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Old 02-06-2019, 09:11 AM   #21  
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Originally Posted by JayMahon View Post
I'm LOOKING for dark clouds. So, some pilots get stuck with an operator that pays peanuts to fly the big boys. Sounds like a bad deal.

How does it happen?
Historically there have ALWAYS been far more qualified professional pilots than top jobs. Essentially four tiers in the airlines, not counting fractionals...

Regional: If you get stuck or decide to stay, you can can make an adequate living by white collar profession standards. In the olds days that was $100K, today it's $150K+, but you'll have to put in your time, ten+ years. There are downsides to the regional industry, they are subcontractors and the contracts can dry up on a whim. Schedules usually suck for all but the most senior (nature of the beast, six legs/day, with lots of unpaid time cooling your heels between flights). Bases close, and companies close. Don't need a degree.

LCC: More money and stability than regionals. Maybe better schedules, maybe not. Eventually you will make more money than your average white-collar peers (not counting doctors, law firm partners, etc).

ACMI/Heavy Cargo: Better money than regionals, often faster money than LCC's. Downside is schedules... typical three on, two off. That's weeks. You'll notice your kids have gotten bigger when you return from a trip. Trips are long-haul, so lots of circadian disruption. Also *some* of these have bad reps for MX (some have good reps, just not as consistent as 121 pax). May offer perks like home basing, so you can live where you want without worrying about a commute. Pay is variable, some small-town mom-and-pop outfits may pay less than regionals, but the folks who work there typically have their reasons. Many will pay better than what your your average white-collar peers make (not counting doctors, law firm partners, etc).

Big Six (DL/UA/AA/SWA/FDX/UPS): They will get you to $200K real quick. Top may be as high as $900K in extreme cases. FO's make $200-300K+, most CA's $350-500K. Great schedules in general, or at least flexibility (compared to the rest of the industry). Perks like 16% 401k direct contribution, a couple still have DB retirements. Of course everybody wants to work at one of these. Hawaiian and Alaska are legacies, but have geographic niches, good places to work, but somewhere between LCC and big six.

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Originally Posted by JayMahon View Post
What keeps the pilot there instead of taking his experience elsewhere? Seniority? Lack of desire to fly in overseas environments that pay well for this level of experience?
Two things...

Seniority: If you get 8-10 years into a regional, it will be a pay and QOL cut initially (plus risk on probation year). Referred to as "Golden Handcuffs". Even worse as ACMI/LCC. Also geographic uncertaintity... might get assigned to a plane which is based only on the other side of the country, typically with a two-year seat-lock. Hard for a family man, even with a big payoff downrange, you can never replace those years with your kids.

Big Six preferences: They seem to prefer folks who are motivated and moving along. A pilot who has plateaued as a regional CA, or an FO or even CA at LCC may get passed over in favor of younger folks who are still in ladder climbing mode. Also everybody wants to work here, so they can be picky... you'll hear the term "brass ring". You can predict if someone will NOT get called, based on their background (criminal issues, training busts, employment issues, "presentability". But if you have ten guys who have the right (civilian) background, maybe three will get called and it's hard to figure out which three it's going to be. Hence the lottery/brass ring analogies. It can even be hard to get a call from a LCC. These number should improve temporarily between now and about 2025, then start trending back to normal. Assuming good pilot record, "whole person" credentials also weigh heavily.


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Originally Posted by JayMahon View Post
Give me some examples to deflate the optimism. That's SPECIFICALLY why I posted. I've read though these forums voraciously over the past few weeks collecting information. I'm reaching out to fill in the gaps and check the conclusions I've come to.
There thousands of RJ CA's who cannot even get called by an LCC. Typically nothing wrong with them, but they've been stuck on one type for years due to circumstances beyond anyone's control and so are considered "stagnant". They watch their FO's get called by LCCs, and occasionally legacies. They can mitigate their circumstances by going full-court press on networking, job fairs, and applications. But they may need a recent training even which they just can't get. Also a family man (or woman) just doesn't have the time to jump through all those hoops.

There are also folks who got a blackmark along the way, who would otherwise have progressed. You can 100% avoid DUI's but sometimes employment or training issues are hard to avoid (you should make every effort of course...)
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Old 02-06-2019, 09:19 AM   #22  
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Many things will be out of your control on a journey such as this. Look at the number of times throughout history that airlines have disappeared or gone bankrupt. If you're a finance guy it should be easy. Remember your job is not portable from employer to employer.



You make a mistake, have a FAA action against you. You fail check rides, your Captain makes a mistake you don't catch. You have a simple accident and the CVR confirms you didn't write up the problem when you became aware of it. Now you are someone who competes with others who don't have these issues.

