View Full Version : Why Airline Pilots Should Make $200,000 (or more)

18th Apr 2001, 10:38
Interesting Article by a fellow pilot:
Subject: Why Airline Pilots Should Make $200,000 (or more)

The airline business is an equal opportunity career field. Airlines, including Delta, American, United, and Northwest are hiring loads of pilots right now. You, too, can find yourself in the cockpit of a 767, 727, A-300 or any other commercial aircraft out there in the skies. The airlines hire regardless of race, religion, age or sex. They are literally the epitome of the equal opportunity employer. All it takes is enough intelligence to obtain an application, fill it out and send it back to personnel for
consideration. That's it!! Then you may be offered an entry level position as a pilot with any of the airlines, at a starting pay of $25,000 - 28,000 per year. Congratulations.....You're on the start of your flying career.......Or are you????

Let's see, the current qualification requirements, to even be called in for
an interview, are as follows: 4 year college degree (no problem, if you have a home computer in order to participate in this cyber dribble, then you've got that); physically able to pass an FAA Class 1 exam (assuming that you dont spend all of your time sitting on your brains at the computer, then maybe youll be able to pass.); and oh yeah, you've got to have completed the
Flight Engineer written exam, have multi-engine, commercial / instrument ratings and it wouldn't hurt to have the Airline Transport Rating (typed in something larger than your Lazy Boy recliner). Generally speaking, the current averages of new hire pilots at the airlines are: 3,300 hours total flying time, 2,700 hours multi-engine/turbo, with 1,200 hours
pilot-in-command. (Sorry, sitting on your sofa, eating pizza and surfing the channels with your TV remote doesnt count as a single minute of Instrument time!)

What??? You don't have the minimum qualifications to even be called in for
an interview???!!! Well get off your lazy can and go get qualified.
Remember, age is not a factor. You can be 60 years old and still get hired as a Flight Engineer - sorry the federal government says you can't fly past age 60, but you can be a plumber. Over 95 percent of the pilots at Delta Air Lines have military backgrounds. That's all you have to do.....join the
military, go to pilot training and spend 9 years on active duty flying airplanes. You'll be able to build the hours of experience necessary to qualify for the airlines, get paid while youre doing it and get to see the world at the same time.

What???? Can't get selected to go to pilot training because of the incredibly stringent requirements to get through the door???!!! Oh, don't want to PAY THE PRICE of having to serve your country, subject to the needs
of the service and move every 2-3 years. Even then, you don't know whether or not the airlines will be hiring when you finally gain enough experience and complete your contract with Uncle Sam!

Just what are those high entrance standards? Let's see. For every pilot slot there are approximately 50 who apply. From those selected, they enter a flight screening (aka washout) program that eliminates half of the group.
From there you go on to Undergraduate Pilot Training (for the Air Force, the Navy has a similar program under a different name) for an entire year. Work hard, because only two out of three that enter graduate. Let's do some quick math. You are in a room with a group of people who all want to become
military pilots. In fact, there are 150 of you. Guess what? Two years later only one of you will get to walk across a stage and get your wings pinned on. Ouch.

Then you get to hit the operational side. Whoa, first you've got to get through RTU (Training unit, about a 5% washout rate here). Now, you are off to the real world, training to fight or flying operational missions. Now, after nine years of this, the airline career is ahead of you. Wait a minute, I just glossed over one minor area. You see, you have to SURVIVE your time
on active duty. Let's look at one squadron and the facts. This squadron of 40 pilots lost one pilot a year for four years. I know these numbers are correct because I was in that squadron. Do the math and you see that the odds of simply surviving a four year tour is approximately 90%. Those odds
don't seem so bad, unless you are the one whose life depends on it. Those might seem like just statistics, but go to a few funerals, see the widows and children, and that 90% takes on a whole new meaning. And guess what, those numbers don't even take into account a real live war, and I'm not
alking about the wars the stock traders talk about in the stock pits. They use real live bullets in this shooting match.

Ah, no problem, if you can't or won't make it via the military route, then you can always go the civilian path to the airlines.... Remember those hours
of experience???? If not, your short term memory is in doubt which may be a factor in your abilities to fly airplanes and make life threatening decisions - reread four paragraphs previous. Those average of 3,300 hours dont come free on the civilian side of the equation either. Youll probably
need to start flying as soon as you get your drivers license in order to build those levels of hours before your life times out on the mortality tables. It'll cost you at least $2,000 to get your basic flying license: single engine, land; capable of avoiding clouds, weather less than clear and
a million miles visibility, severe crosswinds and minimum night. Now,congratulations, you've got about 40-60 hours towards that 3,300.....get going, you've got a ways to go. Start paying for some more flying time, sport.
It'll cost you 30-40 dollars per hour to rent a single engine Piper to fly your buddies around and look at the corn fields. Figure it out genius, it's going to be expensive to build several thousand hours. And don't forget, even if mom and dad are footing the bill for you, 3,000 hours
of Piper Cherokee time wont get you through American, United, Delta or anyone else's doors for a peek at the application stack!!

Thats right, youre going to have to get those other ratings. No problem.
You're a smart person. Just buy some more Instructor time, study some more stacks of books, go to more ground schools, shell out several thousand more dollars, spend thousands of hours studying some more, get that dual instruction time, take more tests, pass more physicals and you'll get that
Instrument rating - maybe in that same Piper Cherokee. Congratulations! But guess what.....tha'ts right, you still aren't close to being qualified. You
now have somewhere around 200-300 hours; enough to have the minimum necessary to go for a Commercial license. So, you pay, study, fly, study, pay, pay, pay, fly, pay, study, test, fly, pay, pay, fly, study,
test......and finally get your Commercial ticket.
Great!! Now you can be paid to fly - that'll help. But you still only have 300 or so hours flying, not enough (remember 3,300 hours) to land a seat with the Big Boys. Don't give up yet, oh Mr/Ms Wannabee, you're on your way. If you want it bad enough, you'll keep going. If you don't want it bad enough, YOU'LL QUIT, SIT BACK AND WHINE ABOUT THOSE THAT SUCCEED!!! Not you though, you press on....

Get out the check book, buy some more time. You've got to get that multi-engine experience in order to get hired by some civilian company so you can build your time. You study, pay, fly (multi-engine now - so double the hourly rate), pay, pay, fly, pay, study, fly, pay, study, pay, pay some
more, fly, test, study, fly, pay and finally - you've got that multi-engine
rating. So, with all those ratings now, multi-engine, Instrument and the all
important, Commercial ticket, you can get a job flying airplanes. Oh, not
for the airlines; hell, the commuters won't even touch you yet. But you might land yourself a job hauling canceled checks for some company. Thatll be working the boneyard shift - midnight to 6 a.m. But you'll get paid minimum wage to fly (and build those hours). Remember, youre determined to
get qualified for the Majors!! Or maybe youll get hired to fly parachute jumpers. That'll get you a couple of hours per day. It's probably not turbo prop time, but it counts towards the total. No matter, if you work real hard, fly all the time (you do have to have some minimum rest as required by the FAA) you may be able to build 1,000 hours per year! At some point in time though, my future aviation professional friend, you've got to get that turbine / jet engine time. Yep, pay, pay, study, fly, test, pay, fly, test, pay, pay and more pay.

Finally, you've beat through the trenches of aviation to get enough hours and experience to qualify for a position flying as a co-pilot for one of the commuter airlines like ASA, ComAir, American Eagle or United Express. You apply, interview and get hired!! Again, congratulations - you've made
another hurdle. Now you're building that commercial aviation experience. Oh, by the way, you're only making $14,000 per year starting - if you're lucky!!
You'll get to do this for at least 2-3 years to build that 3,000 hours of experience and at some point in time, move over to the left seat to build that pilot-in-command (PIC) time. Looking at the years of struggling to this point, youre probably wishing you had gone the military route - of course,
you didn't choose that option!!

