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Pilot Shortage Is Here

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First "real" indication of a pilot shortage.... caused by new US rule of 1500hrs or ?

http://www.eturbonews.com/42713/lack-qualified-pilots-forces-republic-airways-reduce-its-fleet

I don't think it's caused by a pilot shortage Malcolm...

It probably caused by a pilot willing to fly for 20,700$/year shortage.

http://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/airlines/major-national-lcc/republic_airlines

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Guest rozar s'macco

To get to 1500 hrs takes about 3 yrs, because most pilots' first jobs are seasonal, or instructing which when you're a class 4 means a lot of sitting around the flight school forlornly looking at the windsock, hoping it goes below 15 kts so you can fly.

So your reward after 2 yrs of training and another 3 yrs of entry level work is a copilot job at a regional that pays under 2 grand a month, I just can't see how those two parameters aren't linked.

Work at the regional for 5 yrs, upgrade to captain at maybe $60k and sit there until a major calls, which will then pay you $50k because you're a probationary pilot newbie again. Never mind that you're now 31, have 6000 hrs and have been flying for 12 years.

If it costs $75K to get a commercial ticket, and your total earnings for your first 10 years of flying total perhaps $300,000...the numbers just don't add up, and now the consequences of that math are playing out.

But it's not just about the starting pay, it's about the recent past, present, near future, and distant future too. Education and training is a long term investment. If the trend is this bad, why invest in flight training? It might be smarter to buy a lottery ticket.

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I think the 1500hrs was an FAA "optics" solution that tried to cover too many bases including some that were working well enough. The problem is far greater - it is the "robbery of professionalism", where even if one makes it into the cockpit of a transport, the "mileu" in which one finds oneself is not always professional. The Colgan Air First Officer had no concept of what an airline pilot was. She didn't know what she didn't know and it wasn't her fault - engendering standards and informally (through culture) enforcing them remains the kind of "apprenticeship" that has gone missing, because the airlines have successfully turned the profession into a job. "Pride of place" in terms of knowing one's craft well, is now an old-fashioned expression, and a small part of that is one's remuneration. In an instrumental, atomized society such concepts have no sustenance.

I have mentioned broad economic forces many times in connection with these discussions and while almost every industry somehow weathers consistent boom-bust cycles usually brought on by the United States and the belief that less regulation will enhance return on investment, de-regulation has been disastrous for the air carrier industry and for airline employees. It is incorrect to draw the conclusion that it works because it appears to be so at present. This is by nature and necessity a very conservative industry; in important ways, trends take a long time to show themselves.

For as long as I can recall the industry has never charged what it cost to put a seat in the air. Southwest managed to do so and still retain the best-paid B737 pilots in the industry, making almost what an A340 captain was making in Canada. I know that's changing and Southwest, among others, is struggling because of thirty years of racing to the bottom and telling customers we can do all this for fifty bucks and still maintain acceptable safety levels.

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Yes, There’s a Pilot Shortage: Salaries Start at $21,000
Bloomberg News

By Justin Bachman February 11, 2014

. . . .

"Hearings on the accident also exposed to many observers—including members of Congress—the surprisingly low pay at regional airlines. The regional side of the U.S. airline industry has long been a fiercely competitive arena in which the big airlines auction large sections of their flight schedules to the lowest bidder. That’s put pressure on wages: The starting salary for a first officer at a regional airline is a little more than $21,000 per year—about $40,000 lower than the same job at Delta (DAL) and United (UAL), according to the Air Line Pilots Association, the largest U.S. pilot union.

"And the stingy pay, in turn, exacerbates the pilot shortage. Not only does it make pilot jobs less appealing, but the small salaries also combine with the more onerous federal training rules to put many new pilots deep in debt. Paying for the necessary hours of training flights before getting a first job can cost more than $100,000."

