Questions and Answers about airline pilot careers for future captains and first officers.We’ll be asking questions about career opportunities.Featuring Captain David Santo, Airbus A320 Captain for Jetblue Airways and President of AeroStar Training Services and guests.This session is free to attend, but seating is limited, so register today! Sponsored by AeroStar Training Services, LLC
Title: Airline Career Workshop Date: Wednesday, November 12, 2014 Time: 1:00 PM – 2:00 AM MST
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Pilot shortages are becoming a major issue for regional airlines and will soon include the major US airlines as well. Rule changes that require co-pilots to have more flight experience in the United States have caused major problems for smaller regional carriers. Some have had to ground flights because there aren’t enough qualified people for their cockpits. When Republic Airways declared bankruptcy recently, its CEO blamed the situation, in part, on a nationwide pilot shortage.
Meanwhile in Asia, the huge growth in demand for air travel has also led to a shortage in qualified pilots. For example, airlines in China have actually had to look abroad. Some are even offering outrageous salaries and perks to lure pilots from countries like South Korea & Vietnam.
It seems like becoming a pilot is a good career choice, not just because it is a “dream job” for many, but because it looks like qualified pilots will be in very high demand in the future. They will enjoy job security and command high salaries.
There is one thing standing in the way of would-be pilots: the high cost of education and the even higher cost of fulfilling experience requirements.
Strict experience requirements
It was not always this way. Until a few years ago, novice pilots could learn on the job. They would graduate from flights school and get a job with one of the smaller regional airlines as a co-pilot after having logged as little as 250 hours of flight time.
The pilot shortage is really a shortage of pilots. The low entry requirements changed after a series of incidents involving pilot error on regional airlines. The last straw came in 2009, when a pilot and co-pilot’s mistakes were blamed for a crash in Buffalo, New York. All 49 people on board were killed when a Continental Airlines-affiliated Colgan Air turboprop stalled and crashed near the Buffalo airport.
Soon after this crash, the FAA changed the rules. Co-pilots are now required to have 1,500 hours of flight time before they can fly commercially. Additionally, fliers must log at least 1,000 hours in the co-pilot’s chair before they are eligible to be promoted to pilot.
It’s becoming more and more expensive to learn to fly. With flight time costing more than $150 per hour in a 172, getting the requisite experience is very expensive. Considering that the first jobs that commercial pilots have are usually with regional airlines that pay far less than legacy carriers, it could take years before the cost of getting a commercial pilot’s license is recovered.
The other problem: the military is using fewer pilots as it relies more and more on drones for combat operations. This means that not only is it becoming more expensive for people to pursue a pilot license privately, but the previously-steady stream of military-trained fliers ready to enter the commercial aviation job market is also drying up.
What is the solution?
Regional carriers have asked the FAA to make some sort of allowance that will let them avoid the 1,500 hour threshold for co-pilot experience. The 1,500 rule will be up for renewal this fall, and some airlines are asking for a lower level of experience, saying that the 1,500-hour minimum is too high.
However, because of safety concerns, a return to a 250-hour minimum for co-pilots is unlikely. Airlines could start their own training programs, teaching novice fliers in-house and giving them the requisite experience in exchange for a commitment to work for a certain period of time.
Recently, Jet Blue launched a program that has gained a lot of attention in the aviation world. The airline accepted 34 people with zero flying experience and promised to train them and give them positions in JetBlue cockpits once they become qualified. The experimental pilot training program will last for four years. There is one major catch for the future fliers: the cost of this education is $125,000. Yes, they will have a guaranteed job when they graduate, but that is still a steep price to pay.
This kind of in-house training could be a way for novices to learn to fly without having to assume too much financial risk. If their education is successful, they will be able to earn the cost of tuition back while flying for a major airline (instead of having to work their way up through the regional ranks while making $20,000-$30,000 per year).
Also, some regional carriers have started to offer pilots-in-training jobs to help them pay for the cost of their education. The airlines then guarantee a spot in the cockpit when all the flight requirements have been met.
It is clear that something will have to change or there will simply not be enough qualified pilots to go around. At the same time, lowering experience requirements is not a very attractive option either.
