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View Full Version : Corporate Aviation Lifestyle?


Lagoon
07-19-2016, 06:35 PM
I was speaking with an instructor at a famous flight school that prepares students for careers in commercial aviation and he said that he chose to focus his job searches on regional airlines since the corporate aviation lifestyle was not to his liking.

He said that at least with regional/major airlines, there is a schedule. But with corporate aviation, they could call you in the middle of the night and ask you to fly someone to Beijing.

So I focused on commercial aviation and talked to some folks in the business. From what I heard, between being on reserve for 18 days of the month and commuting back and forth to home, sleeping at crash pads, and seeing your significant other 4 times a month if you're lucky and earning about $35K for the first 3 years, I decided that aviation may not be the career for me.

Mind you, I started training a while ago and got my private license and I am very passionate about flying. I love it. It makes me happy and makes me feel fulfilled. But when I looked deeper and spoke with enough people, I felt that commercial aviation didn't look like the right career path for someone in his mid 30s.


So are there aviation jobs out there that are worth investing training time and ratings to get a good return on your investment and lead a decent lifestyle, with a normal or semi-normal social and family life?

I mean this from both a financial perspective and a lifestyle perspective. Sure, we would all like to have weekends off, but to be home once a week is a little too much of a compromise just to follow a dream.


galaxy flyer
07-19-2016, 08:46 PM
Airplanes fly places, crews are away from home. In 40 years of flying, it looks like most pilots are away 12-17 days per month. Yes, there are senior guys at airlines, standing reserve at home (lived in base) and work little, but it's probably a minority of pilots. I know corporate pilots who ard gone lots and skid who only fly 6/8 days a month. A friend just got a Global job for a family that bought the plane to conduct business and get home. We'll see?

GF

RI830
07-20-2016, 07:26 AM
Another 121 vs Corporate lifestyle thread?

To the OP, your CFI buddy is giving you a worst vs worst scenario.
No corporate outfit is calling at 2am to fly to Bejing in an hour.
Simple logistics mainly prevent that. Ther are jobs that have perpetual on call and pop up trips but there are just as many scheduled/non-pop up departments.

For the 121 world, it runs the gamut too. A FNG at Great Lakes vs the guy who is #1 on the list at and Legacy.

I have done the regionals and now am at great corporate gig.
I have no intention to go to a major, but that is my opinion alone.
You ask 10 guys what is best and you'll get 12 answers including 3 disertations.

Good luck in making your choice, but I don't think bailing on avaiatikn is a wise move.


Likeabat
07-20-2016, 10:50 AM
My Dad spent 20 years at a Fortune 100 flight department and never did an overnight. Worked M-F on a scheduled part 91 shuttle - often only flying 2 legs in a 5 HR duty day. Home every night - All weekends off. And they shut the shuttle down mid-December and started it back up after Jan 1st.

Now that is very rare, of course - but just an example that corporate aviation lifestyles can vary widely. Some are horrible such as you described. Some have very good schedules with scheduled days off.

Lagoon
07-20-2016, 11:58 AM
So you invest time and money and take the risk knowing that it may or may not work out the way you had expected?

Sure there are no guarantees in life, but perhaps I can work a regular job and in the meantime earn my ratings on my days off and then see if I can find a good corporate gig. The only problem is I'm in my late 30s so time is of the essence.

wildcat1
07-21-2016, 08:32 PM
So you invest time and money and take the risk knowing that it may or may not work out the way you had expected?

Sure there are no guarantees in life, but perhaps I can work a regular job and in the meantime earn my ratings on my days off and then see if I can find a good corporate gig. The only problem is I'm in my late 30s so time is of the essence.

No. Your time has passed.