So you press on....Now, regardless of whether you went the military or civilian route, there's been some substantial risks. Throughout your career you've been subjected to annual physicals (in some cases, every 6 months) that could have easily disqualified you, forever, from your chosen aviation
career field. On top of that, guess what, the FAA has been closely watching
you every step of the way. Fail to pass the written exams - you're history.
Fail to pass the orals - you're history. Fail to pass the flying tests - you're history. No pressure. There's more....your FAA friends have a whole stack of books of regulations governing your life as a pilot and the operation of every single airplane you lift off the ground. Here's the risk:
SCREW UP ONE TIME, JUST ONCE, AND BREAK AN AIRPLANE, HURT SOMEONE, OR JUST COME CLOSE - AND THEY TAKE YOUR LICENSES AWAY FROM YOU. FOREVER !!!! They don't care how many years and thousands of dollars you spent getting to this point in your career......they don't care how badly you want to become a
commercial airline pilot, ........you can beg, plead, get down on your whiny knees and cry.......THEY DON'T CARE !! YOU'RE HISTORY!!!! Congratulations, your lifetime of work has just been trashed for a simple mistake.
Unfortunately, there are no big margins of error in this business. Unlike working at MacDonalds, or as a marketing rep selling coat hangers, or some computer geek writing software or selling shoes at Macys, when you screw up, you stand the risk of KILLING PEOPLE! This ain't no PUSS GAME!!

But it's okay, you knew the risks, the requirements, the qualifications. YOU KNEW THE PRICE YOU'D HAVE To PAY!! And you also knew how easily it can all be jerked out from under you. So you've chosen to spend your LIFETIME studying to remain highly qualified and to get eligible for another step in the professional aviation ladder. It goes with the territory. But there are
rewards commensurate with your choice. For one: you love to fly! That's why you're here. Second: there is a chance that someday, if all goes well, you may make it to the Majors and earn a good living, again, commensurate with being a professional pilot. And besides, if this were easy to do, EVERYONE WOULD Be DOING IT!! The requirements to cut it in this business make it such that it automatically weeds out the sniffling wannabees. You either have the
mental and physical abilities coupled with the desire and DETERMINATION or youre sitting on the sideline -WHINING!! After 9 years on active duty in the military, or the equivalent on the civilian side, you've gotten the licenses and experience qualifying you to apply at the Majors. Unfortunately, the major airlines aren't like Exxon gas stations: there simply isn't one on every street corner hiring someone to pump gas. Any one airline is probably
hiring no more than 1,000 pilots per year - and that's a really big year.
You may think you have what they're looking for, but guess what, so does every other pilot applying for that position. So the competition just elevated to another notch higher. Odds are more in favor of you NOT getting hired than of getting hired!! After two or three airline interviews, you might get lucky and get hired by a startup carrier - paying less than a person on the UAW assembly line. No problem, you'll keep applying to the other carriers even though you generally only have one opportunity. A NO is generally a no for the rest of your career. But you'll keep trying.

Even if you do get lucky and hired by a Major, there's more years of dues to
pay, studying, hard work, long days, short nights and hurdles to cross. The FAA not only watches you on paper, they sit on your jumpseat and watch over your shoulder. They analyze, criticize and evaluate every move you make. They're there for your orals, writtens, simulator checks and rating rides.
They show up unannounced any time they choose. They check you and recheck you; sometimes two days in a row from different examiners. One big error now, sport, and you don't get bumped back to the Minors, you get bounced out on your ass!! You again accept the fact that youve chosen to live a life in
a profession that with any mistake you are AUTOMATICALLY GUILTY UNTIL PROVEN

But it's okay, because the risks are high, therefore the standards must be even higher!! You're no longer talking about dinging in your little Cherokee with your buds on board. Were talking about anywhere from 100 to 400 passengers (depending on the airplane) on board who are betting their lives that you MEET OR EXCEED THOSE HIGH STANDARDS. They're betting that when that
engine fails, the hydraulic system quits or the flight controls stop working that you have the knowledge, experience and highly trained skill to safely and that airplane on a short runway, in weather that you wont take your Honda Accord out in to buy your pizza. Therein lies the blessing and the
problem: passengers. Since deregulation, the prices for tickets have become increasingly competitive. In fact, the cut throat marketing schemes of some airlines have caused tickets prices to be so low that it is now cheaper to fly than to take the Greyhound bus. Hence, the business takes on the look and feel of mass transportation. More competition, lower ticket prices, more
passengers. Through the process weve lowered the standards. Average tickets prices down, thus reduced revenues, and consequently a huge reduction in the standard of service. The simple fact of the matter, people, is that you cannot expect to get 1st class service for below Greyhound prices on your
tickets. You don't go to the Cadillac dealer and expect to pay Yugo prices.

Heres an economic question for you: when you go to the grocery store, the gas station, make a long distance telephone call, buy a new modem or a new pair of shoes, do you think you pay LESS for that product or service than what it costs the business to SUPPLY it? Nope. But the marketing gurus in
the airlines business sell seats for less than it costs to produce them.

So costs are out of sight. Gotta lower the overhead. We'll cut back on our service: no meals, minimum number of flight attendants to provide service, fewer agents, etc. In fact, we'll out source everything we can to lower costs. Well lay off tens of thousands of dedicated and loyal employees so we
can contract with outside companies to fuel our planes, clean em, handle baggage and even work the gates. Those companies hire at minimum wage and with no benefits. So guess what, there is no employee loyalty, dedication or commitment. If its a rainy, cold Saturday in Chicago, the minimum wage ramp workers won't show up for work. What's the contractor going to do, fire them
and hire more minimum wage employees with the same dedication? So your bags get lost, or stolen, or just dont get put on the plane. The flight is late because there's not enough fuelers to fuel the airplane. You're pissed because the flight's late and it never crosses your mind that it might be
because of your $79.00 round trip airfare from Chicago to Miami. You don't apply the same "you get what you pay for logic" to your airline ticket that you do when you go shopping for a new automobile. You expect to have your ass kissed for the $39.50 for that flight segment. Hell, you can't buy a
hooker to kiss your cheek for that amount of money!!

Guess what you think you can do for your $39.50?? You feel like you have the
constitutional right to defecate, urinate and vomit in the seat; leaving it for someone else to clean up. You throw your trash on the floor and walk away from it. You'll change your babys diaper on the tray table, wad up the pamper full of baby crap and leave it in the seatback pocket. And then you whine that youre paying too much for your ticket, the plane's late, or that
seats are too cramped. Guess what?? I wouldn't ride in your car and treat you that way - why treat the professionals in the aviation community that way??!! Because - YOU DON,T CARE !!!! You want the most you can get for the east you have to pay for it!

Unfortunately, the airline managements have cut back their services to the point that they can't cut anymore. So they look to the only other source of cutting - employee salaries and benefits. For the non contract (non-union) groups its easy to scalp. They don't have any protection from irresponsible
management who are only interested in the bottom line. But if you happen to be fortunate enough to have the protection of a professional organization (unions like ALPA or APA) then its a little bit tougher to slaughter. You see, even though management has reduced the standards of the products they sell, the standard by which professional pilots are subjected to have not been reduced!! The price pilots have had to pay is still there. The risks and the requirements still remain.
Passengers may want the most they can get
for the least dollar, but they still want those pilots to have the experience/qualifications commensurate with requirements of operating aircraft, full of passengers, in an intense and risk filled environment! I hate to tell you this, sport, but that doesn't come FREE!! If you want it,
youve got to pay for it!!

Now let's fold in record profits being reaped by airline management. Not to mention huge salaries and bonuses for executives at the airlines. Without exception, the salaries of professional pilots throughout the business have not kept pace with the cost of living for the past decade. Simply put, airline pilots are making less than they were 10 years ago, yet you keep charging more each year for that new color TV, automobile, gallon of milk or tank of gas.

So, after 25 years of flying experience, tests, physical exams, simulator checks, military service, etc., etc, I finally reach the left seat of an airplane in the service of a commercial carrier. Yep, I also get a 6 figure income. Tell me, why shouldnt I??? If anyone could get here, then this profession wouldn't have the added benefit of a nice salary. It doesn't require a doctor the same number of years to get to 6 figures, yet, no one denies that surgeon is worth every penny when you're laying on the table with your chest sliced open and a rib splitter making a hole large enough to reach through. And a surgeon only kills them one at a time when he screws up!! I don't hear you whining about stock brokers getting 6 figure incomes.
You don't seem to have any problem with paying $100 to take your family to a
professional baseball game to watch a 19 year-old play ball for $1 million per year!! But for some reason, you are pissed off that professional airline pilots are eventually compensated with a 6 figure income.

