Posts: 2099
Joined: Tue Sep 07, 2004 12:30 am

Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 1:40 am

Are there any cargo pilots out there? If so i have some questions

1. Why cargo and not airline in your personal opion?

2. how are the hours and pay (i realize this may be too personal) sorry.

3. What is your circle of friends like? Do you meet as many ppl as an airline pilot would, im curious bc you don't have have the flight attendants and the pax to talk to and have an ongoing relation with - stories?

4. What kind of extra training do you receive to do with loading and Hazmats?

Thanks in advance! I've been thinking about cargo and i realize i do not have any knowledge in this subject, i wish to learn!

happy hauling
The only time there is too much fuel onboard, is when you're on fire!
Posts: 175
Joined: Thu Nov 11, 2004 12:34 pm

RE: Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 3:20 am

I can tell you about entry level cargo operations in the US, I hope that helps. When comparing a "checkhauler" freight airline versus a regional airline, both have similar minimum requirements; the regional will be two pilots, the freight job will be single pilot. The regional will pay about USD15K/year for a turboprop, maybe 20K if you get straight into a jet, and you will have to work long hours with 3-5 day trips. The freight airline I worked for (Airnet) started everyone at USD22K/year, with overtime pay. My run was 13 hours/day duty with 5.5 flight time, I was making 35K/year flying a Baron, and I was home every day. A freight job flying a turboprop or biz jet will easily pay better than most of the regionals. Supply and demand, everyone in the US wants to fly for the majors, and the best way to get there is through the commuters... I don't have first hand experience with the heavy jet freight airlines, but I'll give you my impressions. The schedule can vary quite a bit; charter airlines like Atlas or World can keep you on the road for 3 weeks or more; but a Fedex or UPS 727 crew will be live at an outbase and just fly to the hub and back every night. I think the pay will also vary quite a bit; some freight companies are very small, poorly managed, non-union, etc. The better ones compare favorably with the people haulers, especially after all the pay concessions at the people haulers lately. The presence/absence of pax/fa's depends on your personality, I guess. Personally I'm kind of anti-social, the fewer people the better. To each his own. US hazmat training only takes a few hours, don't know about EU or anywhere else. One more consideration is maintenance; only a few of the top level companies actually buy new freighters, (Cargolux, etc) most everyone else uses much older aircraft. (Except for Caravans) For example, popular freighters in the US right now are Metros, F-27, Falcon 20, Lear 20-series, 727, DC-8, DC-10. These are all good aircraft, in my opinion, but you want to do some research on the companies you apply to, make sure they run a professional operation, especially in the mx department. Upgrade can be faster at a freight airline, because many people use the freight job as a stepping stone to their dream job at the majors, even at the top end. Atlas loses a lot of 747 pilots, who presumably start in the 737 at UA. Again, to each his own.
Freight dogs have more fun
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Joined: Tue Feb 17, 2004 12:03 pm

RE: Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 3:52 am

Hey mate, if you got questions, there is a A-liners member on here, Philsquares, he flys B744 for SQ I believe, he flys both passenger and cargo flights for them, I believe. Message him and ask him what you need to know.

A liberal is a man who is right most of the time, but he's right too soon.
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Joined: Fri Sep 19, 2003 3:26 pm

RE: Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 4:34 am


This site will give you a little insight into pay differences between some of the various airlines here in the US. Keep in mind that these are minimums by flight hour and don't include items like duty time, per diem, and other items like that. It also gives no indications of scheduling, if any. The FBO I work at handles all of the part 121 cargo carriers and nearly all of the 135 on-demand stuff at STL. I can give you more insight to this side of the aviation world if you are looking for some specifics but Caboclo gave a great overview and has the experience with the real thing.
Posts: 1372
Joined: Sat Aug 14, 1999 7:49 am

RE: Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 8:37 am

1. Why cargo and not airline in your personal opion?

First, I am not a cargo pilot, I just work for an international carrier.
Second, when will people learn that a cargo airline is still an airline?  Big grin

Anyway, as a cargo pilot you will need the same ratings like a passenger airline pilot. A motivation is often that the jobs are not badly paid and you can get on a 747, sometimes even in command at relatively young age - all depends on the company of course!

Many people think that flying cargo only takes place at night. This might be (partially?) true for the integrators who have many aircraft sitting on the ground during daytime. For a major all-cargo airline however, utilisation is the key. Our aircraft are in the air around 16 hours a day, so flying takes place at any time of the day, depending on schedule.
It is a characteristic of the cargo business that the trade flows are only unidirectional: A passenger flying from LHR to JFK is likely to travel back. A cargo shipment from HKG to FRA will stay there. Therefore the routings of cargo flights are often not in a ping-pong principle (i.e. both directions on the same route, like LHR-JFK-LHR), but often based on round trips to put the aircraft on the traffic flows and ensure a high load factor, thus profitability. The impact for the pilots is that rotations are often longer than for passenger crews.

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Joined: Fri Oct 24, 2003 11:14 pm

RE: Any Cargo Pilots Out There?

Sun Nov 28, 2004 1:51 pm

1. Why cargo and not airline in your personal opion?

Many pilots fly cargo in order to build time to apply for an airline. There are tons of small, on-demand cargo companies flying freight all around the country, using small Falcon jets and turboprops to DC-8's and 747's. Many of these companies hire low time pilots looking to build time flying anything and everything to anywhere at any time. Once time gets built up, they apply to various airlines.

2. how are the hours and pay

Pay is usually less, and depending on what type of operation, hours could be anytime. You may get a call at 2 AM, asking you to be at the airport ready to go in 30 minutes.

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