Going overseas to build time
I work in a part 142 training center that provides Type Ratings in the A320 & B737 as well as the ATP CTP called AeroStar Training Services. Lately, I’ve noticed a trend of pilots going to foreign airlines in order to build their time. I’ve even seen students come over with less than 300 hours and get a type rating, then go over to Asia and start making $6,000 (tax-free) a month flying in the right seat of an airliner. I’ve even heard of pilots in that situation upgrading within a year or two to the left seat.
A friend of mine who was already in the left seat of a major US Airline was even going over there to fly because the job is so glamorous and the pay is almost double. In countries like Vietnam for example, being an airline pilot is just like the days of the Pan Am era back in the 1960’s and 70’s. If you’re willing to be away from home for a few years the benefits could be lucrative. You could potentially make back all the money spent on initial training within a few years. And afterwards come back to the U.S and land that high paying job with a major airline earning high salaries.
by Bryan Pilcher Pilot & Aviation Sales / Marketing Expert at AeroStar
2016 “Airline Industry Forecast” Air Transport World Magazine
We recently returned from the RAA convention and are very encouraged about the prospects for pilots starting airline careers.
The Regional Airlines (members of the RAA) are an important career step for many of AeroStar’s former students as they graduate to legacy carriers and wide-body pilot positions. Advancing through the ranks at a regional airline can set you apart from other candidates applying for Captain or First Officer positions at larger, more prestigious carriers.
Many regional airlines have realized that they need to provide additional incentives to attract quality candidates. Those incentives may come in the form of sign-on bonuses, training opportunities, and other incentives that make these positions more attractive than they may have been in the past.
Great, excellent Yassine from Tunisia is looks like he’s having a career difficulties, and again I apologize if I’m pronouncing names incorrectly but apparently put a lot of money into an aviation education and is not having much luck. But I know we, we’ve talked about this a little bit before, but if you have any thoughts from Tunisia or that area?
Captain David Santo –
So I don’t know specifically about Tunisia. I will say that there are certain areas of the world, that there is not a huge amount of growth going on, in the airline industry. So you have to be willing to go where the demand is. And right now, there is a demand in Asia. There is a demand in central and south America. There’s some demand in Europe, of course. There’s demand in the United States but it requires. So don’t get discouraged. You didn’t make a bad decision. You’ve made a decision, and now, if you wanna pursue this. You need to look at where in the world best fits your experience and go there and apply.
One of things that I find, I get, you know, some blogs and some feedback from people that talk about how negative it is. I grew up in Phoenix, Arizona. There wasn’t a lot of jobs in Phoenix, Arizona. I love being in Phoenix, my home is in Phoenix, my mom and dad live in Phoenix.
I left and went to Michigan because that’s where the flying jobs were. And it snows in Michigan and it’s a lot colder than my home in the desert in Arizona, but I did what it took to pursue the job.
Paula Williams –
Captain David Santo –
So my question back to Yassine is, are you willing to do what it takes? And if you do, then turn the glass upside down you’ve gotten a lot of experience already. Let’s look at how you’re gonna make that next step.
Paula Williams –
Right. So it’s only a bad decision if you give up and turn a different direction and then you come all this way for no reason.
Captain David Santo –
That’s correct, you can’t get discouraged. So many of my friends and colleagues from flight school, they did get discouraged. And what set them apart from, from me? I don’t have any skills that they didn’t have. What I did have was perseverance and I wasn’t taking no for an answer.
Paula Williams –
Here’s a, another similar one, looking for a first job. Has a type rating in a B737 NG. And in the, Ismail in the Maldives. So that’s what I understand a beautiful part of the world but there may not be a lot of demand there and you may need to move somewhere else.
Captain David Santo –
So that’s right. So again, same answer as before. I would look at where the biggest demand is and I would go after it. With a 737 type rating, that doesn’t mean just like any, just like getting your commercial, your multi-engine, your ATP. That doesn’t mean the jobs are going to come and look for you.
It just means you’re giving yourself a tool to advance your career by looking better in front of the, the pilot hiring committee or the pilot recruiter. You need to go out there and bang on doors. And I’m, I’m saying that fictitiously now because now it’s bang on email addresses I guess.
You need to be out here trying to get the job.
Paula Williams –
Captain David Santo –
You need to be out there showcasing yourself as a 737 NG type-rated pilot. And talk to them about how you’ve learned crew resource management, multi crew experience, jet time. What are we doing? And I would invite Ismail to, to contact me directly. He should have my contact information.
