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Pilot Shortage Is Here

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Gee......do you think restricting the importing of foreign pilots and perhaps raising pilot wages might generate some interest for the younger generation about becoming a pilot??

Oh wait.......the airlines would have to raise fares and charge a reasonable price for the PRIVILEGE of being able to fly SAFELY ....... then the general public would scream " price gouging", a Royal Commission would be formed and the airlines would be told that being a pilot is not a real professional career, like a lawyer or doctor, and that the newbies should be happy with their near poverty wages and be happy they have a job. :angry_smile: and further....airline tickets are still too costly !!!! :angry_smile::Furious:

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Posted, April 26, 2004,

". . . . as it is with other careers which high degrees of skill, training, discipline and ability are required, it takes a certain aptitude to fly and not everyone can do it...that's a fact, not an opinion. That's not saying pilots are any more "special" than saying corporate lawyers are "special", doctors are "special" or parents are "special"...it takes a certain person and skill set to be an airline pilot and a different kind of person with different aptitudes to take up one of the other professions. Anyway, no disrespect or offence is intended here; if any is taken, my apologies.

. . . .

"I have posted before that many such persons will seek their fortunes elsewhere, where the conditions now unfolding in an airline pilot's career are not present to nearly the same degree. In short, when young people examining the ROI on career investments take a look around, the "hastle" factor elsewhere is and it looks like it will continue to be far less."

http://theairlinewebsite.com/topic/12797-jammed-rudders-on-hmcs-ac/?view=findpost&p=58610

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I guess there are as many opinions about this as there are pilots and airline executives. Wish I was smart enough to offer a constructive solution; alas, I don't have one.

I can't help but think that the "shortages" are mostly on the supply and end state of the equation. On the supply side, there is, and will continue to be, a shortage of young people willing to invest $65-70K to qualify for a job that pays $25-30K.

At the end state, there is, and will continue to be, a shortage of unemployed veteran pilots willing to work for supply side wages when they can drive a truck for 2 - 3 times the salary. That's where I am now.

In my view, both pilots and airlines played out their respective roles... largely inflicting this situation on themselves. The RCAF is bleeding out from self inflicted wounds as well and needs professional HR people much more than RAF retreads. I didn't realize it at the time but I have already logged my last flight. Very sad indeed; I would have liked to savour the moment.

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Woflhunter;

I like what you've posted, and I'm not going to review original posts here on the subject. What we, (well, some of us!), have witnessed over the past 40 years is a turn where employees became "the enemy" of private enterprise and were viewed as liabilities on the way to shareholder value and profit. I submit that in our industry, the profession of "pilot" was degraded as one degrades an enemy, not as a 'target' so much as a result of a political economy over which powerful, wealthy private interests began to exercise greater and greater control, "because they could"; - the roots of which can be clearly found in post-war employee gains and the turn towards a speculation economy vice a manufacturing economy. Big, big topics that cannot reasonably be discussed here let alone books.

There was a time when young people could realistically envision becoming a pilot; a time when most wage-earners could afford to buy a home and to raise a family. My PPL cost me $560 after a $100 grant from the federal government, the commercial licence with multi-engine, instrument endorsements about another $4k. University ran around $700/semester, ($1400/year), books included. I have stacks of "thanks for your interest in ____, but..." letters from the airlines extant in Canada at the time, (1968), so it wasn't easy even then.

What has been lost in our instrumentally-driven society is the possibility of "the dream", "the vision" and even the passion that informs young people as these very human aspects take them towards their goals. While a cultural/economic phenomenon generally, the airlines have done a spectacular job of desecrating the profession so that they can justify the downward pressure on all things that make the career both viscerally and practically attractive to young people.

Aviation does not provide a living wage in return for the substantial and unique challenges of the career and so young people, taking a look at what employers have done in creating the reality out of the potential, is to go elsewhere.

I take no pride in quoting posts from ten (and even fifteen) years ago because I had no illusions that such views could effect a turn away from what was an easily-perceived certain outcome. But we were told at the time, even by some here, that we pilots were only worth "what the market will bear". And now that market will have to come to the table but in the meantime a generation of potential has been lost to the industry. And we're not done with what has been wrought in the name of 'profit-over-people' thinking. We are building a generation of paupers and otherwise dumping people onto the public purse as private enterprise rids itself of pension plans and what I call the "care of the worker" process - not socialist by any means but practical, to ensure replenishment of qualified employees.

