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Old 03-02-2005, 11:46 AM   #3  
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Joined APC: Feb 2005
Position: FredEx Captain-Retired
Posts: 408
Default More Encouragement Part II .Continued

Part II .Continued

So you press on.... Now, regardless of whether you went the military or civilian route, there‘s been some substantial risks. Throughout your career you’ve been subjected to annual physicals (in some cases, every 6 months) that could have easily disqualified you, forever, from your chosen aviation career field. On top of that, guess what, the FAA has been closely watching you every step of the way. Fail to pass the writtens - you’re history. Fail to pass the orals - you’re history. Fail to pass the flying tests - you’re history. No pressure. There‘s more....your FAA friends have a whole stack of books of regulations governing your life as a pilot and the operation of every single airplane you lift off the ground. Here‘s the risk: SCREW UP ONE TIME, JUST ONCE, AND BREAK AN AIRPLANE, HURT SOMEONE, OR JUST COME CLOSE - AND THEY TAKE YOUR LICENSES AWAY FROM YOU. FOREVER !!!! They don’t care how many years and thousands of dollars you spent getting to this point in your career......they don’t care how badly you want to become a commercial airline pilot, can beg, plead, get down on your whiny knees and cry.......THEY DON‘T CARE !! YOU‘RE HISTORY!!!! Congratulations, your lifetime of work has just been trashed for a simple mistake. Unfortunately, there are no big margins of error in this business. Unlike working at Mac Donald’s, or as a marketing rep selling coat hangers, or some computer geek writing software or selling shoes at Macy‘s, when you screw up, you stand the risk of KILLING PEOPLE! This ain‘t no PUSS GAME!!

But it’s okay, you knew the risks, the requirements, the qualifications. YOU KNEW THE PRICE YOU‘D HAVE To PAY!! And you also knew how easily it can all be jerked out from under you. So you’ve chosen to spend your LIFETIME studying to remain highly qualified and to get eligible for another step in the professional aviation ladder. It goes with the territory. But there are rewards commensurate with your choice. For one: you love to fly! That’s why you’re here. Second: there is a chance that someday, if all goes well, you may make it to the Majors and earn a good living, again, commensurate with being a professional pilot. And besides, if this were easy to do, EVERYONE WOULD Be DOING IT!!
The requirements to ‚“cut it” in this business make it such that it automatically weeds out the sniffling wannabees. You either have the mental and physical abilities coupled with the desire and DETERMINATION or you’re sitting on the sideline -WHINING!! After 9 years on active duty in the military, or the equivalent on the civilian side, you’ve gotten the licenses and experience qualifying you to apply at the Majors. Unfortunately, the major airlines aren’t like Exxon gas stations: there simply isn‘t one on every street corner hiring someone to pump gas. Any one airline is probably hiring no more than 1,000 pilots per year - and that’s a really big year. You may think you have what they‘re looking for, but guess what, so does every other pilot applying for that position. So the competition just elevated to another notch higher. Odds are more in favor of you NOT getting hired than of getting hired!! After two or three airline interviews, you might get lucky and get hired by a startup carrier - paying less than a person on the UAW assembly line. No problem, you’ll keep applying to the other carriers even though you generally only have one opportunity.

A ‚“NO” is generally a no for the rest of your career. But you’ll keep trying.

Even if you do get lucky and hired by a Major, there’s more years of dues to pay, studying, hard work, long days, short nights and hurdles to cross. The FAA not only watches you on paper, they sit on your jumpseat and watch over your shoulder. They analyze, criticize and evaluate every move you make. They’re there for your orals, writtens, simulator checks and rating rides. They show up unannounced any time they choose. They check you and recheck you; sometimes two days in a row from different examiners. One big error now, sport, and you don’t get bumped back to the ‚“Minors”, you get bounced out on your ass!! You again accept the fact that you’ve chosen to live a life in a profession that with any mistake you are AUTOMATICALLY GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN INNOCENT!!