Let’s look at what you’re doing, I’m still here to help you. Just because you graduated and you’re gone, we still want to help you pursue your career dreams. So utilize the resources of AeroStar, call us up, let us know what you’re doing and we’ll do our best to assist you to take that next step.
Fantastic. And Jim from Brazil says he was flying a B737. He’s a Hawker 400 captain now jet, jet transition instructor. Okay, I guess that wasn’t really a question, so we’ll move on. Let’s see, and here’s another one.
I’m 52 years old, I’ve always dreamed of flying. 30 years ago I took some, took the theoretical courses in France. Today I train with the flight simulator, is it too late for me to make a career as a pilot now? This is Robin from Guinea.
Captain David Santo –
So Robin I never think it’s too late, the current retirement age is 65. I know that at my airline, we have hired new hires that have been 60. I don’t know whether there’s been anybody hired older than that, but I believe so. So, you really, you know, the, the clock is ticking.
So to get some years of experience in, you really need to do everything you can do right now to pad your logbook, build your time. But if you were hired by 55. So that gives you two or three years, of really getting all of your time built up, your experience built up, you will have ten solid years to work as a airline pilot.
Now after that ten years mandatory retirement at 65. As it looks today, and that might change it might go up. So, you could ride that, that bow wave if it does, but retired airline pilots, still have the opportunity to do things like ferry airplanes. They do maintenance flights, and they also become Sim instructors.
So, I would say absolutely Robin if this is something you wanna do don’t wait, come on over the water’s fine and I think you’ll have a good time doing it.
Questions from aspiring pilots about the “Time Building Conundrum”
Paula Williams –
All right Eduardo from Spain says I would like to earn a B737 type rating. I have an an ATPL, well I’ll let you read all the letters there.
And I would like to know what is the best, easiest, and least expensive way to obtain the type with Aerostar.
Captain David Santo –
Okay, well and it’s not just with Aerostar it’s gonna be with any 142 school we certainly appreciate your business, but we want you to look at every other option and see what’s best for you. First of all EASA. You’ve had some wonderful training. EASA’s very well recognized as being a great organization for requiring a lot from their pilots.
The first step is to go to www.faa.gov and apply for validation of your current experience. Once you get your current experience validated, then you need to think about the written examination. Do you have valid ATP written exam results? If you don’t, the FAA has recently passed a new requirement for the airline transport pilot certification training program.
Very similar to the EASA Multi Crew Coordination course. You do need to take that course regardless of your experience. Right now, there is no waiver for it. So a 142 school like Aerostar can offer you that course. That then get you the prerequisite met to take the ATP written.
Once you’ve got the ATP written done, you’ve got your validation of all your experience, you’ve met all the logbook requirements for the ATP. Come over and do a type rating course with us. And out of that type rating course, we’ll be able to add the ATP certificate. And the A370 or 737 type rating are all in one one checkride.
Paula Williams –
Great. Here’s one from Fourati from Tunisia as you know airlines do not hire any pilots with low hours and there’s a lot of jobless cadet pilots type rating costs a lot and is not terribly affordable profession must work on a solution.
So first of all, I would agree with you. I wish there was a better solution for the industry. Although this is an age-old problem. This is the exact same problem that I had when I was coming up through the ranks. Nobody would hire you without multi-engine time.
And nobody would give you multi-engine time to get hired. And yet, we all made it. So how did we all make the leap? If we all made the leap, you can make the leap too. Now first of all, I’m gonna push back on you. And say airlines do hire low time pilots.
If you don’t think they do, go look in Asia. Go look at VietJet. Go look at Indonesia. Go look at China. Go to the websites for the aviation recruiters, like Rishworth or VOR Holdings. For the first time ever, they’re starting to actively hire first officers. But in your particular region of the world, it may be true.
It may be true that there isn’t gonna be a low time pilot job opportunity. So what are you willing to do to pursue the career? Are you willing to go to Asia and fly for a while? If that’s your option, boy, I would jump on that. What a great experience, it’d be a great adventure.
And when you come back, you’re going to be the top of the stack. Cuz you’re going to have lots of experience. Do I agree there needs to be a better solution? I do. I don’t have the answer for that. I’m just trying to provide the solutions that work within the, the context of what we have in the industry now.
