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$165,000 debt and no flying job. Advice?

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$165,000 debt and no flying job. Advice?

Old 11th May 2023, 16:33
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This makes interesting reading. Box Hill Institute Student Pilot Class Action (bhiclassaction.com.au)
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Old 11th May 2023, 19:16
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Originally Posted by grant.lebronte
I appreciate your response! There's been a few trials in the USA where students have sued the prospective schools for allegedly falsifying marketing statistics to lure them in and leave them with huge student loan debts (and no jobs in the field they studied for). One case, a law student with $170,000 of debt was suing the law school (I believe she lost the case). Another 9 or so graduates were suing a New York university for something similar.

A class action lawsuit or Royal Commission, or something similar, needs to look at the aviation sector in Australia - specifically the way student loans are handed out willy-nilly with a very low probably of gaining employment in the field at the end (10% or less).
A law student suing a law school in the USA was bound to end badly for the plaintiff.
As for government profligacy with taxpayer money, an analysis of time it takes for students in certain fields to start repaying their HECS should indicate which studies should not be funded in the future.
If the figure is only 1 in 10, or even 1 in 3 pilots making it to gainful employment in aviation, then flying lessons should not be on the approved list. There are more deserving fields such as medicine where the money would be better spent.
Some flight training institutions have had their snouts in the trough long enough.

​​​​

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Old 11th May 2023, 21:58
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The issue is, what is ďgainful employment.Ē

There are many other HECS funded courses that often donít lead anywhere too. Eyes wide open when heading down any university / or expensive course pathway. There are zero guarantees with any of these courses or degrees.
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Old 11th May 2023, 22:34
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I suppose 'gainful employment' is where money earned equals or exceeds money spent.
For entry level pilots that probably means eating beans, living in a tent, riding a bike and only drinking at happy hour.
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Old 12th May 2023, 01:15
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Originally Posted by Squawk7700
The issue is, what is “gainful employment.”

There are many other HECS funded courses that often don’t lead anywhere too. Eyes wide open when heading down any university / or expensive course pathway. There are zero guarantees with any of these courses or degrees.

First, most degrees have an entry requirement of a certain ATAR. VET loans only require a pulse.
Second, the only HECS courses where you can borrow that much are medicine, dentistry and veterinary science, Very difficult to get into and good chance of gainful employment afterwards.
Thirdly, these loans aren't actually HECS they are VET supposed to specifically address industry needs.

This is where you need to find out who is driving the gravy train because there are some people getting very very rich (remember Neel and his $67 million on the rich list?).at the expense of people like the OP .

Mach, very true, not just the ones in the trough now, think of how many of those snouts just took the money and disappeared, leaving a trail of unfinished students, unpaid debts and unpaid instructors, leaving the rest of us to pick up the tab as creditors tried to cover their losses. There are some safeguards in place now, but the outcomes for people like the OP are the same, although he was lucky enough to actually finish his course; many never did and still had the debts.

Last edited by Clare Prop; 12th May 2023 at 01:40.
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Old 12th May 2023, 09:16
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This is not a new thing. Plenty of people are out there with huge debts for courses that were never completed.

There are plenty of jobs, who do you think flies all the GA aircraft and airliners out there?

There will always be people that donít ever make it, itís how life works unfortunately.

The ATAR does not determine how street-smart you are, thatís a common misconception.

If you decide to become a career pilot at age 40, you need to do your research on job availability and career prospects as changing ANY career at that age is usually an unwise move. Add a partner and kids into the equation and youíre asking for trouble.

Short of a government employee interviewing everyone before they hand out the money, how are you going to stop it?
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Old 12th May 2023, 09:16
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Buyer beware, if you are too dim to do the research on job prospects prior to spending 160k on a student loan, that's on you. Basic research will give you the award rates for either an instructor or a GA pilot. And those business owners whinging about snouts in the trough and unethical fee-help loans are usually those that can't get fee-help for their own business. Would they dip their snouts, you bet they would if they could. Oh sorry, they're ethical and would refuse fee-help in their business.