But it’s okay, because the risks are high, therefore the standards must be even higher!! You’re no longer talking about dinging in your little Cherokee with your buds on board. We’re talking about anywhere from 100 to 400 passengers (depending on the airplane) on board who are betting their lives that you MEET OR EXCEED THOSE HIGH STANDARDS. They’re betting that when that engine fails, the hydraulic system quits or the flight controls stop working that you have the knowledge, experience and highly trained skill to safely land that airplane on a short runway, in weather that you wont take your Honda Accord out in to buy your pizza.

Therein lies the blessing and the problem: passengers. Since deregulation, the prices for tickets have become increasingly competitive. In fact, the cut throat marketing schemes of some airlines have caused tickets prices to be so low that it is now cheaper to fly than to take the Greyhound bus. Hence, the business takes on the look and feel of mass transportation. More competition, lower ticket prices, more passengers. Through the process we‘ve lowered the standards. Average tickets prices down, thus reduced revenues, and consequently a huge reduction in the standard of service. The simple fact of the matter, people, is that you cannot expect to get 1st class service for below Greyhound prices on your tickets. You don’t go to the Cadillac dealer and expect to pay Yugo prices. Here’s an economic question for you: when you go to the grocery store, the gas station, make a long distance telephone call, buy a new modem or a new pair of shoes, do you think you pay LESS for that product or service than what it costs the business to SUPPLY it? Nope. But the marketing gurus in the airlines business sell seats for less than it costs to produce them.

So costs are out of sight. Gotta lower the overhead. We’ll cut back on our service: no meals, minimum number of flight attendants to provide service, fewer agents, etc. In fact, we‘ll ‚“out source” everything we can to lower costs. We’ll lay off tens of thousands of dedicated and loyal employees so we can contract with outside companies to fuel our planes, clean em, handle baggage and even work the gates. Those companies hire at minimum wage and with no benefits. So guess what, there is no employee loyalty, dedication or commitment. If it’s a rainy, cold Saturday in Chicago, the minimum wage ramp workers wont show up for work. What‘s the contractor going to do, fire them and hire more minimum wage employees with the same dedication? So your bags get lost, or stolen, or just don’t get put on the plane. The flight is late because there’s not enough fuelers to fuel the airplane. You’re ****ed because the flight‘s late and it never crosses your mind that it might be because of your $79.00 round trip airfare from Chicago to Miami. You don’t apply the same, “you get what you pay for” logic to your airline ticket that you do when you go shopping for a new automobile. You expect to have your ass kissed for the $39.50 for that flight segment. Hell, you can’t buy a hooker to kiss your cheek for that amount of money!!

Guess what you think you can do for your $39.50?? You feel like you have the constitutional right to defecate, urinate and vomit in the seat; leaving it for someone else to clean up. You throw your trash on the floor and walk away from it. You’ll change your baby‘s diaper on the tray table, wad up the pamper full of baby crap and leave it in the seatback pocket. And then you whine that you’re paying too much for your ticket, the plane‘s late, or that seats are too cramped. Guess what?? I wouldn’t ride in your car and treat you that way - why treat the professionals in the aviation community that way??!! Because - YOU DON’T CARE !!!! You want the most you can get for the least you have to pay for it!

Unfortunately, the airline managements have cut back their services to the point that they can’t cut anymore. So they look to the only other source of cutting - employee salaries and benefits. For the non-contract (non-union) groups it’s easy to scalp. They don’t have any protection from irresponsible managements who are only interested in the bottom line. But if you happen to be fortunate enough to have the protection of a professional organization (unions like ALPA or APA) then it’s a little bit tougher to slaughter. You see, even though management has reduced the standards of the products they sell, the standard by which professional pilots are subjected to have not been reduced!! The price pilots have had o pay is still there. The risks and the requirements still remain. Passengers may want the most they can get for the least dollar, but they still want those pilots to have the experience/qualifications commensurate with requirements of operating aircraft, full of passengers, in an intense and risk-filled environment! I hate to tell you this, sport, but that doesn‘t come FREE!! If you want it, you‘ve got to pay for it!!

Now let‘s fold in record profits being reaped by airline managements. Not to mention huge salaries and bonus for executives at the airlines. Without exception, the salaries of professional pilots throughout the business have not kept pace with the cost of living for the past decade. Simply put, airline pilots are making less than they were 10 years ago, yet you keep charging more each year for that new color TV, automobile, gallon of milk or tank of gas.
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