I'm going to assume you are at zero time. If you quit your job and work full time toward getting your certificates, you can be a commercial multi-engine by the end of this year. Then, you'll need a few months to become a flight instructor. If you really hustle, you can be at 700-800 hours by the end of next year. You'll need 1500 hours to get an ATP. So, two years from this December, you can take that exam after taking a two week course, on your dime. With that ATP, you can go fly cargo, charter or at a regional for roughtly $45K a year (you've probably spent $40-$50 to get here). They'll fly you 500 hours a year. You'll need 6,000 hours of so to get an ok corporate gig. 10,000 or more to get a great job. So, you are 6 years or more from an average corporate job and 14-15 years away from a great job.

Or, you can take the 2.5 years to get to a regional and go to work for $45K ish, commute to where ever they choose to base you, fly 100 hours a month with the hopes that some day you'll get to upgrade and then every major "will hire you". But, the reality is, by the time you make captain the airlines will be all but done hiring and they'll have a glut of 40 somethings that have 20-25 years until retirement. So, you'll be a regional pilot for your entire career, working quite a few hours for much lower pay.

At your age, you are better off just learning how to fly and doing it as a hobby and keep doing what you've been doing.

Lagoon
07-21-2016, 10:08 PM
I have a PPL. How is it that a CFI at my former school got a $60K job fying right seat on a corporate jet with about 800 hours of logged time?

BoilerUP
07-22-2016, 04:52 AM
I have a PPL. How is it that a CFI at my former school got a $60K job fying right seat on a corporate jet with about 800 hours of logged time?

What type aircraft, in what location, and 91 or 135?

That has certainly happened before, but is the exception rather than the rule...and when low-time pilots do get hired into 91 operations, they often (not always, but often) are hired at below market compensation.

That said, one doesn't "need" 6000 hours to get a "ok corporate gig"; I got a good 91 job (albeit on a light jet) with less than 2500tt.

Network, network, network...

MartinBishop
07-22-2016, 04:33 PM
But, the reality is, by the time you make captain the airlines will be all but done hiring and they'll have a glut of 40 somethings that have 20-25 years until retirement. So, you'll be a regional pilot for your entire career, working quite a few hours for much lower pay. I bought everything you wrote up until this point.

Titos
07-22-2016, 10:38 PM
I bought everything you wrote up until this point.

He's pretty much right. What's your argument?

PRS Guitars
07-23-2016, 12:14 PM
So you invest time and money and take the risk knowing that it may or may not work out the way you had expected?

Sure there are no guarantees in life, but perhaps I can work a regular job and in the meantime earn my ratings on my days off and then see if I can find a good corporate gig. The only problem is I'm in my late 30s so time is of the essence.

What do you do for a living now? How much do you make? I pretty much agree with Wildcat on this. You're already questioning your desire to fly for a living.

MartinBishop
07-23-2016, 01:10 PM
He's pretty much right. What's your argument?
That the airlines will be done hiring by then and things will be stale again.

CTOGUY
07-24-2016, 06:42 AM
One is never too old to accomplish anything. Don't let anyone talk you out of what you want to do. No one can predict the future, especially when it comes to aviation.

Otterbox
07-25-2016, 12:07 AM
On the corporate side of the house many of us make mid 6 figures, but have to be on trips about half the year to do it. In the same regard there are plenty of FOs at major airlines that make mid 6 figures and work significantly fewer days each month to do it.

I'm ultimately going to head to a major because if I'm going to be working until 65+ I want max $ for min effort and know I won't feel like flying my ass off to make 6 figures when I can do the minimum and use my extra free time to do things I enjoy, or supplement my income with a $ making hobby.

galaxy flyer
07-25-2016, 07:04 AM
One is never too old to accomplish anything. Don't let anyone talk you out of what you want to do. No one can predict the future, especially when it comes to aviation.

Not a strong arument--someone aged 50 would find it hard to start a flying career. The older one is, the harder to move out of established thinking. The RAF starts pilots at 1&, as do many others. It far easier to learn when young. The NTSB even did a study of the age subject within the GA ranks.

GF

CTOGUY
07-25-2016, 07:15 AM
galaxy flyer, didn't realize it was an argument. Just posting my opinion based on experience.