You are already middle aged. Becoming a senior wide body captain at the best paying airlines may not be a option for you based on the seniority system. How many of those jobs are there anyway?

You make a career sacrifice to help the family instead of a divorce.

The highest paying airlines may not want to hire you. They have thousands of applicants. Why hire you over every single military pilot or every single pilot currently at the regional with more experience and ability. The shortage or at least higher demand is in the lower paying positions. These are often contract carriers who do not own any flying and have contracts whipsawed.
The low paying airline may be your only employment opportunity., remember there are pilot in pilot training every year wanting to take your job for much less money.

The economy tanks again. Cabotage is allowed in the USA. Flags of convince become common. Unions weaken at the airlines due to regulatory actions.

Ok i gotta stop I'm depressed!!! It can certainly be a good job. But you said to mention some downside.

Good luck
I've got no illusions I'll ever fly a widebody for a legacy carrier. I don't need to. Getting paid six figures to fly small jets for regionals or narrow bodies for a major would be more than enough.

The economy tanking impacts lots of other industries aside from just aviation. I can't control those larger patterns but I hope that aviation in general has a better opportunity to offer than the work I've been doing thus far.

Is there any real chance of broad cabotage being allowed in the US? I haven't come across this other than just general fear mongering.

Overall, not that depressing. Got any other dark clouds?

Thanks!
-Jay
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:07 AM   #23  
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
Historically there have ALWAYS been far more qualified professional pilots than top jobs. Essentially four tiers in the airlines, not counting fractionals...

Regional: If you get stuck or decide to stay, you can can make an adequate living by white collar profession standards. In the olds days that was $100K, today it's $150K+, but you'll have to put in your time, ten+ years. There are downsides to the regional industry, they are subcontractors and the contracts can dry up on a whim. Schedules usually suck for all but the most senior (nature of the beast, six legs/day, with lots of unpaid time cooling your heels between flights). Bases close, and companies close. Don't need a degree.

LCC: More money and stability than regionals. Maybe better schedules, maybe not. Eventually you will make more money than your average white-collar peers (not counting doctors, law firm partners, etc).

ACMI/Heavy Cargo: Better money than regionals, often faster money than LCC's. Downside is schedules... typical three on, two off. That's weeks. You'll notice your kids have gotten bigger when you return from a trip. Trips are long-haul, so lots of circadian disruption. Also *some* of these have bad reps for MX (some have good reps, just not as consistent as 121 pax). May offer perks like home basing, so you can live where you want without worrying about a commute. Pay is variable, some small-town mom-and-pop outfits may pay less than regionals, but the folks who work there typically have their reasons. Many will pay better than what your your average white-collar peers make (not counting doctors, law firm partners, etc).

Big Six (DL/UA/AA/SWA/FDX/UPS): They will get you to $200K real quick. Top may be as high as $900K in extreme cases. FO's make $200-300K+, most CA's $350-500K. Great schedules in general, or at least flexibility (compared to the rest of the industry). Perks like 16% 401k direct contribution, a couple still have DB retirements. Of course everybody wants to work at one of these. Hawaiian and Alaska are legacies, but have geographic niches, good places to work, but somewhere between LCC and big six.



Two things...

Seniority: If you get 8-10 years into a regional, it will be a pay and QOL cut initially (plus risk on probation year). Referred to as "Golden Handcuffs". Even worse as ACMI/LCC. Also geographic uncertaintity... might get assigned to a plane which is based only on the other side of the country, typically with a two-year seat-lock. Hard for a family man, even with a big payoff downrange, you can never replace those years with your kids.

Big Six preferences: They seem to prefer folks who are motivated and moving along. A pilot who has plateaued as a regional CA, or an FO or even CA at LCC may get passed over in favor of younger folks who are still in ladder climbing mode. Also everybody wants to work here, so they can be picky... you'll hear the term "brass ring". You can predict if someone will NOT get called, based on their background (criminal issues, training busts, employment issues, "presentability". But if you have ten guys who have the right (civilian) background, maybe three will get called and it's hard to figure out which three it's going to be. Hence the lottery/brass ring analogies. It can even be hard to get a call from a LCC. These number should improve temporarily between now and about 2025, then start trending back to normal. Assuming good pilot record, "whole person" credentials also weigh heavily.




There thousands of RJ CA's who cannot even get called by an LCC. Typically nothing wrong with them, but they've been stuck on one type for years due to circumstances beyond anyone's control and so are considered "stagnant". They watch their FO's get called by LCCs, and occasionally legacies. They can mitigate their circumstances by going full-court press on networking, job fairs, and applications. But they may need a recent training even which they just can't get. Also a family man (or woman) just doesn't have the time to jump through all those hoops.