Paula Williams –
Right. So you just look at the cards you’re dealt and play them the best you can. And sometimes you have to go somewhere else to get better cards. [LAUGH].
Captain David Santo –
And, and, and I do wanna reassure, all of us did it. I had 250 hours once. Every single one of those airline pilots the 50 some thousand that we saw on the previous table, had 250 hours once. We all made the leap, and you can too.
Paula Williams –
Right. And here’s a real similar question 265 hours and a commercial ME and a Type Rating.
Captain David Santo –
So what can you do? So Pablo, there’s a couple different pathways. Number one, there’s flight instruction, that’s the old proven pathway to build time is to get a flight instructor job. And the good news is, the schools right now are losing their flight instructors at an alarming rate So there are opportunities to go instruct. It’s a great way to give something back to the industry. It’s a great way for you to build your experience. And nothing teaches you how to fly better than helping to teach somebody else. However, if you don’t want to do the flight instructing route, there’s still other routes out there.
There’s banner flying. There’s towing gliders. There’s flying bank checks. There’s freight jobs out there in single engine and twin engine airplanes. There’s the commuters. Right now, you can’t get on with a commuter, by the way, until you have 1,500 hours, so you got to build some time to get to those.
The other thing is I was saying to the previous question. There are job opportunities outside the United States. And you should consider those. If you have the ability to travel to Asia and to work in the Asian market, you might actually be able to land a job flying an Airbus or a Boeing.
It’s not going to be easy. You’re gonna have to go beat on doors and make your own opportunities. But nothing worthwhile in life is gonna come easy. It’s all gonna take a lot of effort and work, so keep your options open. There are a number of venues out there, there are a number of avenues out there to build time.
The first thing is build your single engine time to get to that 1,500 hours and get your ATP. Once you get your ATP, I really think you’re gonna be snapped up very quickly by the commuters.
Right. Jesse from Ohio says, I’m making $300 a day, 7 days a week on a UPS feeder route. How can I move into a jet job without taking a pay cut?
Captain David Santo –
Well, first of all, Jesse, I flew 206s and 207s. Flying bank checks for a company called Air CSI out of Phoenix, Arizona. And so I understand in fact, there was a point in my career where I thought the 208 caravan was such a cool airplane that I would never make it there, so you’re in a good position, the pay is awful, this is a stepping stone job.
You need to be applying to a twin. You need to build that multi engine time. Even though the Caravan is a great airplane and it’s turbo prop, need to try to make the next move into the regionals, and that might be a pay cut. I don’t know the answer to that.
But it’s gonna be a worthwhile pay cut if you can build up some multi engine time. There might be some alternatives. Maybe on the weekends you could go get a job as a multi engine instructor. Or you could find a, a job working as a first officer flying a twin.
You might even look at a company like Cape Air. Where you might be able to make a move fairly quickly from. Right seat to left seat. But the regionals need you. If you have 1500 hours and you have an ATP and a multi-engine instrument rating, you are needed by the regionals.
But you may have to take a pay cut to go over there and get some jet time and some twin time. I would bite the bullet now, take the pay cut, so that you can make a huge leap in your career.
Right, sometimes it’s a short term versus long term strategy. Like chess you know, sometimes you go back to move forward.
From our Airline Pilot Career Workshop – Drew from Virginia asks – “I’m at a regional and looking to take the next step!”
Moving from the regionals to majors is a big key to success in an airline career.
Fantastic. Alright, Drew from Virginia says, I’m at a regional and looking to take the next step. Well Drew if you’re at a regional right now, congratulations because I think you’re in a great position. The regionals actually are going to be struggling to find qualified pilots to backfill because the airlines are hiring so many of the regional pilots.
And you guys are actually the best prepared. To make that next step. And I would say best prepared, here in the US. Of course those folks that went overseas, and are flying Air Buses and Boeing’s, they’re coming back, very well prepared too. To take the next step I would say be.
Be persistent in applying, the squeaky wheel gets the oil so you need to actively prove to the airline that you’re applying to that you’re a good candidate. One of the biggest mistakes that I’ve experienced from helping young men and women pursue this career. Is they put out an application and, and they think well it’s all on auto pilot form here.
It’s not. You’ve got to be updating your application as frequently as possible. You’ve got to be updating your hours. You’ve got to be going to the job fairs. You’ve got to be making yourself. The squeaky wheel. Getting yourself to the top of the application pool. Anything you can do to increase your professional standing too.