Cont'd at the link

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I think the 1500hrs was an FAA "optics" solution that tried to cover too many bases including some that were working well enough. The problem is far greater - it is the "robbery of professionalism", where even if one makes it into the cockpit of a transport, the "mileu" in which one finds oneself is not always professional. The Colgan Air First Officer had no concept of what an airline pilot was. She didn't know what she didn't know and it wasn't her fault - engendering standards and informally (through culture) enforcing them remains the kind of "apprenticeship" that has gone missing, because the airlines have successfully turned the profession into a job. "Pride of place" in terms of knowing one's craft well, is now an old-fashioned expression, and a small part of that is one's remuneration. In an instrumental, atomized society such concepts have no sustenance.

It appears that what was once a profession has been turned into an airborne video game which works ok until the situation evolves to something that is outside the parameters of the game, which includes something as simple as a visual approach.

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Exactly Greg.... So now, evidently, we'll only be able to count on one of the cockpit occupants to be possibly capable of that dreaded visual approach. :huh:

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People will continue to enter the field regardless of pay. They don't look at the entry level salaries, they focus on future earnings, and the "prestige" of being an airline pilot.

Everybody on this forum is viewing the present state of affairs through eyes which saw it through the "glory years" and is having a hard time coming to grips with reality of today's economy of running an airline.

Unfortunately decreasing safety standards wont call for increased remuneration, the public will wonder why pilots are getting paid what they are when they can't fly an airplane. This will result in more automation and less pilot ability.

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Guest rozar s'macco

I spoke to a fellow today who says he flew 1500 hours in 2013...

The maximum is 1200 hrs a year, so he's either lying or breaking the law.

My comment was that it takes about 3 years to reach 1500 hrs. Like I said, for most pilots their first job is either slinging bags hoping to touch an airplane, flying floats for 4 months- then laid off, instructing- where you may log only 10 hrs in a month through the winter, banner towing (summer), skydiving (summer, weekends), glider towing (summer, weekends) or maybe it takes you a year to land a job in the first place. Point is, you don't pass your commercial flight test and immediately step into a job where you fly 1000 hrs a year.

Once you're experienced enough to get a regular full time job, a professional pilot employed full time usually logs about 700-900 hrs per year, but YMMV.

All of that experience gained by slogging through the trenches is exceptionally valuable however, and the process is highly effective at weeding out the dilletantes. Unlike cadet programs and MPL's, where inexperienced, unseasoned, 'lucky' candidates who did little more than pass an interview get to step into shoes that used to take a hell of a lot of work to fill. They won't really have much to complain about, pay-wise, will they? They won't have done anything to deserve more than they'll be getting, and obviously the airline (and public) will then truly be getting [dramatic pause] what they paid for.

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mo32a;

Re, "People will continue to enter the field regardless of pay."

Of course they will, and they'll likely be the right kind because they're doing it for the love of flying. It was the only reason I got a private licence, then more stuff - just loved it. I taught elementary school because I thought aviation was so insecure and gave the brass ring a try in '73 and it worked. Voila...I truly had no idea what pilots then earned, but I sure knew what I earned as an instructor!

I don't think safety standards are decreasing - what's happening is the industry is fine-tuning the odds until something breaks. There's tons of safety data and people and conferences and knowledge within this industry, enough to bury every executive and his beancounters twice over and what's more is, it's getting used and implemented. This is an extremely safe industry - the medical profession is imitating us because we're so good at it.

But if you think there's a steady stream waiting at the start of the pipeline when other careers are paying tons more for a lot less, you're not paying attention.

Eventually, the industry will be looking over a field of candidates who haven't gone elsewhere yet, and if there is to be more automation to compensate for that, ...wow.

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Hi Rich;

Posted Today, 02:24 AM

Don Hudson, on 12 Feb 2014 - 10:49 AM, said:snapback.png

Will it work? Almost certainly.

Well, at least until there's some kind of abnormal situation during the flight.

