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Some advice for the younger ones...

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Some advice for the younger ones...

Old 18th Nov 2007, 00:16
  #1 (permalink)  
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Some advice for the younger ones...

A young man PM'ed me for some advice recently (especially regarding cadetships)... I hope you all don't mind but I thought maybe some other very experienced pilots can add to what I wrote.

I feel young people are in a position of power now, and if making the right decisions, a career in aviation will be very rewarding in the future.


Hi xxxx. No problems mate.

Stage 2... is that the panel interview, or the computer testing?

I'm a checking captain with a major carrier (overseas)... For anonymity reasons I won't tell you the company, I hope you don't mind.

But xxxx, you're so young and I know what happens in the industry and will be happy to help you out as much as I can. I started my career flying charter in a Piper Warrior and Cessna 182 in australia... Flown in many different aeroplanes, and in other 3rd world countries. When you go through the industry like I have, and many other people have - you get really good experience... That goes without saying.. But you can run into alot of unpleasurable and nasty situations. This can range from meeting someone who doesn't like you very much.... and they put you down. You can find yourself in situations (flying) which scare your pants off.. You can have so many bad experiences in General Aviation, that it clouds your vision and by the time you get to an airline... Like I did - alot of the 'magic' has been washed away? - My advice is to stay positive - no matter how hard it is. And the industry IS CHANGING, for this very reason - I mean lets face it xxxx, flying is alot of fun - but who wants to work in this industry? If it continued to stay the way it is, I would not recommend it to anybody (pay, conditions etc). But now, notice not many people are learning to fly for this very reason - hence the experience shortage. I haven't seen this many jobs going in my whole life. So I truly believe the industry will slowly improve and be more desirable to work in.

I guess the Qantas cadetship would be good to get in. If I was in your shoes, I'd really hope for that.

I fear that the REX cadetship might not be all that it is worth - for the time they want you there for the amount they are paying... I think after 2 or 3 years you will be wanting more money to get your life 'on track' and do the things you want to do, and be able to afford the things you want to afford. However, if it's something you truly believe you want, and you can be there for (is it 6 years service?)... Then go for it, mate.

Whatever you do, make a promise to yourself to be the best pilot that you can be. This means 'knowing your stuff'. The good pilots are always thirsty for information and know their aeroplanes inside and out - they know the area's they are flying in, and they are constantly learning, they are humble yet savvy, . The 'half assed pilots' are the ones that get 'comfortable' and make sure they only know the bare minimum to get by in their jobs - and believe me - these are the ones that don't make airline pilots. It's a trap you don't want to get caught in

Any more advice.. Just ask away

wrongwayaround is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 02:41
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Very interesting post. An experienced mate told me when i was starting out that by the time you get there you've had so many knocks that the magic is pretty much all gone and its just a job.

I kind of agree with him. I still feel the magic but not that type that i felt when i was a wannabee. Is it just age or was it the nasty experiences?

So the question that I've turned over in my head WWA is:

Is it better to make it the ga way or the cadet way. Which one gives you more satisfaction?

Its very satisfying overcoming the challenges and i certainly think what i saw and experienced is priceless. But is the outcome that reaching the summit is not as shiny as it would have been had i gone straight in?

My advice overall is to go into ga and see things that you will never ever get the opportunity to see later on in life.
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 03:04
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You make some very interesting points and I agree with most of what you say.

However, in terms of a pilot shortage, I will only acknowledge its existence in Australia when terms and conditions begin to increase substantially. That point in time has not been reached...yet...and sadly may never be reached partly due to the attractions of living in Australia, and predominantly due to the inhibitions of the seniority system. In short, if it is unattractive for pilots to move "horizontally" between carriers (ie they enter the new carrier at the same rank), they will not leave in numbers large enough to affect the bottom line. This is a basic fundamental of any free labor market. The seniority system renders the pilot market anything but "free", so don't hold your breath.

Irrespective of the above, even if pilot salaries did increase dramatically, I would NEVER recommend this profession to anyone. Oil prices are approaching $100 per barrel, and demand from China and India will increase exponentially in the next 30 years. There will always be oil, so there will always be air travel. However in the absence of new technology, I think within 10 years the price will be so high that it will dramatically affect demand for discretionary air travel. Those who don't need to fly (ie leisure, VFR, and non-essential business traffic, etc) will be priced out of the market. Even now both American Airlines and United are talking of grounding up to 100 aircraft. What if the price goes to $200? The only answer is a massive BUST for airlines and all associated industries.

From my perspective, at the age of 36 I am preparing myself for the reality that my career could be all but over at the age of 50. I'm going to enjoy the good times of being part of the 60 year period which will be regarded as the golden age of jet travel, and which represented a mere fraction of the course of human history.

So if I were a youngster considering a career as a pilot, I would be asking myself whether I will still have a job at the age of 40. If so, what will it pay? And if not, what will I do then?

Ochre Insider is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 06:52
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Ochre Insider,

So what you are suggesting is that I should just say, "oh well I MIGHT not have a career in 30 years time so, ah stuff it I'll go and do another job somewhere where it's guaranteed I won't be made reduntant in 30 years time."

I highly doubt a job like that exists. Since the Industrial Revolution technology has increased exponentially, and I beleive that it will continue to do so.

You say that oil will become prohibitively expensive and everything will be doom and gloom. well they said this at the last oil crisis, and now it's being sued more than ever.

In another 30 years who's to say that jet engines will be powered by crude oil derived products anyway.

I for one don't want to be of those people that looks back and thinks "I wish I would've done this, I wish I would've done that."
WilliamOK is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 08:04
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I'm gonna jump into the boat with WilliamOK.

I'm just starting my flight training and have been an avid reader of PPRuNe for some time now and what i see here sometimes scares me in a way as in what could i expect when i finally have all my licences, apart from the obvious debt!!

But i have to say personally that when i get into a cockpit and am put in control of the a/c theres no other feeling that i have experienced or can possibly think of that quite comes close!! If i don't just go for it now and instead take the safe routes i know i'll regret it forever and that could quite possibly be worse!! I have other qualities to fall back on should the industry flop completely or some such nonsense but that sorta worry won't stop me from giving it my all!!

And thanks WaW, lots of good information there and i'm glad you decided to share it.
Ixixly is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 09:40
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I can see that suggesting one review their career choices on the basis of increasing oil prices is indeed a sensitive issue. How do you tell a person their dream is likely to turn into a nightmare?

In response to the two prior posts I say:

1. One essential trait of an airline pilot is to be "ahead of the aircraft". You must think way ahead of just here and now. Perhaps this should be applied to one's career choices...

2. Another essential trait of an airline pilot is "aggressive conservatism". Safety is everything. If the fact that your career choice is not "safe" is worn like a badge of honour, then perhaps you should choose the military so you can truly fly at the edge of the envelope...

It is one thing to look at the world through rose coloured glasses and expect a solution to simply appear. It is another thing entirely for that to eventuate. Everything in life follows a pattern of Cause and Effect.

New technologies won't simply appear because the world desperately needs them. Sadly, they only emerge when economically justifiable. Governments don't have the guts to legislate for wholesale environmental or technological change, because that would damage economies and affect jobs. As Peter Garrett has shown, even the most principled compromise. Tasmanian Pulp Mill, anyone?

What does this mean? It means oil prices have to be astronomically high for a long period of time before energy companies are prepared to invest the billions, or even trillions, to bring new technologies to market. They will not risk new investment if there is any danger of the oil price slipping back to sustainable levels, because that would mean people revert back to oil, effectively rendering investment in new technology wasted. So oil has to remain so high for so long, and reserves need to plummet to critically unsustainable levels, that the emergence of new technologies is the only rationally economical solution. Cause and Effect.

If you work for a large company, you will understand that NOTHING happens without a business case. So the companies will wait, and wait, and wait, until the new technology business case makes sense. This could be years. And after that, how long till the new technology steps up to the plate? Maybe decades. And in the interim oil prices will remain prohibitively high. The world commercial jet fleet numbers the tens of thousands. That's without considering military, turboprop and piston aircraft. After the new technology finally emerges, the changeover will take generations. In the meantime, the industry as we know it will die a death of a thousand cuts, taking your job an mine with it. It is not the lack of new technology that will kill us, rather the time lag before it emerges. Cause and Effect.

Only today the President of Venezuala Hugo Chavez raised the likelihood of $200 per barrel in the event of a US invasion of Iran. This could happen within 12 months. And when I sign on tonight and order another 30 tonnes of jet fuel, and I will wonder how many of tonight's passengers would actually be on the aircraft if that prediction comes true. And what would that do to my job? Cause and Effect.

United Airlines see the issue very clearly. The talk is of grounding 100 aircraft (http://seattlepi.nwsource.com/busine...zbriefs08.html). In the meantime, flying schools continue to dazzle you with the prospects of a high flying career. Perhaps while they're at it they should sell you a taxi licence. most of them run on LPG...

Boom then Bust.

Cause and Effect.
Ochre Insider is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 10:10
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"...New technologies won't simply appear because the world desperately needs them...."
History suggests otherwise, usually it is the ONLY reason they appear.
The Comet.
corowacomet is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 10:11
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Yes all these things *could* happen, many people also said that one will never see and IT boom after the dot com bubble burst, yet the market is very boyant now. Investment might not be as high as in the late 90`s but the industry is very very boyant.

Now the same could be said for aviation... will there be a bust? Yes, most likely, however these things also have a tendency of bouncing back, maybe not in such a big way, but it will bounce back... much like the real estate boom.

Can you say that there will never ever been another realestate boom because interest rates are going up???

What people seem to forget is that oil prices affect almost everything, so if prices indeed go up then one must still calculate transportation costs, be they aviation or alternate and with newer engines giving airlines economy of scale, as per passenger mile costs are close to (if not cheaper) than most current hibrid cars.

Industries evolve... the aviation industry is no different, just some evolutions tend to be great big leaps (read: massive knee jerk reactions)
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 10:58
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Ochre Insider

With reference to your post Item 1:
Any pilot, (not just an airline pilot) must have the essential trait to be "ahead of the aircraft"

If you think ahead of the aircraft speed,the operation is easy.
If you only think at the speed of the aircraft there may be a problem.
If you think at a speed slower than the aircraft, your name will probably be in the news.

A good post.

Tmbstory is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 13:31
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WWA......certainly great to see you take the time to address this issue....would agree with most comments hear regarding ones intro into the aviation game...............personally I think the young fellas ,are and now have missed a lot when it comes to aviation .......

When I started out in the mid 70,s,we flew anything that has wings....now I fly with blokes with a little single engine time,they spend $$$$ at some school,get minimum time,some heavier twin time,then straight into the medium/heavy jets.....and they are burnt out from boredom....just an observation,...bottom line,Iwish all of them the best.....
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 19:30
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Very nice of you to quote me out of context. If you seriously think I am saying new technologies will not emerge, then perhaps you have an issue of comprehension.

If you read my post in its entirety you will see that my gist is that new technologies will emerge, but only when economically feasible. The problem is that energy companies can't be convinced to invest heavily until they are sure the returns are greater than for oil. For this to happen, I say again, oil prices must be very high for a very long time. And when they finally make that investment decision, the time lag involved to filter through to the aviation industry on a large scale ensures the new technology has no relevance in this working lifetime - yours or mine. In the meantime, demand for discretionary travel will plummet, taking our jobs with it.

So I say again, it is the time lag that will kill us.

If you are going to quote me, please maintain some sort of remote linkage to the context of what was posted.


Your analogies are creative, but somehow lack relevance. What link do the dotcom boom and the real estate boom have to oil? Therefore how could they be used to counter my argument that oil prices will kill the aviation industry taking our jobs with it?

You are correct in saying the price of other transportation modes will go up. However your implication that people will still travel in similar numbers by air because the cost of aviation relative to other modes will be the same is fundamentally flawed. Discretionary travel is extremely price elastic. As such, basic economic principles dictates there will be an oil price point where discretionary travel will reduce dramatically, both by car and by air.

You also counter by saying industries evolve, and of course if you read this and previous posts you can only conclude that I agree with you. The problem is, and I say again, the time lag will kill us.


The airlines dazzle you with shiny jets and cadetships (paid out of your own pockets) because they need you here and now. But will they still need you when the industry is half its current size in the year 2020? Who will take care of you you then? Airlines are very good at telling you what you all want to hear. I am telling you what you don't. This affects me just as much as you. Sometimes things can't and won't work out like you want it. Sometimes you cannot have that ice cream. For that I'm am sorry. But this is a story that MUST be told.


Last edited by Ochre Insider; 18th Nov 2007 at 19:43.
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Old 18th Nov 2007, 19:52
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Oil prices will only seriously affect the airlines that have overstretched and overexpanded into difficult markets. Most likely situation is that well managed airlines will just shrink in capacity to fit the new world.

As far as using US based airlines as an indicator it would be a good idea to check out the history of that region as far as airline survivability goes. Most of the large carriers over there have been in and out of chapter 11 for years. This is due to excessive competition, oil prices only put the squeeze on the ones that overextend.

If oil prices were to rise to that level then think about the effects on other industries? What job in this world will be safe, all transportation will suffer and the global economy will collapse!

Have to agree with Pakeha, I think new starters will miss a lot and will only fly a few very similar jet types in their careers. Enjoyed almost every minute of my GA experience, just wish I had some cash to go with it! And with airliners becoming more automated and reliable airline flying will become less rewarding both financially and in its challenge.
43Inches is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 21:21
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Very interesting reading there guys. When I was a bit younger, and still dreaming of getting into this flying gig, a very experienced pilot asked me what I would like to do if I couldn't fly?

He sat me down before I spent a single cent on flying, and laid the whole industry out, there were probably two good things about it, but hundreds of bad things about it. By asking what I would like to do, if I couldn't fly, was his way of telling me to get some skills (ie a trade or a degree and practical experience in that behind me) before I thought about flying.

As I have experienced in my short time in the industry, I have seen three mates, all under the age of 30 loose their medicals, one for have a single unexplained migraine headache, two for head injuries sustained in different car crashes. They had no other skills or qualifications, so when they lost their jobs, there was nothing for them to do, but go and pump petrol, or work behind a bar... Not the ideal career. But it might not be a medical problem, as Ochre Insider has said, a massive recession in the aviation industry will have massive job cuts. If you're fired by Cathay or Emirates, then there is a good chance QANTAS or Air NZ are doing the same. Now what are you going to do with your life?

Me.. Well I know how to build and program computers, its what my first degree is in, my second degree is what I'm doing part time, while working now is Aviation Management. I've almost finished that one too. So if I lose my job, or can't carry on in this industry I've got options in front of me, it would be tragic to have to walk away from flying, but its not everything for me anymore. How many people entering flying training today have got other skills or qualifications to use if they can't fly anymore?
empacher48 is offline  
Old 18th Nov 2007, 23:14
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Empacher 48, a very sensible post. As one of my instructors once said: "It doesn't matter what you're doing, always have an escape route". I think that pretty much sums up what you posted.

To those with a passion to fly: Go for it. Learn your chosen craft well, and never stop learning. But to reiterate a caution already sounded on this thread: be prepared to 'hit the silk' in your career, and know what you can turn to if it all turns to custard.

I wouldn't have missed my 3 different careers for anything. Sure, there were some lumpy bits in all of them, but sometimes the lumps turn out to be the variety that keep you on your game and out of serious trouble. Treat any negative as a learning experience, and move on, taking the lesson learned into your basket of knowledge.

None of us knows what the future holds in any industry: aviation is no different. There will always be joy and sometimes a little sorrow. But that is no excuse not to try. Unless you give it a go, you'll never fulfil any of your dreams and that is not living a life. Just remember to plan an escape mechanism into your dreams.

"To dream the impossible dream..."

Le Vieux
Old 'Un is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 00:20
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Ochre Insider if you are not already employed as such could I suggest you take up a role as a political strategist for the Liberal Party? You'd be ideal, what with all the fear-mongering and scare campaign tactics.
What I think you underestimate is human ability to adapt, overcome and improvise. If you honestly believe that it is an effective career strategy to avoid aviation because oil could go to $200/brl and this hilarious statement becomes a reality: "...But will they still need you when the industry is half its current size in the year 2020?..." I really do feel sorry for you, it must be incredibly difficult to carry such a great burden all day.
Mate if the above senario was to occur EVERY industry would be decimated and global GDP would follow aviation's into the abyss, so no career would be sheltered from the storm.
"....So I say again, it is the time lag that will kill us..."
How do you sleep at night?
The Comet.
corowacomet is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 04:29
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I understand the reasoning behind having a backup plan, of which I have (Industrial/Graphic Design, Architecture.) It would be just plain dumb not to have one, with regard to health/other reasons that may cause my licence to be revoked.

The only thing is: HECS Bill.

I highly doubt that I will be able to afford to pay off both a HECS Bill and the cost of flgiht training. All my flying has been fully self-funded and will continue to be (no daddy paid here, lol) and with the rate the tertiary education costs are gonig it won't be any easier.
WilliamOK is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 05:06
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It seems I have offended you by providing a subjective opinion as to why your dream, and mine, are on distinctly shaky ground. For that I'm sorry but it is the truth as many people see it, including many pilots already in the major airlines.

You are correct in saying the above scenario will have an effect on all industries and GDP generally. But what you fail to understand is that some industries will prosper as the price of discretionary travel makes it prohibitive, freeing up funds for use elsewhere. Economies WILL adjust. In my opinion, the communications sector will boom, the entertainment industry will boom. And any form of transportation that can be readily converted to other energy sources will boom. This would include hybrid/LPG vehicles, as you have mentioned.

But all of this change will have its victims. At the forefront will be those industries with high and irreplaceable dependence on conventional oil products in the short to medium term. Number one in all of this is aviation. SARS, the Asian Economic Crisis, September 11, and each war in the Middle East have proved how vulnerable we are. I have seen and lived through all of this...just, but not without tears. At $200 per barrel the industry as we know it is well on the path to becoming history. And deep down I know that all those Wannabes with stars in their eyes are getting sold a pup, and will regret following their heart without tempering it with a bit of insurance coming from the brain.

Whenever you crew a flight anywhere, you always have an exit strategy or "funk hole". If you're going into aviation, I think you should have one with your career. WILLIAMOK is doing the right thing - follow your dream, but make sure you have a damn good backup plan.

And don't let the airlines and flying schools sell you a pup.

Once again, sorry to have an opinion that doesn't accord with your dreams, but in my experience life usually has its own script.

Ochre Insider is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 05:52
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It seems I have offended you by providing a subjective opinion as to why your dream, and mine, are on distinctly shaky ground.
I'm not offended at all, I just think your reasoning is flawed and ignores history.
And any form of transportation that can be readily converted to other energy sources will boom. This would include hybrid/LPG vehicles, as you have mentioned.
My point exactly......why is it that you believe that the engineers at GE, Williams, Rolls Royce etc will sit on their hands and watch the rest of the technological world pass them by? In fact future reality may prove to be completely the opposite of what you assert. No other industry in the world has such an overbearing commercial imperative to reduce their fuel costs as much as aviation. Added to this is the fact that the hopelessly small margins in aviation drive airlines to buy the most fuel efficient aircraft available forcing constant improvement from the big two manufacturers lest they miss out on that next big order. As you have already stated economics is the driving force behind such change so why will aviation stand still while every other industry adapts?
The Comet.
corowacomet is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 06:50
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goods points, but maybe I wasn't quite clear what point I was trying to get at in reference to the dotcom and realestate boom.

These two were in reference to aviation. Oil is to aviation like investors pulling out of domcoms and interest rates hikes in realestate.

Markets bounce back and people adapt. They might not travel as frequently to begin with, but when $100 ticket specials instead of the $1 specials become the norm then people will slowly see that as value. Just like the person that is excited when they find petrol for $1.40... when only a few years ago people complained when it hit $1.00 and said they wouldn't drive as much anymore.

Yes, there will be some blood shed when aviation's bubble bursts, but it'll bounce back.

As mentioned, it'll be the people with backup plans that will survive it.

I'm not joining the aviation industry to make money, because I know it will be many many years until I even come close to reaching the same income I have now, heck in some discount airlines I might NEVER reach that income level... but at the end of the day I'm not going blind in to this industry, nor am I going without an exit strategie.
WannaBeBiggles is offline  
Old 19th Nov 2007, 15:17
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Nice encouraging and supportive advice.

My own advice on many things in life, not just career options, supports what's written above:
'Life Rule #1 - Have a Plan B'

The 'It's OK to put all your eggs in one basket. Just never take your eyes off it!' school never prospers if you're in a job that you cannot almost completely control (ie. you're not self-employed).

As an employee, the control you have over your own career is actually quite limited and depends upon many other factors. The largest one being the 'health' of your chosen industry and competitiveness (for employees - You!) of the various players.

While oil prices are of obvious concern to pretty much everyone on the planet, they have been many time before. As have other commodities. We have survived. A saying that I truly try to life my life by is, 'Have the courage to change the things you can, the serenity to accept the things you can't and the wisdom to know the difference.' Basically, do the best you can in all situations and don't worry about things you can't control.
The wisdom bit is the hard part, but comes with experience. Of course, experience is that fantastic knowledge gained just after you needed it. Or the ability to recognise a mistake when you make it again....

No matter what happens, refer to Life Rule #1 and be the best (pilot) you can be. Barring complete collapse of the industry you are in, the best will ALWAYS get employed.

Good luck and happy trails,
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