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Corporate QOL or lack thereof?

Old 01-22-2023, 11:22 PM
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Default Corporate QOL or lack thereof?

Hello all, I am a private pilot, about done with my instrument and really looking forward to my commercial. I hope this is an appropriate category for this post. I know I still have quite a ways to go but I am always thinking about my career options, if you could humor me, I would appreciate it!

I have looked into the corporate route and I really think I would like the work. The client interaction, day to day variety, planning most of the aspects about the trip, etc. all seem like a rewarding experience to me. I just had some questions about your quality of life for anyone with that type of experience. I have heard of aircraft staffed with three pilots in a rotating 2 week on call, one week off type of schedule. I think that sounds great, personally, but I wonder how common that actually is.....Maybe more on the rare side?

For a two pilot operation you would always be on call but I would guess that you usually know about your trips a ways in advance but maybe not always. If you work this type of schedule, how do you work around Dr.s appointments, family get togethers, any kind of "weekend outing" with the family, etc.? I know this is the weak point of corporate and I'm sure it depends on if you have a decent boss or not. But let's suppose you have an average-to-decent boss (because no one WANTS to work for the terrible boss) how much/how do they accommodate? Contract pilots? Is there a certain number of times your boss allows the use of a contract pilot for those sorts of things? Would you just let them know the things you want to do and they provide you with a copy of their schedule to work around and then you have a handshake to say it'll all work out? I can't imagine that guaranteed days off is a thing in the corporate world but there are certain things that you have to plan ahead for to live in society so I'm curious how the "average-to-decent" corporate job handles these.

Anyway, like I said, I have plenty of time to worry about these things later, and who knows what route my career will go but if you have a moment to share your experience, that would be great! Thanks!

Edit: I should ad that I understand that often there is simply no way to make it work and you have to miss or cancel something. I'm just curious about HOW you typically go about approaching the schedule problem.

Last edited by GSP848; 01-22-2023 at 11:46 PM. Reason: Addition
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Old 01-23-2023, 04:03 AM
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I was a corporate pilot for 15ish years. Made the jump to a legacy airline last year, and I am so happy I did.

First of all, the answer to your questions is “it depends”. I have seen all varieties of scheduling and accommodating vacations and other events. Every department is different. The big issue is that what policy they have in place when you get hired could change in an instant. I have seen 3 person flight departments go to 2 pilots when one quits, and the boss drags their feet hiring the 3rd person. It saves them money, and the 2 remaining pilots are gonna just get the job done, cause that is what pilots do. I could go on, there are 1000 different situations.

Bottom line is, if you want structure and stability with your schedule, do not become a corporate pilot. 5% of corporate jobs are unicorn, perfect jobs that no one ever leaves. 20% are OK, not perfect, but you could probably retire from someday. The rest are dumpster fires that you wouldn’t wish on your worst enemy.
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Old 01-23-2023, 08:22 AM
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I have a couple friends, both top-tier military pilots who have been very happy with corporate jobs for many years (both in TX). They fly billionaires and people of stature like ex-presidents. They got into that because the airlines were hit and miss for our year group, and the clients wanted pilots with really impressive sounding resumes. Those are the unicorns, which are available pretty much by internal reference only, for everybody else it's a real crapshoot.
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Old 01-23-2023, 06:17 PM
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Network, network, network.

If you have a side-hustle, it never hurts to have it in the service industry.
Don't let anyone (student or instructor) at your flight school graduate, move onto greener pastures, etc without trading contact info. Buy 'em dinner for their accomplishment

If you really wanna go pure 91/corporate....go 135/121 first. Get the flight time that you'll need to land that unicorn. You'll never build the time you need if flying for one of the dumpster fires referenced up-thread.
With 135, there are plenty with rotational schedules (17/13, 16/14, 15/13, 12/10, 8/6, 7/7), so you can experience whether that fits your lifestyle.
With 121, you can experience whether you like the 2-5 day schedule instead.
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Old 01-23-2023, 06:25 PM
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Originally Posted by Dubh View Post
Network, network, network.

If you have a side-hustle, it never hurts to have it in the service industry.
Don't let anyone (student or instructor) at your flight school graduate, move onto greener pastures, etc without trading contact info. Buy 'em dinner for their accomplishment

If you really wanna go pure 91/corporate....go 135/121 first. Get the flight time that you'll need to land that unicorn. You'll never build the time you need if flying for one of the dumpster fires referenced up-thread.
With 135, there are plenty with rotational schedules (17/13, 16/14, 15/13, 12/10, 8/6, 7/7), so you can experience whether that fits your lifestyle.
With 121, you can experience whether you like the 2-5 day schedule instead.
Everything ^^^
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Old 01-24-2023, 08:11 AM
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Originally Posted by Pilot4000 View Post
I was a corporate pilot for 15ish years. Made the jump to a legacy airline last year, and I am so happy I did.
How difficult was it going from 91 to 121 with no prior 121 experience?
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Old 01-24-2023, 01:50 PM
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Originally Posted by SonicFlyer View Post
How difficult was it going from 91 to 121 with no prior 121 experience?
I know of one personally who went from corporate 91/135 operation flying Falcons or something like that right to FedEx. No previous 121 time.
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Old 01-24-2023, 02:28 PM
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Originally Posted by v1rotatay View Post
I know of one personally who went from corporate 91/135 operation flying Falcons or something like that right to FedEx. No previous 121 time.

I know 4 that moved Corp to FDX.

I also know quite a few that started out from their PPL days to corporate and are quite happy at unicorn jobs. The early 2000s were a bad time to start and corporate looked as good as any direction. They’re now on Globals/Gulfstreams having been employed without a break. Lots of openings now, even unicorn jobs, but it’s still an outlier compared to 121–everyone is different, very much a networking deal. Commuting is becoming common. A friend just started a new G6500 and G7500 position, all commuting and expenses paid—fly to the jet. But, she’s also highly experienced.
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Old 01-24-2023, 04:17 PM
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Originally Posted by SonicFlyer View Post
How difficult was it going from 91 to 121 with no prior 121 experience?
I guess it depends how you define "difficult". It sure took a long time, but there was a time period when I stopped updating my apps. I think what got me over the hump was breaking 5000 hours, being able to check the management/chief pilot box, and the current hiring environment. When I finally got the interview invite I spent a month straight preparing for the interview. I think I put more effort into that than I had anything else in my life.
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Old 01-24-2023, 05:45 PM
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I did 11 years 91/135 before moving to a major 121.

It very possible. I probably would have been at the airline sooner if I had gone to a regional 121 instead of building 400 hours a year, but I enjoyed the ride here.
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