And you want to whine about their retirement? Statistically, only 1 out of
every 3 pilots entering this profession will ever make it to retirement.
Thats a 66 percent chance that I'll never see the lump-sum numbers that you want to bitch about. And guess what, if it weren't for collective bargaining, contracts, unions and federal regulations, reckless managements would be robbing those retirement funds like Jesse James. Thank goodness there are unions out there protecting the earned benefits of professionals.

So why shouldn't the pilots at American, United, Delta or any other union carrier, fight for the survival of their profession. Obviously managements have forgotten (or selectively forget) what it took to get in the pilots seat (managements are predominately non-pilots) and what it takes to remain there for a full career. Executives would like to ignore their own high salaries, bonuses and benefits and rather ignite the public and fellow
employees against the 6 figure salaries of the professional pilots.

So you, in your ignorance, jump on that bashing bandwagon without being armed with the facts. The fact of the matter is this: If you, or any other living, breathing, whining non-achiever wants to make the 6 figure income of a professional pilot - its an open door thats available to you. I've laid it out for you. Its there for the taking. All you have to do is go for it. You
can't sit on the sideline and whine though. Whining won't get you into the Captains seat on a B-767. You also can't leap from your Piper Cherokee into the left seat of that B-777 or B-727. There are no short cuts!! But you can get there; many have made it. So can you. But if you don't want it bad enough to pay the price, or you dont have the commitment, dedication, enthusiasm or determination to get there.....then STOP YOUR BITCHING.

Because, you see, just as much as you obviously don't care what it takes for
an individual to make it to the left seat of a B-747 with 400 passengers on board, we dont give a rats ass that you don't care !! We'll do what we have to do to protect our profession, careers, benefits and salaries. It wasn't a cake walk to get here.....thats obvious because you're not among those that

Have another slice of pizza, flip to a different channel and stop bashing those who chose a tougher career.

DON'T COMPARE MY JOB TO OTHER JOBS!!! A lot has been said and written in the press concerning pilots' salaries and compensation. We have been told about how much it will cost our company, our job has been compared to others, and various subtle and not so subtle threats and intimidation tactics have been hurled at our group. In light of the current situation, please allow me, a pilot to give you a small glimpse into my world...


...How many boardrooms explode over Long Island Sound?
...How many meetings conclude with hundreds of dead bodies?
...How many trucks cost $82 million dollars?
...How many doctors spend half the month away from their families?
...Do the children of media representatives cry when Daddy puts on his
uniform to go to work because they know he'll be gone for a week?
...How many salesmen lose their jobs because they have high blood pressure?
...How many lawyers spent Christmas alone in a crash pad?
...When your wife is watching TV and the program is interrupted by a news
flash of an aircraft accident, does she momentarily freeze in fear for what
she might hear?

There is not another profession in the world where the consequences for
mistakes are so catastrophic and unforgiving.

...I pay the price when somebody loads full oxygen containers in the cargo
...I pay the price when a terrorist has a bone to pick
...I pay the price when loaders forget to set the locks
...I pay the price when engineers design a fuel pump incorrectly
...I pay the price when Mother Nature decides to shift the winds...

...Ask the CEO of Value Jet the cost of a DC-9 buried in the
Everglades...The Cost..
...Ask Fred Smith the cost to scrape a DC-10 and MD-11 from the runways at
Steward and Newark...The Cost
...Ask Korean Airlines the cost of a 747 that didn't quite make the runway
at Guam... The Cost
...Ask Fine Air the cost to clean up a DC-8 off a Miami Street... The Cost
...Ask Bob Crandall the cost of a B-757 impacting a Columbian mountain...The
...And if not for their Cool, Calm, Professionalism, what could have been
the cost of a UPS B-727 that suddenly went dark and silent four miles above
Chicago? How much were they worth to you that night? Industry standard or 25
% below? ...... The Cost

...It was I who flew Cobra gunships in the jungles of Vietnam while you worked on your masters degree
...It was I who sits alone at the tip of an F-18 in the silent instant before I am catapulted over a cold, dark sea, while you slept peacefully in your bed
...It was I who, one night watched my wings grow heavy with ice, miles from the safety of the nearest airport praying that I had enough fuel to find clear skies, while you watched Monday night football
...It was I who flew a C-130 into Panamanian gunfire, while you decorated your Christmas tree in 1989
...It was I who faced head-on the fourth largest army in the world over the deserts of Iraq and brought it to its knees, while you watched it on CNN
...It was I who landed an A-6 on a floating piece of tarmac no bigger than your backyard, while you mowed yours
...It was I who orbited in unarmed tankers over enemy territory to replenish others sworn to protect you
...It was I who watched missiles and bullets blossom in my face, yet didn't turn and run, while you watched the flowers in your garden blossom
...It was I who buried a friend
...It is I who knows a little boy who will never play catch with his Dad, so that you may play with your grandchild.

Sir, please don't try to intimidate me.

I am not your enemy, I am your asset, an asset that has experienced and
accomplished things few others dare to try. Realize this and there a few
obstacles we can't overcome.

18th Apr 2001, 11:07

Big Red ' L '
18th Apr 2001, 11:49
So whats your point..????

Its not the fall that kills you...Its the sudden stop.....

18th Apr 2001, 12:42
Can you walk on water??.If not,why not!!
You can do everything else.

"I don't suffer from stress.I'm a carrier".

18th Apr 2001, 12:53
What a cry for help....

18th Apr 2001, 14:51
I think it is a well written article. All the 'dramatics' aside it tells it like it is. If what you do is worth $200,000 a year you will make that, if it isn't you won't.


18th Apr 2001, 14:52
...what an epic post!

18th Apr 2001, 15:35
aviator you get my vote----- for PRESIDENT. WELL DONE

18th Apr 2001, 17:52
is this an extract from the doomsday book?

18th Apr 2001, 18:19
Absolutely brilliant.Aviator, your words should be on the preface of all flying study books, and on the back of boarding cards.

18th Apr 2001, 18:25
EXCELLENT post Aviator. Tells it exactly like it is. This should be published.
***** standing ovation.

Big Red L and deepee or whatever your name is or means...drop off...you are both depriving a poor village somewhere of a pair of idiots

18th Apr 2001, 18:36
Quite dramatic.............but makes the point. I will be passing this on to a few of my mates inside and outside the industry.

Thanks for taking the time Aviator.

18th Apr 2001, 18:43
Yup,get's my vote.I know it's fashionable to 'downplay' our achievments but casting false modesty aside this is quite accurate.And if we don't say it the beancounters or 'managers', won't.I would think that this is a magazine article rather than a posting.

18th Apr 2001, 19:05
Based on the last few paragraphs, the average GI in any war should've been on about half a million a year..........Spare us the drama. All the sentimental factors seemed to have little effect when you embarked on your career, yet they become so important when discussing remuneration. Yet most pilots will try to tell you they became pilots primarily for the love of flying , and secondarily for money. Doesn't seem that way all the time. People on this board endlessly bitch about management, but very few balanced solutions ever seem to get offered. BTW I am neither mangement nor flight crew, I am an observer..........A pilot is a tough job, and very well done, but it gets spoiled by the endless bitching.

18th Apr 2001, 19:13
the avergage GI hasn´t chosen it for a career, had one medical to see that his feet weren´t flat, doesn´t have 400 people depending on him, was trained for about 9 months to use about 4 pieces of equipment and would love it if he were fired the next day

ask me..i was one

Big Red ' L '
18th Apr 2001, 20:45
AfricanSkies Sorry about the comment. It is meant to be taken 'tongue-in-cheek' Have a look around you, you might find you sense of humour somewhere.
Its a brilliant article well thought out and well written. thanks to aviator for taking the time to put this up.

Its not the fall that kills you...Its the sudden stop.....

