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Pilots - The Nation's New Losers  
User currently offlineStoney From Switzerland, joined Jan 2005, 199 posts, RR: 4
Posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 14 hours ago) and read 5667 times:

Hi y'all

In the newest Weltwoche there is a pretty interesting article about being a pilot now and how it used to be (Sorry, in German only):

http://www.weltwoche.ch/artikel/?AssetID=10143&CategoryID=73

Summary: It just says that some time ago, pilots were like Gods, real authorities and respected like rich surgeons. But everything went bad, now it's a job like every other one, without any privileges anymore. Every pilot has to think twice to find something good about his job and it'll only get worse, until the pilots have to start serving the passengers food and drinks. It also says that flying has become more boring now that everything is automated, one could be a secretary and have to know more than a pilot and that it's more a question of who can afford it, than who would be a great pilot.

In the end there's a pretty neat quote summing it all up: "Yesterday we lived to fly, now, you fly to live"

One has to add that this newspaper brings all sides a story, so no need to criticize it. It's like a whole paper full of columns, a great Paper IMO.


Now I've got some questions:

  • Is the situation really that bad?

  • Is that just the situation in Switzerland, or is it like this elsewhere?

  • If yes, for how long already, and if no, how is it then?

  • Is being a pilot still a job worth going into debt to learn it?

  • And do you think it will get better in the future?


  • I hope it isn't as bad as it is portrayed in this article, because I really want to be a pilot someday.

    Greetz
    Stoney

    [Edited 2005-02-17 18:32:29]


    BAZL - Bundesamt gegen Zivilluftfahrt - royally screwing around with swiss aviation
    33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
     
    User currently offlinePadraighaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 1, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5503 times:

    Well, I'm just chomping at the bit to get my oar in the water here...  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

    [Hyperbole mode on...]

    Pilots are not the only losers here. What we are seeing is the menialiazition of the workforce, where at the altar of efficiency and profit, more and more organizations are on a binge of trying to turn employees into ever more precise bits of machinary. Don't believe me? Think that's too harsh? What happens when they DO find a piece of machinary that CAN replace employees?

    Part of this process is to narrowly define the workplace and pretend the work is significant through requiring or acquiring junk certifications. Specialist employees are desirable for the same reasons specialized machines are; the more modular they are, the easier it is to replace and upgrade them. With the human employee, you see an ever-increasing trend to push for junk certifications with minimal long term educational traction (e.g. Cisco, Microsoft, Novell, Project management,TQM etc.) The defining characteristic of all these is they are easily obsoleted as technology and fads change and they facilitate job exportation on the premise that an Asian CCNA making $2 per hour should be able to do a job like phone support as well as an american making $75 per hour. The problem is that the premise is correct (assuming language skills are comparable.)

    We live in a world where it's just not good enough to make a profit anymore; we live in a world where managers are considered failures for not making *increasing* profits. Take that as a starting point and you can begin to follow the trail of mania that permeates modern corporate and HR cultures. But this mania couldn't work unless employees buy-in to the nonsense; this problem has long since been solved - just hyper-stimulate continuously with ads during every waking moment so they believe they cannot live without the plastic trinkets and knick-knacks, credit debt, and high priced consumer goods (that are obsolete within a year - cute!) and you have them hooked. They will line up in droves for a decreasing number of ever-lower paying professional jobs to pay off their debt and many will try and keep themselves too busy to avoid asking themselves where it all went wrong.

    In the case of the pilots mentioned in the first post, they could fly quite experientially in an old tail dragger, or do aerobatics instead of watching computer dials on an autopilot. So, it's classic co-opted behaviour when they complain about the changing workplace and the changing nature of the job. Rather than say "We will not work like this because we love flying too much" they say "We'll do whatever because we have so much debt, even if it destroys job satisfaction and 'no,' we can't have that union stuff that's totally un-american."

