any airline pilots out there?

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Adam Krogul, May 29, 2003.

  1. Adam Krogul

    Adam Krogul Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2002
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    my friend and i were having a converstation about jobs and a plane flew over head and we both wondered what a pilot's job schedule was like.

    what's their salary, do they work every day or have a certin schedule. how hard is it to become an airline pilot? are their different licenses for different size planes, simliar to semi's?

    any info would be great, we were both stumped and had no clue.
     
  2. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Well, I know for a fact there are some professional pilot's on the board (paging walt...)
    I am not a pro pilot due to the current economy.. But I do have a degree in the field.. hold the ratings.. and have a million buddies that are, amazingly enough, still flying.

    I'll address it to the best of my knowledge [​IMG]


    When you get into large, over say 12,500 gross, or jet powered aircraft, they do in fact require a type rating, specific to that make and model aircraft. below that no, there are various requirements for high altitude, complex, high performance... but it's a matter of a sign off by a flight instructor (like me [​IMG] ) and not an actual type rating added to the back of your certificate.

    is it hard to become one.. right now, yes. 3 years ago? no. hehe. The captains at the major airlines (untied, AA etc.. ) make the bucks, and it's based on seniority.. pretty much the rest of the industry makes shit [​IMG] I have plenty of friends flying for regional airines (horizon, ASA, ACA, Comair.. etc.) that could, or are on food stamps. I'd say the average first officer pay to start out with a regional is 18-25k a year, not a lot when you need 50k plus in training to get in the door. A few years ago you could get your ratings, flight instruct to build 800-1500 hours and get on, it's a bit harder now.. well, a LOT harder.. with guys with 6,000 + hours out of work, I just can't compete. Flight instructors make JACK. Usually 10-20 bucks an hour, for contact time (time billed to students only) so it really isn't even full time.. 30 hours a week is a pretty good week, and of course if you get bad weather for a month, you get no pay... unless you can do some ground lessons.

    as I said, pay is based on seniority, as you become more valuable you make more.. but you REALLY pay your dues to get there. It's not the cake job people think it is, about 10% of my flying friends are happy [​IMG]

    Schedules... again, seniority. You generally bid on the routes you want, if you're low on the number you get what you get. you can also be on call, in case a crew member is sick. You're usually paid for this time, and it can be AT THE AIRPORT or you can be free to do whatever, but have to be on 1 hour or so call, so you can't be too far from the airport. The schedule can vary pretty wildly, I had a friend start at horizon that flew maybe 15 days a month.. He had it pretty easy, other friends don't have it so easy. he'd usually work a week and have a week off or so. Pretty cake, but he wasn't making much.. It can suck, get off at 12am and have an 8pm show the next morning for example, they only have to give you 8 hours of rest.. but by the time you get to the hotel, get some food, get some sleep, get up and dressed and back.. it's much less. You're also not very flexible, if a trip is over a holiday or a birthday.. you miss it. sucks.

    hope that sheds some light on it. I'm sure walt or another pro will drop in and add to it [​IMG]

    ~pg (broke, unemployed commercial, multi engine, instrument, flight instructor SEL and instrument [​IMG] )

    edit: oh also I forgot to mention, to be a captain you're going to need an airline transport certificate, it's a step above a commercial certificate (like mine) requiring more experience and age, I can't recall the regulatory requirments associated with it as it does not apply to me, I've just forgotten and don't have my regulations here with me. There are also different expereince requirements for different commercial operations, like part 135 which would be something like an on-demand charter type of operation. Again I can't go into detail as they don't apply to me and I don't keep fresh on them...
     
  3. Ryan Wright

    Ryan Wright Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Jul 30, 2000
    Messages:
    1,875
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    When it comes to pay, I can back up what Philip said. Several years ago I considered leaving my office job for an airline career. I wanted to fly, bad. I talked to my flight instructor and he leveled with me:

    Most of the guys who are teaching are simply trying to get into a real job. You need a large number of flight hours before you can get a job, and those hours are incredibly expensive. If you teach, you can rack up a bunch of hours without having to pay for it. But as Philip said, you don't make enough to live on while you're teaching.

    By the time you do get that job, you're in your mid twenties (assuming you started fresh out of college) and you're lucky to be making $20k per year. The only way to do it is to live with your parents until you're 35 and do nothing but fly. By that time you'll have enough hours to earn a respectable salary.

