Real Answers from Real Pilots

There's NEVER been a better time to start!

For as long as I’ve been on this forum (or a pilot for that matter) the #1 complaint/objection I’ve heard has been “why should I invest all this money in a career only to make substandard pay?!?”. This was in fact true when I got hired at a Regional back in 2005. When you filled out the online application the first page said “Your First Year you will make under $20k is this acceptable?”. If you clicked NO you were redirected to the “Thank you, Have a Nice Day” page. Even with the pay that low you still had to network your butt off, get 10 Letters of Recommendation (including the coveted “ATP Gold Seal” of approval on your resume), and endure a VERY stressful “Good cop Bad Cop” interview. Desperate times indeed.

Well here’s the latest from Trans States recruitment page. http://www.transstates.net/careers/Pages/pilots.aspx ALL that AND they’re recruiting vs pilots begging!

In short, quit your whining! There’s never been a better time to become a pilot. EVER!

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Adam,
Considering Mesa just increased its hiring bonus to $30,000 for the E-Jet or $22,100 for CRJ. I know Envoy and other regionals have hiring bonuses as well.

It is crazy to think $20,000 was the norm not that long ago.

Ryan

And at $20K we were the highest paid in the industry!

Crazy indeed!

This is awesome! Crazy to think that this is the standard nowadays! Also, the E-145 is such a beautiful airplane!

Are there any regionals that someone should try to get into or avoid? For example, (abc major carrier) recruiter says “oh, this guy is coming from (xyz regional carrier)… Yeah, let’s put him down for a ‘maybe’. Those pilots can be ‘eh’ at certain things.” OR “This guy is from (xyz regional carrier), can never have enough of these types of pilot!”

I seriously doubt that it’s like that, but just out of curiosity.

Yuran

Also just saw that as long as you have perfect attendance each month, mesa will give you $125 toward a crash pad for the first 6 months out of IOE. It’s not a lot, but just another perk.

Yuran,

I have to say I don’t believe so. The Majors recognize that most pilots end up at their respective Regionals due to location, convenience, a friend etc. You get hired right after being a flight instructor and aren’t expected to know the ins and outs of contracts and CPAs. While some Regionals might be better in certain aspects, none are bad and there’s no stigmas I’m aware of.

Adam

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I would agree with Adam on this one. The majors are going to look at the quality of your experience, amongst other factors. It really doesn’t seem to matter which regional you go to, on some level they are all considered to be the same.

Chris

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Hey guys, new to the forums here. I’ve been a CPL/IR in UK for 14 years…family illness prevented me from getting hired in the last “boom” - 2006, when all my buddies got hired, (many doing extremely well btw), so I have been driving HGV’s in London these last 10 years to support my family. I have kept my license alive, but on life support (IR every 4 years, except this year). Apart from one pilot position I secured, in which I did absolutely nothing…literally…then was let go, I have had zero interest in my CV for the seven years I have been actively seeking pilot employment. Until this year, when it has all gone crazy (ie a lot of interest in my CV, although sadly yet no job.). Hmmm… why am I mentioning all this?

Well for aspiring aviators I have been around the “wannabe” pool for a longer time than most. I have watched, as my age climbed (I am 41 now), and I got more and more depressed as the hope of landing a solid pilot job receded. Frankly I got real depressed for a while there. I didn’t spend £80k on a pilot certificate to drive a truck, however well paid it might be (£40k p/a)…but I have to say, things look real hopeful globally right now for aspiring aviators.

WRT this thread, I sense the excitement here, but as I understand things, in the US you need 1500 hours right? (Discounts for college grads. I know). Since the Colgan crash, and the 65 y/o’s retiring now, of course there is going to be a shortage in the USA of experienced crew. And undoubtedly this will = movement for cadets, but to say “hiring salaries are so much better than a few years ago” doesn’t mean diddly squat to a freshly minted fATPL grad with 250 hours.

It is beyond fantastic that pilot hiring is where it is at right now…every day I need to rub my eyes when I read the stats. to make sure I’m not dreaming…the world is critically short of pilots! But this does not automatically = “Part with $200000 right now because theres never been a better time to become a pilot!”. The route to the RHS is way more complex than this statement would make it seem.