Inspector Gadget
18th Apr 2001, 21:13
You fly a plane. Big deal. Don't make it sound more important than it really is. As per previous threads, you get paid what you are worth, and if that is'nt enough get another job.

18th Apr 2001, 22:41
I think the point is that we DON'T get paid what we are worth.
And in real terms over the last 10 years or more we as a body have been getting paid less and less, so that more and more people can pay less and less for their tickets!!!

That's all.............

Hard Rider
18th Apr 2001, 23:42
We're paid what they can get away with.

Either we vote with our feet - but you still have to work somewhere - or we have to stand up for ourselves as a group. Putting this kind of information across to non-pilots must surely help our case. Personally, the whole thing took so long I need a bit of payback before my time runs out ...

19th Apr 2001, 01:19
when there are 20 qualified people going for a job at a given salary, that salary is at least good enough.

when there is one qualified person going for 20 jobs at a given salary, that salary is not good enough.

It's really simple. Anybody in any job given five minutes to think about it will come up with a rational and coherent arguement why they should be paid more. All is completely irrelevant. The market rules. If you don't like it go live in North Korea.

19th Apr 2001, 04:57
But it isn't a free market Minogue, and well you know it. Seniority etc sees to that. And guess what? Look around on the board and you will see that, in the end, people DO walk away or refuse to come and play with airlines that treat professional flightcrew with contempt as a tied worker: SIA, that paragon of good employee relations is short of pilots. Great.

The North Korea jibe reeks of the bitterness I see from our managers. What's your problem? Fail to make the grade as a pilot? Or have you joined the ranks of the suits and hold your former colleagues in contempt as a cost item? Being an accountant leaves you feeling there must be something more?

Tell us.

19th Apr 2001, 11:39
Aviator, thanks for the article. I reproduced it in a private Qantas pilots Bulleting board with a link to here.

Interesting reading and thanks.

Nunc est bibendum

19th Apr 2001, 12:53
Most impressive writing, Aviator!!!
Whoever has any other opinion has not gone the long way or does not have the dedication required to want to succeed.

19th Apr 2001, 13:05

And who jealously guards the seniority system?

Whether we like it or not Minogue is right, market forces rule. It was ever thus.

19th Apr 2001, 13:56
Well AndyP I think the fair answer to that question is both sides. It seems to suit the airlines more these days, and yet I can't think of an acceptable alternative, I admit.

Either way, trades unions are a fact of a democratic and free society too, as is the right to strike if conducted after a legal and fair ballot. I think it is very telling that a professional group such as airline pilots are driven to those lengths, but now they are and the worm is turning. Vereinigung (sp?) Cockpit has done so for its membership; I think you will ultimately see the same here.

19th Apr 2001, 14:52
How much should engineers be paid to keep you up there?

19th Apr 2001, 15:49
How much do engineers pay to get the licence?

Boss Raptor
19th Apr 2001, 16:08
In my experience no one in the senior levels of aviation gets paid a salary which compares to equal worth/responsibility in other industries particularly the financial sector. This is true of both flight crew and executive management (with a few exceptions in the latter, mainly with the very large carriers).

I have never discovered the reason why this is but my theory is that the aviation industry is relatively self sufficient with regard to staff - rarely taking in personnel from outside the industry - and therefore the wage rates have developed/matured outside the normal sphere and labour market.

At the end of the day this has been a question of supply and demand - aviation is seen as a 'glamourous' industry with no apparent shortage of willing candidates...high flexability of internal labour market, frequent slumps and resulting available personnel...and in the case of management many both from within the industry and externally who claim to have skills to undertake roles they are neither qualified or experienced for - the title 'aviation consultant' being in widespread use/abuse and all encompassing in meaning and ability!

19th Apr 2001, 16:25
The reference to engineers (for whom I have the greatest respect and, yes, they should also be paid more) reminds me of a staff meeting for a company I worked for some time ago.
The engineers were complaining that they did not receive yearly increments like the pilots.
The MD/CEO of the company simple got up and said, "It's quite simple - if you want a pilot's pay they become a pilot!" Easier said than done perhaps but there is a moral here somewhere.
The challenge is that most pilots actually like flying which means that many of us get far too "sentimental" when it comes to pay and conditions, etc. We are our own worst enemies in this respect.
The skills which we exercise on a daily basis are taken far too much for granted because flying has become so commonplace.
We need some real changes in attitude from the top to get major changes. Perhaps when retired pilots start sueing companies for "stress" caused by unreasonable working practices we will start to see a difference.
Don't laugh at this suggestion because it is already happening in other industries.


19th Apr 2001, 16:51

I don't laugh at your suggestion I almost cry. Are the majority of cases of sueing for so called 'stress' really because of some long term, irreperable suffering or a case of trying out their luck to get something for nothing (although ultimately of course we all pay the price).

19th Apr 2001, 16:52

19th Apr 2001, 18:00
Interesting reading, but really does not reflect the currect situation. All of the "military flag waving, I was there while you slept" is typical of USAF/USN types, but these guys joined for the satisfaction & thrill of flying a fast aircraft. To now expect that they deserve a high salary just because they have to pass a medical every six months (just like us civvy types have done for so many years) or have to pass the check ride (again for us civvy types) does not a high salary make. Supply & demand will dictate the wage rate. Simple as that.

19th Apr 2001, 18:51
Whats the difference between a turbofan
and an airline pilot - the turbofan quits
whining at the stand

Only joking - the article is excellent and
deserves publishing - I agree with the
sentiments - the salary is of course dictated
but the market, the numbers of experienced
pilots are diminishing and rates will go up
as a recognition of the time and money and
hassle involved in all this.

19th Apr 2001, 20:05
Actually, as the number of experianced pilots goes down, the crash and passenger death rates rate will go up!!See GF072 report.
Safety and wages are now or will be in the future an insurance thing, when the insurance claims cause the insurance industry to become aware of what they are risking things will improve. I welcome the day when the insurance companies do the job various CAA's and Faa's have failed to do.
Insisting that precision approach aids being up and running and in check before they will risk giving insurance cover and prohibiting insurance cover into known Black listed airports untill they are improved.
As they insure only on past record we can expect no evidence of preventive safety, the truth is they are unaware of the new risks out there and the increasing risk of thoes already known. Therefor the line of dead will be much longer than necessary.

We will do the drill according to the amendments to the amendments I er think?

20th Apr 2001, 01:19
Loaded 1, my apologies for not responding earlier to your request for a reply.

I wont turn this intom a discussion on seniority lists although I think at the very least flight crew themselves are as pro these as management.

In the company I work for, a large number of flight crew are the highest paid people in the business bar noone apart from the chief exec. Many people at all levels feel that flight crew are overpaid. Personally I disagree.

I like to think that I was born with the capabilities to be a successful pilot should I have chosen to go down that route. I didnt. If the market decides that a pilot qualification is worth more than mine, so be it, I have no bitterness.

Personally I will encourage my children to consider a flying career as from what I have seen the overall package of salary/ responsibility and lifestyle with all its pluses and minuses offers a pretty good deal.
Others may disagree in which case fine do something else.

My overall point was that a market system
overall is the system society has chosen for this country. Others that have tried other systems like N Korea have generally not done as well. Within our system the market will decide all our salaries in whatever role we have. The market will do this by balancing the forces of supply and demand.

There is nothing wrong with a group of qualified people trying to influence the market by organising themselves. I have read many posts on this site bemoaning flight crew organisation. I think you are unfair to yourselves, most outsiders would say that you are actually very good at it.
Good luck to you all.

A final plea, the site is littered with many postings that immediately accuse of a previous poster of bitterness just because he happens to post an opposite view to the general tide of the discussion. Please accept this and others opposite view postings as a genuine attempt to put the opposite view in a constructive manner.

20th Apr 2001, 02:17
Like to see the UK/Euro version of that essay.

BTW, you're only worth $200,000 per year because you have a union that sticks together, uses the labor laws (like management does) to advantage and negotiates from a position of strength. Management doesn't care if it took a millions of dollars in private training and 25 years of experience - they'd only pay you want THEY wanted without the collective voice of a union. Some unions are more successful than others - among the shameful push-overs are American Eagle and BALPA. Imagine agreeing to a 16 year no-strike contract (Eagle) and allowing out-sourcing of YOUR jobs to the likes of Atlas!