There are also folks who got a blackmark along the way, who would otherwise have progressed. You can 100% avoid DUI's but sometimes employment or training issues are hard to avoid (you should make every effort of course...)
Wow. A lot here. Thank you!! I can understand how some can get 'stuck' and the circumstances occurring during a market downturn or industry shakeup can make a lot of sense. We may be past due for another of these kinds of events.

So the idea is to stay nimble and keep climbing until you hit a place that is comfortable enough for you to stay for a while. Be wary of any offers that come with long term lock-in periods. Do everything to you can to avoid 'black-marks' and if you do have any (like a failed check ride), make sure you can interview well with it.

Be more than 'just a pilot', be well rounded with other skills and non-profit work to make yourself as interesting a person as possible to keep the recruiters attention. Get a diversity of experience. Fly other things. Pay to do so sometimes if you have to. Don't stagnate.

Does that about cover it?

Thanks!
-Jay
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Old 02-06-2019, 10:39 AM   #24  
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If you start now, you can retire as a pretty senior WB FO from a legacy airline. Maybe a somewhat junior WB CA.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:09 AM   #25  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JayMahon View Post
I've got no illusions I'll ever fly a widebody for a legacy carrier. I don't need to. Getting paid six figures to fly small jets for regionals or narrow bodies for a major would be more than enough.

The economy tanking impacts lots of other industries aside from just aviation. I can't control those larger patterns but I hope that aviation in general has a better opportunity to offer than the work I've been doing thus far.

Is there any real chance of broad cabotage being allowed in the US? I haven't come across this other than just general fear mongering.

Overall, not that depressing. Got any other dark clouds?

Thanks!
-Jay
Nope, all I got. I think flying for a contract regional is extremely likely for you and if that is good enough then you will be happy.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:12 AM   #26  
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It may be well to remember that there is a lot more to flying and aviation than just the airlines.
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Old 02-06-2019, 11:26 AM   #27  
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It may be well to remember that there is a lot more to flying and aviation than just the airlines.
This.

If you want to talk hopes and dreams, then this single statement sums them all up.

I don't know what options and opportunities will avail themselves over the course of my life. There is a whole horizon out there full of possibility. I've worked my way up in every company I've ever worked for, I'm ambitious. That's not likely to change.

I'm doing the research and preparing for a 'worst case scenario', a 'most likely scenario most folks settle for' and I'm leaving the door open to anything better than that. I don't need the better, but I'm glad it's at least in the air.
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Old 02-06-2019, 04:36 PM   #28  
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Originally Posted by rickair7777 View Post
Big Six (DL/UA/AA/SWA/FDX/UPS): They will get you to $200K real quick. Top may be as high as $900K in extreme cases. FO's make $200-300K+, most CA's $350-500K.........
900K. Really?? How can anyone even come close to this?? Even working at 200% for all your trips, I can't fathom how you could get within 200K of 900K. I think you do a disservice to even suggest numbers like this, even your other numbers are a reach for many.

To the OP. It sounds like you got a good grip on this. If you really have the love, the knack for flying, have the $$ to spend on training, and your family is 200% on board, you certainly should reach the regional level, and within a reasonable amount of time. Your biggest concern near term is the quality of the instruction you receive. Don't settle for mediocrity, its out there, buyer beware!! Best of luck.
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Old 02-07-2019, 04:08 AM   #29  
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900K. Really?? How can anyone even come close to this?? Even working at 200% for all your trips, I can't fathom how you could get within 200K of 900K. I think you do a disservice to even suggest numbers like this, even your other numbers are a reach for many.

To the OP. It sounds like you got a good grip on this. If you really have the love, the knack for flying, have the $$ to spend on training, and your family is 200% on board, you certainly should reach the regional level, and within a reasonable amount of time. Your biggest concern near term is the quality of the instruction you receive. Don't settle for mediocrity, its out there, buyer beware!! Best of luck.
As I said, extreme case. But you can read all about it over on the DAL forum. In fact probably better do that before you call me a liar next time.
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Old 02-07-2019, 08:10 AM   #30  
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900K. Really?? How can anyone even come close to this?? Even working at 200% for all your trips, I can't fathom how you could get within 200K of 900K. I think you do a disservice to even suggest numbers like this, even your other numbers are a reach for many.

To the OP. It sounds like you got a good grip on this. If you really have the love, the knack for flying, have the $$ to spend on training, and your family is 200% on board, you certainly should reach the regional level, and within a reasonable amount of time. Your biggest concern near term is the quality of the instruction you receive. Don't settle for mediocrity, its out there, buyer beware!! Best of luck.
DAL had a few guys who broke 1mil last year.
I believe the recipe was senior 350 CA's being bought from their trips for IOE, then working green slips.
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