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Where Do Airline Pilots Come From?  
User currently offlineAirlineEcon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 130 posts, RR: 0
Posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11744 times:

I have a several questions about pilots that I bet a lot of you could address. (This is my first topic starter on A.net)

I was under the impression that to fly commercial jets in the US its almost impossible to do it without first having flown for the military. I guess this isn't true anymore in the US, but do military pilots have better job prospects? Second what about pilots in countries besides the US. For example do Korean, Korean Air pilots start out in the military?


Is there, (or was there) an old boys network among pilots? Just for example, are AA pilots ex-navy and prefer new hires that are ex-navy. And UAL pilots ex-airforce and hire ex-airforce.

A few more to go...

What about pilots flying for foreign airlines? Are Cathay pilots from Hong Kong or Korean air pilots from Korea? I suppose not, but is there a shift from foreign to local pilots on these airlines? Do local ones get paid less?

Finally, with all the talk about foreign ownership of airlines in the US, are there foreign pilots that fly jets for US airlines? If not, is there strict regulation that prohibits it? What about Europe?

46 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 1, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11678 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Thread starter):
but do military pilots have better job prospects?

Most employers have hiring minimums for pilots, they include total time, multi engine time for most airlines, and some even want jet time. While total time is easy to build as is multi time as a flight instructor it is hard to get jet time as a civilian without a real job. Unless you have money or know somebody, we all know it's about who you know, not what. As far as having better job prospects a military pilot will most likely have an ample amount of jet time logged in a very structured and safety oriented way, thus making a resume with military experience look a bit better. Not to say we civilian pilots are out of luck, hell, I am one. We just work harder at showing off other sides of our abilities.

Quoting AirlineEcon (Thread starter):
are there foreign pilots that fly jets for US airlines?

AFAIK anyone who is going to command a FAA registered aircraft is going to have a FAA issued license. As far as I know this is the same in other countries. This is why Boeing and Airbus put temporary registrations on new aircraft, so their test pilots can fly the plane. Then the registration for the airline is painted on, the airline takes delivery and sends its own crew to take the craft home.


User currently offlineBladeLWS From United States of America, joined Dec 2005, 403 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11670 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Thread starter):
Where Do Airline Pilots Come From?

They come in 747's instead of storks!

LOL


User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2568 posts, RR: 53
Reply 3, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 14 hours ago) and read 11662 times:

Where do we come from?

Well, there's this special magical tree deep in the forbidden forest, and on nights when the moon is full a circle of elfin maidens appears out of the darkness and starts dancing around the tree to the throbbing beat of Whitney Houston music...

Oops, almost let the secret out there!

In all seriousness (ha - bet you never thought you'd hear an airline pilot say that!!), the airlines in the US today are mostly made up of civilian pilots, especially those hired in the last ten years or so. The US military has been shrinking the number of pilots turned out each year, and has been doing more to retain those that they have for longer periods of time. Most civilian US pilots these days have either gone through an aviation school/college like Embry-Riddle, or gone the old fashioned way (as I did) of getting their ratings at the local flight school and picked up time by being a flight instructor, parachute jump pilot, cargo pilot etc.

At the majors (at least the ones I've been to) there is a sort of old-boy network, but it mostly applies to people that the current pilots know, not necessarily pilots from a particular branch of the military. Personal recommendations count for a lot when an airline hires, because there are a lot of pilots that may meet the minimum requirements to fly for an airline, but the airline also wants pilots that they have some knowledge of in terms of their personality and flying skills & habits. That comes from personal knowledge of that applicant by another current pilot at that airline. It's a small business, and who you know counts for a lot.

You don't have to be a US citizen to fly for a US airline, but you do have to have at least a green card.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineGraphic From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11614 times:

Quoting HAL (Reply 3):
Well, there's this special magical tree deep in the forbidden forest, and on nights when the moon is full a circle of elfin maidens appears out of the darkness and starts dancing around the tree to the throbbing beat of Whitney Houston music...

I came from mommy and daddy's special night out, does that mean I can't be a pilot now?  Wink


User currently offlineAirlineEcon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 130 posts, RR: 0
Reply 5, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11584 times:

Quoting Graphic (Reply 4):
I came from mommy and daddy's special night out, does that mean I can't be a pilot now?

OK: bad title for the topic

Another question: Do pilots have a lot of job mobility? Can you bounce around from airline to airline to advance your career, or do you tend to stick with one your whole career?

For the jokers out there, of course they have job mobility, their job is to move hunks of metal around the globe.


User currently offlineMCOflyer From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 8690 posts, RR: 16
Reply 6, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11563 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 5):
do you tend to stick with one your whole career?

