Professional Pilot Training (includes ground studies)A forum for those on the steep path to that coveted professional licence. Whether studying for the written exams, training for the flight tests or building experience here's where you can hang out.
Sorry to disillusion the enthusiastic amongst you ....But being a pilot aint what it used to be.... I've been in this business for many years now and have watched employment conditions and pay getting worse every year. I fly long haul at present and have been told that if I want to keep my job I must relocate...the lousy re-location package on offer is going to mean that I will have to pay out of my own pocket to relocate...quite substantially..... Some airlines call for you to pay for your own type ratings,one even charges you just to look at your CV!!!!!!.On top of all this you will have to pass sim rides every 6 months, a medical every 6 to 12 months depending on your age...and at 60 the CAA will take your licence back. Companies go in and out of buisness at an alarming rate...so unemployment is very likely at least once in your career...all this movement means that pensions can be hard to arrange. I'm afraid that companies don't value us at all. We seem to be a necessary expese that, if they could do without,... they would. I could go on,.....be carefull. Flying can be great fun....working for airlines aint. You might be asking...if he aint happy why doesn't he leave.....Well I'm working towards doing just that. I can't afford to work for an airline anymore. If you have a good job/career ...I suggest you try to excel in it and keep your flying private. That way you will continue to enjoy aviation. So take the rose coloured spectacles off and take a good in- depth look at the Industry before you commit a penny. Or you are likely to become another lamb to the slaughter.
Last edited by deathcruzer; 26th Feb 2004 at 06:25.
Ya know, ive been considering going into the airline industry for a few years now, i even started taking flight lessons before Sep 11th. I always wondered what the inside scoop was on the airlines, whether or not they were blowing smoke just to keep applicants out, or if they were actually serious. This scares me quite a bit, because learning to fly is no small investment, especially to start making the big bucks. However, ive been sending out for information packs to various flight schools here in the USA, and from what i understand, the Airline industry, as well as the demand for pilots is supposed to pick up within the next couple years. I love flying, i have fourty some hours and ive loved every minute. So my question to you is; would it be beneficial to persue an aviation career outside of the airline industry? air mail? corporate flying? With your education and ratings, it seems like there would be tons of opportunity to make lots besides the airline industry...
Also, are the airlines in the USA still suffering? or has the buisness started to pick back up?
It's always good to get an insight into the realities of the industry, so thank you deathcruzer. How altruistic to sign up especially help us wannabes make an informed decision.
In a way i find the usual list of pilot grievances quite comforting, though, as they are all issues that are far outweighed by the negative aspects of my current job or any 9-5 ground-based office job I see myself having in the future. I suppose things like this are very subjective in their nature and many will be put off by regular assessment and medicals yet enjoy the routine of joining the rush hour traffic and shared moments ove the water-cooler. So, i suppose to answer the question of "do you really want to this?" you need to know about what "this" entails and go in with both eyes open.
There's no question that being a pilot isn't what it used to be but personally it's cons are far outweighed by those of any other path i could follow.
I have been in the business of wanting to be in the business for many years now. To be precise, 17 years ago, I was trying for the RAF...no go through eye sight, and 15 years ago I was told I would never fly in any capacity through medical reasons.
This resulted in a 6 year catering career followed up by 8 years of IT sales. Everyone of those 14 years unhappy because I could not fly. I spent every hour looking up with envy.
Now I know that life as a pilot has changed and I think that it is right and propper that potential pilots go in to their chosen careers with there eyes open, thus deathcruzer's post is positive.
However, I would like to open his or her eyes to something that may have been forgotten over many years.
Flying on the whole is a passion for people, I believe all the more so now, in light of the costs and future expectations. I am sure you once had a passion deathcruzer, that has obviousely wilted.
I just say to you, remember how lucky you are, and if you have never experienced standing on a train platform in the pooring rain at 4am to get into a job you hate in London with another 14 hours ahead of you before the same miserable platform, then think twice before jumping ship. You may on the other hand have the money to invest in a nice little hotel or bar...but remember, I have been there aswell.
I believe that I may well have been the same had everything gone my way, but it didn't. I now have my F ATPL at 33 going on 34 and will do all in power to get a job doing what I love. I also continue to encourage people to persue ther dream in what ever way may suit. And yes deathcruzer, that may be flying for fun, but please remember where you were once upon a time.
Realistic evaluation is good, but dragging elements of the industry down surely can't.
In fairness, before I sent this post, I re read yours and although annoyed initially, I think I can see where you are coming from.