[This message has been edited by Roadtrip (edited 19 April 2001).]

20th Apr 2001, 12:05
I am very glad I stumbled across the thread. Heartfelt,a great read, and very well put. Didn't do it all that way but quite enough to remember the journey.

20th Apr 2001, 23:55
Top stuff gents.
Scan - great point, never thought of the issue from that angle.

'Keep the Stress Down'

21st Apr 2001, 10:33
Aviator, nice one! This reflects some of The Journey ;)
(pity thou for the useless military showdown... http://www.pprune.org/ubb/NonCGI/frown.gif )

... cut my wings and I'll die ...

21st Apr 2001, 15:53
Good article

Look at all you have to do to get on that deck, and lose it all when you get involved with a femi-nazi.

Build up your career, and lose it all in a divorce-ruling that takes 15 Seconds.

Maybe a bit off-track here, but still within the context of the thread.

Stay in control of your life and career, DO NOT get MARRIED.

Smooth Trimmer

21st Apr 2001, 21:38
Or, if you do, remember it's..."cheaper to keep 'em".

James T. Kirk
21st Apr 2001, 21:49
It's a good read alright and well worth another outing. Didn't it first appear here in mid 1998 when it was cut and pasted from the American Airlines crew website?

Obi Wan Kirk
22nd Apr 2001, 01:23
Well, Aviator I find your article simply brilliant!
Us pilots should be paid more for what we have to put up with.
Just to fill everybody in with what goes on in Italian Aviation:
Talking to a friend who flies for Volare Airlines on the A320, he told me a First Officer hired just hired earns 1.6 million lira per monthe for 55 hrs flying. That is the equivalent of 500 British pounds or 800 US Dollars. To add to it he/she has to sign a 5 year bond for 75 milion lira (25,000 British pounds, 37,000 US Dollars). If you think that to qualify for a JAR ATPL today it cost around 52,000 British Pounds. No wonder young people go for other professions instead of flying!

22nd Apr 2001, 01:41
Great post Aviatior.Definetly a bit on the dramatic side.
Also a printout has been sent to the local flight school.

Radar Departure2
22nd Apr 2001, 11:02
Self-congratulatory, ego-boosting, melodramatic nonsense.

Since no specific target was nominated, the "whining non-achievers" it was apparently aimed at would seem to encompass anyone who isn't flight crew. Seems to me I know where the whining is coming from.

By the way, can somebody enlighten me as to why, in a market based system which you all presumably support, the amount of money you spend on qualifications has any relevance at all to your final remuneration?

You've got your salary and conditions, boys and girls, you've got your fancy public image (never put your cap on the rear parcel shelf?) and you are among the select few who make a living enjoying what you do. Good luck to you.

Does your ego also demand that we all fall before you in adulation and gratitude?


22nd Apr 2001, 18:56
Radar Departure2

How much did your training cost?

Who paid it?

And last but not least, is your own life at risk if you or someone else makes a mistake?

Once the gear is up, and things really go wrong the crew is worth millions of dollars.

If the general pubkic would have access to the piles of confidential reports, they would have no doubt.

Smooth Trimmer

22nd Apr 2001, 22:23
When I left school I gave university a go, as did most of my mates. I don't recall working too hard, nor do I remember the need to work hard. Friends put in the absolute minimum study required, which seemed to equate to about five weeks effort, came out with a degree in something, perhaps fasinating events in the world of painters/artists in 12 AD, applied to various large companies for jobs and did very nicely. There wasn't a lot of stress invovlved, certainly hadn't mortgaged the house and most of them found work that had nothing to do with the qualification they had spent three years drinking to get. Now, I don't begrudge them anything, they are great mates. But while they were taking the p!55 & having a good laugh while I was broke paying to fly they were getting paid and had weekends off. While I had a bomb with a wheel at each corner they had very nice comfy company cars. While I had to work out how to do compass swings they were doing their own kind of swinging! And while I was flying out in the middle of nowhere with just one engine fixed to the front they were in their town houses with a nice stroll to the pub.Anyway, after all that, when the money starts rolling in my general direction, which it is now and it's lovely, they are beginning to sit up and take notice. But they can't say I make too much. How can they? We make choices. I chose the expensive option and do what I love and the gamble paid off. But as the original post from 'aviator' said there are plenty of oportunities for it all to come crashing down. I don't really think thats the case for them. And if it did happen they would just brush themselves off, walk a block and get another job. You can talk about market forces etc but for me 'Aviators' piece is about doing something that pays the bills, and the thought of having to pay them any other way is frightening. And there are plenty of opportunities out there to have to pay them another way.

23rd Apr 2001, 16:21
The relevance of the cost of qualification in a free market system is the profit motive.
When you invest, you expect to make a return.
You expect the return to be at least commensurate with the time and money spent, and the risk involved.
BTW there are many market investors out there who love what they are doing, but do not allow that to reduce the returns they expect from their investment.

23rd Apr 2001, 21:28

That's why I got a training worth 200000 Us completely for free.

There were over 2000 candidates and only 6 graduated.

If I add the cost of the investment of the guy's who failed it would be much higher.

Why did they do that ?

Probably because I am not worth it.

I can assure you they got their money back.

Not everyboby with talent can afford a loan or will get a loan, as a consequance a lot of rich daddy's boy's get into the bussiness.

As a passenger you should be happy knowing the guy's up front were very expensive to train simply because money was not an issue only quality.

Your reasoning of investment / return is responsible for a lot that goes wrong in this bussines.

Unfortunately training pilot's has become a bussiness in itself and education should never be like that.

Or are you telling that most doctors are just there to fill their pockets and do not care about their patients.

Be happy that the pilots that are up front do love their job. I would not like to be a passenger if the opposite would be true.

Be also assured that management know that to and if they lack some degree of integity they will abuse that pilot trait at will.

Smooth Trimmer

[This message has been edited by Streamline (edited 23 April 2001).]

23rd Apr 2001, 21:29
A fantastic post!!!

One thing.....
Did any of you even give a second thought to all the other people that contribute to your safe aviating. Do any of you ever sit in the flight deck at 37,000ft and think "Hmmm, I wonder if the air traffic controller (who is working his knackers off incidentally) gets paid as much as me". Doesn't it bother you that a large proportion of air traffic controllers never reach retirement age. Where do they go?? They simply die from stress, exhaustion and all the nasty things that come with the job. Do any of you ever sit on the flight deck whilst the aircraft is on the stand, and look out on the apron and see the tug crews, cold, in the pouring rain and freezing wind, lumping a great big tow-bar around so that he can get your aircraft off the stand on time?? Do you think he is worth his salary?? They don't get what you get paid, and they work just as hard!!

Life is unfair. Please remember that you are not the only ones with problems!!!

23rd Apr 2001, 21:49
Yes I do, and I even have a chat with them on a regular basis.

It's only a pity I can not invite them after a 12 hour trip when we get to Chicago and end uo in the middle of some hurrycanes or some heavy snow showers with one of the engines leaking oil getting close to minimum fuel.

I got nearly killed twice by some ATC guy.

Last week a company aircraft made an mayday call in Madrid and the spanish ATC genius did not even understand it.

Smooth Trimmer

23rd Apr 2001, 23:15
Absolute self gratifying tripe.
Surprised your ego fits in the flight deck. Pilots, engineers, roadsweepers are all paid the minimum required to keep turnover to an acceptable level, and the unions off managements backs.

Any other grandiose dilusion stinks of vanity.

24th Apr 2001, 02:59
There was a very nicely put editorial in Flight International a few months ago, that was to do with expected shortages of pilots. It didn't say that there would not be enough people with licences, it said that there would not be enough suitable people.
You can usually throw money at it and end up with a licence, but that does not necessarily mean that you will be able to cope on that dark, sh**y night when things are going wrong. Not very wrong, but just wrong! You need to pay for quality.......after all a cock up doesn't mean that you are going to lose a few million on the old stocks and shares. It is potentially lives, a lot of lives. It has already been identified that the younger generation don't find the job as attractive anymore. I wonder why?
Life style
Renumeration.........The fact of the matter is that, comparatively, the job does not pay as it used to. It is only by those of us doing the job, pushing for the appropriate wages that this will change. Bean counters have a good grip on finances but not of the big picture, and therefore it is making more money that counts for them....therefore they squeeze on the wages!

before landing check list
24th Apr 2001, 03:42
Very good post, but did you see the ones who bitched? ie RD2,Plastick, and deepee? They aparently failed to fully understand the nuance of this post and/or "did not make it". Oh well, it takes all kinds I suppose.

Here's to cheating, stealing, fighting, and drinking.
If you cheat, may you cheat death.
If you steal, may you steal a woman's heart.
If you fight, may you fight for a brother.
And if you drink, may you drink with me.

25th Apr 2001, 07:09
How much did you say you paid for those three ATPLs STREAMLINE? Is it cheaper without the validations? And, why did you say that ATC try to kill you twice? Why did they not like you? You are a bad boy, I bet you did your usual thing, and insulted their national qualification.

At least you're flying around a little part of the world and sharing your expertise with the rest of the poorly educated masses.

Keep up the good work STREAMLINE.

10th Dec 2003, 23:19
Initial post rating::ok: :ok: :ok: :E

Willit Run
11th Dec 2003, 00:25
There is a lot of truth to the initial posting, but a bit dramatic. All of us have chosen to do this, we were not forced into this job, and all started because it was fun. Sure, there were dreams of the big bucks, but it was still fun!
I can assure everyone, that military pilots are no better than civilian pilots. There are just as many idiots from both sides.
The market dictates what we are paid and from what we are willing to stand up for. We pilots are our own worst enemy. Dreams of flying the big ones, haveing the big salary and being jealous for the ones that were lucky enough to land one of those jobs! We've all been there!
Look at the Continental boys! Back in the mid eighties when the union was broken by all the starry eyed youngsters, who thought this was an easy and glorious job, and stepped on the toes of the seasoned veterans, they now want the same salary and respect that they stole from the old guys and gals. What a deal!!
I started as a line boy, became a mechanic, flight engineer, pilot, all flying heavy aircraft, doing it all on my own. I don't make the big bucks compared to the majors, but i have a good life!
I love my job! I have chosen to do this! Fight for what you want, but don't WHINE.
Go do the best job you can everyday, and enjoy yourself, think what you could be doing, stuck doing something that keeps you in a place you don't like at all!
Maybe we don't get paid enough, but , if you can't focus on anything else than money, go work in the financial sector! And, then see how happy you'll be looking up at the sky, saying "wow, i would love to do that again"

11th Dec 2003, 06:23
I can't remember how many years ago I read the original of this article. Yes there is a certain amount of truth in it ( even 411A hasn't been rude) but it isn't really current mores the shame. All of you espousing this as the bible are a bit late!!!

11th Dec 2003, 09:29
And on the other hand, when yr pax are paying £25/sector compared to £300 , 6/7 yrs ago . . . .

Ten most overpaid jobs in the U.S.
Commentary: If only such largesse flowed to all of US

No.9Pilots for major airlines

While American and United pilots recently took pay cuts, senior captains earn as much as $250,000 a year at Delta, and their counterparts at other major airlines still earn about $150,000 to $215,000 - several times pilot pay at regional carriers - for a job that technology has made almost fully automated.

By comparison, senior pilots make up to 40 percent less at low-fare carriers like Jet Blue and Southwest, though some enjoy favorable perks like stock options. That helps explain why their employers are profitable while several of the majors are still teetering on the brink of bankruptcy.

The pilot's unions are the most powerful in the industry. They demand premium pay as if still in the glory days of long-gone Pan Am and TWA, rather than the cutthroat, deregulated market of under-$200 coast-to-coast roundtrips. Because we entrust our lives to them, consumers accept the excessive sums paid them, when it's airplane mechanics who really hold our fate in their hands.

.......All depends what you want in the long-term, no? ........

L G Cooper
11th Dec 2003, 11:03
What a feed from all quarters!

Streamline, you are truly an illiterate prig. I have to surmise that you are posting a wind up and aren't really interested in constructive comment.

Anti Ice, that was a nice throw-away remark at the end about mechanics holding our fate in their hands: they'd be worth the top rate if they took the machinery up and with skill of hand, agility of mind, knowledge of process and procedure and superb crew handling could produce results as seen in the Sioux City accident a few years ago.

In the military we do a job for a whole lot less than the commercial guys with quite a bit more risk. Some use this as a stepping stone to big money, but others are happy to continue without the cash, as it is very satisfying. The commercial sector has discrete stressors of long absences from home, a higher rate of flying across many time which is very fatiguing and a range of other issues that I don't profess to know lots about. Not least the responsibility of hundreds of pax down the back.

The world owes no one a living.

Joker's Wild
11th Dec 2003, 14:54
As usual, there are those who just aren't happy if they can't shout to the world that pilots are a bunch of self-centred, ego-centric prats.

Pilots do what they do in no small part because of their type of personality, just as doctors and lawyers (among others) do. Given the realities of what it takes to both become a professional pilot and then continue to be a professional pilot, why do so many of you so easily bash a pilot for validating his/her salary or career path but never say a thing when it comes to other professions requiring a similar level of committment???

The article is great, the views pretty much spot on and the author doing an absolutely superb job of putting into layman's terms what a lot of us have gone through to get to where we are.

Well done and I shall pass it along.

Cap 56
11th Dec 2003, 20:54
don't get overexcited this post is more than 2 years old

11th Dec 2003, 21:23
As SLF, I prefer ticket prices lower- that's just being honest. I'll through in the following points for discussion- my opinions only, based on my experience.

1- The total (or near total) lack of trust, justified in many cases, between labor (not only pilots) and management. BTW, this is not unique to airlines, I have it in my on little co. as well. But why is it Southwest does well, has seemingl few labor problems, and everybody loves Herb? There has to be some connection. As an aside, the one Jetblue pilot I've spoken too over lunch at the airport has a lot of respect for David Neeleman as well.

2. Pilots probably should be paid well based upon the job criteria and conditions they work under. However, what they should be paid and what they can be paid are impacted by a free market system. The competetive marketplace defines how much money there is to go around, it's that simple.

3. I've said it before here, and I'll say it again- I fly the low cost carriers, Southwest and Airtran, not only to save money. I have found consistently better service and friendlier, happier personnel. To be fair, I don't necessarilly blame the front-line employees, as in many ways their ability to provide better service is hampered by management decisions. It's as simple as limes (or even lemons) in a gin and tonic- If I pay $4 for a G&T and I don't get a lime because of cost cutting, well that's not good enough. At the low cost carriers, I always get excellent service, albiet to a somewhat slightly lower standard.

4. Labor challenges and complaints shine through on service- and this is a service industry. I'm tired of hearing complaints about how bad things are for the airlines, this isn't the first rough patch and probably won't be the last. IMHO, the best you can do for the customer is smile and try to service the heck out of them within the confines management gives you. Remember, it's not as much fun for us to fly anymore either.

I fly roughly once a week, and the major I have almost a million miles on has become my virtual last choice, how the mighty have fallen.

In any case, I hope everybody can get (or keep) as much as they can.

the egg man
11th Dec 2003, 23:40
mr cooper
as a licenced engineer i do hold your fate in my hand every day,and not only once a day but at least 8 times on a 12hr shift.any mistake on my part can have catastrophe concequence
for aircraft.pax,and crew my pay does not reflect the responsibility i have on my head every day.
a few engineer friends of mine now fly for majors in the UK and after only 2 years training they are on the f/o position.as 2nd officers.
for me to certify my first aircraft all those years ago fit for release to sevice took me 5 years of training and i am still learning now . $200.000 per year for a systems monitor seems over inflated regardless of rank.
ps i do your job for a hobby.

bugg smasher
12th Dec 2003, 08:13
That may be your hobby, Sir, but it is certainly not our job that you do. A frolick in a Cessna on a sunny day is a grand thing, reminds me of happier, more carefree times.

