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A Spinoff Of The PFT Thread.  
User currently offlineLearpilot From United States of America, joined May 2001, 814 posts, RR: 1
Posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 15 hours ago) and read 2139 times:

Just wanna get everyones thought on a similar subject. With PFT being frowned upon (and rightfully so), what are your thoughts on the 1st year salary of the regionals?

B747Skipper made the comment about the people who will do almost anything for a job, and that hurts the industry. I agree 100%. The exact same principle drives down the 1st year pay at the regionals. I'd love to fly a RJ, and have a schedule, but I'm not going to do it for $18,000 a year. With all of the one-uping with everyone getting new contracts, why doesn't anyone fight to get these guys more money? Instead, they get the "I had to do it so you can too" when in fact, the senior guys are fighting to change rules that other pilots had to go through.

What do you all think?

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9 replies: All unread, jump to last
User currently offlineRadarbeam From Canada, joined Mar 2002, 1311 posts, RR: 4
Reply 1, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 10 hours ago) and read 2110 times:

Well apparently I'm the first to touch this thread. So here we go;

If I was offered an FO position in an RJ for 18000$/year I would take it, What should I be ashamed of? I'm not PFTing, I'm not flying for free, I'm just getting paid for the level of experience I have and a big perk ...Jet time. Everyone starts low, climbs up the seniority ladder and pick up bigger paychecks on the way. Please keep in my that this is the opinion of a Canuck where the business is totally different than in the US ...3000TT and still flying turbine floats up north, do I need to say more?


User currently offlineMinuteman From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 271 posts, RR: 0
Reply 2, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 9 hours ago) and read 2097 times:

If you look at pay rates in the ten largest US airlines as a function of time and extrapolate from there, a new regional hire should be getting about $25k/year on if you assume it takes three years to get to the mainline (that's using $33.2k for a new mainline hire, $86.7k in 5 years, and $139k in 10 years of mainline flying). Time and pay do not have not a linear relationship.

Alternatively, you can look at it in terms of dollars per seat per hour. I could find only current pay rates for Delta Captains, but it generally seems that mainline newhire pay is about 25% of that value. So, a new hire 50-seat RJ pilot should be pulling down about $31.3k/year. Bump that up to $34.2k/year for a 90-seat RJ. (link to pay scale)

Finally, according to the US Bureau of Labor and Statistics, the bottom 10% of airline pilots were paid less than $24.3k/year, with more than 25% earning over $145/year (http://stats.bls.gov/oco/ocos107.htm)

Do I think $18k/year is worth it? No. Are 15-year captains worth $200+k/year? Well...If I were an airline, I'd probably stick it to the new guys to keep my captains too (assuming a pilot could demand equivalent pay by leaving one airline for another).

That's where the conflict is. These guys did their time and ate lots of microwave noodles and prayed some screwhead didn't come along and drive their company into the ground to get where they are now. They need to make up for lost time in savings and the older a pilot gets, the better his chances are for losing his medical.

As for PFT, I wouldn't pay for "Burger U" to work at the drive-thru either...

User currently offlineB747skipper From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 3, posted (13 years 8 months 1 week 5 hours ago) and read 2071 times:

Dear Learpilot and friend -
New entrants to aviation careers have a lot of problems to acquire experience and be hired for their first job... I have a lot of sympathy for them, and I do understand their willingness to fly for any dismal wage level...
The first problem is the "devaluation" of licences - in my early days, CPL was all required to be hired as an airline co-pilot, nowadays a CPL does not give you much opportunities for employment, everywhere, ATP or ATP level experience is required... WHY - I DONT KNOW... having 300 hours total time, of which, say 50 hours "light twin" time - or having 1,500 hours in lightplanes, of which, say 500 hours "light twin" is not any better to prepare you to take the training for the RH seat of a 737 or MD80...
Late 1960s, hurting to find new hires, United Air Lines had the "PAAP" - Pilot Advanced Acceptance Program, where they hired PRIVATE PILOTS and would guarantee a bank loan to get that individual to qualify for CPL/Instrument, as the MEL was not even required then for RH seat...
Nowadays, for a "third level air carrier" (I still refuse to call them airline), they want you to have ATP, rated in the space shuttle and 3 moon landings in the last 90 days, just a minute, dear idiots who work in "human resources"...
Like there is McDonald fast food, there is FAA licenses, and these flight schools are a shame to aviation... especially academics...
Here in Argentina, we hire cadets with CPL, IR, Multiengine, ATP written, no minimum flight time required, but we train these cadets for nearly 1 year to transition them into the RH seat of a 737 or MD80... they know all about the second segment climb gradient requirements, and HF radio propagation...
Ask a typical ATP "licensed" product of "JoBlo Podunk Flight Academy" type rated in a Twin Comanche, in the USA if he knows what "pressure pattern" D2 - D1 navigation is... - answer is "Huuuuuuuuh, Man?...".
I do not know what the "minimum federal wage" is currently in the USA, but as far as I am concerned, a first officer, with "Whatever Express Air" flying a Jetstream or Brasilia, is entitled to earn at least US$30,000 a year...
Further, new hires IN TRAINING should receive "half wages" during training, and company paid housing and per diem...
Just my honest opinion...
(s) Skipper

