View Full Version : The end of cheap pilots

21st Jul 2004, 23:02
It seems that the large pool of qualified pilots is drying rapidly

The combination of some factors such as: slow recover to pre Sep11 traffic, massive retirement forecasts, the amazing Mid East and Asia expansion and more will turn 10,000 plus hours coupled with good PIC jet airline hours a valuable asset again sooner than expected.

Take this into account before leaving your present job for what seems a greener pasture now.

Things will improve as employers will (and are in ) badly need qualified people to fill up their seats.

Market forces will dictate things, as ever.

21st Jul 2004, 23:47
I'm 16 now. Do you think things will have improved by the time I enter the job market? Will it already have passed? I hope it'll still be good when I get there.

22nd Jul 2004, 00:03

Depends how quick you get out - but between now and 8 years time I think youre parents couldn't have planned it better!


Just remember, at the end of the training line when you start job hunting, some positions may seem ultimately desirable...but bear caution, as nowadays companies are making their employees bend so low the benefits arent worth the financial effort...there are cases nowadays where employment in some shops will be your own ruin...

Bear that in mind in the future, but don't worry - hopefully this is a trend that will only pass by the time your gleaming ear to ear holding your brand new CPL

22nd Jul 2004, 01:43
Yep, the Great Pilot Shortage has been coming for about 35 years now...

22nd Jul 2004, 02:04
Indeed, Bubba!

Remember back in late 2000 when EVERY SINGLE American carrier was looking for pilots?
It was other waves before, do the search.

We all know that there are tons of pilois on furlough now in the USA and a lot looking elsewere for a seat, until things improve back home.

22nd Jul 2004, 02:41
There will *never* be 'the great pilot shortage' - except for already experienced pilots with significant time on the currently in demand type.

Schools will always have greater capacity to churn out more wet-ink CPLs than there are airlines to take them. This leads to more & more inexperienced pilots accepting more of the training cost & burden eg speculative type ratings or reduced T&Cs to try to gain an advantage over the next guy.

There will always be large & unexpected downturns in the job market, as well as recovery periods where there is a more gradual period of hiring. It's these more gradual periods that tend to be rememembered as 'booms'.

In fact these recovery periods tend to be elastic. That is, the region, scope, duration & particular qualification demand is subject to more variables than is predictable.

Dan Winterland
22nd Jul 2004, 05:58
There were more job ads in the back of the latest Flight than I can remember post 9/11. Bear in mind these companies are advertising because they are not receiving unsolicited CVs, there may be some truth in the rumour.

22nd Jul 2004, 06:29
Tinstaafi is correct - the only shortage at the moment is for pilots of the right experience levels on major current aircraft types - Boeing, Airbus etc. There will never be a shortage of low-time dreamers with fresh Commercial licences and no more experience than endless hours on Cessnas and Pipers built in ideal weather conditions in Florida with the bare minimum twin time to get their ticket.

If you've got 3000 hours plus on 747/757/767/320/321/330/340 etc then options are available. A 737 rating, two eyes. two arms , two legs guarantees a job with low-cost carriers in Europe - Ryanair, Easyjet etc.

The 'shortage' has always been just around the corner - so has the flow of ex-military pilots who jump ahead of the kids who for some reason see airline flying as a great new career - sorry, that sounds cynical - just back from long night flight !!!!!!!!!

22nd Jul 2004, 06:53
Flight International is e-mailing me everyday with new vacancies. There is a very definite increase since I started receiving this information about 7 months ago.

I agree with beamer and the others about the current requirements but as people move around at the top there will be a chance for the low houred guys to get their first job. Just look at the recruiting that is going on at BACX and BMIR at the moment. Both airlines are taking on low houred guys and upwards. Flybe also took on a relatively large number earlier in the year and are currently taking people out of the hold pool so it is possible they will be recruiting again as they lose their more experienced pilots.



330 heavy
22nd Jul 2004, 06:56

Read all the posts and become as informed as you possibly can. A lot of good info is contained herein. But DO NOT let the naysayers sway you from what you want to become. If flying is you're goal, then pursue it with all that you have. YOU WILL NEVER GET WHAT YOU WANT IF YOU DON"T GIVE IT ALL YOU HAVE :ok:

There are a VERY FEW individuals who will never be happy or satisfied with what they have. That is not to say one should not strive to better their position, however, it seems that a select few want to spread discontent throughout these pages. DO NOT LISTEN to them!!!!!!!!!!!!

Now is a GREAT time to start. Go fly, get all your ratings, and start knocking on doors. They will open if you are persistant enough. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN IF YOU DON'T TRY. I think the industry is headed for a TREMENDOUS upswing in the next 10 to 15 years and you will be right there to take advantage of it.