IIRC, BA has had a cadet program for years. But they've also done FOQA since the late 50's and they put real pilots in seats, not those who can only sit with others and can't rent an aircraft on their own. Bit pithy I know but in some cases "old-fashioned" works In areas where one can't just go to some supporting article on the internet to quote from - one just has to have the time in.

I want to know why the Transport Minister is proceeding in this direction. How did this come about and what is the actual justification for privileging MPL-type licensing standards? Are there formal studies that reinforce this approach or is this the result of some other process unrelated to professional standards for aircrews?

BTW, regarding "until there's some kind of abnormal..." and experiencing same, yes, I've had a number of occasions when all available cockpit resources were taxed, - never "into the reserves", but taxed, and the outcomes turned out to be quiet, "non-events". In the post above the quoted one I wrote, "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."

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Many moons ago I heard of a small outfit that put a passenger in the right seat so when they were taxiing it looked like they had a co pilot....... :glare:

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Rich, thanks for the clarification. It would seem, however, that a tour of duty as a military pilot would be preferable to an airline cadet program as far as the overall experience is concerned.

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Timothy, if I may step in for a moment...

While I would love to have been, I wasn't airforce but my long impressions have been that the training is disciplined and thorough in terms of breadth of knowledge and experience. But in the end it depends almost entirely on the candidate. One guy off my course had about 300hrs TT, and was an extremly capable airline pilot after a very short time. Others may not put the work in...its a "sowing & reaping" thing.

I think a major contributor to the difference between this and the cadet schools, (even those associated with air carriers) is that they are first of all, "profit centers", (as we were once described in another life...) and as such one is always beholding (and not just accountable) to those watching the bottom line and the justifications for all parts of the program. For an example, it was "suggested" to do flight data analysis on only some aircraft as we could then do statistical probabilities for the entire fleet! One has to know such work before one comprehends how widely such a view misses the mark in such work, and the same approach necessarily will attend any cadet program.

I don't want to imply the opposite - that the taxpayers purse is fathomless in terms of training expenses and mission readiness. There is a balance between the needs for thoroughness and mission on the one side, and fiscal responsibility to the shareholders and the viability of the private business on the other.

In private enterprise, when one is asked to justify a safety program, one always begins with the difficult-to-assess stated goal of "nothing happened". One could place a theoretical, book-value on all the "saves" a flight safety such as FOQA makes and I think I could give you a rough figure now, but it wouldn't generarlly be believed.

To clarify, I think a cadet program can be done successfully even as an "MPL" is a second-best solution. I think that running a cadet program means hiring people who really know what they're doing, giving them a reasonable budget and then leaving them alone to do their work. The other side of that is appointing people to do the hiring who also really know their stuff, (which means a commercial, preferably airline, background). Knowing what I know now and looking back, I think one must go way, way beyond just knowing the SOPs. I think if a company is going to put someone off the street who seems to have the capacity, ability, discipline, education and a deep love for everything "airplanes", then they should be in a modified captain's course with all that entails. I think that could produce someone with the right amount of humility to learn about aviation and the airline business from the right seat.

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Maybe they should 'MPL' doctors and lawyers as well? Why bother doing all those nasty years of residency or articling?

I wonder how LR or the other MP's would feel if the surgeon about to operate on them took a career shortcut on the path to the operating room?

There is a reason that commercial airliners are flown in a 'crew environment'. And that crew needs to be both experienced and qualified.

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Not legal in 705 operations. Max 1200 in any consecutive 365 days.

He was from south-of-the-border, might have been with American Eagle... real young guy.

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He was from south-of-the-border, might have been with American Eagle... real young guy.

FAR annual limits are even lower than Canada. 1000 hours in 365 days.

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How quickly people forget the reasons behind these changes! Such changes in aviation are almost always paid for in blood, yet...

Perceptions are more often than not built by repetition of hegemonies and mythologies and not by really digging to understand something well. Authors like Malcolm Gladwell and Nassim Taleb have done well based upon this popular approach.