If you’re already typed in the RJ or the ERJ or the aircraft that you’re flying, that’s great, if you’ve completed your ATP, which I’m sure you have, those are things that are, clearly going to help you. You should consider whether a typewriting would help you to get on with an airline Jet Blue, With Spirit, With Virgin.
How much are you willing to invest now to make that next step sooner, so that you can get the bigger return on investment.
Fantastic. Well, let’s dive into the questions, and I know you’ve already kind of answered some of these, but, you know, we can kind of apply what you’ve talked about already to these questions. And if you want me to flip back to any of these slides while we’re doing this, we certainly can.
We’ll start off with a really general one. Abdullah from Vermont wants to know what advice do you have to be a good pilot? How to be a great pilot?
I think being a good pilot is being a risk mitigator. And anything you can do to mitigate risk. And that means, really studying constantly being prepared, take good care of yourself both mentally and physically. So that when the time arises and you need to deal with problems, you can deal with them methodically, systematically to make sure that you keep your aircraft and your passengers safe.
Right, excellent. Emre from Turkey. I don’t know if I’m saying that correctly so I apologize if that is not right. How many hours can a pilot fly in a day? What are the limitations, daily and monthly and how many days does a pilot work in a month? I know we touch, just talked about that a little bit.
So it does change regionally and I can’t speak to all the different regions. Even in the US now it’s a little bit of a formula because it’s based on what time of the day you started your schedule. But for a two-pilot crew, you’re limited to between eight and nine hours of flight time a day.
And you’re limited to somewhere between 12 and 16 hours of duty time a day. Duty meaning that, you are at work, flight time meaning you’re physically, taxiing out, flying the aircraft, or taxiing in. Now that’s the daily limitation. Weekly is. Approximately. It’s changed a little bit with the new rules.
Approximately 100 hours a month and it’s approximately 1000 hours, per year limitations.
Welcome to our Airline Pilot Career Workshop. And we’re actually really happy to have Captain Dave Santo with us and we’ll introduce him in just a minute. But you know, one thing that I was taught while I was growing up is the best thing that you can do. If you’re looking at a career or anything else, is to find someone who is in that field, and ask them every question that you can think of. And we don’t really get that opportunity that much these days. It’s not like you can corner a, an airline pilot in when you see one in an airport and just ask him any question you can think of. So, we have one cornered now.
We have one cornered now. And Captain Dave is really, really good at what he does and he’s very open to, to answering questions. So, thank you for joining us. This webinar will be 45 minutes. We may run a little bit over to, depending on questions and things like that, we’ll try and get everybody answer to the best of our ability. We’ve got a lot of people on the line today from all over the world. Participants are muted, but you can submit questions by typing them into the chat window at any time. Most of the questions we have in the slideshow were submitted to us when you registered for this course.
So thank you for those questions. And we’re really glad that you’re here. Please put aside your distractions and grab a pen. Cuz you’re gonna wanna take notes. And make sure that you are paying full attention. Cuz like I said, we don’t get this opportunity as often as we would like!
So captain Dave, welcome. Thank you for joining us.
Thank you, Paula. And thank you, John, for having me. It’s great to be with you.
Excellent. So can you tell us a little bit about what you’ve been doing with U.S. air carriers. And I know you’ve worked in private aviation. And, and several other places. You’ve even flown gliders. So, you’ve got a wide variety of experience in aviation.
Well, Paula thank you. In a nutshell yeah I started in gliders actually as a teenager. I had a job working at a Glider Port. What they call being a line boy which is young men and women who hook up the ropes and hold the wings for the glider during the launch. So, I’ve been doing that since I was 13. I came up through civilian aviation although I was very interested in the military it just didn’t end up being my path. And so in my pursuit of my career I’ve flown for on demand charter, I’ve flown air ambulance, cargo and corporate. I’ve flown small aircraft Cessna 206, 207 flying bank checks all the way up to 747-400s. Flying freight and currently I’m an A320 captain for a major U.S. airline.
Well that’s fantastic it sounds like you’ve done pretty anything that can be done maybe with the exception of helicopters, that’s pretty much everything else. [LAUGH] And of course this session is, is sponsored by Aerostar Training Services. LSE and you’re one of the founders of that organization.