Lagoon
07-26-2016, 11:35 AM
On the corporate side of the house many of us make mid 6 figures, but have to be on trips about half the year to do it. In the same regard there are plenty of FOs at major airlines that make mid 6 figures and work significantly fewer days each month to do it.

I'm ultimately going to head to a major because if I'm going to be working until 65+ I want max $ for min effort and know I won't feel like flying my ass off to make 6 figures when I can do the minimum and use my extra free time to do things I enjoy, or supplement my income with a $ making hobby.


So the argument seems to be, given my age, I'm better off with a commercial regional airline and sticking with it as a F/O? What's the max I could make after 3 years?

The thing is, I gave up on the aviation lifestyle after I heard stories from pilots in the Majors who have been in the business for 25 years. Being in a relationship, and valuing my time with my s/o and enjoying it a lot, tipped the scales. I love flying, but I don't see myself away for 5 or 4 days at a time. And working weekends all the time.

Otterbox
07-26-2016, 02:35 PM
So the argument seems to be, given my age, I'm better off with a commercial regional airline and sticking with it as a F/O? What's the max I could make after 3 years?

The thing is, I gave up on the aviation lifestyle after I heard stories from pilots in the Majors who have been in the business for 25 years. Being in a relationship, and valuing my time with my s/o and enjoying it a lot, tipped the scales. I love flying, but I don't see myself away for 5 or 4 days at a time. And working weekends all the time.

It's not really an argument, it's a personal choice.

If you're a QOL guy live in base and bid reserve on the days you're scheduled to work. Most of the happy people I know at the majors bid reserve and live in base. My buddies a legacies make 100-130k in their 2-3 year mark as an FO.

If you start out at a regional with a flow like PDT you'll be a CA your second year and make 65k and can apply to the majors from their or flow to AA when you're number is up and probably be at a legacy by the time you're in your early 40s.

The guys who live in base and bid reserve spend most of their days home every month and if they feel like making money, fly on scheduled off days for premium pay if hey weren't called out to fly on their scheduled work days.

Lagoon
07-26-2016, 03:30 PM
My buddies a legacies make 100-130k in their 2-3 year mark as an FO.


Legacies meaning in the regionals?

galaxy flyer
07-26-2016, 03:35 PM
4 or 5 days away is a problem? Wow, you'll have a tough time in much of aviation. How 'bout 14 or 15 days away?

CTOGUY,

Look up the definition of argument--it doesn't have to mean "fight", just a "position". def, a reason or set of reasons given with the aim of persuading others that an action or idea is right or wrong.


GF

Otterbox
07-26-2016, 04:54 PM
Legacies meaning in the regionals?

Legacies meaning the big 3 majors. Look at the APC pay profiles.

3rd year regional guys should be CAs making 65-70k... Unless you chose one with stagnant upgrades then it'll be 40k as an RJ FO.

Luv2Rotate
07-26-2016, 06:08 PM
I was speaking with an instructor at a famous flight school that prepares students for careers in commercial aviation and he said that he chose to focus his job searches on regional airlines since the corporate aviation lifestyle was not to his liking.

He said that at least with regional/major airlines, there is a schedule. But with corporate aviation, they could call you in the middle of the night and ask you to fly someone to Beijing.

So I focused on commercial aviation and talked to some folks in the business. From what I heard, between being on reserve for 18 days of the month and commuting back and forth to home, sleeping at crash pads, and seeing your significant other 4 times a month if you're lucky and earning about $35K for the first 3 years, I decided that aviation may not be the career for me.

Mind you, I started training a while ago and got my private license and I am very passionate about flying. I love it. It makes me happy and makes me feel fulfilled. But when I looked deeper and spoke with enough people, I felt that commercial aviation didn't look like the right career path for someone in his mid 30s.


So are there aviation jobs out there that are worth investing training time and ratings to get a good return on your investment and lead a decent lifestyle, with a normal or semi-normal social and family life?

I mean this from both a financial perspective and a lifestyle perspective. Sure, we would all like to have weekends off, but to be home once a week is a little too much of a compromise just to follow a dream.

