Just wondering if any fellow pilots could offer some insight into what would be a better route as far as getting that first air taxi job and ultimately getting into a corporate or airline gig.
I am about to complete my C.P.L/ME/ IFR, and I am at the stage where I must now start to consider my employment options. Go up north and work the ramp in hopes of getting right seat on a turbo prop, or stay local and get the instructor rating and instruct.
Most airlines are looking for 1500hrs with ATPL completed, so lets use that as a benchmark (although I realize actual hiring minimums are much higher). What is typically the best route? Or is it really just a matter of what is right for each individual?
Those of you who are already working at a flying job (Airline, Corporate, Air Taxi) what are you guys seeing? Any personal experiences on the matter? Is there a preference given to either one of the avenues or is it just a matter of he with the most hours wins?
I used to be involved in the selection of new hires for a Canadian northern turboprop operator (many years ago), and we would always choose a rampy over an instructor. In those days a guy/gal that was willing to "leave the city/circuit" showed intiative and desire. My two cents worth.
I went the instructor route, you don't get any hours on the ramp. Also do you really want to work in the north ! if so then I guess a rampy job up there is probably the best route as they most always hire from the ramp. The only problem is that the equipment in the north is usually rather antiquated, and if you long term goal is Corporate it won't help much down the line.
Id try to get as much time as possible and keep applying to the various operators you are interested in. Also these days its not unusual to get on directly to turbo prop with relatively low time.
I've just finished the process of hiring 15 pilots for Captain's and F/O positions into an organization where you could spend the rest of your entire career.
In that competition, one of the first steps to select who went futher in the selection was having an ATPL. I could care less how he or she obtained it, because later in the interview, written exam, etc ... there would be the opportunity to discuss background. No ATPL, go no further in the assessment. Fair ... maybe not, but that's the system involved in going from more than a hundred applicants down to a reasonable number to interview.
The debate between whether an instructor's experience is more or less valuable than other segments in the industry has been the subject of speculation since well before I began in the business 4 decades ago ... much of that debate is based upon ignorance on both sides of the conversation. Each offers strengths and weaknesses. Like so much in aviation .... you never get something without trading something else to get it.
I was lucky, and my career was split almost evenly between being an aviation educator and a line pilot simultaneously. Whether it was instructing, being a company training pilot, sim instructor, SOP developer, Chief Pilot, Ops Mgr, General Mgr, Check Pilot, etc, I've always been involved in bettering the standard of knowlege and proficiency of those around me, and those in my employ.
I can say emphatically, if you don't think you have anything to offer students, do not under any circumstances become an instructor. You'll hate it, and will pass that along to the customers. You'll be a failure ... that's a personal guarantee.
Working the ramp was something I never did, I was flying while those folks were dragging hoses, smashing bags, and handling weird loads to get inside the fuselage of my airplane.
It was and remains my opinion that pilots who think of instructors as being little more than passengers in an airplane that wanders its way around the circuit while some poor slob teaches himself how to fly by trial and error generally haven't done the job ... or if they did, were at best marginally competant at it.
So it comes down to this .... be an instructor if you are willing to portray the image of being a highly professional pilot whose job is to impart knowlege, engage in customer service, be reliable, look after an aircraft as if it were your own life savings tied up in it, and provide excellent value for money as you build a network of friends in the business. Direct yourself toward continual studying and licence upgrades. Be flexible in your personality. Enjoy flying, and studying the science of how an airplane flies.
Or .... take to the ramp and do the best job possible for the people giving you a paycheque, hoping that someone will notice you and get you flying.
Keep learning .... I was looking to eliminate the applicant who looked at their journey in aviation as a job, with all the passion of wheeling a forklift around in a warehouse.
Further, there are lots out there that you'd swear resolved to never study a thing after having obtained a Commercial Pilot's Licence. I didn't hire them.
I was very fortunate that the majority of my instructors were dedicated pros as Fogducker has described. Every one of them has enjoyed a long and successful career at the highest levels of aviation and I would gladly sit as their F/O any time. Funny enough, the few instructors I knew who were just putting in time ended up getting out of the business altogether.
Please keep us apprised of your decision and career progression.
I can only hope that like me, you're able to do what has been a passion since I was a kid. My father maintained that I've never worked a day in my life ... because I've found something which is an interest and an experience, not just a way to get a cheque. Some refer to it as "Livin' the dream."
Trust me, ...... while each day in the business has sure been no bed of rose petals, I look at the challenges as if I were a football or hockey player, and that day or week you're up against a good team that may require a lot of physical effort, tricky plays, and mental resolve to beat. Then there are days where its easy to come away from the game having put 30 points on the scoreboard out of 30 shots on goal, and set up another 40 plays for others to put one in the net and see how its done.
It remains that I'm still playing the game after 40+ years on the field, and being well paid for it.... it started by instructing in the morning, and flying charter in the afternoon.
I'd like to ask if anyone in the field can give advice on which province(s) (not territories) hires the most rampies. Have considered to do a float rating but as mentioned already, companies require much more than a few hundred hours with a float rating to hire you (insurance etc...). There was a company who did float ratings and hired their trainees afterwards as rampies but they don't offer that no more, don't think there are other companies who do that for floats anyway.
Last edited by Cleared for take-off; 12th Mar 2012 at 05:21.