Newsflash, there is a pilot shortage, it's reflected in the unprecedented hiring at the moment. Don't have enough hours to apply, go out and get them. That's what all my mates did and a fair whack of them have fee-help loans. And if Clare thinks you're rude for not making an appointment, when everyone else has told you to drop off a res in person because your emails will be ignored, don't worry about her and drop your res off at the next joint. One thing I can guarantee you, no one that is responsible for hiring will make appointments to see randoms when they're not hiring, they're too busy.

Pilots have always been known as whingers, when you find one that's not, you hire them.
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Old 12th May 2023, 09:21
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Spot on tossbag!

If I can also add, perhaps when you drop into the potential employer, you might have better luck on a foul weather day.
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Old 12th May 2023, 10:28
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Not everyone wants to be involved in it, lots of paperwork and having to deal with CASA and another theory provider then wait long times for invoices to be paid, no thanks.
Not all of us are motivated solely by money.
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Old 12th May 2023, 10:35
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Can you move to Darwin? Is that an option? I mean, working in some other job locally and over time checking in with local flying operators. When I worked in charter recruitment many moons ago, we sorted resumes firstly for those who lived locally, and those who didnít. We interviewed the locals first, then went to the interstate recruits to finish off any shortfalls.

Some key points for those we considered back in the day was obviously living local, attitude, potential nuisances, retractable endorsement, the three machines we valued time on was 182/206/210, we had one bloke who did his entire hour building on those three types, he was employed soon after. Twin ratings, IFR stuff, not important. I donít know why so many fresh minted CPLs do all that stuff before they even get a job, do it after your first season.

Many of these course also offer time in aircraft that are fairly useless and disadvantages you against getting a job. Diamond, Bristell, Foxbat, Sling are all commonly used. You go for a job with that on your CV, then you have another person going for the same job with 50-100 hours in a 200 series, Iím putting your CV in the bin. Thatís just how it works.

Are you early or late 40s?

Last edited by PoppaJo; 12th May 2023 at 10:47.
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Old 12th May 2023, 14:31
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Fact is there are hundreds of dudes handing in a resume to Darwin / Kunnurra / Broome, even making the 100km trek off the main road out to Will Creek, each year. Every dude who was successful and found work will tell you to "keep persistent", almost with the idea in their head that it is impossible to not find a job, and that there is actually a match between people moving up north and people getting hired. There is no match. There are plenty that move up, hang round, or do a big drive, and do not find work. If you handed in a resume and got a job a month later you have no idea how hard it can be to find a job. If you headed down the pub and got lucky talking to some pilots, you have no idea how hard it can be to find work.

Some dudes are just in the right place at the right time. Like one I talked to who started their 6 month stint on the ground by asking if some dude outside the office was the chief pilot... he was... and he had two pilots leave the week before.

It was said to me once that a person I knew didn't get a look in with an operator "because he had kids, on the east coast". What?? Doesn't that indicate he likely would be a good candidate, because he is sacrificing quite a bit to try and get a job? Doesn't that speak to his "attitude"?? Hiring is unfair.

20- year old chief pilots want to hire dudes they can be friends with, being able to do the job is not enough.

Want to find a job as a pilot up north? Go to the pub. Go to Monsoons. Chief pilots are 20- year old kids who love to drink and party. Top tip: the way to get a job up north is to make friends with the 20 year old pilots and chief pilots. Every other bit of advice is BS.

The old fellas on here who have endless amounts of advice to give regarding resumes etc seem to have no experience of what it's like post VSL and now HELP. The job market is absolutely saturated and as others have stated, the big dogs running flights schools are the winners. They do not care about training standards. They don't have any f*cking idea of what flying in the top end is like. Instructors do all their training from 0 to FIR at one school, then start instructing at the same school. There are no strong beliefs in these organisations. No strong convictions. When something is taught, no one has any real idea or appreciation for why it is taught like that. Tisdall, Tim from the Sunny Coast, the SFC mob, Airwork, just a few that come to mind that, post-COVID, have expanded like a CB in the build up, with fancy new buildings and huge fleets. I now sympathise with people who live near Archerfield, Bankstown etc and complain about planes doing circuits all day. WTF are you training for? Why are you pushing through 12 dudes every month on a new intake??? Entry level GA does not need that many people.

I have flown during the build up and the very start of the wet season in the top end. Despite how ever much you want to parrot PPPPPP, it will not stop a 20- year old from not prior planning... having my IR (with a current IPC) and a machine that was IFR capable gave me a lot more options and confidence. Never did go IFR but was more willing to send it because I had flown in proper IMC a lot during my IR training. My IPC has expired now but I can start up my home sim and fly an approach pretty well and there's an IFR cheat sheet hanging around to refresh on al the regs. Going up with a bare CPL is a sound decision but I don't get what's wrong with going up with your MEA IR as well. If you drink with the right pilots you could even be on a twin straight away. Bonus points if you're drinking with blokes on the east coast. Big brained dudes don't even need to go up north to get a job.
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Old 13th May 2023, 00:18
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"Right place, right time"

Can be luck, or you can create your own luck by hanging around the right places regularly. That't what savvy salesmen will do, and after all you are selling yourself as employable. The trick is to be in the right place when the time comes. Networking and some basic research will tell you when that is. You don't see an add for a good product just once, you see it regularly and usually timed to be when you might be thinking of that need or want, so its foremost in your thoughts when its time to buy. So you need to know what your prospective employer needs and when and make it apparent you fit the bill.
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Old 13th May 2023, 00:38
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Originally Posted by tossbag
Buyer beware, if you are too dim to do the research on job prospects prior to spending 160k on a student loan, that's on you. Basic research will give you the award rates for either an instructor or a GA pilot. And those business owners whinging about snouts in the trough and unethical fee-help loans are usually those that can't get fee-help for their own business. Would they dip their snouts, you bet they would if they could. Oh sorry, they're ethical and would refuse fee-help in their business.

Newsflash, there is a pilot shortage, it's reflected in the unprecedented hiring at the moment. Don't have enough hours to apply, go out and get them. That's what all my mates did and a fair whack of them have fee-help loans. And if Clare thinks you're rude for not making an appointment, when everyone else has told you to drop off a res in person because your emails will be ignored, don't worry about her and drop your res off at the next joint. One thing I can guarantee you, no one that is responsible for hiring will make appointments to see randoms when they're not hiring, they're too busy.

Pilots have always been known as whingers, when you find one that's not, you hire them.
There's some valuable points in this post. Thanks for sharing! I disagree about failing to do research prior to landing myself in a lot of debt. I did research award wages but there is no research on the supply/demand curves of fresh CPL graduates vs available entry-level GA jobs. This is where it gets vague and it's only once your "on the street" door knocking and meeting people, while looking at the other 15 of your class mates (that also cannot find a job), that you realise something is seriously wrong with the system. I bought into a school that sold the "take your career to the skies" dream. I understand, it's a business and they'll do and say anything to sign you up to a FIR course, etc. But this is unethical business practices and many schools are doing this.

As for the pilot shortage, does this not depend on the specific market? From my understanding (& research), the shortages are higher up in the "food chain" as opposed to down low at my level (entry level GA).

Thanks again!
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Old 13th May 2023, 00:41
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Originally Posted by Clare Prop
I read that after you shared, appreciate that.
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Old 13th May 2023, 00:43
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Angry

A problem I see with people doing the FEE help courses is they may be quite unsuited to becoming a pilot.

This is not applicable to all people going this path but what I have seen first hand is applicable to a number of such students and contrasts with students who pay as you go. There is some generalisation in my comments below but is drawn from personal conatct with student's going both routes.

FEE help students may apply to such courses because being an airline pilot (that is all they know about) seems a cool job, well paid and all they have to do is enrol and turn up (like school) and they will become an airline pilot, at no cost (well yeah they can pay that back a bit at a time a few years later as a deduction out of their airline pilot's salary). Like I said - this is not *all* of them but is drawn for my experience of a number I have seen.

By the time they realise it is not as they thought, that there is no promise of an airline job (or any job), that there is great competition for jobs and that it is hard work and requires commitment and aptitude (and some amount of passion), not just attendance, they already have a big debt. Higher than the cost they would have paid if they went pay as you go.

I have come across people doing this path who regularly turn up late for lessons, do the bare minimum preparation before flights who do the bare minimum to pass exams, who aren't curious about "the why of things aviation" and who see training as a chore to endure rather than to eagerly look forward to.

That is not necessarily their fault - we have a system that encourages people irrespective of aptitude to train in an industry that they may have no aptitude for, knowledge about or passion for. And we saddle them with a large debt they will have to pay back over years. And we do this for an industry where there is often a lack of jobs. As taxpayers - why do we do this?

A consequence of this is we have sausage factory businesses who see the FEE help as a their business model, who are motivated only by recurring income rather than any passion or commitment to the aviation industry, their students or the product they turn out, who do the minimal training, rather than schools (yes they do exist) who have a drive to train people well and who have a passion and commitment to aviation, not just income.

Contrast the FEE help model with those students who have a passion for flying, who work at other jobs simply to feed their training costs as they go, who turn up early for lessons, who prepare for flights and are trying to wring the most learning they can out of each one because they have to hand over their money each time they fly and want maximum value.

These students will also sometimes be unsuited to the industry and lack the aptitude but as they are paying up front, they will have a stronger motivation to bite the bullet early of their own choice rather than persevere into a mountain of future debt.

Irrespective of if students go the FEE help or pay as you go route, unfortunately aviation is an industry that usually involves struggle to gain a foothold, that does not offer the glamour or financial rewards (at least for most) and is not suited to everybody. You don't want to get into it for the money. You get into it because you want it. You need to have drive and passion and sadly even that will not guarantee you a career.
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Old 13th May 2023, 07:09
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Get a Job in Human Remains or S&Q, you'll soon earn the $165K
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Old 13th May 2023, 07:27
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Oh no, don't do HR in aviation. All you will do is investigate inane 'he said, she said' arguments between crew that dated and then broke up, track down social media offenders who have offended the CEO, then get buried in forests worth of Workcover claims and then finally follow up on the boards hate list to see who on it has accrued enough points to be fired.
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Old 17th May 2023, 19:35
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Originally Posted by aussieflyboy
1. Move to Kununurra.
2. Get a share house with a bunch of Pilots.
3. Get a job at the pub/airport
4. If your not a toolly spud youíll have a job within 6 months.

While your waiting for a flying job to open up enjoy the spectacular gorges, hikes and adventures to be had.
This is the way. Sell ya stuff, pack up ya car and drive to Broome/Kununurra/Darwin. It's the way I did it in the early 2010's and it's the way it's been done for decades.
Move into a sharehouse, work in the pub, get to know the pilots. Get to know the right people and you'll have a job. Be ready to move wherever they send you.

Tried and true.
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Old 18th May 2023, 00:06
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Originally Posted by freshy1234
This is the way. Sell ya stuff, pack up ya car and drive to Broome/Kununurra/Darwin. It's the way I did it in the early 2010's and it's the way it's been done for decades.
Move into a sharehouse, work in the pub, get to know the pilots. Get to know the right people and you'll have a job. Be ready to move wherever they send you.

Tried and true.
However, as the OP is in his 40ís he may not be an easy fit in a share house full of 20 year old party animals.
On the plus side, an owner-operator just might be comfortable with a mature addition to the ranks of said party animals. I take it that young pilots do still party these daysÖ?
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Old 18th May 2023, 13:38
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If I was in the position of hiring a newbie pilot it certainly wouldn't be one irresponsible enough to run up a $165,000 debt with no or little chance of repaying it in the remainder of their working lives. Talk of legal action on the basis of being deliberately misinformed only confirms that decision

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