During the Reagan-Bush years, de-regulation was going to be the way to lower airfairs because in that grand experiment which began in the early 70's, the "impediments of regulation" were to be removed so that airlines could "compete". "The Market" would determine price, and with increased supply of product, prices would come down, or so bragged the airlines. We know now (and we knew then, but corporate culture was hell-bent...), that that "logic" failed to account for a number of things, the first being that human beings do not always adhere to "market logic".

Thus we see the results of this approach today - some success in terms of efficiencies and hugely-enhanced productivity with thirty years of stagnant wages but we also have an industry that has a service reputation that "we're not happy until you're not happy".

Yet the safety of the industry has steadily increased to the remarkable levels passenges enjoy today and all for fares that make taking the train look expensive. The mythology is that all this can be done, profitably for all concerned, for two-hundred-fifty dollars, when two-hundred seventy dollars elicits complaint.

However, one widely-held perception by the flying public created partly due to the fact that airlines do the job so well and so seamlessly most of the time, is that airplanes are like a street-car with wings. And because airplanes fly themselves and operate in poor weather they don't need expensive pilots who are always going on strike for far more money than they, the public, will ever see in their lifetime. This, notwithstanding bankers' bailout billions and CEOs' bonuses, both modern obscenities of a corporate welfare state...

The above is on the pithy side of course. Nevertheless, the airlines have not served themselves well in this regard. As a result and partly because real wages have not kept up with productivity, the industry is more price-sensitive than Starbucks. Literally, a passenger has the right to be disappointed based upon the price of a couple of designer-latte's.

So the following article, out today, has me equally disappointed but from the other side of the discussion - ticket prices and the reasons thereof. For me, I think passengers have no right to be angry or disappointed, tough though any price increase is for people earning today's wages. And the circumstances mentioned in the last paragraph in the article are merely labelled, "rationalizing the market" in any other industry. Inconvenience is everywhere...

Pilot shortage may mean higher prices for flyers, http://www.marketwatch.com/story/pilot-shortage-may-mean-higher-prices-for-flyers-2014-02-14

The pilot shortage could make many already frustrated flyers even angrier by leading to price hikes and entirely new hassles.

Due to a "quintuple storm of factors," there's currently a shortage of pilots willing and/or able to work in the U.S., says George Hobica, the founder of AirfareWatchDog.com . Part of the reason for this shortage is that a rule from the Federal Aviation Administration, which took effect in August, mandated that commercial pilots had at least 1,500 flight hours, up from 250 previously. Also, the industry mandates a retirement age of 65, and many pilots are hitting that age. Plus, pilots now are required to take a 10-hour minimum rest period .

And then there's the pay issue: Many pilots are unwilling to work for what regional airlines pay them. Salaries start at around $22,000 a year for pilots on regional airlines and even those with five years of experience sometimes only get paid about $35,000 a year. "You can only love flying so much: If you can't afford to love it, you stop doing it," says Hobica. He adds that because of low pay like this, some pilots decide to go into the private jet industry where the pay and working conditions can be better. (Those prospects are getting better as demand for private jet travel is increasing: 16% of the wealthiest 1% took a private jet trip in 2013 compared with 13% in 2012, according to research from The Harrison Group). And the major carriers, which pay significantly more (a pilot with five years of experience can make over $100,000) often hire pilots away from the regional carriers. (That too may continue as an estimated 18,000 big-airline pilots are poised to retire in the next decade.)

The results of the pilot shortage can already be seen. Republic Airways announced that it will remove 27 of its 243 planes from service due to the lack of qualified pilots. "The short-term answer is the aviation industry is just going to get smaller," Bryan Bedford, CEO of Republic Airways Holdings Inc., said in an interview Tuesday. "If a city can't support a larger-capacity aircraft, then those airplanes will go where they can be supported," he said. Great Lakes Airlines ended service in a handful of small towns in February and United Continental plans to reduce small-plane flights by its regional airline partners by more than 70% .