Tis’ a hard row we mostly hoe, the only reason we do it is because we love it, and many of us, I suspect, would be lost doing anything else. I’ll never be rich, but my current pay provides me and my family with all that is required to sustain life comfortably.

I’m a happy man.

L G Cooper
12th Dec 2003, 08:23
The Egg Man? I think not. You are the walrus, and are truly living in the sky with diamonds.

I have bruised your delicate ego. I apologise.

You missed my point and there's nothing I can do to help you with that. However, judging by the syntax in your post, you may have bigger fish to fry. I'll leave it with you.

$200, 000 may indeed be too much to pay some aircrew, but when your loved ones survive an aircraft accident that should have been fatal (I say again, Sioux City) by snappy piloting, then that's money well spent I'd suggest. They deserve it.

You do nothing like my job Egg Man and if systems monitoring is all you think even commercial pilots do then I'm pretty sure you don't know much about aviation at all. My job is also my hobby but the difference is I get paid quite nicely for it, and I don't have the eternal burden of being a frustrated professional pilot. :{

12th Dec 2003, 12:30
Nice post if a bit overdramatic, I'm an Eng with a large UK airline and have to say in general the crew i've met have been nothing but proffesional, calm and confident.
I've flown with many different airlines and apart from one (TAME) i've always felt safe, enjoyed some cracking landings and some more entertaining ones
:yuk: but most of all have always got there in one piece.
I've also seen the state of some aircraft which have come in for repairs with loss of hydraulics, collapsed landing gear and large electrical system failures which to me is where the crew earn their dough. However many redundant systems and computer controls you build in, you can't be a good old bit of well trained flesh and blood up there in the hot seat.
Given that a hard landing can easily cause hundreds of thousands of pounds/dollars damage , it really does pay to pay the crew well.

12th Dec 2003, 13:27
Words & phrases that I have NOT seen in this thread: "cyclical", "Darwinian", "self-fulfilling prophesy".

Airline biz is inherently cyclical. Qualified and Certificated Aircrew can name their price when demand is up, and they can hardly find a parking place when it is down. Get used to it. Figure out a couple of alternate destinations in your career path and put yourself in position for a moderately smooth transition to each one of them, should things suddenly turn sour with the flying bit. Consider it "occupational IFR."

The sometimes miserable ziggurat to top flying opportunities is competitive in the extreme. Each player can be washed out at any point by a thousand different things. Persistence, luck, patience and more persistence are the necessary qualities. Similar to what you need to nurse a sickly aircraft to a happy end on one of those days when you're really earning the wage. Just imagine how many dragonflies in the puddles along the tarpon would really love to mate with an Airbus or a Boeing, and then reckon how many actually get to do it.

Salaries are already too high! What you really want is not the cash, that tends to get taxed a great many different ways and the slim remainder then dribbled away in often frivolous (gotta love 'em) pursuits; what you do want is some chance at capital accumulation during your career, both as compensation for the much discussed miseries of getting there and also to pave over the comforts and discomforts of your senior years. A far better deal than the $200K up-front would be $70k nominal income and $100K into a fully paid-up and company-independent annuity that will pay you the going rate of return (which is maybe $6K/annum right now) in perpetuity and then eventually devolve on your heirs as a capital asset. After 20 years of that you're making $120K p/a when not working at all. With a more annuitized form of compensation you lose the largely illusory glamor of the big-bucks-for-superhuman-skills deal, but save considerably in the taxes and actually come out with salvagable pieces of a life whether things do or do not turn out perfectly after one has obtained the qualifications and then done some serious work.

Periodic agonies can be heard, here and elsewhere, expressing anxiety that flight crews will be replaced or at least turned into working zombies by computerized things that do all the brain work and never have to pay rent, eat, or make nice for the spouse. For many reasons, I think. these fears are exaggerated, but the larger the digits are on the payroll tab, the larger the motivation is among the bean counters to spend company money on skilled boxes versus skilled people.

Footnote: LG Cooper sounds more like DB Cooper, the late 60's "inventor" of aircraft hijacking. Except now he's hijacking threads. Bitter and antagonistic make such a fine combination in a person, don't you know?.

13th Dec 2003, 00:18
this poster ignores the fact that:

a) MBAs and Doctors all pay for their own training -- hundreds of thousands of dollars and thousands of hours of training. Most pilots pay until they get their first real job (maybe with a commuter) and then training is paid for (save at Ryanair). The financial sacrifice of other "top professionals" appears to be lost on this poster, as is the capital cost that airlines incur to train their pilots. They have to get something for that financial commitment. And with the preponderance of RJs these days, just go to Embry riddle or Comair Flight academy and you are left seating in a real airplane after a year of school.

b) The unions he supports so aggressively are the reasons that it takes so long to fly heavy metal. Asian carriers hire pilots with under 1,500 hours to fly widebodies. There is no logical reason that supports the concept of bigger airplane=bigger pay. Each airplane has its nuances, but how different is a 747 from a DC9 once you've been trained? not much, other then more people to kill if you screw up, but the statistics do not support the fact that a 20 yr captain is going to make any fewer mistakes than a 2,000 hour pilot. If pilots could switch carriers without losing seniority and if pilots could also stay with one type for a career, total training and pilot labor costs at the airlines would be far, far less, and pilots could therefore make more, on average. Airlines would love that, but unions resist.

c) the market for pilots, despite the alleged impediments listed in the posting, is so robust that most airlines have 10 to 20 qualified applicants for each spot. Logically, that means that pilot pay needs to come down and it means that it's not so tough to get the requisite training to apply. It must be too fun relative to the "pain" incurred in advancing or else the interest just would not be there.

d) as an ex Army officer, I think this pilot's view of his military self worth is a bid inflated. Ground pounders have a much higher rate of injury and death, and generally destest the flyboys with their air conditioned birds and required hours of sleep each day. Put on the other guy's uniform before you go crying for sympathy -- you guys got it easy. That goes for a pilot's job too. I don't feel sorry for a pilot who flies 55 hours a month, away from home or not -- sorry, I work that in a week, pal, and I travel all the time too.

I appreciate your position, but I'm hard pressed to take your side -- some of you guys really live in a little bubble.

13th Dec 2003, 03:26
You keep going on about Sioux City LG , but that was ONE flight amongst MILLIONS !
True, they did an amazing job, but really if the odds were stacked against you like that everyday, none of us would be up there.

The truth is , that wx/maintainence issues aside, the plane works well for you in all probability most days, and so the odd heroic action aside-things are fairly routine....

Come on, how many pilots LOVE their job??? - pretty much all of them.....

the egg man
13th Dec 2003, 19:33
well put LDM
i too work about 60 hrs per week day shifts ,night shifts ,weekends,public holidays ect ,but thats neither here nor their as my flying pals do the same.
if only we got a fraction of the pay and respect for a truely safety critical job that pilots get iwould be a happier man.
what gets my goat is the few whinging airframe drivers who always feel how hard they have be done by.and everyone in the airline chain is unimportant as long as they get their own way all of the time.
northwest pilot strike in 98 where nortwest had to sack a few thousand staff worldwide just so there pilots could get there demands met,comes to mind.

15th Dec 2003, 04:41

I think you have nailed it.... most of us love our jobs. And that is a far cry from all the proles we see below us, sitting in their cars on the M25 every morning commuting to their computers.

Personally, (and dont tell the unions this). But I would do this job for half the pay. Simply because it is not really work. Ive done real work and it is an overrated experience. I think what all of us want at the end of the day is lifestyle. For the bulk of people lifestyle=money.

In regards to the substance of this thread. I feel that our salaries compare pretty favourably with the average wages in most developed countries. Of course, we had to pay a lot to get here, and our training and recurrancy is the highest in most fields of employment. But we are not the only people in the world who would be considered underpaid. Take a look at any science journal in the world, and you will see phenomenally educated, qualified and intelligent people getting paid diddly for very important work. Scientists especially get shafted. After an 8 year PHD, some guy with an IQ of 160+ is getting paid less than half what I make. Its not fair to him.

My salary is fine. Id love more, but I dont feel I have any right to complain.