Some tend to stick with one your whole career. My friend has 20 years at United and has nearly flown all their a/c that they use currently.

MCOflyer



Never be afraid to stand up for who you are.
User currently offlineCALPilot From United States of America, joined Oct 1999, 999 posts, RR: 13
Reply 7, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11544 times:

The last few classes at one major airline I know; 14 military, 49 civilian.

User currently offlineFuturecaptain From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 8, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11526 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 5):
Do pilots have a lot of job mobility?

Being a pilot is all about senority. The longer you stay at one place the more older people retire and you move up the list. If you change jobs generally you are put on the bottom of the senority list for the new company. Many pilots stay at one major job their whole life.
Senority affects everything, the routes you bid on, the times you work/are off, the aircraft you fly, ect. The more senior you are the better chance you have of getting to fly routes you like, when you want to fly them, on the aircraft type that is your favorite.


User currently offlineHighFlyer9790 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1241 posts, RR: 0
Reply 9, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11526 times:

What is the hiring outllok 10 years from now do you think? will the legacies have a hiring trend due to retirements?


121
User currently offlineAirlineEcon From United States of America, joined Feb 2007, 130 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11464 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Thread starter):
Being a pilot is all about senority.

There is something about the seniority system that strikes me as quite odd. For just about every other high skilled professional job out there, people don't just wait for the guy above them to retire. They bid their services around to lots of companies and get promotions that way. And if you're the guy above, you always have to worry about somebody taking your place who could do a better job.

You hear reports that the average college grad will have something like 9 jobs in their career. In theory, this sort of job mobility promotes efficiency.

Why not the same for pilots? My hunch is that its an artifact of the labor union contracts. (Lets not start a conversation criticizing pilot unions)


User currently offlineGraphic From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 11, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11448 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 10):

Why not the same for pilots? My hunch is that its an artifact of the labor union contracts. (Lets not start a conversation criticizing pilot unions)

Pretty much the unions.


User currently offlineAlexPorter From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 13 hours ago) and read 11440 times:

Quoting BladeLWS (Reply 2):
They come in 747's instead of storks!

LOL

That's the first thing I thought when I saw the title, too!

Except I was gonna say something more like "A 737 painted like a stork flies over the house and drops baby pilots down the chimney."

But on a more serious note, I believe that a good portion of pilots come from the military. It is common to find Air Force Academy graduates flying commercial jets.


User currently offlineThegooddoctor From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 523 posts, RR: 0
Reply 13, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11438 times:

Quoting HAL (Reply 3):
Where do we come from?

Well, there's this special magical tree deep in the forbidden forest, and on nights when the moon is full a circle of elfin maidens appears out of the darkness and starts dancing around the tree to the throbbing beat of Whitney Houston music...

LOL! Don't let him fool you - there really is whitney houston music involved, but the circle of elfin maidens is probably only something that occurs in the "production" of SOME airline pilots  Wink



The GoodDoctor
User currently offlineHighFlyer9790 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1241 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11411 times:

Also, unlike other jobs, there is no merit pay as a pilot or promotions due to merit.


121
User currently offlineHAL From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 2568 posts, RR: 53
Reply 15, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11403 times:

Quoting Graphic (Reply 11):
Pretty much the unions.

You can say that, but (without getting into pro/con union hype) there is a reason for it; one agreed upon years ago by the airlines and the unions.

In a job where safety is paramount and so much responsibility and thousands human lives ride on the shoulders of the pilots, both the airlines and unions decided that there should be a way to take 'politics and greed' out of the hiring/promotion part of the equation. The thought ran that if you were promoted based on performance as judged by the company, some pilots would cut corners to look good to their bosses. Pilots might take chances, and maybe try and land in less than legal weather, or push a flight running low on fuel so they'll have a better on-time record than the next guy when upgrades were being handed out. If the hiring/upgrade/promotion part of the job was handled strictly on a seniority basis, then the possibility of getting a promotion based on unsafe actions was ruled out. In concert with that idea, the unions police their own members in order to ensure the highest level of safety is observed, and that we are all trained and tested to the highest possible level. Believe me, there are many, many eyes looking over our shoulders watching what we do, making sure we are safe and standard in what we do. If we fail a checkride or upgrade, we have very limited options for a 'redo' before we are on the street. We work for safety first, not to look good for possible promotions. Yes, this plan means that if we leave one job we end up back at the bottom of the seniority ladder at the new company. But in return, the flying public (and us pilots and our families too) have the knowledge that the airlines are being flown as safely as possible, without personal gain or greed on the part of the pilots being involved.