There is a shortage of experienced crew. No shortage, as yet at least, of the 250 hour newbie. Important distinction to draw I feel.

Mark,

I appreciate you’ve been through some ups and downs and for that I’m sorry. Timing unfortunately can crush a career and one’s dreams. I actually was just having this conversation with a TSA agent who graduated with an Aviation degree from Embry Riddle, his ATP and was working for a Regional. 9/11 hit, he was furloughed, had small children and never found his way back. Let me also say I’m not that familiar with the current situation in the UK (or Europe in general). That all said I respectfully disagree with your response. You see right now here in the US, YES it really is that simple.

For all the reasons you stated the US is experiencing a major pilot shortage and the Regionals are hiring like crazy. I have friends who are in the training and recruitment and they literally cannot find enough bodies to fill classes. This is not a commercial for ATP (or any other flight school) BUT if you get trained, earn your licenses and ratings and build 1500hrs, YOU WILL GET HIRED! (There are of course caveats like no criminal record, limited checkride busts etc). Going to ATP that means 2-2.5yrs (9mos training 1-1.5yrs instructing) and $66k (a far cry below the $200k you mention) and you’re flying a jet for a Regional AND getting paid 3times more than I did as a Regional FO and more than I was paid my first year at a Major!

I’ll be honest, I’m not even saying that’s a good thing. Personally I believe the standards are being lowered AND the process has become so simple many people are taking things for granted. That means I’ll find myself sitting next to some new FO who doesn’t really appreciate the responsibility involved AND if/when things take a turn they’ll be very disgruntled since it all came so easy at first. But so be it that’s all above my pay grade. Bottomline, for better or worse, again it really is that simple.

Adam

Mark,

There are several issues with your post that I think need to be discussed.

The first thing to keep in mind is that this is a US based website, geared primarily for helping US pilots train and enter the US job market. You will notice that we almost never speak to the hiring situation overseas because we are not experts on it. We do however speak to the hiring situation in the US as it is exploding and has been for the last several years.

Flight training in the US, especially with ATP, should never cost $200,000. ATP’s full program costs $65,995, plus roughly $7,000 in examiner’s fees, plus some living expenses, so let’s say $76,000, which is a far cry from $200,000.

As regional airline salaries in the US has increased with the shortage, so has flight instructor pay as there is also a flight instructor shortage in the country. CFI pay now is almost four times what it was when I was a CFI just 13 years ago. This means that there absolutely is a shortage of the 250 hour newbie, at least in the US.

Chris

Hey guys, thank you for your replies.

Yes, thinking about it this morning at work, $200000 is patently ridiculous as a figure for me to suggest flight training will cost. However, I am sure I read that somewhere. As I understand things in the US pilots need to take a degree also? Perhaps whoever came up with the $200k figure was including the cost of the degree/ living expenses etc.?

I agree wholeheartedly that $200000 is not what pilot training will cost anybody. I apologize for making such a stupid statement!

Chris said

“Flight training in the US, especially with ATP, should never cost $200,000. ATP’s full program costs $65,995, plus roughly $7,000 in examiner’s fees, plus some living expenses, so let’s say $76,000, which is a far cry from $200,000.”

Whilst we now agree $200k is way inflated, I feel it is however important to state that whenever a flight training school posits a figure for the “full cost” of a program to ATPL, most people will need more hours than the stated minima for each section of training. And a failed check ride/ exam can increase the cost significantly.

Hey! I’m not here to rain on anyone’s parade! I love flying, I am glad I undertook the training, even though I am yet to land a job. Just be aware of exactly what you may need to commit to. My advice would be to take the school’s figure, and add 20%, to be on the safe side.

Adam said

“if you get trained, earn your licenses and ratings and build 1500hrs, YOU WILL GET HIRED!”

In effect, Adam, you are only repeating the point I was making, which is that in the US you will need to build that 1500 hours before getting hired…and that will involve significant work as, probably, a flight instructor.