    Needless to say, I quickly changed my mind about becoming a professional pilot. I have a family and a Home Theater to feed. [​IMG]
     
  4. Matt Stryker

    Matt Stryker Screenwriter

    Joined:
    Oct 12, 2000
    Messages:
    1,307
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I was also under the impression that lots of people come into commerical aviation out of the military, where they had racked up serious flight time...
     
  5. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think Philip covered it pretty well, except I'd say 99% of the people I fly with consider themselves to be very happy and blessed to have the opportunity to do something they love for a living. When I flew commuters, that percentage was considerably lower. [​IMG]

    Whether hiring is going strong or not, it does take several thousand hours of mostly multi-engine turbine time (military or commuters) to be competitive at the major airlines, unless you can claim minority status. Flight schools tend to propogate the idea that 1500-2000 hrs. is enough, but that's not realistic from what I've seen. I was hired at a "good" time and no one being interviewed had less than around 6 thousand hours, including some jet time. Right now things are very bad job-wise, but that will turn around in a few years as it always does. I've been flying for 17 years with the last 12 years in airline service, and I've noticed that nearly everyone who can stick with it will make it to a major as long as they persist and keep their nose clean. Disqualifications for major airline employment include bad credit, criminal record, too many traffic violations or DUI, FAA action, etc. They like the squeaky clean types, or at least those who can fake it well. A four year degree is not always required, but realistically you'll need one as virtually all of your competition will have at least that. I made it to a major without one, but that's uncommon and probably delayed my final leap to a major by a few years. I had over 10 thousand hours when I got on, with lots of Captain experience and a few hundred hours of DC-9 time.

    Military training and experience is a great way to get on with a major without flying commuters and racking up debt the way I did, and I'd say about 1/2 of the folks I work with came up that way.

    Salary and schedules are not so good at the commuter airlines, at least not for the first few years, however a Captain can make 60K or more at a good commuter. Major airline salary is much better with first and second officers topping out at over 100K, and Captains making 175-250K and sometimes more. Schedules are bid monthly, and your seniority determines what "line" you can hold. Even if you can't get the schedule you want for that upcoming birthday, trip trading etc. make it pretty easy to accomodate particular days off. Lots of guys just use their paid sick time for special events, and you'll have about a month's worth at your disposal each year. If you're low on seniority though, chances are good you'll be working some major holidays. I haven't worked a Christmas in many years and none at my current job, but that's just luck of the draw given my low seniority.

    Most majors will have you working around 15 out of every 30 days, with a 2 week vacation every year. You get more vacation with longevity, up to about one month per year. If you hold a reserve line, you're "on call" for 15 hours per day with typically a 2 hour call out time or longer. Every major airline pilot group negotiates their own contract, so these details do vary. A 1 hour report time is fairly standard at the commuters. Eight hours rest between assignments is the legal minimum, however major airline pilots aren't squeezed quite that hard with 10 or 11 hours of rest being the contractual scheduled minimum. I usually get at least 12-13 hours rest at the hotel, sometimes much more. Many of our pilots carry their golf clubs with them wherever they go to make good use of that.

    All in all it's a great gig, but it's tough getting there and a lot of people give up or get sidelined for various reasons. It's always a gamble, but for me it was totally worth the years of lousy pay and working conditions. Unfortunately though, with airline economy being so fickle and volatile you never really rest easy. When the economy catches a cold, the airlines catch pneumonia. I probably wouldn't recommend it to anyone who doesn't really really love to fly, but if you do it's a no-brainer.

    For anyone considering a career in aviation, I highly recommend using the services of Air Inc. for help and information along the way. http://www.jet-jobs.com/navigationpa...ationpage.html
     
  6. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    personally I took a job with a big fish in the industry, not flying. But in the industry, now I can instruct for fun, and fly when I want to, not when I have to. We'll see if it works out. I think some of the training options at the airlines provide good opportunities too...
     
  7. Paul McElligott

    Paul McElligott Cinematographer

    Joined:
    Jul 2, 2002
    Messages:
    2,598
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Real Name:
    Paul McElligott
    A friend of mine flies for a corporate bigwig who owns his own jet. That's another way to make a living as a pilot. I'm not sure what he makes, though.
     