User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 5
Reply 4, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2037 times:


I'll agree that having tons of flighttime, especially instructing, in small aircraft doesn't make you a significantly better pilot, and if it's all a pilot does, it tends to keep him a bit dull. In no way does someone who's flown 700 hours of instruction and 4 hours solo in the past 2 years typically make a good pilot.

At the same time, the reason people fly for low wages is that, relative to other careers, you don't need a lot to get into flying. If you save up some money, in a year you can be instructing and building flight time and earning a little money -- perhaps not much, but likely more than the student who's got 3 more years of an MBA program in front of them.

No, you can't completely compare any two professions, but still, in the ranks of professions, flying is one where you can go very far from very little -- thus, the entry level positions will never pay much.

User currently offlineIndian_flyboy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 5, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2042 times:

Hi Learpilot ,

Further to skipper's comments , it worse in India . With the boom in aviation here ( sort of ) you had every student going to US , Australia and god knows where else to get a CPL and then coming back hoping to get a job in an airline here as 737 FO , wrong move . The airlines here made it very clear that they will not hire anyone without an ATPL .These guys ended up shelling out INR 5,00,000 ( USD 10,000) as a safety deposit to these airlines for the training the airlines would provide them . Training was the type rating on the 737 .During this training period, lasting about 6 months , the new recruits are not paid a single penny. So you get a bunch of disillusioned guys who hope to fly jets who end up shelling out about 35,00,000 INR which is one hell of a lot of money . The bottom line here was that nobody without an ATPL gets a job , so the new pilots ended up with corporate flying jobs which have extremely low flying hours and a pretty low pay , but atleast you get something . They end up flying the king air for about 6 years to get to 1500 hours before any airline can take them up . So a guy ends up shelling out money , ( a lot of it) and wastes the prime of his or her life trying to build flying hours . Well however once you do become a FO on a 737 you are kind of god , with phenomenal pay packages . For an example a FO in Jet Airways ( 9W) draws upto 1,30,000 INR a month which is an extremely high salary by Indian standards Well its just 2600 USD , but in India things are different .
My opinion , nobody should be misled , a CPL with a lot of groundschool and proper instruction is much much better than a fast CPL with knowledge just enough to take off and land and have absolutely no clue about the technicalities involved . Second opinion , if you are working for an organization you have to get paid for it irrespective of how much experience you have . Third opinion, no airline should charge for the training , you are not a flight school . Besides that you are also getting a trained pilot whom you are training on the type of aircraft you are flying , make them fly for a minimum number of years instead of charging them phenomenal amounts .

Just my humble opinion .


User currently offlineGoboeing From United States of America, joined Jun 2000, 2829 posts, RR: 14
Reply 6, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 17 hours ago) and read 2031 times:

Late 1960s, hurting to find new hires, United Air Lines had the "PAAP" - Pilot Advanced Acceptance Program, where they hired PRIVATE PILOTS and would guarantee a bank loan to get that individual to qualify for CPL/Instrument, as the MEL was not even required then for RH seat...

Regarding this, TWA also had something similar, and maybe other airlines too. I know a guy who's now retired from TWA after flying the 707, L-1011, and 747 for 30 years. He was a baggage handler for a while, like being around planes, had is private, and applied for a job on Friday afternoon. On Monday, he was in the 707 simulator! And the rest is history...