I hope I wasn’t coming across as putting a downer on the career…most all of the guys I qualified with went on to have great success with major carriers across the globe. Some are training captains with Etihad, others short haul captains in the EU. And now is probably the best time in history to train as a pilot.

If you have that dream, and you have access to the funds to pursue it, go for it! I am still hoping I will get my chance soon. Things really are looking super positive the world over with regards to pilot hiring, and the shortfall in qualified crew looks set to get worse, if anything.

All I am saying is go into this with your eyes wide open. Add a percentage to your budget in case you need excess training (likely). Be aware that historically the airline pilot hiring cycle is one of boom and bust…aviation is very susceptible to political and economic events, and it only takes a major issue somewhere to turn boom into bust. And also, be aware that you are trying to get in to a career where responsibility is the name of the game. Nobody is going to give you the responsibility to pilot an airliner if you cannot even manage your own life responsibly. No drugs, no DUI, no criminal record. The US is even stricter on criminal records than the UK, where we have a system of rehabilitation of offenders. And if you do start training, make a good impression on your training colleagues, they will be your network in to a job.

Brother, I wish I had listened to all that advice when I was coming through!

Mark,

I said quite specifically 1-1.5yrs of instruction and no you do not require a degree to fly for an airline. The Majors prefer one but you can easily be a Regional Capt making $100k without (and I do a no a few at the Majors without, but it’s not an easy route). I also want to clarify that if you look at ATPs timeline there is no * or BTWs saying these times are minimums and yours may vary. Why? Because ATP guarantees their prices. How? Because ATP is NOT your average flight school. ATP was created BY airline pilots to TRAIN airline pilots. You can’t go to ATP and just get your PPL. The same way the airlines give you a VERY finite amount of time to complete your training so does ATP. You WILL complete you training within the allotted time. If you can’t then you may very well wash out. No it’s not easy but neither is airline training and that’s the point.

Listen I am all about going into this industry with your eyes open and the reality is not everyone can (or should) be an airline pilot. That said I stand by the title of this thread. IF you have the skills, intelligence and ability, There’s NEVER been a better time to start!

Adam

Hey that’s great! I don’t know too much about ATP.

Adam said

“Listen I am all about going into this industry with your eyes open and the reality is not everyone can (or should) be an airline pilot. That said I stand by the title of this thread. IF you have the skills, intelligence and ability, There’s NEVER been a better time to start!”

100% agree.

And I like the sound of ATP btw…a school created by airline pilots to train airline pilots. Instead of so many in UK run by businessmen to screw over pilots when the **** hits the fan! (CABAIR, SFT to name but two!).

I’ll look in to ATP. I like the articles run on the site fwiw.

Edit: I have just been re-reading the part where you say that you WILL pass in the allotted time. Sounds a little hardcore! Is there any margin for sub-par performance for whatever reason?

Mark,

Of course there’s some fudge factor and everyone certainly isn’t the Ace of the Base but to be honest it is hardcore. The program again is intended to mirror the airlines. While many flight schools will say “hey, no stress, take your time and you let us know when you feel comfy taking your checkride” the airlines certainly will not. Fact is many pilots who have invested a lot of time and money get to the airlines and wash out of training. The reason is the are ill prepared for the pace. One of the reasons ATP students have no problem getting hired is they have already demonstrated an ability to handle that pace. The truth is the program isn’t for everybody and people do in fact wash out. That said hard work and dedication can compensate for some deficiencies and sadly it’s the lack of hard work not skills that’s many a students downfall.

Adam

It is funny Adam, before I read your reply I was thinking to myself whether I could have dealt with that kind of pressure during training. I’m not sure. I am the kind of person who works better under pressure. If left to my own devices I tend to let things slip a little. Luckily for me I tend to up my game for check rides. I know for others it is the opposite. Probably for most.

However if someone is already struggling with a part of training, the added pressure of potentially washing out might be too much. The school might lose a potentially strong pilot due to performance issues due to stress and stress alone.

