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.
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.
Paula Williams: Just to get started, maybe you can tell us more about ab initio training. What does that even mean?
David Santo: Ab initio is a … I believe it’s a Latin word that stands for from the beginning. What we’re talking about here is how do we develop enough of future aviators, future pilots to meet the global demand. First, let’s talk for a second if I can about the global demand. The numbers that are being put out there by Boeing, they’ve been validated by Airbus industries, they’ve been validated by the US Accounting Office, they’ve appeared in front page news, periodicals like the Wall Street Journal and the USA Today. It talks about needing nearly a half a million new pilots in our industry over the next 20 years. Ab initio is an old concept but it’s a concept of we may have to start training pilots from zero time to get them qualified to be airline pilots because they’re not coming through the ranks organically, naturally fast enough on their own. Ab initio is a way to streamline the pipeline of people coming into the industry all the way into the front seats of the airliners.
Paula Williams: That makes perfect sense. In a sense that means taking people from their very first lesson. Maybe people who are … You’re looking for high school or community college graduates or anybody in particular? Are there any qualifications to start an ab initio? I know it says from the beginning but there has to be something at the beginning, right?
David Santo: That really is dependent on the airline and the individual. You really have two types of ab initios. You have the self-sponsored ab initio. This is somebody who is looking to start maybe fresh out of high school or somewhere in the early stages of college. Honestly, nowadays it could be anywhere in their career. We have a lot of people that get into aviation late as a second or third career but they make the conscientious decision that they’re pursuing aviation as a job, as a career field. Really, they are ab initio students. It’s how quickly they dedicate themselves to accomplishing that task and some people will use schools like Cochise College, FIT, the 141 schools. They’ll go there to accelerate either their education or their time building to get done quicker so they can get into the job market. The other type of ab initio is somebody who’s being sponsored by an airline. Lufthansa has done this for many, many years. Lufthansa hired nationals from Germany. They sent them over to Arizona and they sent them to flight school really with zero flight experience. Now there is an advantage to hiring somebody with zero flight experience for the airlines and that is that you screen them not on their skill, you screen them on their aptitude. You’re screening them on are they a good cultural fit to your organization and then you train them to be the airline pilot that you want them to be. There are some benefits there. United Airlines did this in the ‘60s. Due to the Vietnam War there just wasn’t enough pilots available and they had to recruit people. At that time, Paula Williams, they were using people with private pilot licenses as a prerequisite. It really depends on the airline whether it’s self-sponsored, whether it’s sponsored what that starting point is. The end game is still the same and that is creating a pipeline that is a clear beginning, a gateway, all the way through a career preparation and hopefully placement.
Paula Williams: That makes perfect sense. If I’m going into an ab initio program as a self-sponsored student just to get an idea of what I’m in for, what kind of time and money requirements are we looking at? I know we’re going to talk about this in more detail later but just to get a broad picture of what that would look like.
David Santo: Some of the programs that we’ve worked with can accomplish zero time all the way through the commercial multiengine instrument and a type rating within as little as 12 months. This is based on the student being full time, fully engaged in the ab initio course. If we go through that pipeline they would come into the program having been pre-screened. We’ve seen screening tools like COMPASS which are aptitude tests that help identify before you spend the money whether you have the right stuff, if you will, to make it through the program. Then they complete their private pilot license, they complete their instrument license, they complete their time building for their commercial, complete their commercial license, their multiengine. Then they come to AeroStar for that finishing school, if you will. We do jet transition training. We do the high altitude, high speed aerodynamics and theory training. We can do CRM. We can do the new ATP/CTP course which is a requirement for the ATP written. Ultimately, our final stage of training of the pipeline is completing the type rating or A320, B737 crew qualification training.
We asked Captain David Santo if it is still a good career choice to be an airline pilot. This was his answer:
Paula Williams: Again, if you have a question, please feel free to enter it in the chat window. We’ll start with some that we had. Is it still a good career choice to be an airline pilot?
Captain David Santo: Well, I think so. I don’t think people choose to be airline pilots because they think it’s a great career choice. I think being an airline pilot is almost a calling. It’s a passion. I’ve dealt with so many pilots, including myself, that I didn’t know anybody in the industry as a child growing up. My parents were not in the industry, but yet, if you ask my parents they will tell you that this is something I always said I wanted to do. If you’re following a passion if it’s something you’ve dreamed about doing, it’s a great career choice. That being said, Paula, probably right now is the best time we’ve seen in probably twenty years to be getting into the this career. We went through a long lull in the industry, and like every cycle as that cycle comes out we’re now going to go into a very long cycle of strong growth, which means there’s going to be high demand and high demand means that there’s going to be career opportunities, betting pay, better benefits really for pilots all over the world. I am very excited for the young people coming into the industry. I’m excited for the people that are joining the industry later in their careers. They want to make a career change in their 40’s or 50’s and become pilots. Those opportunities are going to be there now too.
Paula Williams: Excellent. Well, it sounds like that’s good news. I know there’s a lot of people who look at some of the old movies some of the old Pan AM ads and things like and they say being an airline pilot is not as glamorous as it used to be. Is that true or what have you seen?
Captain David Santo: Well, I think that’s probably a true statement. It depend on where you’re at in the world. Here in North America and Europe I don’t think the airline profession is particularly glamorous. It’s not the Catch Me If You Can movie actor set, but some places of the world it’s still very highly respected career. I even here in North America and in Europe it’s a very well-respected career. It’s a well-paid career. I think there’s lots of benefits associated to it that I think the layman employee would not really have the options to do. Glamorous I’m not sure if I know if it’s glamorous or not, but I would say it’s been a very fun career. I’ve truly enjoyed it.
Paula Williams: Right. You still get to go lots of places. I think airline pilots still have a lot of perks being able to travel to places even when they’re not working things that other professions maybe don’t have.
Captain David Santo: If you’re a person who thinks that a career is doing a time card, punching a time card, coming to work at 8:00 in the morning, taking an hour lunch break, and leaving at 5:00, and doing that five days a week, I think that a aviation career is going to be very glamorous. We have the best window seat office view in the world at 35,000 feet. We don’t punch a time card. We have days off. We have a very flexible and almost a very irregular schedule. There’s a lot of things about it that if you’re something who doesn’t like to be in the mundane grind of every day at work, I think you’re going to find an airline career definitely not your average job.
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