evelyn,

Not sure which post you’re referring to?

Adam


(Evelyn Aaron) #10

Adam,
Chris mentions this in his post from July 10

“I do not see the FAA flight time/duty limits changing. The FAA just had a major overhaul of these rules in 2014. The update addressed some fatigue issues in the industry and was a positive change for us, right now the unions and airlines seem pretty happy with them. 100 hours in a month is a very full schedule and refers only to 100 hours of actual flight time. That does not include all of the time that pilots spend on duty before, in-between and after flights, or the time spent in hotels.”

My question is, what are some of the additional duties pilots are responsible for before, in-between and after flights?


#11

Evelyn,

An hour before a flight we meet in the weather room to begin reviewing the flight paperwork. This includes a detailed review of the weather at our destination and enroute, along with a discussion about how much fuel we are comfortable having. We also review anything that might affect the flight, like runway or taxiway closures. Then we head to the airplane. Immediately upon arriving I always do the exterior walk around to check for any damage to the aircraft. Upon returning to the flight deck I load the Flight Management Computer with all of our flight information. We also conduct a detailed brief about how we are going to handle the departure out of the airport that we are at.

At the conclusion of a flight we talk about anything that we could have done better or different on the flight, then shut the airplane down or turn it over to the next crew.

Inbetween flights we don’t really have any duties, I usually answer questions on this website :slight_smile:

Chris


(Evelyn Aaron) #12

Thanks for your response Chris!

Evelyn