Let me tell you the story of a guy I knew. He desperately wanted to qualify, but he couldn’t pass his ATPL writtens. He was re-coursed for groundschool for two consecutive years, the school even suggested he knock it on the head. He carried on. Nobody thought he’d get through. Then after he nailed his writtens, he failed his IR SEVEN times. Eventually he passed.

He got a job with a regional in 2006.

Since then, without question, he has gone on to have the single most successful pilot career of anybody I knew or have known personally.

He is now a training captain on the A340 for Etihad.

It’s not always about first time passes or unblemished training records. Sometimes it’s about dogged determination and sheer balls and single mindedness to achieve your dream, even when everybody is telling you that perhaps you should stop.

I respect that guy so much.

Edit: I should point out that whilst this is undoubtedly an inspiring story, at least to me in my position, he had significant backing financially from his family. I don’t think I was able to afford to fail even one IR check ride!

Mark,

While I get your point and appreciate the story of your friend there is one GIANT elephant in the room. When I was doing my initial sims I had all midnite to 6am sessions and they were kicking my butt and my performance suffered. I was called in and asked, when I expressed that I thought it was the time slot they asked me what would I do if those were the flights I had would my performance suffer as well?

You say you’re friend has been “successful” and that’s great but the airlines don’t just train you hard to save money. There are far greater jeopardies involved than just checkride failures. While we work in an incredibly safe environment things at times do go awry and the stress can (and does) get very high. Not saying your friend isn’t a good pilot but the fact that someone buckles at the thought of being tested causes does cause concern and redflags for a reason. This is one of the reasons that the recent Airline Safety Act passed focuses heavily on past issues. I’m happy your friend has been successful but I have to be frank, I wouldn’t want my family sitting behind a Capt with 7 busts.

Adam

Mark,

I have to tell you, your story makes me cringe. Checkrides are meant to prepare and test a pilot, just like real world scenarios. Checkrides are meant to be stressful, just like real life flying is stressful. There are no second chances in an airplane, they can be very unforgiving, often with fatal consequences. I think that referring to a student with multiple failures as a “strong pilot” is a bit off, strong pilots don’t fail checkrides.

Failing seven checkrides is a big deal and yes, I think most schools would have let him go long before he got to that point. I understand that he got hired by Ethiad, but I can tell you with absolute certainty that no US based airline would have hired him and I strongly suspect that British Airways would not have either.

Chris

Well now you put it like that…Yeah I hear you. Great points well made.

I guess I figured that because he went on to Ryanair then Etihad after the regional that he must have upped his game. Some of the regionals in the UK in 2006 didn’t even give interviews. Hiring was done on recommendation. One pal of mine was recommended by another pilot, and all the boss told him when they met was that if he was “crap” the pilot who recommended him would “get a kick in the b**s”!

  1. Is it feasible that somebody might struggle so badly with the training for CPL/IR then find, after they gain a little experience, that multi pilot IFR, for instance, is easier than single pilot IFR? In other words might a committed newbie pilot find TR training/ multi crew (turboprop) airline flying easier than single pilot IR training?

  2. Do airlines still check initial IR pass rates when you are TR’d and have 1500 plus hours?

You seem like a good bunch of guys. And a solid, knowledgeable resource…(wow! I had to Google how to spell knowledgeable!).

Glad I found your site.

Mark,

  1. Well sure they would find it easier because it is. 2 heads, 2 brains, 4 hands and 4 eyes and ears make everything easier. Single pilot is difficult. Could I take off an A330 from HNL and fly it to JFK all by myself? Of course I could BUT it’s a heck of a lot easier (and safer) with a crew. Problem is what happens if one pilot “eats the fish” and becomes incapacitated? Or if the other pilot is just weak? Each pilot needs to possess all the skills necessary for the safety of themselves, their crew and passengers.

  2. As I mentioned since the Airline Safety Act was passed here in the US in 2013 ALL airlines must check ALL the pilot records.

Listen Mark, the fact is not everybody can or should be a pilot. I’m not saying we’re special, elite or anything of the kind BUT you do need a certain amount of intelligence, skill and ability to remain composed. If someone is continuously struggling they should probably do something else.

Adam

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