Author Topic: Pilot Shortage - not so funny  (Read 2274 times)

Offline PiperGirl

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Pilot Shortage - not so funny
« on: May 14, 2008, 02:08:00 PM »

The Wall Street Journal recently published an article on the shortage of aviation professionals and the ensuing safety concerns. "More planes are flying than ever before, but the number of people who do everything from piloting them to fixing them isn't keeping pace. The growing shortage is raising fresh concerns about air safety."
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Offline Rooster Cruiser

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Re: Pilot Shortage - not so funny
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2008, 05:03:48 AM »
Not so funny indeed... it's downright scary!   ::eek::  And yet, the airlines in the US and Europe continue to refuse to address the core issue:  Salary.   ::sulk::

Aviation pay has miserably failed to keep pace with the pay in other professions that require so much training, dedication and hard work.  The traditional Doctor or Lawyer can expect to see a much higher standard of living than an airline pilot.  Worse, the high tech world offers doctor or lawyer pay as starting salaries in some cases right after graduation!  Hardly makes sense for younger folks to look to a career in aviation from a financial standpoint.  I've said it here and elsewhere, you have to love aviation to make it your career, cause you are going to spend most of your working lifetime trying to pay off your student loans given the salaries paid to most airline pilots in the US.

So what do the airlines propose to do to address this looming disaster?  Hike payscales that they aggressively shoved down the throats of their unions 6 years ago in the wake of the 9-11 induced bankruptcies?  Are you kidding me???  Hell no!  This is what they do:

Pilot-union leaders say some U.S. carriers are using special programs allowing co-pilots to fly with as few as 50 hours of cockpit time in big planes -- far below the hundreds of hours usually required -- because of intense demand. Filling the gap won't be easy because educating pilots takes years.
::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead:: ::banghead::

The airlines in China and India are being smart and are offering the kinds of salaries that will actually attract and retain good experienced pilots.  This is even happening in the GA businesses there.  Heck, a few months ago I was offered $10K per month TAX FREE to fly a PC-12 over yonder!  I turned it down again because of my family, but the temptation is sure there.  An old friend of mine is currently a captain on a 737NG in India making $22,000 per month tax free.  That's right - $22K per month tax free.  That is not a typo.

So the airlines in the US and Europe are lowering standards, rather than hike the pay.  The net result?  Our airlines are becoming the training centers for the rest of the world, and our most experienced pilots are going elsewhere to earn their keep.  Those of us who remain behind do so for our own reasons, but we shake our heads from the sidelines and wait for the next disaster to happen.  It is inevitable.

A good friend of mine is a Capt on a CRJ700 for a large regional, and he has told me the difficulties of flying with newbies that have only 500hrs total time.  Some are good, but he has told me of times where he had to take over from them when they'd get too slow on an ILS approach... to the point that the stick shaker activated!  I for one would not let it get that far, but that is why I am not flying for an airline nowadays.

I will be curious to hear Baradium's stories from Memphis as he begins to fly the line for his regional.  I hope he will have good experiences with good captains.  His airline has already had one bad crash due to a "Cowboy" captain and a very low time FO.  The only saving grace on that flight was that it was a deadhead and there was no one else aboard so they only killed themselves.  I'm not insinuating anything by this, but the facts of that case should serve as a warning to airline management.  I fear the warning has gone unheeded.
« Last Edit: May 16, 2008, 05:09:56 AM by Rooster Cruiser »
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Offline Mike

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Re: Pilot Shortage - not so funny
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2008, 05:36:57 AM »
I've said it here and elsewhere, you have to love aviation to make it your career, cause you are going to spend most of your working lifetime trying to pay off your student loans given the salaries paid to most airline pilots in the US.

This is the key issue I think. The aviation industry was always banking on having people who just "love" doing what they are doing. And even though, flying a helicopter for a living is pretty much the coolest things you can do with your pants on, it's not enough anymore if you also want a life and a family. The younger generation wants to get paid even though they enjoy it and I don't think there is anything wrong with that. In the helo industry the old Vietnam pilots kept the salaries down because most of them still had the mind set of the 80's when there wasn't any helicopter jobs to be had and were thankful to even have a job. For most of them this is all they knew how to do. But they are all almost gone and we are hurting for new peoplewith experience. The mechanic situation is even worse . . .
For me, that's REALLY scary part....

I must have spent a total of 4 weeks of training (taken) not even counting the training I give every year. How many surgeons have to train that much?
How many surgeons have to take 5 tests a year just to make sure they still know what they are doing?

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Offline spacer

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Re: Pilot Shortage - not so funny
« Reply #3 on: June 03, 2008, 08:54:55 PM »
From where I'm sitting, the price of admission is a huge barrier.

I've just picked up a Letsfly franchise for my airport, and I'm hoping to start a co-op so
I can offer memberships to local commercial and instrument students looking for a different
way to build time in a nicer airplane, as well as folks who just want to fly for fun. I can't tell
ya thar's gold in them thar hills yet, but I'm swingin' a pick anyway.

Honestly, if the market had any say at all anymore, pilot pay would be a lot higher by now.