What I object to, are companies like Ryanair and Easyjet, who, through a number of different ways, trivialise my profession. The TRSS scheme is one, TV docu-soaps about airlines, paying to submit CV's, and all this sort of thing. I think most people would agree with me. But hopefully the tables will turn in the future with the tides of supply and demand.

thanks enough for now


15th Dec 2003, 04:56
I personally recommend that instead of printing this out and handing it to colleagues, pilots hand it to passengers (people who pay your wages etc. etc.) and see just how much admiration/sympathy (delete as applicable) you get. But as has been already proved the "proles" who don't happen to be pilots are below contempt and so have no valid opinion, their purpose being solely to stump up the cash to allow you to be paid very handsomely for doing your jobs. Perhaps you could take a leaf out of the coach drivers (do the same job but work longer hours and don't have computerised driving aids)book and arrange for a whip round? Rant over, for now.

15th Dec 2003, 16:24
I stand somewhere in between...
Very well written, alittle too dramatic but it makes a point!
I served in the special forces for 13 months. Apart from putting your own life on the line and if you are stupid maybe a couple of others too, there is not a high risk.
Pilots live as you described, constantly been checked and tested.
They also work very hard to get there and you cant just do it for the money...you have to love it. I have seen people try it because they think it is a nice lifestyle,or the money is good, but they never make it.
I don't fully agree with the article but will definetely back it up!
Just so that some fools out there realise how important our job is. Even if that is done by showing them our worst case scenario..

Good work mate!

Cap 56
17th Dec 2003, 20:52
I think the question that really needs to be answered may be; to what extend the law of offer and demand as regards to crew pay affects safety?

I agree that reality dictates that this law will affect pilots in most cases. My point is, there are limits to how low a salary can get before it starts to affects the moral of the crews involved and or be attractive to those that have the proper abilities.

Unfortunately you can not pay the flight crew of a 50 seats the same as a 350 seats, but in most cases the 350 seats guy will have flown the small plane for many years before and gained a lot of experience that will enable him to deliver what is expected from him once he flies the really big ones.

Remember that once you get to this stage you do not get to fly that much anymore and will have to rely on the experience gained during the years on the small ones doing may landings and take offs and everything that goes with it. It is not that obvious to perform at peak when you almost get no more practice.

In this reasoning I have of course only introduced a single variable (seat numbers) and I realize that there is much more to, however that would take us out of the context of this thread.

What I really wont to get across is that the issue of crew pay is similar to that of FDT rules. They (FDT and pay) should not be the core basis of Airline competition and the maximum FDT /lowest pay should be the same for all airlines since they are merely a safety issue.

Therefore a minimum should be set by law and the maximum should be left to the law of offer and demand. All this taking into account the huge investment that needs to be made by some pilots to get a license in the first place.

Having said so, I understand the reasoning in the posts by those that are not on the flight deck.

But why is it that the CEO of a company makes so much money, while he depends completely on the performance of his staff, as do pilots depend on maintenance and others.

I think it is because every often the crew does indeed safe the day or they do not make the mistakes that others would. Sometimes they anticipate and/or deal with the mistakes that others make. The difference with others is that they are the last resources available to the company to safe the day. On the other hand they can also screw up the work of many other employees if they are not properly qualified.

Feeling the desire to become a pilot is something that many people may have; it is only when you have done it for several years that you realize that it is not as romantic as it is often portrayed. Having said so it is unquestionable that, if you do not really love it you will never be good at it and the responsibility will undermine you soon or later.

To finish, I would like to remind the critics of pilot pay, that it is not that easy to get on the flight deck and once you are on it, it does not take that much to loose it.

There are many professions that pay very good money and offer a lot of protection if ever they screw up.

Try to nail a lawyer , CEO or doctor and you will understand what I am talking about.

18th Dec 2003, 05:28
Cap 56,

To answer your point about minimum pay, such a thing exists in the UK already. It is called the minimum wage.



Ignition Override
19th Dec 2003, 13:55
Excellent description of the challenges faced by various types of aviators. Did he describe what happens when pilots worked at three jet airlines (Presidential, Midway, Air Florida. PBA, Golden West....) in a row, all of which paid pilots salaries far below the majors rates (40-60% or less)- yet still went out of business?

Back on page five or so, "the Egg Man" stated that the Northwest pilots strike cost thousands of jobs around the world, or words to that effect.

Did he also tell us that Northwest management made the risky decision to walk out of negotiations with about two or three hours to go until the tentative stopping point at midnight? The deadline was not carved into stone, as with the Rosetta Stone. No, I didn't think that the Egg Man mentioned that, and was probably ignorant of strategic gambles made. Their upper mgmt ASSUMED that former Pres. Bill Clinton would appoint a PEB, an "emergency board" which would have forced an arbitrated and very concessionary contract. After a few days of the strike, the company did not appeal to the pilots to talk.

Those arbitrated contracts are crafted by people who don't understand or care if you deadhead around for a few days (at the company's demand) without getting paid. often spending only six-seven hours (results of strict compliance with FAR 121 regs) in a hotel after a 12-hour non-stop duty day, or are forced to spend six days gone with only ten hours pay, because the company is allowed to have totally inefficient crew scheduling with no duty or trip "rigs"....ad infinitum-get the picture? The mainstream media never stated this most inconvenient fact. Unions tend to keep talking with management after a deadline (known 30 days in advance), as long as both sides stay at the bargaining table. How about the numerous times, even before 9/11 when pilot unions agreed to 15, 20 or even up to 30% pay cuts for (i.e.) three years, sometimes to compensate for ruthlessly greedy executives or sharks who siphon many critical millions in cash from the operations?

Did he mention, along with others who need to blame labor for mgmts' screw-ups, the few HUNDREDs of mILLIONS of dollars or more which Northwest Airlines spent to buy back its own stock a few years ago? How about American's (AMR's) decision to spend over a BILLION to buy back stock? Were decisions made by dedicated mgmts? How many hundreds or thousands of NWA, or American and Eagle planes brought in the profits to fund this well-planned business decision? No, this was also left out of his problem in a nutshell.:hmm:

23rd Dec 2003, 01:55
Indeed, ignorance is bliss,

a) "...and you are left seating in a real airplane after a year of school."
and ...I don't want to be a pax in that aircraft whatever the training of the guy (or girl). After 20 years in that business I still learned everyday, my lack of knowledge about aviation when I was a young first officer (and hopefully I was not left seating at that time) was impressive indeed, whatever my opinon was at that time :-)
Don't think I had a sub standard training, I had one of the best in the world by a major flag carrier. It is just that experience IS a value in this job.

b) "There is no logical reason that supports the concept of bigger airplane=bigger pay"
There are a few indirect ones, bigger airplanes means more weight and more inertia. That's need for early reaction and early detection of problems (aka more experience); If you think an approach in a DC9 or B747 is the same, you never flew a big jet!
most of the time,it also means longer flights with more difficult decision making process. You have to taken into account what will hapens in 8,10 or 12 hours and not what will happens in the next hour. Also, as a rule bigger airplane, generally means long haul with more sleep disturbed pattern and longer time away from your family, wicht justified a higher salary.
But I confess, you will easily find situation where this doesn't applied, japanese companies doing short flight in B744, for instance.
That's why there is a strong tendancy to reduce the number of salary scales. In my previous airline, only two remains 'narrow body' and 'wide body'. And some negociation was started to transform it to 'short' and 'long' haul as A321 was sometimes doing very long flight and B744 sometimes short streches.

And about staying on one type for all your carreer, I think part of the success of Airbus, is the very short training required to qualify on a new aircraft and/or mixed fleet flying. Indeed, airline management love it.

c) There is not so many pilot available, or should I say qualified, airline receives a lot of application's letter but very few experienced pilot. That is the reason why the asian companies you wrote about hire pilots whith less than 1500h . They don't find anybody else!! And have a look at the safety of some asian companies in the last ten year and sorry but it shows.

d) Working 55hours per month, ROFL, Ok it has been discussed so many time here, have a look in past forums.

Your point is some guys have a harder time than pilots, I concur fully. But sorry, when one-eyed, I will try to protect my remaining one even if some guys are blind.