I certainly agree with the oppinion that pilots or students are being sucked dry in many ways and in an unfair manner, but this I, maybe naively, believe will change for the next regular cycle.
Whatever job you do, you will most likely feel undervalued, become bored with the daily routine, not be paid enough, and be made redundant several times during your career. It's probably true that the aviation industry is worse than many, but it's certainly not unique.
You adivce that "If you have a good job/career ...I suggest you try to excel in it and keep your flying private" is definitely worth considering. I've considered it, and I've decided it's not for me. I don't want to spend 40 or more hours a week doing something I hate. I am well paid - sufficiently well paid to realise that money is not everything, and that as long as I have enough to pay the bills I would rather not spend my life doing something I don't enjoy.
"So take the rose coloured spectacles off and take a good in- depth look at the Industry before you commit a penny." Very good advice to anyone. Some will take a good in-depth look and decide they don't like what they see. Others will decide that, for all its flaws, this is the industry they want to work in.
You can earn all the money you can dream of but if you are unhappy you will never be happy. I have had jobs that have paid badly and have paid well ; the satisfaction and happiness I derived from those jobs has not been proportionate to their reward.
On the other hand you owe it to yourself to look long and hard at what you are proposing to do and beyond the glossy exterior at the terms and conditions, the hours and the lifestyle. If you still want to do it then you owe it to yourself to at least try.
It’s an interesting discussion, and I think FFF has pretty much hit the nail on the head.
Deteriorating pay, conditions, satisfaction and job security are by no means limited to aviation. My parents, both now retired, never once suffered unemployment; I know few people of my generation who haven’t had at least one spell out of work. A good friend with 15 years’ I.T. experience (a licence to print money not so long ago) has been made redundant twice in the last 2 years. If life is harder and less rewarding for pilots than in days gone by, I believe it’s simply a reflection of the way society in general is going.
So why do I really want to do this? I’m fortunate in having a reasonably safe job that’s reasonably well paid and rewarding, and has reasonably good prospects. If I told a financial adviser what I’m planning to do, he’d probably give me a good slap and tell me to pull myself together and be grateful for what I’ve got. The trouble is, it bores me silly – always has done, always will. Include commuting and my job eats up 12 hours per day. In other words, 50% of my entire Monday to Friday life is spent doing something I don’t want to do. Great. And I really don’t fancy another 30 years plus of knowing exactly where to stand on the platform so I’m next to the doors when the train stops, just so I can get on in front of all the other sullen commuters.
I realised what I wanted to do the first time someone said “you have control.” And I realised why I wanted to do it during my first jumpseat ride; zero dark hundred one horrible winter’s morning, while the rest of humanity was stumbling around in freezing fog, or standing in the right place on station platforms, we left them all behind and burst out of the overcast into a glorious, crystal clear dawn sky. It was a pivotal moment for me – the airway to Damascus if you like. I knew this was what I had to do.
Now in case that sounds dangerously like falling in love - and we all know how blind love can be – I am well aware of the downsides. Many of the pilots I jumpseated with described how the career can be a killer on marriages, how you can miss seeing your kids grow up, living out of a suitcase in anonymous hotels, the job insecurity, incompetent management, etc etc. Not one of them said they’d rather be doing something else.
It was summed up neatly by a very senior pilot of a well known UK charter airline, with whom I was lucky enough to be sharing a glass of wine a couple of months back. Explaining my predicament, that I want to walk away from a safe, sensible career and risk it all to become a commercial pilot, and that - by most reasonable analyses - I must be slightly bonkers, he said; “There is no sensible answer. We all do it because we love flying, it’s as simple as that.”
If you want job security, join the civil service. If you want money, be an accountant or a lawyer. If you want to fly . . .
Jam123 & G SXTY - you've summed it up for me! If ever I had the remotest doubt in my mind, I can totally, 100% relate to your post. It's easy to lose sight of your dream, caught up in the commuting lifestyle, so it's great to know none of us are alone in all this!
I’m going to stick my neck out here and say I take deathcruzer’s post at face value; I suspect he / she isn’t out to wind us up (apologies if you really are a troll). I wouldn’t necessarily ignore an opinion just because I don’t like the message.
And even if it is a wind-up, so what? This is still a valid discussion, and it is vital that wannabes have as much information as possible on their chosen career before they commit themselves. I don’t hear anyone arguing over that point.
One of the problems with being a wannabe is the paucity of information from ‘the horses mouth.’ There is a whole training industry out there that will try and convince you commercial flying is the best job in the world, but they’re not entirely unbiased now, are they? I want to get as many opinions as possible from current and former commercial pilots, as well as wannabes who are further up the training ladder than me – people who are doing what I want to do and have already got the T shirt.
That’s one of the principal reasons Danny set up PPRuNe in the first place – to give wannabes the chance to seek information and advice from professionals. Before 9/11 we at least had the chance of an occasional jumpseat ride with which to glean information (and very enlightening it was too – I now know which hotel at EHAM holds the KLM record for bedroom gymnastics, but I digress).
Now the flight deck door has been closed on us, we are more dependent than ever on resources such as PPRuNe. I would like nothing better than to see this thread filled with pages and pages of advice from commercial pilots, all of which will be helpful to me in shaping my plans. At the same time, I recognise that it’s a bit unrealistic to expect every single airline driver in the whole world to say; “Come on in, the water is lovely”. That doesn’t make their opinion any less valid, and I would humbly suggest that shouting ‘troll’ at the messenger isn’t going to encourage them to put finger to keyboard.
C'mon Easy Glider, don't hold back tell us your story. You've gone further than the most of us, give us some inside view. I know for sure I've toughened up and grew a lot more cynical in the last 4 (hard) years. Understand now why some people wouldn't even talk to me when I was a starry eyed bushytailed PPL. You're in this trade to either make it or you don't I personally know quite a few people who fell by the way side and didn't make it quite as far as they initially thought they would for whatever reasons. Sometimes it's lack of character and stamina that's for sure. So if you can't take the heat stay out of the kitchen sort of thing.
HOWEVER........ Very few people (and none of them in the aviation training world) have ever told me how difficult it could be. They are obviously very happy keeping up appearances and making hot air balloons. Sure...people get lucky..I know one guy who was called at home(!) by a flagcarrier's head hunter and asked to come work for them. He just got his CPL ME with 280 hrs. They paid for the rest of his training. This was in the early 80's during the airline boom. I have never assumed the same would ever happen to me..and guess what, turns out I was right all along it never did happen to me. I do know that everything I have achieved comes trough MY hard work and taking chances and risking everything. I've had a couple of good people (you know who you are) give me opportunities at times when everything seemed bleak and endless. What comes around goes around Anyways, enough preaching for this time.... Whoever started this thread we surely hijacked it right didn't we ?
In any field of endeavour you will find those who've become disillusioned because their expectations have been frustrated. For many airline pilots, the job has taken a big turn for the worse since 9/11 simply because the security situation has removed much of the relaxed attitude that was prevalent beforehand. For some, it's gone too far and they're taking their skills elsewhere. For the majority, it's just another part of the evolution of the profession.
50 years ago an airline pilot was akin to a god for many people. They were rare, well-paid, very mysterious characters who had much of the appeal of film stars of the time. The job was totally different to what it is now - in some ways harder, in others easier - but totally different. With the expansion of air travel and the improvements in aircraft, there are now many thousands of pilots flying incredibly complex (but simple to operate) aircraft through a flight environment (both legal and practical) that would have terrified those early pilots, who would have happily hand-flown a big four-prop through a tropical storm onto an unlit runway in Africa! And now they can all expect to reach and enjoy a long retirement, which was most certainly not the case in the early days!
It was much more glamourous and unreachable in those days, and some of those guys who've flown throughout much of the intervening period now resent the 'normalisation' of the profession into one that almost any intelligent, able and resourceful person can attain. They may also resent the degree to which other factors and people influence the operation of a modern airliner - where in the old days the captain made every decision relevant to the flight, now tens or even hundreds of others are involved in the process.
I've been flying since the mid 1970's, and operating four-engined long range aircraft since 1980 (though for much of that time in the military), and I've seen for myself how much it's changed. For me the essence of piloting a large aircraft, however, is still as it was way back then. The challenge of simply poling the thing is as satisfying as it ever was. I feel happiest working as part of a team, and the whole operation is much more of a team effort than perhaps it used to be. I don't feel myself to be better than others, or in some way special, so I don't worry that the profession has lost some of its prima donna elements - which, of course, appealed to many of the older generation of pilots (but if it appeals to you, you may be looking at the wrong profession!).
Flying aeroplanes commercially is not worse than it used to be, but it is different. Some embrace the changes, others do not. Don't be worried by the variety of opinions and personal stories you hear or read; that's just the rich diversity of life.
Good post Scroggs. And thanks for those experienced to take the time and post what you feel about the career.
But there are so many threads here at the moment that reading PPRuNe does knock the confidence and make you wonder why you've spent all morning going through the mass and balance chapters for the ATPLs.