Anything worth while will take time and and investment. Aviation is no different . Good luck.

MeatServo
07-27-2016, 06:19 AM
So you invest time and money and take the risk knowing that it may or may not work out the way you had expected?

Sure there are no guarantees in life, but perhaps I can work a regular job and in the meantime earn my ratings on my days off and then see if I can find a good corporate gig. The only problem is I'm in my late 30s so time is of the essence.


I think we are missing one important part here. From reading through this thread it seems like you are only looking at corporate or legacy jobs. If you value time at home and still want to fly there are a ton of jobs out there. Flight instructor comes to mind, home every night and I know some who make 60-70 doing that but granted are working their butts off. Smaller 135 cargo outfits such as the feeders, lower end corporate gigs can still pay decent. Medevac, charter, banner towing... The list goes on.

All I'm saying is you have to know what you want to do. If it's fly, there are a ton of ways to do it that aren't just big company corporate or the airlines. And there are a lot of ways to have a good QOL and not be flying a shiny jet.

I think everyone can throw their opinion in here but ultimately its up to you and what you want to be doing day in and day out!

CFI Guy
07-31-2016, 05:21 PM
So you invest time and money and take the risk knowing that it may or may not work out the way you had expected?

Sure there are no guarantees in life, but perhaps I can work a regular job and in the meantime earn my ratings on my days off and then see if I can find a good corporate gig. The only problem is I'm in my late 30s so time is of the essence.

What exactly do you mean by a "good corporate gig"? I've been in contact with a couple "good" (6 figure plus starting salary, good benefits, etc) flight departments and their requirements are higher than most major airlines (2000+ turbine PIC, international exp., etc). It's mostly due to insurance policy requirements.

I'm your age now and couldn't imagine starting from scratch. I made a career change at age 30 and felt old then.

It's interesting that almost a decade ago we were almost in the same position today (high real estate values, low unemployment) except for the high gas prices. In 2008 gas went thru the roof, housing bubble popped, age 65 rule, and jobs were no where to be found.

I slaved away as an independent CFI, made pretty good money although I worked my butt off. I'm now PIC at a good 135 (after working for two other crappy ones), make good money but schedule is less than desirable. I figure I'll be in the running for a "good" Corp gig in another couple years.

I'm not sure what your expectations are but plan to spend the next decade of your life until you make it to a "good" job whether it be at the airlines or Corp. You may get lucky or you could be like my neighbor who has been stuck at the same regional in the right seat for 8yrs and finally upgrading. He has his app at every major and hasn't heard a peep.

I'm not sure what you do now but hopefully you have other skills/education to fall back on if you decide to continue on the aviation path.

Best of luck.

BPWI
08-01-2016, 11:36 AM
After a year of 21 day trips, 14 will seem like a overnight:D


4 or 5 days away is a problem? Wow, you'll have a tough time in much of aviation. How 'bout 14 or 15 days away?
GF

galaxy flyer
08-01-2016, 04:10 PM
Yeah, but I've seen 16-day trips that were too short and 4-day trips that were 2 days too long! :p

GF

RI830
08-01-2016, 10:51 PM
Yeah, but I've seen 16-day trips that were too short and 4-day trips that were 2 days too long! :p

GF

That the difference between Bangkok and Bratislava!
Or Manhattan, NY and Manhattan, KS

wildcat1
08-04-2016, 08:13 AM
I have a PPL. How is it that a CFI at my former school got a $60K job fying right seat on a corporate jet with about 800 hours of logged time?

Luck. That is the 1% of the 1% of aviation.

Vital Signs
08-04-2016, 08:44 AM
Luck. That is the 1% of the 1% of aviation.

Its a sign of the times. This is and is going to happen more and more assuming no major setbacks.

Lucky8888
08-09-2016, 05:09 PM
I have a PPL. How is it that a CFI at my former school got a $60K job fying right seat on a corporate jet with about 800 hours of logged time?

Its a sign of the times. This is and is going to happen more and more assuming no major setbacks.

Not if the insurance companies have anything to say about it.

BoilerUP
08-09-2016, 05:31 PM
Any department manager worth a damn should not have any issues getting an 800hr SIC insured, especially if you are talking light cabin or midsize jet.

Vital Signs
08-09-2016, 06:50 PM
Not if the insurance companies have anything to say about it.

Not as of yet. Most of the departments i am aware of, the policy states: "the "other" pilot can be anyone the Chief Pilot deems adequate."
They dont have to be typed on the 2 pilot jet, just completed SIC training and get the fsdo to sign off for their license.


The pool is very shallow.

b190av8r
08-09-2016, 10:45 PM
Not if the insurance companies have anything to say about it.

I'd like to know how a certain charter operator in the Pittsburgh area insures their co-pilots, with 450-500 hours total time, that they grab from the flight school next door and throw into the right seat of a Citation X...

Stihlsaw
08-12-2016, 01:56 PM
I'd like to know how a certain charter operator in the Pittsburgh area insures their co-pilots, with 450-500 hours total time, that they grab from the flight school next door and throw into the right seat of a Citation X...

If you're talking about who I think you are, I wonder the same thing! They manage a midsize over in my neck of the woods and staff it with one pilot and a couple rent-a-dummies!

Lucky8888
08-12-2016, 08:25 PM
Not as of yet. Most of the departments i am aware of, the policy states: "the "other" pilot can be anyone the Chief Pilot deems adequate."
They dont have to be typed on the 2 pilot jet, just completed SIC training and get the fsdo to sign off for their license.


The pool is very shallow.

This is specifically excluded in our OpSpecs and we do not have this provision in our insurance. Could be because we have large cabin aircraft.

We don't see the "pool" being shallow at all. We get about 20 unsolicited resumes a month from very qualified applicants and we haven't had an opening in 3 years.

Of course YMMV.

Vital Signs
08-13-2016, 06:20 AM
This is specifically excluded in our OpSpecs and we do not have this provision in our insurance. Could be because we have large cabin aircraft.

We don't see the "pool" being shallow at all. We get about 20 unsolicited resumes a month from very qualified applicants and we haven't had an opening in 3 years.

Of course YMMV.

Yes there is definitely a difference. Just like the majors, the good corporate departments that pay "enough", have a good QOL, and offer stability will get the resumes but I was referring to smaller and 1 plane ops mostly owned by an individual....lots of contract work available and not as many pilots to fill the seats. May be aircraft and location specific.

Lucky8888
08-13-2016, 05:38 PM
Yes there is definitely a difference. Just like the majors, the good corporate departments that pay "enough", have a good QOL, and offer stability will get the resumes but I was referring to smaller and 1 plane ops mostly owned by an individual....lots of contract work available and not as many pilots to fill the seats. May be aircraft and location specific.

I see your point.

MOGuy
12-16-2016, 07:56 AM
No. Your time has passed.

I'm going to assume you are at zero time. If you quit your job and work full time toward getting your certificates, you can be a commercial multi-engine by the end of this year. Then, you'll need a few months to become a flight instructor. If you really hustle, you can be at 700-800 hours by the end of next year. You'll need 1500 hours to get an ATP. So, two years from this December, you can take that exam after taking a two week course, on your dime. With that ATP, you can go fly cargo, charter or at a regional for roughtly $45K a year (you've probably spent $40-$50 to get here). They'll fly you 500 hours a year. You'll need 6,000 hours of so to get an ok corporate gig. 10,000 or more to get a great job. So, you are 6 years or more from an average corporate job and 14-15 years away from a great job.

Or, you can take the 2.5 years to get to a regional and go to work for $45K ish, commute to where ever they choose to base you, fly 100 hours a month with the hopes that some day you'll get to upgrade and then every major "will hire you". But, the reality is, by the time you make captain the airlines will be all but done hiring and they'll have a glut of 40 somethings that have 20-25 years until retirement. So, you'll be a regional pilot for your entire career, working quite a few hours for much lower pay.

At your age, you are better off just learning how to fly and doing it as a hobby and keep doing what you've been doing.