I am, so, I have always kind of gravitated towards training. I’ve worked for a number of training departments and in a number of training capacities and when I had the opportunity to work as a found of Aerostar. An organization whose tagline is helping aviation career dreams take flight. That was very exciting for me and it’s been a privilege to be a part of trying to help others get high quality, low cost training on Air Buses and Boeing equipment. So, it’s been an exciting time in addition to my airline career to work with Aerostar.
Fantastic. And like I said, this is a great opportunity for people you know, who may be interested in an airline career to really dig in and, and ask questions. And you know, you’re very open to, I think, just about anything. I think we got a whole bunch on the slide show, but there are lots of people may not have thought of.
So if you asked a question when you registered for this session it will probably be included in this presentation. And if we don’t have time to cover you’re question we’ll, we’ll reach out to you personally. So, some of the topics we’ll be covering, career paths salary, a lot of questions were about that.
Quality of life for pilots. And so on and we’ll start with some general information. We’ve got about four slides that you shared with me, Dave, about the market in general. This first slide is about the approximate number of pilots in the major US Airlines, and I know that is a topic of interest to lots of people.
Yeah, there’s quite a few people of course in the airline industry right now, and the projection is for huge growth. Both domestic United States and of course around the world. In fact the largest growth is outside of the United States probably looking at Asia with something like 30.
5 to 39% of the growth over the next 20 years. There’s a lot of folks in this industry, there’s a lot of folks at different stages in the industry. And I try to focus on looking at the success stories. It’s not an easy career, it is a challenging career, it’s a very professional career.
But, there are a lot of people. I mean, look at these numbers. Thousands and thousands of people have made it to be airline pilots. If all of these folks can make it to be airline pilots, certainly anybody can who applies themselves, who work towards it. Now, I should be careful in saying anybody.
There are some innate skills that are required. There is some aptitude that is required. But, the vast majority of those people who really want this career, there is a pathway for success. And that’s what you’re seeing with
these numbers. There’s just huge numbers of pilots, who’ve actually succeeded.
Exactly. And growing from what I understand.
And there’s a huge number that are retiring. Off the top of, of all of these numbers. So, you know, if you look at the number that are required, and some of the demographics of pilots retiring. And also the growth in the industry.
It’s just a huge opportunity right now.
Well that’s exactly right. And so, one of the things we have to look at that’s very exciting. Is the growth opportunity out ahead of this over the next 20 years. There are some that will look in the rear view mirror and they see the past 20 years, and they try to say that the next 20 will look a lot like the, the last 20.
And that is absolutely wrong. In the last 20 years, we went through a huge downturn and, and kind of a, a lull in the aviation industry. The, this was precipitated by September 11th and the economic downtown and the housing bubble here in the US. Now, you’re seeing kind of a hiring tsunami.
Because, the airline industries are picking up. All of the major airlines are making money. All of the major airlines are hiring. And at the same time, there hasn’t been a lot of hiring in the past 20 years. So naturally, the people that were hired 20 years ago. They’re getting close to retirement.
Which means that it’s a double whammy for the industry, creating this hiring tsunami. A bunch of retirements and a lot of growth, means a lot of new opportunities for young men and women coming into the industry.
Right. And I know one of the things that you’ve mentioned to me is that in this industry, seniority is, is everything or longevity is everything. And I think this this chart shows a lot about that, and I apologize for the quality of this. We it wasn’t the best screenshot, but I think the information is important enough that we just picked it up and used it.
Yeah, but look at some of these numbers. I mean, wow. Let’s go out here to. This is major US Airlines, 8320 and similar first officers in the US. Let’s just pick a point on the ten year line. It’s more than $140, between $120 and $140 an hour.
How many jobs, professional careers, pay that kind of hourly wage? I mean, that’s pretty exciting stuff there. And if you want to do just kind of a rough average, if you, you anticipate that in a year a pilot will fly about. 1,000 hours in 12 months. That means that you could just take this number simply by 1,000.
So, if you’re making $120 an hour, it’s $120,000 a year income. That’s not including profit sharing, that’s not including 401K or retirements. So, anybody who says that this is not a lucrative career I challenge them to look at these numbers, it’s really exciting.
So, you said they’ll fly about a 1,000 hours a year, so is this based on flight time or work time.