Good luck to you and may your aviation career be rewarding and sastifying:D


22nd Jul 2004, 07:24
Hear hear 330 heavy...

Good advice and good luck to you Josh and others like you.

22nd Jul 2004, 08:00

330 is correct. Don't let the negative ones get to you. This is a great job and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. We get the most privileged view of the world there is, apart from those lucky ones who get to go into space.

Sure, there are days when we feel fed up with life and the work is harder now than years ago, but it still beats Monday to Friday in some dreary office. Yes, you will earn far more as a doctor or lawyer or builder but that's not everything. You will be in the top 15% of salary earners and if, as seems likely from your post, you love your job, then going to work will not be a chore most days.

If you want it, go for it young man and pursue your dream. And I for one, would like to wish you the very best of luck in your search.

Wee Weasley Welshman
22nd Jul 2004, 08:13
And of course Ray Webster and Michael O Leary are both saying there is going to be 'a bloodbath' this winter and that many airlines will have to go to the wall. Various airlines teeter on the brink of financial oblivion or industrial action and just a single terrorist attrocity anywhere near an aircraft will put everyone back 3 years.

In the meantime there remains around 2,000 qualified pilots hunting for their first job in the UK.

Things are certainly picking up. But I wouldn't go betting mum and dads mortgage on it quite yet..



22nd Jul 2004, 08:46
The Great Pilot Shortage. It's like waiting for a bus: you wait and wait and wait, then three will come at once....

22nd Jul 2004, 09:18
There will never ever be a Pilot shortage in the UK because the jobs are available to all those in the 25 countries of the EU and Iceland and Norway and all those from the colonies who can come up with an EU Passport plus other various odds and sods married to UK citizens.

Orion Man
22nd Jul 2004, 12:09
I agree. I can't see any sign of a pilot shortage out there. Maybe a lack of type-rated, experienced and available guys perhaps but certainly no pilot shortage.

As WWW says there are 2,000 odd unemployed guys in the UK alone, the flood gates have opened for others into this country, the RAF have just been told yesterday they are cutting back further, many large American carriers are staring into the abyss and there's the risk Al Qaeda will decimate the industry again at any time.

Read page 24 of the Ryanair thread "A call to arms." £9,900 per annum for new F/Os doesn't sound like a pilot shortage to me. The market operates on supply and demand and pay rises across the industry are hardly racing ahead.

Pilot Shortage ? DREAM ON !!!!!

22nd Jul 2004, 12:42
.....the only shortage a see......a shortage of pilot with BACK BONE!!

Welcome in the century of pilot prostitute!!

22nd Jul 2004, 13:01
fullforward: "...Massive retirement forecasts!"
Do you actually believe that the training of new pilots has somehow magically slowed and that there won't be enough qualified pilots in the future? Dream on. The competition for jet jobs is extreme, mainly because new pilots are able to buy, and are buying, more affordable jet type ratings than ever before. :ooh:

22nd Jul 2004, 14:59
A lot of very short memories here.

If you can remember back to 1989, you may remember how airlines were hiring anybody with a licence and a pulse. Even BA was taking some very un-qualified folk as DE pilots - one guy, who I knew quite well, got in despite failing his IR three times. I ended up going to Loganair (back when it was a larger airline), because they offered to pay for my Instrument Rating. I had 695 hours at the time. Many airlines, such as Loganair, BMI, and one or two others were actively recruiting in Canada, Australia and New Zealand - as in sending the chief pilot out to actively find people.

People were joining the likes of Jersey European (as they were then), doing a few months in the right seat of a Bandeirante, then going straight onto the 757 at Air Europe with only 800-900 hours total time.

The day I joined Loganair, I commented to our groundschool instructor that the company must be pleased to have us, as the six of us should solve the staffing problems. He laughed as he informed me that Loganair had received 23 resignations the week before, with 6 guys leaving at the end of that week - forget three months notice. It was about this time that bonds became common.

Airlines were poaching pilots left, right and centre, many airlines (such as Air Europe) were offering to pay off bonds if people would leave their previous employer with little or no notice. How do I know? Well, I still have the letter with the offer on it.

The flying schools weren't even close to keeping up, and the CAA was so far behind in flight testing that if you stuffed up your IR or GFTs, you had a three month wait for a re-sit - mainly because the FTOs had accepted airline offers with large incentives attached. Many schools were unable to offer test slots for up to 12 months ahead.

Yes, it was a wild old time. It had been predicted, but when push came to shove, there was a very serious shortage indeed. It could easily happen again.