Every generation that has retired has the answers of course and I'm trying to stay up with trends while commenting. I am well aware of the challenges our industry faced in the 70s, (fuel), 80's, (technology, growth of the internet), 90's, (de-regulation, financialization of the political economy, terrorism/SARS), and the 21rst Century seems to be a resolving of such issues making shareholders recently happy. Good for them I suppose, but the real investors are those who have spent and who will spend thirty or more trips around the sun, investing with their lives and their familes. While our political economy doesn't value such investment, they are the real investors - they are the third leg of the stool that has threatened to fall over for the past thirty years, an ugly time for employees if one extends one's views if only slightly, beyond mere profit and the unique privileging of the shareholder as the only important leg.

I see some enlightened and creative ways of leaving something on the table for ordinary people and I see most young people I meet as optimistic, full of energy and vision, but less so for aviation.

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Don,

The most important factor in my life with respect to my time in aviation was the enjoyment of the job, and that included the complete operational end and the people we interacted with.

My kids often told their mother, "I hope I can find a job where I will be as happy as Dad when he goes to work"

When I was told to hang up my spurs, it was a happy day because after 28 years in the Military and 15 years in commercial aviation I firmly believed there was no fun left in the job..... post 911.

You , I and other 'vets' heard about how good it was when the "wind whistled thru the wires" and silently said to ourselves...."Get over it...... the world is changing and you best change with it or move on".

Thankfully my "big" change in commercial aviation, which totally changed my attitude, came just before I became a 'dot' and I left with no regrets, no yearning for more........I was ready for 'my time'.

One of my kids mused about going into the air industry and perhaps, inadvertently, I might have swayed him to a more gratifying, (in his mind), career choice (thank goodness). :blush:

I wish the new generation all the best with their aviation endeavours and it is has been said that 'one can never go back'...and I think that is a good thing.....(and now a time worn cliche :biggrin2: )......live each day like it is your last cause some day it will be.

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Gee......do you think restricting the importing of foreign pilots and perhaps raising pilot wages might generate some interest for the younger generation about becoming a pilot??

Oh wait.......the airlines would have to raise fares and charge a reasonable price for the PRIVILEGE of being able to fly SAFELY ....... then the general public would scream " price gouging", a Royal Commission would be formed and the airlines would be told that being a pilot is not a real professional career, like a lawyer or doctor, and that the newbies should be happy with their near poverty wages and be happy they have a job. :angry_smile: and further....airline tickets are still too costly !!!! :angry_smile::Furious:

That would actually be true of a lot of jobs, but the current federal government was all to happy to give any foreigner a work permit if a corporation claimed it needed him or her to fill a job for which it couldn't find a "suitable candidate". When the public realized that such jobs included coffee servers at Tim's, they rebelled, because it was far easier to understand the underlying issue when you are trying to screw a minimum wage worker.

You won't get the public to sympathize with the plight of airline pilots until airline pilots sympathize with the lower paid of society, but pilots have a hard time doing that with the guy who slings bags or makes sure his or her engine is serviceable. I agree that some of you, people like Kip, Don, etc, have that "appreciating others" gene, but some others come across as "how dare you suggest you're as important as me."

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Kip, a fine philosophy indeed.

The young folks I meet (mostly friends of our kids) are, in their own way, similarly focussed - we see very little of the "consumer" in their lives, but man do they network and look after one another!

Like you, I enjoyed and loved airplanes, the job, the career and the profession so much that I want the same kinds of outcomes for others and when I see it taken away for narrow, picayune reasons for the benefit of a few it upsets me; aviation gave our family so much. Each has to find their way and none went into aviation but found other professions that was "in the heart", so to speak.

Each day IS our last!

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Dagger:

I think a large percentage understand that it takes a large team to make an aircraft fly. Any one missing member of the team will prevent that from happening. In the world of the airline you will never have a happy passenger, which is the goal besides profit, unless that passenger has a trouble free experience. No one member is more or less important in that context. From the Res agent to the baggage handler to the AME to the flight attendant to the pilot to the Air Traffic Controller, all play their part. A Failure for one is a failure for all.

I have, however, met a few people who though they were above the crowd. It is fairly easy to quiet them if the need comes up.

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You won't get the public to sympathize with the plight of airline pilots until airline pilots sympathize with the lower paid of society, but pilots have a hard time doing that with the guy who slings bags or makes sure his or her engine is serviceable. I agree that some of you, people like Kip, Don, etc, have that "appreciating others" gene, but some others come across as "how dare you suggest you're as important as me."

I do not believe that anybody wants sympathy. However, market forces will start to have to prevail - supply and demand.