It’s based on flight time John, so most airline pilots are paid based on some combination of the doors closed and the break released, or the doors closed and the aircraft begins to push back. And they are paid from that point until they part the airplane at the other end of the lane.
There is some time spent for example doing pre-flights and walk rounds that we currently industry standard, don’t get paid for.
Right, but the average is still pretty good. One thing I wanted to point out is there’s a huge difference between year 1 and year 5. So, you know, a lot of people that get into this industry feel that maybe the entry level pay is not what they would be hoping for. You know, especially considering you know, that some of them have accrued some debt in their education and things. So they’re taking a job in year one that may not be what they had been hoping for, but if you look at the difference between year one and year five. You know, in some cases it’s you know, between, it would take just the line for American Airlines, you know, from 65 to 125, actually more like close to 135 within the first five years.
Yeah, that’s exciting news, but even if you look at the entry level, the average there of the airlines is somewhere between 60 and $75 an hour.
So a starting income at 60 to $75,000 a year.
That’s still, when you look at the how that ranks with entry level jobs in America, I would say that that is nothing to sneeze at.
Right, I mean, you look at doctors that have their internships and everything else. And I mean, they go further in debt usually in their first couple of years of work as opposed to starting to have a lifestyle that is a little post-college [LAUGH] which is nice
We have to in all fairness, what happens in the career path is most pilots come out of college and they either flight instruct or they work as a flight instructor until they get a job with a commuter or a regional airline to build their time. So it’s not unlike a doctor in the fact that there is kind of this internship this time after college, but before you get on with a major US airline there is that time interval in the industry, and that time interval is becoming shorter, and shorter because of the demand.
So what we’re seeing in the airlines is people are, are post college. About three years, some five years are able to make that leap into the major airline. Well, if you graduate at 22 and you make the leap by 25 to 27. You’re looking at a lot of longevity, and if you do the math on these tables, you’re talking about millions of dollars worth of lifetime earnings, to get over there and get that seniority started as soon as possible.
Great, exactly, and then this next one is rates of pay as a 12 year captain. So this is kind of the the pinnacle of that arc and Dave, I know this is probably what everybody is, is looking toward. They want to be that experienced captain that has control over his life gets to choose his routes, gets to choose his planes gets to choose, you know, a lot of things based on seniority.
Let’s talk about the 12 year captain because that confuses some people.
12 years means 12 years longevity from new hire. So if you are a new hire into the airline at 27. And you make captain ten years later at 37. You are a 10 year captain. It’s not like you do your first officer for 10 years, and then you start over as a first year captain, that’s not the way this table reads. It’s a captain with 12 years total longevity with the company. So if you look at a 12 year captain, and, and you were to upgrade within 12 years, which I think is pretty reasonable right now within the major US airlines. You’re looking at being what, 39 years old and you’re, if you look at this line all of the airlines are hovering right around that $200 an hour level.
So you take that times 1000 hours a year, it’s $200,000 a year in in pay. That’s not including profit sharing, retirement all the other benefits. So for the nay sayers that are out there, and they, they are, they’re on the blogs and they’re on the websites, that say this isn’t this isn’t the way it is.
This is what the current airline industry pay is, it’s gone up a lot over the last few years. And I mean, that’s, if that doesn’t excite somebody with a return on investment. You make $200,000 a year before year 40.
So let’s just run the math, you’ve got 25 years left, at $200,000 a year. Well, every ten years you’re making $2 million, so you’re making $6 million from the time you’re 40, until you’re 64. That is not a bad earnings, especially when you look at you’re getting no less than 12, and more likely at this point in your career 15 days off per month.
Great, and just to explain some of the, the letters and numbers at the bottom of this chart. That’s the airline and then the aircraft type so, you know, if you’re kind of debating between aircraft types, it looks like the pay is really, really similar between an A320 family or a V737 family aircraft.
It’s just a, a question of which airline and, and where in the world you want to fly.
And, and I agree with that, that’s right. The, the A320, the Airbus, and the Boeing fleets are narrow bodies.
So a lot of the narrow bodies are very closely tied together. When you start getting into the wide bodies you start seeing a little bit more variance because of the size of the airplane, but this is a narrow body captain. This isn’t even your gross earning potential, and if you’re at American, if you’re at Delta, if you’re at United, this isn’t even looking at what wide-body captains make.