Ask anybody who got their first job around 1989...

22nd Jul 2004, 15:58
Yes dear "thegypsy". Jobs in those 25 countries as well as Iceland and Norway are also available to UK passport holders. I don't even want to start counting how many Brits we have flying for us and not based in UK. It's not a one way street you know.


22nd Jul 2004, 17:06
Atlanta Driver

Please start counting and tell me how many Brits are based in Iceland???

MOR in 1989 all those in the EU would not have been considered then perhaps which is not the case today which is why the scenario then will not repeat itself today.

22nd Jul 2004, 17:18
I did not mention being based in Iceland in my post now did I?

22nd Jul 2004, 17:55
MOR, you rang a few bells there.

I started in this daft business about that time. I remember 5 interviews and 4 job offers in 3 weeks. I only had 400 hours. I ended up flying a B757 for AE. I was out of work for a year after that fiasco and it has been an uncomfortable roller coaster ever since. I wish I had never bothered.

The pilot shortage was delicious then. Will it be that way again? Well, I dunno.

Then, you could reasonably sit in the right hand seat of any old turbo prop. If you were rubbish the crusty old git next to you could cope. These days it is different. Most newbies have to start on a jet and the entry standards are much, much higher and more expensive to boot.

The supply is different. Jag mates excepted there is not the exodus from the military. Also, it is much easier to get a job in Blighty if you are not a British National. Air UK excepted, you were generally British those days.

The bottom line for an entry pilot is higher, the airlines have to plan a little bit further ahead and the supply is more diverse.

It is harder to predict, but I don't think we will see an acute shortage again.

Just my twopence worth.

23rd Jul 2004, 16:39
I'm intrigued by WWW's figure of 2000 pilots looking for work! This would represent over 10% of all UK licence holders, which doesn't sound right to me.
I suspect that this figure is the from the same source that similar ones have come before, the CAA's statistics. However, you have to know how they compile them - you appear as "unemployed" if you a valid professional licence but are not listed on any company's AOC.
This means that the following categories count as "unemployed":
-All flying instructors (and they're not all chasing the airline dream)
-All private/corporate bizjet drivers
-Everyone working abroad
-All the ex-BA (and similar) guys who took retirement at 55, have hung up their gloves but their licence hasn't expired yet.
In the late 80's era that MOR refers to I was heavily involved in training, and prior to the "great shortage" airlines were telling everyone that there were about 1,000 pilots on the market so there was no prospect of any shortage. Unfortunately (for them), the above factors had been ignored, so that when they started looking for people, they found that the true figure was nearer 200 - or about enough crews for 10 aircraft.
I think that this could easily happen again, although there are also many factors which could prevent it. Fingers crossed:D
The thing that irritates me more than anything is that when pilots start moving around the same operators who were squeezing for all they were worth start complaining about the "lack of loyalty"!!:mad:
Anyway, good luck to all trying to get started.

23rd Jul 2004, 17:18
Shortage of pilots? Thats a laugh. Nobody has mentioned the new reality. The times of working 40 to 50 hours a month, and making a 6 figure salary are over.

24th Jul 2004, 08:14
Crystal balls have yet to be perfected and we live in a constantly evolving world. Comparing things with the past is not always the best method of guaging what will be coming down the turnpike, though handy for nostalgic purpouses, and possibly, what not to do. Having started in the profession in 66 and sampled the ups and downs in various parts of the world it's my contention that market forces will dictate salaries and numbers hired. These are constantly shifting and difficult to accurately predict. What is easier to detirmine is ones own hunger for a particular profession. If you want to do it badly enough then the persuit of that is sometimes reward enough in itself, and the salary sadly neccessary as it is in this world of ours, icing on the cake.

24th Jul 2004, 09:06
What is easier to determine is ones own hunger for a particular profession

This is the key to the whole pilot recruitment thing. If the profession was less vocational then employees would simply drift off when terms and conditions become too onerous.

I sometimes liken piloting to stage or concert work. Some people will sell their soul for a bit part. Airlines understand this well and exploit the situation to the full.

Another issue is what a pilot does when the career does become too much. Damn hard to establish yourself in another occupation without an awful lot of sacrifice and hard work.

The airlines know this too.

25th Jul 2004, 07:11
Atlanta Driver

Thanks for confirming that there areZero Brit Pilots working for any Icelandic Airline based in Iceland which was what I suspected. It looks like a one way street to me.

As I said before there will never ever be a shortage of Pilots in UK because Employers can call upon people from at least 31 countries to take up any vacancies ,the 25 EU countries + Iceland and Norway +EU Dual Passport holdres from say South Africe,Canada,Australia and New Zealand.