    What's wrong with job satisfaction anyway? Except of course you don't find it on the balance sheet... Imagine a society were corporate tax rates were determined not just on the basis of profit but also on airy-fairy concepts relating to quality of life (stress-reducing, heart attack and medical cost reducing if you need a rationale) and corporate citizenship. Job Satisfaction, Job Security, Stress Levels etc. Of course this is totally nuts, why next you'll have me believing that employees will make wage concessions, or that loyal, patriotic americans would shop at a flag-waving store where the overwhelming majority of it's vendors and products (again mostly discretionary plastic) comes from China, or that they'll ask to be shackled in order to protect their freedoms. Fortunately, americans just aren't that dumb.

    [Hyperbole off...]

    So what's a guy to do? Do what you like and what you can get paid for. If you love your work, they say you'll never work another day in your life. If you're unwilling to look for such employment, then maybe you don't deserve it....


     Smile/happy/getting dizzy


    User currently offlineZOTAN From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 609 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 2, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5442 times:

    Being a pilot now is blue collar job no matter how much pilots loath to admit it. Its no longer the glorious job it used to be.

    User currently offlinePilotaydin From Turkey, joined Sep 2004, 2539 posts, RR: 51
    Reply 3, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5435 times:

    well, i think that's only in certain countries....

    in turkey if you're a pilot, seeing as there are only about less than 2500 civilian pilots, it's quite an amazing reaction and respect u get from people when you tell them...



    The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
    User currently offlineSupa7E7 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 4, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 11 hours ago) and read 5429 times:

    Airline pilots are still lucky. Most fully qualified jet pilots can only dream of making over 100,000 US$ a year...

    User currently offlineSlider From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 6787 posts, RR: 34
    Reply 5, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5370 times:

    I wouldn't say it's the menialization of the workforce, as Padraighaz stated, but the rationalization of the role of pilots in general.

    I don't mean this as a personal shot against any pilots, but the premise of Stoney's article is essentially "WAAAAHHHH!"

    It's not that pilots have been trivialized, it's that they're not the Gods of the Sky anymore. If the paycheck, adulation and reputation was the motivating factor for being a pilot, then I would suggest that individual made the wrong career decision.

    Pay has come down due to economics. The sky is not falling. It's reality.


    User currently offlinePolAir From United States of America, joined May 2001, 893 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 6, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5356 times:

    If one loves flying ... there is nothing else like it.
    As far as going into debt? In US one must expect problems finding job, especially well paid job to pay off those debts. Many young guys work their first 2-3 years for very little. Couple of my friends are still regretting going into this field, because they make less than a full time MickyD's employee.


    User currently offlineKUGN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 615 posts, RR: 6
    Reply 7, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5320 times:

    Slider has nailed it, as far as pilot jobs in US and perheps generally in the West are concerned.

    In other parts of the world, pilot proffesion may still be open only to the elite circles, with its perks (the "aaaaw" factor) and drawbacks - like being controlled by the inteligence, military etc.


    There may be another interesting issue - having in mind this article is coming from Germany - the growing EU regulations on commercial aviation and its effects on the airline economics and their effect on the employment, compensation (and the overal socio-economic status of commercial pilots in EU).


    User currently offlineTango-Bravo From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 3803 posts, RR: 29
    Reply 8, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5275 times:

    We live in a world where it's just not good enough to make a profit anymore; we live in a world where managers are considered failures for not making *increasing* profits. Take that as a starting point and you can begin to follow the trail of mania that permeates modern corporate and HR cultures. But this mania couldn't work unless employees buy-in to the nonsense; this problem has long since been solved - just hyper-stimulate continuously with ads during every waking moment so they believe they cannot live without the plastic trinkets and knick-knacks, credit debt, and high priced consumer goods (that are obsolete within a year - cute!) and you have them hooked. They will line up in droves for a decreasing number of ever-lower paying professional jobs to pay off their debt and many will try and keep themselves too busy to avoid asking themselves where it all went wrong.