  8. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Good luck Philip, I hope that works out nicely for you. I saw that you were getting a new dog, and not having to travel for a living will be a big plus. I like to bid reserve and only go out around 5-7 days a month, but even still I've had great difficulty at times as a single guy, keeping a big-time dog-loving non-traveling roomate in my house to keep my pups happy when I'm away. If it weren't for that, I could live alone and bid a full schedule, or at least get a few hundred $ more per month on rent. Not that I'm complaining though, they're worth it. [​IMG]
     
  9. Marc S Kessler

    Marc S Kessler Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    May 8, 2001
    Messages:
    186
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I think Walt covered this pretty well. It seems to me the best way to get a job with the majors is flying in the military. Getting a lot of hours of jet/turbo time is important to be competitive. About 10 years ago a lot of hires were coming from commuter carriers but right now I don't think anyone is hiring and there are plenty of pilots on furlough. BTW I'm not a professional pilot but my wife is a DC-10 Captain for FEDEX.
     
  10. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    and most of the time we ignore you [​IMG]
     
  11. Adam Krogul

    Adam Krogul Stunt Coordinator

    Joined:
    Feb 25, 2002
    Messages:
    66
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    thanks guys, i swear you can ask anything on this forum and i bet someone will know the anwser. [​IMG]
     
  12. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0


    We know where to go, but we do appreciate you keeping us from running into one another. [​IMG]
     
  13. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
     
  14. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    hehe did I tell you about the time they cleared traffic to depart rwy 26 while I was on downwind for 17?
    they asked how far behind we passed, we replied a few hundred feet below traffic, all I heard from tower was *click*ten points*click* [​IMG]

    man I'd kill to hear a cleared to one-zero thousand, usually in the bug basher I'm stuck in it's cleared to three-zero thousand [​IMG]
     
  15. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    Buzz, I wonder if that impatience you're seeing on the part of the crew may stem from how difficult it is to get a large jet to descend in a short time or distance? We don't like to use the speedbrake if we don't have to because of the way it makes the airplane shake. I don't know if that is what's happening there, just a possibility.

    Along those lines, here's a supposedly true exchange I once heard about...

    ATC: Delta 202, cross the Santa Monica VOR at and maintain 10,000 feet.

    Delta 202: Unable.

    ATC: Roger Delta 202, did you say unable?

    Delta 202: Affirm, unable.

    ATC: Roger Delta 202, delete crossing restriction, maintain 10,000 feet...and do you have time for a question?

    Delta 202: ...cleared to 10,000 feet...go ahead with your question.

    ATC: Do you have speedbrakes on that thing?

    Delta 202: Affirm, but those are for our mistakes, not yours!

    Seriously though, we do appreciate the excellent and difficult work you folks do. If only we got along with airline management so well. [​IMG]
     
  16. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    I get slam dunked all the time. Not a big deal to me. But I think I'd get pretty hot too if I had a plane full of passengers paying for a smooth ride.
    I do get irritated when I hear I'm #3 or whatever for the approach, and 4 fedex aircraft come in and suddenly I'm #7 however. I got vectored off the ILS once TWICE in a row just before intercept (within 50 feet of GS intercept) on my CFII checkride because of a tanker in the pattern. Thought my check airman was going to have a stroke in the a/c [​IMG] In all fairness it was an AFB, so I suppose I was on his "turf"

    listening to ATC and other pilots cracks me up man.

    [further thread hijack]
    you still working buzz? For awhile I thought you were thinking about going back to school and it sounded like give up the ATC gig? [/hijack]
     
  17. Walt N

    Walt N Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jul 23, 2001
    Messages:
    417
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    You won't have those terrain problems at DFW, anyway. Good luck on that. I'll give you a shout out sometime. [​IMG]
     
  18. Philip_G

    Philip_G Producer

    Joined:
    Nov 13, 2000
    Messages:
    5,030
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    very cool buzz. Whatever you decide I'm sure you'll excel at it and be happy.
     
  19. Devin U

    Devin U Second Unit

    Joined:
    Jun 23, 2002
    Messages:
    399
    Likes Received:
    0
    Trophy Points:
    0
    anone have a pilot to english translator handy?
     
  20. Eric Kahn

    Eric Kahn Guest

    My friend flies up east for a US Airways commuter, he made like $17,000 last year as a first officer
    he constantly tells me now to keep my post office job and fly for fun, that it would be very hard now to get the ratings and then get a job flying making anything near what I do at the post office with any kind of benifits at all
    If the military trained you as a pilot, you are in better shape, but to do it on your own right now will takes years of dedication and a willingness to live on bare subsistance wages (an understanding spouse with a good job would help alot, or just being independantly wealthy)
     

Share This Page