Again, gross earning potential is well above this if you go to an airline that has widebodies.
So you could take one step above this, and we don’t have that chart, but you know, that would be a a, a difference of possibly I don’t know if you know the numbers off the top of your head for a wide body captain, but what the rate would be for that?
You know, and I don’t know those numbers off the top of my head, I would anticipate it being about $50 to $75 an hour more.
Plus international override. So you’re looking at north of 250, close to $300 a hour. So you know, close to $300,000 a year, with the international override gross earnings.
Right, that makes perfect sense. All right one more slide and then we will start to get into the, the questions and this is kind of about the quality of life. The sick vacation and, and PTO, which is part time off, or paid time off.
And most of them have some combination of sick and vacation time available. And looks like Jet Blue’s the only one that does the paid time off, which means you could use it for either, that time that you have?
Yeah, I think that’s what the chart is reflecting.
Okay, excellent. So you know, a lot of people are concerned about the flexibility that you have as an airline pilot. And it looks like you get quite a bit of, of, of vacation and personal time with most of these airlines. And, of course, then you also have the benefit of being able to go somewhere to suspended right.
Well, that’s absolutely right. I mean, the career I’ve heard a lot of people say well, you know, the career isn’t as glamorous as it used to be. It’s no longer the days of PANAM and TWA and I would agree with them. However the earning potential, the quality of life the effort that’s been made by the professional pilot organizations to refine the quality of life, this is just a great profession to get into.
And it’s getting even better. So, you know, I have to laugh sometimes and pinch myself. Because here I’m already getting 12 to 15 days off every month. Which is in most occupations completely unheard of, making a six figure income, and then I get to take vacation. So if I want to combine my vacation, I can take one, sometimes as much as two months off.
In addition to my 12 to 15 days off per month. So I would say that the flexibility, the quality of life, the pay, the airline industry, if you have a passion for flying, it’s the whole package. But it’s got a lot of variables, and those variables are gonna be based on where you live.
Whether you have to commute to work or whether you can be reside in a base. Residing in a base means that your days off, you’re not commuting, increases your quality of life. There are so many variables here to make airline industry even better for you. But I think if you showed this to most people outside the aviation industry, they would be wow.
Now, there’s a reason why we get this. We’re gone away from our families a lot, so on the 15 days that we work per month, or 18 days, depending on your schedule, you’re gone away from home. A significant portion of that if you don’t live in base.
And so the airlines recognize that and they are trying to get you more time off at home with your family on the days you do have.
Right, at home with your family, or you get to take your family some really cool places, because you can use some of those benefits. That most of the airlines have. And I, I know, Dave, you’ve taken some really fun vacations with your family.
Well I have. I mean, every, every yeah we take family vacations, we use our travel privileges. And then the airlines reciprocate. It’s a program called fares where you can fly on other airlines. At a significantly reduced cost on standby. Now it’s standby, and that discourages some people.
But I’ll tell you what, we’ve had some great adventures, that we would have never been able to, really do or justify, had I not been in the airline industry. We’ve gone to Europe. We’ve gone all over Europe. We’ve gone to, Central and South America. And, I think that’s just a wonderful benefit.
I, I was just sharing before this program that my daughter, who has travel privileges, was able to do a weekend trip to, to Texas, to visit a girlfriend. Those types of opportunities that your family gets to enjoy is really priceless. I’ll share one more with you in a previous job I got hired with a major US legacy carrier and I wasn’t even out of initial training yet.
When my mom and dad decided to take a trip to Paris, France. To, it was a pretty proud moment for me that my mom and dad finally got to reap a little bit of the reward of helping me to pursue my aviation career.
That’s fantastic. That’s what it’s all about, isn’t it? I mean, to have those moments with your, your family when you can do what everybody wants to do and, and make everybody happy, so. That doesn’t happen very often. [LAUGH].
Well, when sometimes at the airline industry because it’s so readily available to us, we, we sometimes take it for granted. And we don’t talk about that being a benefit, but it certainly is. If you’re a person who likes to travel. And if you’re a person who doesn’t want to sit at a desk job, nine to five, Monday through Friday, grinding it out in front of a computer or a phone.
This is an occupation that allows you to do a lot of travelling, work flexible hours. See a lot of the world and get a lot of cool benefits.
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