Uh...he could easily get to a Major. Have you seen the hiring? A Legacy? Maybe maybe not but an LCC or even a fractional or charter. Absolutley.

Don't listen to this guy.

Now that said it will be a tough journey and sacrifice must be made but if you really want to do it the go for it and you could still make a nice career out of it.

Flyer49er
12-16-2016, 10:28 AM
Lots of good Corporate Aviation information over at ProPilotWorld.com - "Pilots helping Pilots" (http://www.ProPilotWorld.com)

Good luck!

Falcondrivr
12-18-2016, 09:07 AM
Lots of good Corporate Aviation information over at ProPilotWorld.com - "Pilots helping Pilots" (http://www.ProPilotWorld.com)

Good luck!

Yes. Just don't try to post anything controversial, humorous, or that doesn't conform to the moderators opinions. Your post will be deleted and you will be possibly banned.
PPW is the most heavily moderated (censored?) forum I've ever been involved in (Founding member, resigned. "KingAirRick")

Falcondrivr
12-18-2016, 09:13 AM
To the OP:
Just like the 121 world, in 91 there are great jobs and crap jobs. The great ones are hard to get and are based on your personality and fit with the rest of the department. Most of the great ones also have very little if no turnover of pilots. So you may be waiting for a while to get hired. It took me 5 years of hanging around having lunch and beers with my department before there was an opening. I've now been here 12 years and we've hired 3 total. 2 10 years ago, and 1 this year as someone went to United.

Flyer49er
12-18-2016, 10:17 AM
Yes. Just don't try to post anything controversial, humorous, or that doesn't conform to the moderators opinions. Your post will be deleted and you will be possibly banned.
PPW is the most heavily moderated (censored?) forum I've ever been involved in (Founding member, resigned. "KingAirRick")You started the site? Interesting?

The rest of your post, not true.

Falcondrivr
12-18-2016, 07:47 PM
I was probably one of the first 5 or 10 people who signed on with Bill ("FalconCapt", PPW owner) when we shut down Clear-and-a-million.com, which we started after the founder of flightinfo.com was killed and his brother took over and began heavy handed tactics there.

There were a few of us that were considered "founding members." Almost all are gone now. Most because of the reasons I mentioned in my earlier post. I have copies of letters sent to several members from the mods there that are probably some of the most condescending things I've ever seen from one professional to another.

So yes, I know from where I speak.

Dissenting viewpoints are not tolerated at PPW.

BoilerUP
12-19-2016, 03:57 AM
UAL78 was Bill, FalconCapt was Mark?

My personal experience is APC's moderation is FAR more heavy-handed than PPW...

Falcondrivr
12-19-2016, 06:05 AM
That occurred to me after I posted last night. Bill was the one who sent to letters. Mark was a little more subtle.
I've not really been posting on APC much, mostly just lurking. So I can't compare the two. With PPW, I started noticing the trend of post and thread deletes when subjects were controversial. I started a professionally and respectfully worded thread about it. The discussion was pretty good and no one was bashing the site. But there were some honest, criticism of the mods, with examples of censorship. After a day or two, the thread was deleted and I got a nasty gram from Bill. I chose to not renew my membership.
This was all several years ago, so maybe things have mellowed out a little over there. I hope so as it was a great resource for the first few years.
OP: Sorry for the thread hijack. Now back to your regular programming!

Red Forman
12-26-2016, 05:36 AM
Yes. Just don't try to post anything controversial, humorous, or that doesn't conform to the moderators opinions. Your post will be deleted and you will be possibly banned.
PPW is the most heavily moderated (censored?) forum I've ever been involved in (Founding member, resigned. "KingAirRick")

Not at all, but please go on.

Red Forman
12-26-2016, 05:39 AM
UAL78 was Bill, FalconCapt was Mark?

My personal experience is APC's moderation is FAR more heavy-handed than PPW...

This is true, but Falcondrivr has been here for 7 months, so...
There is a reason I am never over here anymore.