Now before you go and tell me that is so much tripe, think about how much office politics there is at your job where you have to vie for promotions not only with your co-workers, but with outsiders who want the job too. Haven't entire books, TV series and more been produced based on just such office backstabbing? Don't you think that such stuff should be (and is) removed from the hiring and promotion of airline pilots? Shouldn't the safety of our passengers (and in connection, ourselves) be the primary factor in how we work? I believe the answer is yes.

HAL



One smooth landing is skill. Two in a row is luck. Three in a row and someone is lying.
User currently offlineLowrider From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 3220 posts, RR: 10
Reply 16, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 12 hours ago) and read 11375 times:

Quoting AirlineEcon (Thread starter):
Where Do Airline Pilots Come From?

Kick over any decent sized rock and you will find a few.

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 5):
Do pilots have a lot of job mobility?

Depends on how much hiring is going on.

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 5):
Can you bounce around from airline to airline to advance your career, or do you tend to stick with one your whole career?

Both occur. It partially depends on how your selected carrier fares. For example, imagine what the Eastern guys who got hired on at TWA were thinking in about 1995. It also depends on your goals. If, for example, Continental is your goal and no other airline will do, you will do whatever you need to do to be competative for the job. If a particular aircraft or level of income is you goal, you will alter your strategy accordingly. If you are fortunate, you

Quoting HighFlyer9790 (Reply 9):
What is the hiring outllok 10 years from now do you think? will the legacies have a hiring trend due to retirements?

No one can say for certain. You might as well ask a magic 8 ball. Lots of theories though. Some people think it is a 7 year cycle, others a 12 year cycle. Some say even numbered years are better than odds.

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 10):
There is something about the seniority system that strikes me as quite odd.

It was implemented to help reduce favoritism. It still occurs at non-union shops without a defined merit system.

Quoting AirlineEcon (Reply 10):
You hear reports that the average college grad will have something like 9 jobs in their career. In theory, this sort of job mobility promotes efficiency.

Why not the same for pilots? My hunch is that its an artifact of the labor union contracts. (Lets not start a conversation criticizing pilot unions)

I dont know what leads you to believe this is the case. I can tell you for certain that many, if not the majority of pilots go through just as many companies as anyone else. There is more to it than just the majors. There are various flight schools, traffic watch, towing banners, flying pipelines, fire watch, hauling checks, 135 freight, charter passenger, commuters, regionals, etc. Your typical airline pilot may go through any number of these during thier career.



Proud OOTSK member
User currently offlineHighFlyer9790 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1241 posts, RR: 0
Reply 17, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11280 times:

Quoting Lowrider (Reply 16):
Your typical airline pilot may go through any number of these during thier career.

and start out with no seniority each time.... sarcastic 



121
User currently offlineMCOflyer From United States of America, joined Jun 2006, 8690 posts, RR: 16
Reply 18, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11250 times:

Over at American Eagle there is a pilot named Sam who has lots of seniority. He has flown nearly all of thier a/c and will retire soon. Saw this in airliner world article.

MCOflyer



Never be afraid to stand up for who you are.
User currently offlineJRDC930 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 19, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11226 times:

Hi welcome to Anet, as a student pilot myself finishing up my instrument rating, i can tell you its not necessarily impossible to fly airliners without flying for the military. Im going to a flight operations program at a college in Salt Lake city. the downside however is its quite a bit more expensive (guaranteed debt for at lest 10-15 years), and you dont necessarily finish up with enough hours to get hired. the outlook for the next 5 years based on my information at my school is good especially with large pilot shortages expected. In SLC for example SkyWest is hiring like crazy and is expected to for at least 5 to 6 years. The hardest part of training outside the military is getting Multi-engine time, its the most expensive and hard to come by. My school does have a multi-engine trainer thou, a Piper Seminole, but i dont really start that until i start my multi engine rating. In short there are lots of ways to become a pilot, but the military is probably one of the cheapest, but also the hardest to get into. The military is highly selective, but you can get almost as good a training at a good flight college as in the military. Hope this helps, im not an airline pilot Yet, but i think ive got a decent idea of how to get there... Smile
JRDC930


User currently offlineCirrusDriver From United States of America, joined Nov 2006, 141 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11205 times:

Quoting AlexPorter (Reply 12):
"A 737 painted like a stork flies over the house and drops baby pilots down the chimney."

Now days, baby pilot's are shot through the window on a laser guided missile system, by a 737 painted like a stealth bomber. Some are more like bunker busters (see some Mesa pilots).

I am taking the expensive route. With a pair of 4 year degrees, and a jumbo sized "flying" loan I am in trouble when the deferment period expires! I now instruct at an academy in Glendale, AZ. where we are currently under review from the Chinese government to train they're future pilots.