So what does this mean for consumers? "It isn't good news," says Hobica. "It has to result in higher prices simply because there are fewer seats and demand isn't going down." Hobica says that this situation could be assuaged by regional airlines paying more to their pilots, but that too could result in higher prices. "It would eat into the airlines profits and if they don't eat it, they'll pass it along to consumers." But there is a silver lining for some: IBISWorld industry analyst Andy Brennan says that price hikes will likely only impact consumers who use regional airlines. "The average consumer who flies on major routes won't have to worry about this," he says.

Flyers can also expect the already annoying flying process to get even more irritating. Hobica says there could be fewer nonstop flights along some routes. "There will be missed vacation time," he says. "If you're going to a wedding, you're not going to get there in time and may have to fly in the day before and pay for a hotel." Plus, flyers may have to drive to another, farther-away airport to get the flights they want and in some cases they'll simply have significantly fewer flights to choose from.

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Don: Airline Deregulation Act was introduced in 1978 as the brainchild of Alfred Kahn, under Jimmy Carter.

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Guest longtimer

comment on the situation by the Teamsters.

Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots Mar 01, 2014

The Airline Professionals Association, Teamsters Local 1224 today commended the United States Government Accountability Office's (GAO) on report findings contained in its February 2014 Aviation Workforce report, "Current and Future Availability of Airline Pilots."

"The GAO report confirms our members' experiences and what they have known for a long time," said Capt. Daniel C. Wells, president of Teamsters Local 1224.

The attainment of the necessary qualifications and experience that is required before you may be hired by any airline takes years and requires a huge financial investment. The airline industry, however, has not been worth the investment for many of its employees. Starting wages among the regional carriers are often so low that pilots cannot afford to support a family or repay the debt they acquired to become qualified for the position. This unfortunate reality often deters otherwise qualified pilots from seeking employment in the field and, additionally, it deters would-be aviators from entering the field altogether.

According to the report, 11 out of 12 regional airlines failed to meet their hiring targets for entry-level pilots last year. At the root of this issue is pay and working conditions. When pilots accept an entry-level position at a regional airline, they often do so with the intention of leaving as soon as they have acquired enough flight time to step into another position promising higher wages at a mainline airline. It creates a perpetual wheel of employee turnover within the regional airline industry. This trend also was identified in the GAO report.

"There is no shortage of Americans who are fully capable or who want to be airline pilots; there is no skills gap," Wells added. "But the industry wages, especially for entry-level positions, are often not worth the time and financial investment that is required to become a qualified pilot; a pay-gap is the reason we are seeing a shortage."

Some industry groups have argued that impending retirements or the regulation now requiring a pilot to have an "Airline Transport Pilot" license to fly for an airline are contributors to the pilot shortage. However, from a pilot's first-hand perspective, any regulation that enhances safety is critical. Airlines must be proactive and work together to enhance quality of life issues to attract would-be pilots to the industry.

The Teamsters and Local 1224 work every day to maintain and better the pay, working conditions, and professional prospects of its members. We stand ready to work with our members and their airline management teams to ensure their companies have an adequate supply of safe, professional airmen to sustain and grow their companies.

The Airline Professionals Association Teamsters Local 1224 is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Airline Division and represents nearly 4000 members among ten air carriers that operate both passenger and cargo aircraft. Local 1224 is the certified bargaining unit that represents all flight crew members employed by ABX Air, Inc., Allegiant Air, Atlas Air, Inc., Brendan Airways, LLC, Horizon Air Industries, Inc., Hyannis Air Services, Inc., Kalitta Air, LLC, Miami Air International, Omni Air International, Silver Airways Corporation, and Southern Air, Inc.

http://www.eturbonews.com/43248/current-and-future-availability-airline-pilots

The full report from the US GAO can be uploaded from: http://www.gao.gov/assets/670/661243.pdf
Warning it is 65pages so perhaps best read sitting in front of the fireplace with an appropriate beverage.

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