    It couldn't be stated any better! The only comment I will add, especially in regard to the deceit of consumerism, are the words of columnist known as the "Country Scribe" who wrote (my paraphrase): advertisers and merchants know for a fact that there is an endless supply of restless people overtaken by feelings of anxiety and inferiority who can be made to buy into the fallacy that they will be fulfilled if they only buy the right new car or wear the right clothes or take the right trip (etc, etc, etc) only to find that happiness and contentment cannot be bought, at which point the cycle starts all over again, with the same results and even deeper debt.


    User currently offlinePadraighaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 9, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5247 times:

    "Pay has come down due to economics. The sky is not falling. It's reality."

    But is this true beyond a superficial glance? Since almost everything is related to economics it is trivially true. For example, if employees all demanded a certain income across the industry, then that would become a fixed point against which the bean counters couldn't advance, and so they would have to look elsewhere. Yes, they might have to increase ticket prices, and yes there might be some shrinkage in the market. But, perhaps a discussion comparing benefits of better paid employees vs slightly reduced ability to travel to Disneyland needs to take place?

    I can hear the howls now... "But this implies increased centralization of oversight and increased government and union involvement.... We can't have that... We gotta be free... We gotta be me... la lala la... Keep the gubbimint off the baks of bizness... Oops, wher dose gubbimint contrakts agin..."

     Smile/happy/getting dizzy


    User currently offlineMilemaster From United States of America, joined Mar 2001, 1063 posts, RR: 2
    Reply 10, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 10 hours ago) and read 5211 times:

    Quoting Padraighaz (reply 1):


    Padraighaz,

    This forum needs more posts like yours is all I can say.

    We all have to read through billions of stupid livery discussions and "why doesn't airline X serve airport Y?" posts to get one of quality such as yours.

    Bravo!


    User currently offlineKUGN From United States of America, joined Jul 2000, 615 posts, RR: 6
    Reply 11, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5166 times:

    Good article http://www.atwonline.com/news_insight.cfm

    User currently offlineAA717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
    Reply 12, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5160 times:

    I'm so tired of the "pilots are just managing automation, sitting up there staring at the dials" comments. Flying is what you make of it. I fly the most advanced business jet in the world with the most advanced avionics package in the world. I used to fly the 717--other than not having FBW, it had a very sophisticated avionics/autoflight package.

    I still hand fly up to 10,000' and down from 10,000'. I still hand fly real IFR approaches. I make sure I don't become a systems monitor.

    The profession has been beaten down for a couple of reasons. (My wife wrote a great essay on this for the TWA pilots when they were in contract negotiations and so many were willing to settle for little or no increases.) We generally hang out around other pilots so we kind of get desensitized to the scope of what it is we do on a daily basis. A few years ago a study was done on decision making skills. The top group of people in the survey (which measured the number and rapidity of which decisions had to be made in the course of a normal work day) were emergency room physicians. The second group in the survey were professional pilots. It doesn't matter who came in third--you can bet it wasn't bean counters.

    We have lost the measure of our self worth. We see ourselves as regular guys (and girls) and get embarassed when the light is shone on us and our jobs. There has been too much of an "aw, schucks" attitude among pilots. No, I don't want or expect us to have a "God complex" like some doctors but we should recognize that our jobs do require a little... no, a lot higher level of talent and training than 99% of the other professions out there.

    The second attitude that pilots have adopted that is detrimental to our profession is the fact that we love to fly more than anything in the world. Sure, there are some who are just in it for the money, days off or glamour. But the overwhelming majority of professional pilots would do this for free. We are getting closer to that every day. None of us has been willing to take the risk of losing the opportunity to go fly a 717 or 767 10,15 or 20 days a month. It's way too much fun.

    As a result, the bean counters can beat us down to make their bottom lines and themselves look like heroes. They are at the bar regaling the crowd with stories of their valorous defense of the corporate bottom line, waging a daily battle against bloated salaries and earnings-threatening benefits. THEY are the true heroes of the airline. Saviors all.

    All this while we huddle in our cockpits in fear of losing the one thing in life that gives us, or ever can give us true fulfillment--flight.

    My daughter goes to a private school. Many of her classmates are the children of CEO's, CFO's, Surgeons and even the Mayor. She reports that her classmates think I have the coolest job of anyone. I do. It so cool that I'm not willing to give it up to try to make more money than an over the road trucker.

    We, alone, are responsible for our plight. TC



    FL450, M.85
    User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 13, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5127 times:

    I still think pilots are Gods. I don't care what anybody else says. After experiencing a thrilling landing at EWR in strong wind gusts I think they earn every penny. Instead of being frightened, I was able to enjoy the experience because I had absolute confidence in the pilots.

    User currently offline252MKR From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 108 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 14, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 9 hours ago) and read 5098 times:

    "Zonie Pat"...highly amusing post.

    Being a pilot was a dream since I was a kid; all of the usual Gordon Baxter reading and model airplane building stuff. But it took ten years to realize the "goal." I worked for two Big Four firms, Wall Street, Silicon Valley, and in Europe.

    And after four years of real commercial flying for a living I can barely describe myself as a pilot--I guess I don't feel like one--in the "macho" sense. The job sucks most of the time--but about every other trip I am up at Four in the morning jamming the Beastie Boys while driving to the Airport--I see the blue taxi lights (my fave), and I crack a big smile. I can NEVER EVER remember doing that in business. Yes, Pilot's useful time is limited with new technology. Yes, we are blue collar workers. Yes, $$$ could be better.

    But ride with me for ten minutes--when I push the power up in the jet--your head hits back on your chair. The Earth falls away from you. You blast through a dark gray February cloud layer to see the Sun. When you get to 450 we can see the Earth curve. Please tell me this is not worth it?

    And when we become unemployed, and on the dole...

    An out of work pilot at the bar is far "kooler" than the unemployed CIO, or JAVA programmer, or patent lawyer Smile



    "...If I'm here, and you're here--doesn't that make it our time?" Jeff Spicoli
    User currently offlineLUVNapa From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 11 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 15, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 8 hours ago) and read 4978 times:

    Quoting AA717driver (reply 12):
    But the overwhelming majority of professional pilots would do this for free.


     Yeah sure

    You must be joking, right?!? I'm not sure what airline pilots you know but I've never met one yet that isn't constantly thinking about their pay. Specifically, how best to maximize it while maintaining their QOL.


    User currently offlineAA717driver From United States of America, joined Feb 2002, 1566 posts, RR: 13
    Reply 16, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4865 times:

    LUV--I meant flying in general. Not do 8 legs in 7 hours...

    I think SWA and night freight guys are way underpaid.TC



    FL450, M.85
    User currently offlineFlyMIA From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 7123 posts, RR: 9
    Reply 17, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4817 times:

    LUVNapa: If AA siad here fly a A300 7 days a week for free I think any pilot would do it. Just like how many GA pilots rent planes for $55-$120 an hour to fly.

    I still think there is some glory to the job. I not a pilot yet thats for sure. But when you tell some one yea I am a pilot I am sure they say wow thats cool. As said before 98% of the working population do not have the skills like pilots do. I see it at the airport all the time a pilot eat his lunch or walking down the hall you always see some people staring at them in their uniforms saying that guy has an important job and is skilled. ( Well something like that, or maybe I just see the glory because I want to do it so badly)
    All I know is that I hope to be a commercial pilot one day. I know its a hard road to get there and I wont make money most of the time. But to have the chance one day to hopefully fly a 777,747,A340 even just a 737 its all worth it I think.

    252MKR: Yea pilots do have alot of awesome stories to tell thats for sure.



    "It was just four of us on the flight deck, trying to do our job" (Captain Al Haynes)
    User currently offlineAirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
    Reply 18, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4775 times:

    "one could be a secretary and have to know more than a pilot"

    The thermometer on the outside of the terminal building is reading 90 degrees Fahrenheit in the shade. What is the density altitude?

    The airplane to which this chart applies is loaded to 2,750 pounds. The temperature is 25 degrees Celsius. How much runway will be needed for landing on a paved runway at an elevation of 5,500' with a 7 knot headwind?

    How do you spell Connecticut?