[Edited 2007-04-09 04:51:40]

User currently offlineHighFlyer9790 From United States of America, joined Jul 2005, 1241 posts, RR: 0
Reply 21, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 11205 times:

Quoting MCOflyer (Reply 18):
Over at American Eagle there is a pilot named Sam who has lots of seniority. He has flown nearly all of thier a/c and will retire soon. Saw this in airliner world article.

if that was repsonce to my post, sorry i meant that seniority cant be carried airline to airline...



121
User currently offlineLowrider From United States of America, joined Jun 2004, 3220 posts, RR: 10
Reply 22, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11167 times:

Quoting HighFlyer9790 (Reply 17):
and start out with no seniority each time

Its part of the price you pay. You won't go straight from a flight school to a United or a Southwest. Each time you change jobs you have to weigh what you are gaining verses the loss of seniority. Its a fact of life in the business, like the medicals and checkrides. No sense in complaining about it. Accept it or find a way to change it.



Proud OOTSK member
User currently offlineJRDC930 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 23, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11138 times:

Quoting CirrusDriver (Reply 20):
I am taking the expensive route.

Same as me...  Smile it will be interesting to see how i pay off my loans on the measly salary a Regional Airline Pilot makes, but at least it will be something i love to do, its too bad that the military options are much less viable now days...


User currently offlineJetJeanes From United States of America, joined Oct 2004, 1431 posts, RR: 1
Reply 24, posted (7 years 7 months 3 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 11101 times:

I think Cathay pacific is the only airline ive heard of hireing a greenhorn off the street and send him to school to fly a 747.. they must have some intense training


i can see for 80 miles
25 Post contains images Graphic : Actually I'm an unemployed student pilot, aspiring to be the airline pilot type While we're on the subject of unions, I think the things you say are
26 Curmudgeon : My airline does this from time to time. The only catch is the applicant has to have $110,000 for the training, after which a job is pretty much a give
27 AirlineEcon : Chinese aviation is growing quickly, and I guess they don't have enough home grown pilots yet. What are the pros/cons of flying in China? Is it a fas
28 HAL : Graphic, there is a fairly simple explanation to the pay scale differences; A330 Captain = 300+ lives he has final responsible for CRJ FO = 1 life he
29 Graphic : My current instructor is also instructing future China Air Lines pilots as per their contract with my school, and there are also quite a few Saudi Ar
30 HAL : Graphic, I agree with everything you're saying. I've been through many CRM classes over the years and I fully agree with what the process is trying to
31 AirCanada014 : My joined the Royal Canadian Airforce for 10years and with all of his experience of flying with the AirForce he decided to join the airline, Air Canad
32 Burnsie28 : Not anymore, most of the pilots in the military are older when they come out, airlines are also looking towards places like University of North Dakot
33 AA717driver : Graphic--HAL is being very polite and charitable. I think you will have a very different idea of how things work 10-15 years from now. The decision-ma
34 727forever : Anyways, back on topic a bit... Think of it from a building blocks perspective. Your first "airline" job will probably be flying a turboprop or rj for
35 Jpdflymhtmlb : As far as how the industry is looking over the next couple of years, you can already start to see a trend right now, with many of the majors calling b
36 GeorgiaAME : The stork brings them, when they are very little.
37 Post contains images Gr8Circle : From planet Earth, to the best of my knowledge...
38 TIA : While I see where you going with this, it's not that simple. I don't think that when you were flying in Alaska you were being less rigorous about you
39 F4f3a : In the us it seems from the posts that the flight deck is an autocratic environment and that the Fo has limited responsibilites and role. In my compan
40 Yflyer : Funny that this thread should come up now, because I had a sort of related question I was thinking of starting a thread about. When a pilot is applyin
41 Lowrider : No. In fact, at many regionals, a pulse is sufficient, currently. Usually, with a few notable exceptions. Southwest requires a 737 type to be hired.
42 Post contains links Brettbrett21 : Ryanair currently only wants 200 total and 100 multi: Entry requirements To qualify as cadet applicants must have a valid JAR Frozen ATPL (Air Transp
43 CirrusDriver : From what I have heard (believe me, that's not saying much) my flight school has offered to conduct the training for ALL of China's future pilots, in
44 AirlineEcon : Wow! They must be really short of Pilots
45 Threepoint : Many larger carriers used to do this (BA comes to mind), but most have abandoned the ab-initio cadet training approach. And yes, the training and the
46 HAL : I think you missed the point somewhat on this. I was trying to say that it isn't the pilot who cared less if involved in an accident, but rather the
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