The recent advertisement From BA flag carrier for Type Rated B777 and B744 Pilots was clearly aimed at "foreigners" as there are no B777 Airlines in UK and I doubt if any B744 Pilots from Virgin would ever consider joining BA at the bottom of their senioroty list. Still that is the way we do things in UK these days. Employers are not prepared to pay and train Brits ,they would rather poach from elsewhere and save money. This is happening in many jobs these days.

25th Jul 2004, 07:18
Xenophobia reigns supreme..!

25th Jul 2004, 07:34
Nice attitude TheGypsy.

If you had done your homework you would know that there are zero flight crew, be it Brits or others, based in Iceland for Air Atlanta there is no crew base there. However FRA, CDG, DXB, KUL, MAD all have brits.

Then we have to look at all those Orange coloured aircraft operating flights out of Amsterdam, Alicante, Athens, Barcelona, Basel, Berlin, Budabest, Copenhagen, Dortmund, Geneva, Krakow, Ljubljana, Madrid, Marseille, Milan, Naples, Nice, Palma, Paris, Prague, Rome, Toulouse and Venice to destinations other than UK flown by all those "foreigners" from that tiny island just off French coast.

Ain't that just wonderful?? So as far as I can see you brits have a lot more people flying in continental Europe than there are us "Foreigners" flying in UK. It is not a one way street.

25th Jul 2004, 07:36

Is it Zenophobia in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where you have to be a citizen to work there as a Pilot:confused: :confused:

25th Jul 2004, 07:56
You cant complain if other countries are smart enough to look after their own citizens first. Its frustrating if you are on the wrong side of the fence (which I am) but totally understandable and not imho in any way xenophobic.

25th Jul 2004, 08:54
The USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand are not part of the EU. Nor did they send their citizens out to create an empire, and in the process sow their seed, which is exactly the reason that South Africans, Zimbabweans, Indians (all British passport or residence permit holders) are able to live and work in the UK. What's more, anyone believing that it is a requirement to be a citizen in order to work in the US, Canada, Oz or NZ, simply has not done their homework!

The notion that the recent BA ad was aimed directly at us "foreigners" is pathetic, paranoid and xenophobic! :}

Furthermore, having flown in numerous parts of the world over the span of a career, there is hardly a nation left that has no foreign pilots or who's own pilots don't fly elsewhere. The only suitable solution to it all (in my opinion) is to simply grow up, and accept it.

If you're an unemployed pilot, look for the real reason that you're out of work, and forget about this anti-foreigner naziism! :yuk:

25th Jul 2004, 09:24
This topic ask the question is it the end of cheap Pilots.?

For reasons that i have stated it is not the end in UK at least because there is an endless supply which removes the necessity of improving conditions.

126.9 Who was that advert for B777/B744 rated Pilots from BA aimed at if not foreigners?

I am not unemployed and as for throwing in the word " Naziism" then who is being pathetic 126.9?:confused:

25th Jul 2004, 09:40
Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific, Emirates Airlines, KLM, Lufthansa, SAA, ANA, AAI, Atlas, etc. all employ British citizens that are current and typed on the mentioned aircraft. Simple powers of logical deduction tell me that perhaps BA are trying to entice some of these blokes "home." It is perfectly conceivable that some of these chaps may have gone to work elsewhere when BA was not recruiting, and may now love an opportunity to join them.

On this particular issue of "foreigners", anyone taking a deep breath, sitting back and giving it due thought, will come to a similar conclusion and that is: this particular sentiment has caused almost more problems worldwide than differences amongst religions has. It's not worth getting your t1tties in a tangle over and what's more, as pilots, shortly after take-off we all become foreigners! :}

25th Jul 2004, 10:03
As this topic starter I have to mention that I never said there is a pilot shortage on course.
Beamer and others got my point:

"Tinstaafi is correct - the only shortage at the moment is for pilots of the right experience levels on major current aircraft types - Boeing, Airbus etc. There will never be a shortage of low-time dreamers with fresh Commercial licences and no more experience than endless hours on Cessnas and Pipers built in ideal weather conditions in Florida with the bare minimum twin time to get their ticket.

If you've got 3000 hours plus on 747/757/767/320/321/330/340 etc then options are available. A 737 rating, two eyes. two arms , two legs guarantees a job with low-cost carriers in Europe - Ryanair, Easyjet etc.

The 'shortage' has always been just around the corner - so has the flow of ex-military pilots who jump ahead of the kids who for some reason see airline flying as a great new career - sorry, that sounds cynical - just back from long night flight !!!!!!!!!"