There is no way that anybody would enter law school or medicine - go $100,000 in debt - just to start their career at $25K and also bear the constant risk of their employer failing and then having to start back at square one.

Change is coming. Maybe not as quickly as some would like but the signs are there. And companies that think that they can continue to ride on the concessionary gravy train will find themselves with lots of plans (and perhaps planes) and nobody to fly them.

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This subject keeps coming back every now and then...

While I agree that the 25000$ job is not sufficient, it's easy to criticize that salary point and completely omit the other end of the pay scale... The salaries within the pilot group seem distributed through such a wide range that maybe some modification is possible on that front?

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rudder, Re, "There is no way that anybody would enter law school or medicine - go $100,000 in debt - just to start their career at $25K and also bear the constant risk of their employer failing and then having to start back at square one."

I agree with you.

I think ordinary wage earners would happily welcome something like an even break so both parents weren't forced to work just to get by.

At present wage levels no one raising a family is saving any of their wages, or if they are they're not living in any of Canada's major cities. Government has permitted private enterprise to use the public purse, not for supplementary retirement funds but as mainstays in a changing retirement system. One can't blame business for going after what it can.

Investing in the stock market is for many a mug's game because nobody has the time to research or become an expert, and picking a winning financial advisor is just a variation on that theme.

Nobody should be forced into a position where the only way to save for retirement is to individually rely on the stock market. The American propensity to "conveyor belt" employees off the end when business is done with them has made inroads in Canada. I've heard all business's complaints about not being able to compete and I do take them seriously but only up to a point. Small business seems to get it, but when it comes to giant, private corporations, even a country's government is afraid to take them on. What I see happening though is these same ordinary people carrying on a quiet "occupy"-type movement of their own. The seeds were planted in 2008.

One way or another, a government cannot fully educate its population and still "keep'em down on the farm". This is a peculiar and particular dilemna for the present government.

In the meantime I wonder how the flying schools and the universities that do commercial aviation work are faring?

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Guest 06L06R

There is also a controller shortage on both side of the border. Should be an interesting few years.

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Interesting comment Dagger, coming from the side of Free Enterprise. Come walk a mile in the shoes of a highly socialized, union environment the breeds these sort of opinions.

How long would the Mail Boy remain employed if he walked into the Senior Partners office and demanded equal pay, claiming work of equal value? Or the secretary on a road trip with his/her boss demanding that he/she ride in Business Class and the boss ride economy.

Thirty years of this mentality beats the life out of most. Short of that, boestar has it correct.

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Mr. Lupin;

As always, nice to see you discussing these subjects.

Yes, this subject comes around every so often, and for good reason. The phenomenon I wrote about years ago is happening and it is worth discussing anew.

In negotiations 2000, we were informed that "the pie" was so much, and how we decided to divvy it up was our business.

It is the pie itself, and not who gets what, that is the issue for pilots in the industry and not just in Canada.

Commercial jobs flying mail and freight at all hours pays a captain of a certain outfit $9/hr, (Canadian).

The kind of money you describe as being omitted doesn't come for about 2 decades in depending upon airplane and seat, if one's company makes it that far these days.

It is why young people are going elsewhere.

Let us not omit the numbers though. Those who are hired by a major carrier here are already veterans with thousands invested in their qualifications, yet they, for example on an entry airplane, are paid about roughly 25% less than starting wages of new nurses, (Level 1, Year 1) and do not catch up until approximately the ninth year. Most who join a major carrier already have families, obligations and financial commitments and aren't just starting out brand new.

dagger, although I do understand the dynamics and have seen it, I would submit that it is no longer pilots who's sense of "self-importance" divides them from lower scale wages earners because everyone is looking up to the new "wage scales" of CEOs and self-important bankers.

It is pilots themselves who are examining the self-importance of others in other professions while they, pilots, are earning very average wages for commensurate professional levels of expertise, training and education.

It is obvious what smart people are going to do.

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Here are a few excerpts from "another forum". Many thanks to the individuals working hard on this issue. You know who you are (and so do we).

I received in the mail this morning this file from ESDC. I contains all LMO applications made by Canadian aircraft operators for importing Temporary Foreign Worker Pilots in 2013. Because I made the application in late Oct 2013, the applications received after that date by ESDC in 2013 do not appear.

(They inserted a few applications from before 2013 by mistake on the CD, so check the date and just ignore those)

In essence, several commercial operators, aircraft manufacturers, private operators, Training outfits, and the the Royal Canadian Air Force applied for hundreds of foreign pilots in 2013.

There are a bunch of Helicopter Operators that imported helicopter pilots
Many crop dusting outfits imported crop dusting pilots.
CAE imported instructors
The RCAF imported British pilots
Sky Regional imported an Embraer 195 instructor (no 195 instructors in Canada I guess)
We are even importing low time instructors and bush pilots.....

It's time that Canadian pilots stood up for their rights and defended their jobs. For every TFW pilot admitted into Canada, one Canadian pilot was denied a job that was rightfully theirs.......

You can view the file yourselves..........


https://dl.dropboxusercontent.com/u/105 ... 202013.pdf

Canadian Armed Forces :

Now here is a good one. Sunwing and Canjet claim they cannot hire Canadian experienced aircraft captains because they lack a type rating, but the RCAF uses the exact opposite claim to justify hiring this highly experienced RAF NIMROD pilot who does not have a CP-140 qualification, but has many hours doing his job of Maritime surveillance. With "Minimal Training" he can be trained on the CP-140. I would tend to agree.

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......................The RCAF imported British pilots.........................

Very true but not at the expense of hiring Canadian pilots. The RCAF does not "hire" any pilots, they recruit individuals who undergo RCAF training and become Military pilots...granted, some may have a bit of experience , (PPL etc) but they must meet the Military specification requirements.

The RCAF does import pilots from other nations, especially during a transition period to new aircraft, or phase of operations where the "imported" pilot may have more expertise.

In return we "export", (called a foreign posting), Canadian Military pilots to different countries so that The RCAF pilots experience the process other NATO pilots are experiencing in both training and operations.

To state that RCAF pilots or the Canadian Military is an entity that imports foreign pilots and thus take a flying job away from a qualified Canadian pilot is extremely erroneous IMO.

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Don,

The problem you underline isn't limited to the pilot group. The size of the pie allocated to maintenance (not just salaries but aircraft maintenance) has been going down. The size of the pie associated to ground handling, customer service and cabin crew has also been shrinking.

If you look at the financials, the percentage of revenue going to salaries has been going down. It's not a pilot centric issue. If concern is to be had... look at the percentage allocated to maintenance... Since line maintenance costs are fairly steady, any reduction is likely to be a reduction in cost of heavy maintenance. While it is possible those costs are dropping because of efficiency, one would have to do a full audit on the quality being delivered by all the outside vendors... Usually the constant pressure to drop prices comes with drops in the level of quality (and eventually, safety)

If anything, the pilots already get a lion's share of the "salary pie". I am not advocating pilots get less, that's not the idea but to advance this issue as a pilot issue, is missing the full picture.

As far as I can tell, the only areas who aren't being squeezed are airport fees, taxes, airport improvement fees, fuel and In Flight Entertainment services.

As far as younger people not going into the industry, well the local college for aircraft maintenance near YUL has never made it back to the levels of students it had in the early 2000. The supply side is heavily restricted for AME and the older technicians are slowly going to retirement... The impact should be felt within 5 years as the technical workforce in some large airlines has an average age above 50...

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Guest rozar s'macco

Airline copilot. FUUUUUUUUUUUU

We'll need a separate pay scale for those not-pilots. If you are legally required to have supervision, you are not yet a pilot. Sorry.

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......................The RCAF imported British pilots.........................

Very true but not at the expense of hiring Canadian pilots. The RCAF does not "hire" any pilots, they recruit individuals who undergo RCAF training and become Military pilots...granted, some may have a bit of experience , (PPL etc) but they must meet the Military specification requirements.

The RCAF does import pilots from other nations, especially during a transition period to new aircraft, or phase of operations where the "imported" pilot may have more expertise.

In return we "export", (called a foreign posting), Canadian Military pilots to different countries so that The RCAF pilots experience the process other NATO pilots are experiencing in both training and operations.

To state that RCAF pilots or the Canadian Military is an entity that imports foreign pilots and thus take a flying job away from a qualified Canadian pilot is extremely erroneous IMO.

and most of the former RCAF pilots returning, and foreign military pilots joining, fill less desirable flying positions or ground positions

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February 12, 2014 9:12 AM

Government of Canada introduces changes to pilot licensing

Well there goes the neighborhood. :glare: ... There you go eh?... Shortage, ah heck never mind, we'll just make it easier to get the job.

I thought the idea of 2 pilots was redundancy? backup? safety? if one pilot should somehow become unable, the other can... ? So if the guy in the right seat isn't qualified to fly without supervision, where's that redundancy gone?

Isn't it somewhat like saying the MEL was just amended to read:

Engines --- 2

Required --1 serviceable, and 1 almost serviceable.

or maybe it's more like:

Engines ---2

Required --2 if ops normal

Note:-- Any abnormal operations require 1 engine only

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Guest rozar s'macco

Mitch you're spot on. I ran into a situation earlier this winter that would have been funny if it weren't so utterly typical.

To wit,

1. SOP: packs off takeoff is the normal configuration.

2. SOP: if the runway is contaminated, even if just with chemical residue, you must do a packs off takeoff.

3. Tech bulletin: packs off takeoff is prohibited when operating under bleed or pack MEL relief.

Situation- winter, chemical residue on RWY. ENG1 bleed inop.

I won't disclose what my decision was because as with anything, there are numerous factors involved and as any pilot can relate, it is never as black and white as it seems.

Anyhow, a week later....tech bulletin amended: packs off takeoff prohibited when operating under bleed or pack MELs, except if you, you know, need to.

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Don,

The problem you underline isn't limited to the pilot group. The size of the pie allocated to maintenance (not just salaries but aircraft maintenance) has been going down. The size of the pie associated to ground handling, customer service and cabin crew has also been shrinking.

If you look at the financials, the percentage of revenue going to salaries has been going down. It's not a pilot centric issue. If concern is to be had... look at the percentage allocated to maintenance... Since line maintenance costs are fairly steady, any reduction is likely to be a reduction in cost of heavy maintenance. While it is possible those costs are dropping because of efficiency, one would have to do a full audit on the quality being delivered by all the outside vendors... Usually the constant pressure to drop prices comes with drops in the level of quality (and eventually, safety)

If anything, the pilots already get a lion's share of the "salary pie". I am not advocating pilots get less, that's not the idea but to advance this issue as a pilot issue, is missing the full picture.

Please be assured that I am not missing the bigger picture, and that I do take your point regarding the larger pie and shrinkage of same including the substantial risks to replenishment of the workforce under less than attractive conditions for all groups and not just pilots.

In writing about the industry I am already advocating for change. Here, in this thread, I am advocating for pilots because that's the topic (begun by Brett), and I have been writing about it for a dozen years now.

This in no way diminishes the critical contributions that maintenance makes to the industry and to airiine work. The same principles in terms of fatigue risk management, CRM, MOQA, (like FOQA) and in my view remuneration, all apply because both our fields carry mission-critical / potentially single-point-of-failure risk. I think remuneration can reasonably be tied to such principles.

rozar, in my view, an MPL by definition is inexperienced and only competent on paper. Such a presence in the cockpit leaves the captain on his or her own when it comes to the complexities you've described and that sooner or later we all see. I shudder to think of the level of help that would be forthcoming from such a position when I consider some of the experiences I've had and what the outcomes almost were, and I don't think that experience was unusual.

This just contributes to the dumbing-down and lowering of standards for the profession. As a retired airline pilot I want to know from Ms. Raitt what the justifications are for implementing the MPL, although I can probably guess close enough.

In flight data analysis work, an operation can be made to look very good. Just open up the thresholds so fewer reportable events occur. Same thinking here.

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This just contributes to the dumbing-down and lowering of standards for the profession. As a retired airline pilot I want to know from Ms. Raitt what the justifications are for implementing the MPL, although I can probably guess close enough.

In flight data analysis work, an operation can be made to look very good. Just open up the thresholds so fewer reportable events occur. Same thinking here.

LR is no fan of unionized pilots. Flooding the market with zero-time wonders will not benefit the profession.

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I believe that the industry's spectacular and enviable safety record particularly at present, is neither appreciated for what it is nor understood for why it is and that it must be continuously sustained and nurtured by both experience and an integrity beyond the reach of politics, economics and lobbying efforts.

We may assume in the absence of any justifications that the "MPL" solution is fundamentally an economic one because there is no way someone off the street can go through a cadet program and show up in the cockpit of an airliner, on top of the game. I recall those early years very well, and sitting as a DC8 Second Officer for a year and a bit before flying the DC9 was a good introduction to that game. Even then, it was a handful for the first while. I think learning on the job is all part of it of course, but one must first come with some experience to build upon.

Will it work? Almost certainly. But the measure of success in aviation is 'trends', not individual successes.

The trend towards automation reliance has been discussed at nauseum.

I further believe that a tacit reliance upon automation and "computer savvy" is implicit in such lowering of qualifications for transport flight crew complements. Perhaps there is even some notion never broached that these airplanes "fly themselves" and pilots-sitting-doing-nothing are expensive add-ons while we wait for pilot-less transports? But, while it is reasonable to assume so from experience, I have no proof of such.

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