User currently offlineJhooper From United States of America, joined Dec 2001, 6210 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 15 hours ago) and read 2025 times:

It's simple supply and demand economics. Entry-level wages are so low because they can find the number of employees they need who are willing to work at that price. Raise the wage, and more people want jobs; lower the wage, and your workforce goes elsewhere. Why are so many people willing to work for such low wages? Because they're expecting long-run returns to justify it.

Last year 1,944 New Yorkers saw something and said something.
User currently offlineTT737FO From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 472 posts, RR: 8
Reply 8, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 5 hours ago) and read 1992 times:

>>>"At the same time, the reason people fly for low wages is that, relative to other careers, you don't need a lot to get into flying. If you save up some money, in a year you can be instructing and building flight time and earning a little money -- perhaps not much, but likely more than the student who's got 3 more years of an MBA program in front of them."

I have to disagree with Mr Levin's statements (not that this is a "black and white topic"--it isn't!). Not seeking a flame war, just a good dialogue.

First off, more and more MBA students are earning their degrees during the evenings (perhaps at the employer's expense) in executive programs. An executive MBA student's pay probably exceeds the CFI's by 2 tax brackets.

On to the argument. Here's an example: 23 yr old kid who wishes to fly professionally. No college education.

*IMO It actually takes quite a bit financially IOT make it into a flying job. The "average ab-initio Joe" is probably going to require, at the very least, $15k to earn his/her commercial. (That includes the money it will take to build time). At the point of 250 hours (minimum for comercial), there are few enterprises that will hire a pilot. Insurance rates dictate otherwise.
Our 23 year old kid got his hours in the midwest, so we'll say it took him 9-12 months PPL thr commercial.

*CFI rating: $3,000. 2 more months.

*Double I: $1,500 (minimal if added on to CFI). A week or two.

*Once you earn the CFII you are set back about $20k (roughly a year's tuition at Notre Dame). 14 months invested. Your employment options are more numerous now. You can work for about $10--$15 hourly for an FBO somewhere. If you are single and disciplined, this is probably okay.

*Work 9-12 months as a CFI/I at bargain basement rates. Our kid now has about 650-900 hours under his belt. Probably very little actual instrument time. (About 2 years)

*Unfortunately, our 25 year old HS grad does not have the multi experience yet so he takes his hard earned dollars and shells out about $5,500 for ME/MEI. He now realizes he has got to instruct some more to build his time. $26k invested. Back to the FBO where he spends another full year instructing his ass off (the one twin they have is a maintenance hog with numerous MEIs jockeying for time on it). 3yrs. 1500/100

* At age 26, our kid has invested $26k and wants to go on to a 121 outfit. Without a degree he is going to have an uphill climb. He realizes this and spends $3500 for an airline training prep course. For this amount, he will get interview prep time, AST-300 sim time, the ATP written, and a systems course in the BE-1900. He applies to Skywest, Air Wisconsin, and a whole host of others. He does not hear from anyone initially, but there is a part 135 check outfit that hires him as an on-call Navajo Chieftain pilot to fly cancelled checks at night. 6 mos at $2,500 per month (we're in the money!).

*Finally, after 3.5 yrs 1,900 hours and $26k, our intrepid 27 year old is hired by Skywest (who calls him) at $19.50 per flight hour. This will be a great regional to be with. His class starts in about 5 months (give or take).


When you think about it, the "wholesome" way to an honest flying job (unless you are from a military background) is paved with a lot of dollars, sweat, and uncertainty. For every one guy that makes it, three dropped out along the way. The door is one that revolves cyclically with fresh bodies willing to do anything for hours. Thus PFT looks enticing to some that have neither the patience nor discipline to tough it out.

Why the low wages? As others have mentioned: simple economics. There's more pilots than jobs at the "entry level" 1500/100 threshold.

User currently offlineSllevin From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 3376 posts, RR: 5
Reply 9, posted (13 years 8 months 6 days 1 hour ago) and read 1971 times:


I agree, it's not all that black and white. But you're tossing it in a less-than-ideal light.

Two counterpoints:

1) There's no reason a future commercial pilot couldn't do the same thing an MBA-track person is doing (paying for their own flight time from a better-than-CFI-paying job).

2) ...which leads to: yes, it would be prohibitively expensive to get much turbine time. But that's why the salaries are low -- in a sense, you are "paying" for training, one way or another.

3) (okay, had to slip in a third one) I also believe that you're overestimating the earning power of a college graduate these days. Take the average bloke's earnings for 30 years and compare them to a pilot's for 30 years, and most pilots come out on the better end.


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