    I seriously doubt that a secretary would know all these questions. A lady passenger that was sitting next to me in a flight said it best: "I really wish that pilots would make more than pro athletes because pilots have a really tough job and they have a lot of responsibility where as pro athlets are just clowns for our amusement."


    User currently offlineJFernandez From United States of America, joined Feb 2004, 304 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 19, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 6 hours ago) and read 4752 times:

    The situation is quite analogous to taxi drivers in many 3rd world countries - the people who have cars are nearly worshipped as amazingly successful people. It is the success of airlines which did this. Heck, people used to dress up for airplane flights as it was something amazingly special. That's lost too, but what can you do?

    User currently offlineAirWillie6475 From United States of America, joined Jan 2005, 2448 posts, RR: 1
    Reply 20, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 4696 times:

    Besides on southwest flights, people still do dress nicely for a flight JFernandez.

    User currently offlineZKSUJ From New Zealand, joined May 2004, 7087 posts, RR: 12
    Reply 21, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 4 hours ago) and read 4642 times:

    Well I am in Pilot training school now, so I will let you know in a few years down the track  Big grin

    User currently offlineJfklganyc From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 3382 posts, RR: 5
    Reply 22, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 3 hours ago) and read 4588 times:

    I'm just starting as an airline pilot, but there is absolutely nothing blue collar about it. Yes, my first year pay sucks. But it gets better rather quickly.

    Most of all, my uniform and my job command respect from my colleagues, my family, and the public in general.

    I was visiting a family member in the hospital the other day and was asked by a middle-aged woman if I was a doctor. I said no--I'm a pilot. She replied, "Wow, a pilot. That's even better than a doctor."

    Just my two cents.

    PJ


    User currently offlineBman351 From Canada, joined Nov 2004, 33 posts, RR: 0
    Reply 23, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 2 hours ago) and read 4517 times:

    It's nice to see some positive comments every once and a while.

    The truth is the ones that do make the positive comments are going to make it in this industry a lot farther than the ones with the negative comments. Most professional pilots will choose the 'office' in the sky at 30000 ft. with an ever-changing view than one that's stuck on the ground while you sit with your ass in an office chair typing away at your computer. Every person I tell I am a pilot, they respect it, find it interesting and generally think it's one of the coolest things to do in the world. And it is. That's better than the pay right there. BJ.


    User currently offlinePadraighaz From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
    Reply 24, posted (9 years 5 months 1 week 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 4351 times:

    Quoting Jfklganyc (reply 22):
    Most of all, my uniform and my job command respect from my colleagues, my family, and the public in general.


    I'd sure hate if we ever abandoned the old aphorism about not judging a book by its cover...



    [Edited 2005-02-18 07:02:22]

    25 Apollo13 : I think that this needs to be deleted honestly. These are people who have a passion for what they do. Sure the pay may suck but its a feeling from the
    26 Padraighaz : Not at all! No one is, or should be, detracting from professional pilots. I think they exemplify my implied assertion that something is very wrong wh
    27 Post contains images Pilotaydin : the last thing we can do with an increasing global population is GENERALIZE...... we all have to realize that the more people that do something, and t
    28 Juventus : I do regret becoming a pilot. Its not worth it for me. I hope to get out of aviation in less than 3 years.
    29 KDTWFlyer : Padraighaz, Very good post my friend... and how true. Employees are more and more being truly viewed as a cost that must be trimmed as much as possibl
    30 Bully707 : Well said....!! STILL...there can be no doubt that there are pilots...or better unions that don't give a damn about the regular Joe in the mech depar
    31 Stoney : Wow, it's really nice to hear such great ways of looking at one's job. I guess exactly these are the people who keep the whole industry going. Sadly,
    32 COSPN : I do regret becoming a pilot. Its not worth it for me. I hope to get out of aviation in less than 3 years. Juventus, What kind of work do you want to
    33 DC10GUY : About damn time as they make to much money as it is to sit up there and read there money magazine! I heard one pilot threw his wallet out the window a
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