But why is it that these ATR72/Saab 340/Jetstream 41 jobs require recruits from overseas?
Surely the operators involved are going to bond their foreign recruits to cover the costs associated with getting these people set up in Australia, so........why not just hire Aussies and bond them for the endorsement cost? Surely this would be cheaper.
There are plenty of unemployed and available pilots locally, who already have licences, ASIC cards, CIR and all the other bits & pieces; why not take a look at them?
There is one very successful operator of Dutch turboprops and jets in this country who provide the endorsement to the pilots they recruit, and they seem to have no difficulty attracting the people they want from those available locally. From what I see, they also have a pretty happy bunch of pilots, despite not being the highest paying job.
Hmm, its a tricky one. I saw an employment court once determine, for the purpose of redundancy, that two pilots rated on different aircraft were considered to have two seperate jobs. This allowed the more senior pilot to be made redundant from a reducing fleet ahead of a more junior pilot on an expanding fleet. So in the courts eyes our jobs are type specific, if the only local pilots are not type rated I can see how they are granted permission to recruit rated pilots from overseas. I don't agree with it, but it is a way of the world unfortunately.
Further to what the Green Goblin said, I work for one of the companies currently looking to employ pilots from overseas. The issue here is the timeframe for the training of new pilots.
No one doubts that all but maybe the worst 10% of pilots are able to be TRAINED into safe and proficient turboprop first officers and captains. The issue here is one of Training resources and the time taken to train pilots who dont have RPT turboprop experience. Its not simply the case that once these current vacancies get filled then its happy days and no more training of new pilots will be required. These companies need 10's of pilots per year and when you take sim endorsement, ground school and line training into account it takes a MINIMUM of 3 months to get a checked to line first officer at the other end. If you can get a type rated, experienced guy in (particularly a Captain) then it frees up your training resources to train new hires (aussies).
Now what happens when you have a new type to Australia? You cant fly them with 2 FO's up the front. So ideally you get maybe 10-15% of your initial pilot group as experienced type rated flight crew (captains) who can then filter this experience through to the new hires. Without this initial experience in operating a new type you are basically reinventing the wheel by learning all the tricks and idiosyncracies of the new aircraft.
Before everyone gets hysterical about how overseas pilots are 'taking our jobs' (cue South Park 'they took our jobs' skit) its a case of necessity otherwise routes and/or expansion plans come to a grinding halt. There will still be plenty of regional jobs for guys coming up throuhg GA mark my words!
Wouldn't have anything at all to do with poor progression planning or the use of cadets to cut costs who can't be upgraded because they don't meet the experience requirement.
When recruiting experienced overseas pilots there are some very good ones and some are bloody awful. These are the professional cowboys who flit from contract to contract and often have `history. ` Read that as you wish. As we all know, thousands of hours on one type does not ensure a safe and reliable pilot. You only have to see the doubtful quality of many of the foreign `contract` captains hired through agencies by some of the SE Asian airlines, to realise that.
You don't have to be a veteran ace to fly a Saab 340 although the qualifications demanded by some operators are ridiculous. RFDS is a prime example.
It was actually the High Court in London, the principal being challenged was Last In First Out when using compulsory redundancies. It all started with Rolls Royce v Unite Union when RR wanted to 'select' who would be made redundant using length of service as just one variable. When my airline was threatening compulsory redundancies the union (BALPA) wanted a LIFO application using the seniority list. The airline wanted to be able to make pilots redundant from specific fleets regardless of time served. Their argument was that 'training' was required to move a senior 747 Captain (dying fleet) over to the A320 (expanding fleet) and therefore it was classified as a 'different job'. So young pilot with 2 years in the job could be retained over senior skipper. The case never came to a conclusion as the Judge on the second day said that with the above case in mind that it could only have one outcome, he then asked the union lawyer if we wanted to continue with the action with it in mind that he was not going to overturn the previous decision. So case over and the airline won the right to treat different aircraft types as 'different' roles within the same airline. No since all this PC garbage is the responsibility of young graduate policy analysts who want to make everything 'fair' I can well imagine someone in the immigration department going 'of course this airline should be given some 457 visas, there are NO suitable candidates for this role as it is a new type in this country and therefore a new job that no one here is qualified for'.
So in answer to the above, if an airline was to purchase a load of 'chinese', 'russain' aircraft then I could see the airline being granted visas to employ people from overseas who have this 'on' their licence.
As I said, it sucks but this is the way the world is going. You can imagine this being of great interest to airlines, why have to type rate people when you can hire someone with experience. Why get rid of the cheap young cadet or first officer when you can make an expensive senior captain or first officer redundant first.
The question that needs to be asked is why do Rex need to go to the trouble of looking once again overseas for pilots?
There was a pilot shortage several years ago and this was tried and it didn't solve the problem.
Anyone looking from the outside, (ie shareholders) at all the fluffed up press releases regarding the greatly reduced pilot attrition rate and seeing pictures of class after class of beaming cadets being presented their wings by proud parents in front of brand new training aircraft inside multi million dollar hangers and training facilities would of thought long ago that Rex had the crew shortage licked?
So why now after millions of dollars spent in the last few years on 'pilot training' are Rex once again at the brink of a severe pilot shortage that threatens the future growth and earning capacity of the airline, needing once again to head overseas in search of pilots to crew their aircraft? (when this solution didn't work last time?)
Perhaps those at the top (ie LKH) haven't been given the full story on what it takes to run and crew an airline at the coalface.
Here is a radical idea, what would be the result if Rex placed a value on their pilots, engaged with them, worked together with them and even acknowledged that their skills, experience and training is valuable and worth retaining?
Might be an opportune time to push some of these issues with the Federal Govt. The Transport Minister introduced a bill today to improve shipping careers, offering incentives for companies to improve the Australian fleet and most importantly changing tax rules so foreign companies can employ Australian merchant seaman overseas and not have to pay Australian income tax rates. The theory being, according to the Minister, that they can gain experience and improve the industry when they come back.
So why can't an Australian pilot get the same tax rules working overseas? The could then come back when the industry needs to expand.
As far as Rex goes though, this is an object lesson in the lag time of treating staff poorly. The Government should see (be shown) that the companies problems stem from low pay and conditions and not be permitted to use 457 visas until they have made substantial efforts to improve their attractiveness to local pilots.
Last edited by Roger Greendeck; 23rd Mar 2012 at 02:27.
They wouldn't need to employ tens of pilots a year if they didn't lose tens of pilots a year who had a bank manager breathing at their door.
I'm sure that there is no shortage of pilots who would like to work for Rex, living in a major regional centre with all the lifestyle attractions that that brings. Trouble is the Rex pilots can't afford to and move on to something that has better pay.