Simply put!

And I would advise to be careful to leave your present job for any outfit that look nice now. Things may be improving sooner.

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25th Jul 2004, 10:15
Wishful thinking topic? Yes, the forecast for expansion worldwide is on quite a big scale, but a large % of this is towards the LOW COST market! LOW COST isn't just a mere customer grabbing ad, but stands for a workforce who work maximum hours for the least possible. And even the more established carriers find themselves competing more in this ever expanding low cost air travel market.
I know some people on here find it impossible to accept that working in air travel has changed since the advent of low cost and that also the result is front line customer service staff (pilots, cabin crews etc) are part of an industry where extreme price wars dictate ultimate survival. While wages may not decrease in a direct sense, indirectly you will find flying staff have to work more hours and also get minimum rest between flights....before they have to transport the next load of masses back. Nowadays, airlines are not customer or employee focused, but target driven and as a result, like it or not, the staff are forced to make these targets happen to ensure they continue having a job.
Like I said, a wishful thinking topic!

26th Jul 2004, 09:50

Not quite true what you say that experience plus a 737/Bus rating guarantees a job. I have over 10 000 hours, lots in shorthaul jet command and have always been considered a safe pair of hands. I paid for a 737 rating when it became evident that no one was prepared to type rate me. So far, nothing doing.

It's difficult to know exactly what easyJet and Ryanair are doing because of the lack of feedback in the online application process, but I suspect that there aren't as many jobs there as people seem to think.

28th Jul 2004, 03:42

My point is: if you have good thousands hours command on 737NG, 757, 767, 747...or on new Abuses included on your grand total of more than 10K, you'll have increasingly more options.
Do not leave a secure job for what seems to be a greener pasture now...do not rush.

Cheers and good luck

28th Jul 2004, 08:58
I have to agree with the sceptics, particularly with Gipsy. I don't wish to seem xenophobic (indeed, one of my parents and my wife are immigrants), but there is certainly a disparity between how willing the UK is to accept foreign crew, and how willing other nations are to accept Brits. Look at Iberia or AF; how many Brits there? And I can't agree more that it's time to stop Commonwealth people working here, after all, we wouldn't be allowed to sweep streets in Aus or NZ.

To my knowledge, easyJet are looking for 400 pilots this year. I suspect Ryanair need a similar number, though many of theirs will be contract pilots. Both would appear to have a preference for non-rated applicants, as these can be bonded, charged for their trg (run at considerable profit) and paid reduced salaries for their lesser experience. It also helps the demographics within the company, so not everyone is screaming for a promotion at once.

I sincerely hope I'm wrong, but I just don't feel that optimistic about a soon to arrive improvement in our conditions.

28th Jul 2004, 09:18
Whipper.... you don't need to be an Australian ctizen to work here, just have residency. At last count we had about a million Brits here with residency status and British citizenship.

You can sweep our streets any time you like..;)

Nil further
28th Jul 2004, 10:01
Full Forward

"A 737 rating, two eyes. two arms , two legs guarantees a job with low-cost carriers in Europe - Ryanair, Easyjet etc."

You may want to ask the hundreds if not thousands of guys who have failed the selection about that .

There is a bit more to getiing hired by EZY than what you suggest.


28th Jul 2004, 13:03
There is a thread running in the Wannabe's Forum (http://www.pprune.org/forums/showthread.php?threadid=138888) where there is a discussion about the potential for a glorious future of airline recruiting. I guess it is relevant to this topic, maybe worth a look.

28th Jul 2004, 13:59
I completed my CPL/IR training at the end of last year and I am now working as an FO on a decent salary, and I know quite a few people who I have trained with that are all now working.

So perhaps the market is picking up and airlines are starting to look at people with lower hours.

28th Jul 2004, 14:14
>>Is it Zenophobia in USA, Canada, Australia and New Zealand where you have to be a citizen to work there as a Pilot<<

Don't know who's being xenophobic but you certainly don't have to be a citizen to work as a pilot in the U.S.

My company is infested with war brides and other green card holders. Now if we could just do something about those Norwegians <g>...

28th Jul 2004, 20:33
Shortage of pilots? Don’t know how it could be in UK but here in Belgium we got pilots for a next 15 years even if all eight Belgian FTO’s will stop their ‘production’.

29th Jul 2004, 22:33
It's all very relative. Many, many moons ago, with no more than 500 hours total and maybe 100 hours in a light twin, I found myself in the right seat of a DC6 en route to a tiny country I had never heard of...and I didn't even know how to open the window! :eek: