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-   -   What has changed in the last 20 years? (https://www.pprune.org/professional-pilot-training-includes-ground-studies/352160-what-has-changed-last-20-years.html)

tigermagicjohn 23rd Nov 2008 16:16

What has changed in the last 20 years?
Having seen many friend and previous instructors around 20 years all become pilots with smaller or larger carriers, I wonder whats the fuss is about todays current market for pilot jobs.

All the ones I knew from that time, spent 3 to 6 years working as insturctors, air taxi etc. with another full time job, to get hours and airline jobs. None of the guys I know from that time got jobs with 250 hours at airlines that time, but they all ended up with jobs in SAS, Cathay, Singapore Airlines, Wideroe etc.

So my question why does some people here think they have the right to get a RH jet seat after 250 hours CPL/IR and ATPL theory course/exams.

On average most of the guys I know had to work 1 or 2 extra jobs while flying instructor at low pay, but in the end they got there.

Another aspect is the calculation of the TR when self funded, and programs like Eagle Jet etc. - Now some say this is so wrong, should not pay to fly. My sister is studying medicine, and when finish she will have a debt of £140.000.
Modualar route will cost approx. £35.000.
Choose to fly and build hours for 3 to 6 years, how much will these years cost you in loss of potential income? Compared to biting the bullet and buying package of 500 hours with TR for around £30.000. You are paying to get experience, as you all pay to get your CPL/IR on single, small multi - but normally NO experience on Jet within these basic hours.
Work for 3 years as instructor equals X amount of Pounds.
Alternative £35.000 on TR and 500 hours in 12 months (OK I am one of lucky ones, as I could work with my own business even if am flying)
Still the loss of potenial income over 3 to 5 years screwing around with BS jobs, would more than equal the costs of the TR and the line training you pay for.

If you can't get a job after 500 on type and TR, than that is hard luck, but I believe the odds should be better than a 250 with 30 Multi engine hours on a Diamond.

Bealzebub 23rd Nov 2008 17:28

Yes your observations are correct. What has changed is the cost base of some of the larger carriers. The market model that has evolved over the last 20 years is that of the so called Lo-Co airlines. Selling an airline seat for the cost of a pair of cheap jeans involved an entirely different set of yield strategies from those of the traditional carriers, together with a radical paring of the input cost base, wherever possible.

In so much as Pilots were concerned, this was and to a large extent still is a major input cost for the airlines. The simple answer was to simply cut wages. the problem with that was, that in a competive growing marketplace your labour would simply move elsewhere. The manufacturers of aircraft had already started to respond to a wider customer demand to reduce costs by designing the Flight Engineer out of the equation. As far as some of the airlines were concerned, if they could simply unbolt the Co-Pilots seat from the floor and throw it away to save costs, many of them would have done it in a heartbeat. Of course this was a regulatory non-starter, so other cost savings had to be looked at.

There were no end of people clamouring for the job, so potentially the laws of supply and demand provided an obvious opportunity to provide a cheap and ready supply of warm bodies to occupy that role. As you have pointed out, traditionally First Officers would have been sourced from the air force, turbo-prop operators, air taxis, instructors and other career change or career advancement sources. The problem was that these people demanded terms and renumeration that reflected their skill and experience level and their relative scarcity. However it was soon realised that there was a loophole to be exploited. Approved training establishments had for many years been providing candidates to a limited number of specific airlines. There was no particular reason why this couldn't be expanded to provide low hour pilots to fill those seats at low cost. Better still you could make the candidates for these positions pay for that training and assume all the risk themselves. Once trained you could then make them pay for their own additional requirements including type ratings, line training, even their own uniform in some cases. On top of this you could slash the salaries and Terms and conditions simply because so many candidates would be tripping over each other to apply for these vacancies. They had to, as they now had big debts they needed to service. The only cloud was that the insurers or regulators would stick their oar in and spoil the plan. However they didn't. The regulators were satisfied as long as an experienced Pilot was in the left seat, and the insurers didn't care as long as claims didn't start to rise.

With this growth in the "vanity publishing" aspect of pilot training, the training industry itself, modified to adapt. Indeed it had to in order to survive. Establishments started up to provide a complete package to the airlines at minimal cost/ minimal risk to those businesses. The costs and risk fell onto the applicant themselves. All of this worked well during a very prolonged growth cycle. Even the terrorist atrocities at the start of the century only caused a temporary disturbance to this unchecked growth. Fuelled by the provision of "easy credit" and the "feel good factor" of rapid asset growth and general wage rises, the cost base of these airlines fell and the industry expanded rapidly.

That is the major change over the last 20 years. Those of us who have been in the industry for longer than 20 years have seen it start, grow, and now it is beginning to snap at our heels.

This is why some people seem to believe they have an instant expectation of a "Jet job", because that is what the industry has led them to believe. Coupled with the "pop idol", "X-Factor", "I want it now", "Borrow the cash and take what you want" mentality, that pervades large sections of society, there are no shortage of willing and eager candidates. As with all bubbles of this nature, eventually they burst and reality takes a cold hard grip.

Whether the market reverts, resumes or changes and evolves again remains to be seen. I am not going to predict what might happen, but am simply stating in part was has happened. Once again your observations are correct, but the reason for the changed expectations is largely a result of what has happened in those intervening years.

tigermagicjohn 23rd Nov 2008 17:59

I do agree with what you say.
There is also another factor to take into account, looking back at the situation of 20 years ago. Airline traffic has increased massively over this period, and I believe it still is increasing.
There are more airlines, more aircraft, and ditto more jobs.
A long recession on average lasts 16 - 24 months. Predictions are that we are mid way trough the recession at the moment.

Still I believe more people travel, more cargo gets moved every year by airlines, some airlines go out of business, because they have not been able to adapt to the future, and some have been to ambitious to early, some will go under, and new airlines will arrive.

Situations are different for us all, if I was 20, I would most likely not mind to work slowly upwards the instructor route etc., honestly I still would not mind this now, still I would when I get all my certs. done, actively look how I can progress my career best possible, this including paying for TR and line training myself. Everybody here has to decide this for themselves and their personal situation.
Still at the same time, from my experience in the past, I would NEVER expect to walk straight into the RH on a jet, as I do believe more than 250 hours is required for this. And this is what some now have the option to pay for if they want.

Maybe the lack of smaller airlines with smaller aircraft, is the major problem in europe for giving enough pilots sufficent experience. Unlike in the USA, we do not have to many so called regional carriers who use smaller twins/turboprops. So it is either flying a small multiengine at training or a 737/A320 - there is nothing in the middle.

Still when I originally wanted to go for this 20 years ago, I would expect at least 5 years from finish training, before getting a decent sniff at a decent job.

Wee Weasley Welshman 23rd Nov 2008 18:20

Credit/Debt boom. I've sat next to a 22yr old with £88k of unsecured training loan who had a further £4k on an Egg card and spent the last two weeks of the month living off his overdraft. His £7k of student loan he barely counted as real debt.

Yeah, he was flying a B737-700 an earning a cadet salary.

But even so. That wasn't normal until the last decade. Its the cost of servicing (not repaying) that means that for many qualified Wannabes the old route of a few years instructing then air taxi, then regional T/Prop is a non starter. They'd be bankrupt first.

This access to loose money is what has caused airlines to stop paying for type ratings and to expect the first 6 months work for free.

Tightening of money will kill this stone dead.



Dane-Ger 23rd Nov 2008 18:28

So does this mean we are going to see a return to the old "self improver" route?

Undoubtedly, for the majority, the last of the borrowed cash is drying up, the only option will be modular, taking it step by step and working up the system.

preduk 23rd Nov 2008 18:40

It's simple... Credit.

It's the society we live in now, when my parents grew up they had to save money to go on holiday, now it's "I'll just bung it on the credit card and worry about it later". It's the exact same principle for flight training, why wait 5-6years when I can borrow huge amounts of money and worry about it later.

The banks, airlines, FTOs etc have all taken advantage of this while the average 18-30 year old struggles with the repayments.

daria-ox 23rd Nov 2008 18:45

Modular way doesn't cost 35K. I can assure you of that!

preduk 23rd Nov 2008 18:59

Thats why he said approx :ok:

tigermagicjohn 23rd Nov 2008 21:17

If somebody has built up debts of £88K, than sorry to say they have dug their own grave, and its the making of their own stupidity.

Why I say that?

Simple, in the OLD days, the people I knew would take it step by step or intergrated, but with partial saved money and borrowed money. Knowing the danger, uncertainity of the future at all times, I would say without making a plan and try to follow this plan/budget - with regards to training, renewals, ratings + +, it would lead to the person in question getting under enormous pressure.

If you want to go this route, no matter which way, you should have thought of ways to get some of the cash together in advance, by other means than borrowing the money.

I understand this might not be easy, but it might mean sacrifice of luxuries, leaving at home with parents, working 12 hours a day to save money for what you want to do.

That time, 20 years ago, thats what I did for my own PPL that time, before I stopped that time I had 130 hours, I was 21 years old. My family gave me NOTHING, but I went working in a factory from 10 to 10, every krone (scandinavia) I spent on flying. I calculated that time I probably spent £11.000 in 1988 - 1990 (17 -20), same time I took my A-levels - finished at 18. PPL finished at 18.
I had no debts on any of that.

Today I will do the same, I am having my PPL renewed, have 20K saved up, + I work full time with my own business, I do not intend to borrow any money for CPL/IR, maybe I will consider this for TR or/and line training, however by that time, I hope to have another 20K saved up, of my own money to spend on this.

I have credit cards given in all directions, probably can go and spend around 30K with my credit cards + I can borrow unsecured another 10K if I want, but would be a killer to that in the start, and I would say that is to well thought out by the people who have done it.

They have not had patient to do it the right way in that case, and you would have to question somebodies judgement if they go and get £88K debts without a proper plan, and without any other potenial income.

I do understand, with flying there is more craziness than intelligence sometimes, at least for younger guys/girls, why the rush? Work it out slowly and secure, without breaking your backs and mental health,

Wee Weasley Welshman 23rd Nov 2008 22:37


That is the problem. To stand a chance Wannabes have borrowed VAST sums.

A VAST sum is £50k. Seems like peanuts in a boom. Now we are in a deflationary bust its a kings ransom.

Nowhere will the pain of the credit crunch/depression be MORE painful than airlines and flying training.


EK4457 23rd Nov 2008 22:57

Daria, darling, I'm under the impression that you have not done your training yet. If so, calm down on the assurances.

My modular was under £40k. Not with the cheapest school, all in the UK, MCC on a 737 sim. There was quite a bit I could have shaved off.

Make sure your assurances come from experience, not from pprune threads.


Wee Weasley Welshman 23rd Nov 2008 22:59

You did well.

Accomodation, subsitence and travel costs in that - genuine question...


EK4457 23rd Nov 2008 23:31

Very roughly:

PPL: £6,000
Hour Building: £6,500
Bristol.GS: £2,200
CPL/ME: £6,400
IR: £11,300
MCC: £3,000
CAA exam / Test / Issue Fees: £3,000

Comes to £38,400

Travel and expenses are difficult to factor in but came to less than £2000 incl landing fees. I live 10 mins from EGCC so quite lucky.

I could have hour built in a C152 instead of an Archer III saving me about £2000. Another £1000 could have been saved on my MCC.

The US for PPL and HB are further savings.

PPL and hour building prices are circa 2006/7 prices to give a balanced arguement.

35k may be at the low end, but certainly 'doable'.


preduk 24th Nov 2008 01:58


I think one of the major issues with these people is that they don't understand the value of the money.

The majority of these people are between the ages of 17-24 (I would say at a guess). Most of the people in these age groups haven't ever had to deal with large sums of cash, they haven't paid off mortgages, had a family to feed every day paid or put money towards higher education fees etc.

It's as if because it's their dream it gives them some sort of an excuse to p*ss the money up against the wall, when really it doesn't. A dream requires more care and attention to make it right, but hey... they have worked for a couple of years; they know best.

v6g 24th Nov 2008 02:38

Bang on preduk! or paid tax either... there's a tremendous myth that once you get the jet job - you're rich - but you're not.

The integrated costs + accomm + a type rating easily runs to £100,000. With typical interest rates and repayment terms, that'll cost about £140,000 spread over 7-10 years.

When I pay anything out of my salary I consider which tax band I'll be paying it out of. For the absolute basics in life (shelter, food, fuel), I consider that comes out of my basic tax rate earnings (5-10%). For simple luxuries (a holiday once a year, meals out once-in-a-while) that comes out of the next rate (~25%). For super-privileges (and I count flying training as just that since it's a personal choice - particularly if you've chosen to go it the integrated way) comes out of the top bracket, which for a typical pilot in the first decade of his/her career, is ~40%.

To pay back that loan of £100,000 is going to require you to earn £233,000 gross. So, for the first decade of your career, the fully-financed integrated course will impair your earning ability by almost a quarter of a million pounds. Or, in other words, all your fun-money for the next decade of your life - your twenties - when you're supposed to be enjoying life. Think about it.

Is it really worth it that much against the alternative of paying your way through modular and having some fun along the way flying in Africa or instructing? But, the airlines love it this way, a heavily indebted worker makes a great employee - they'll do anything to avoid risk losing that job!

tigermagicjohn 26th Nov 2008 01:04

There seems to be something I notice among many posters here on the forum. At my age many might think I am to old to start going for a CPL, however there is also something else positive for "us", in these credit crunch times. There are not going to be to many youngsters coming trough the next couple years, because they are not going to be able to borrow money on mummies and daddies house. The unlimited credit which has been around the last decade, is going to be gone.

I do see a trend of many people with 40K or more in debts, just finished the CPL, and ready to go. Maybe they are brainwashed by flying schools brain wash machine, to get the students to sign on with them, before it is to late, and they will loose the "last chance" to get a pilot job.

Getting hurried into intergrated courses, because it is the fastest way to get into the airlines jets, makes me wonder why real pilots want the fastest way into airline jets?
Of course I would not want to refuse to get there myself, but it is the journey before the prospecting pilots should enjoy. The airline jets are massive flying oversized buses flown by computers, what would be the major enjoyment of having to do that for the next 45 years, if you finish with ATPL at 20.

Why would you not want to fly more challenging hands on flying? At least withing your career you will have more variation and more challenges.
I am sure if I had done my dream when I started at 18, and finished with CPL and gone to work with airlines, I would probably at the end of my career after 40 years as a pilot been dead bored of life, I know a mate of mine, same age as me, captain for Cathay 747, living in Hong Kong, wife in Brazil, and he is dead bored by the job, he achieved all his dreams, but enjoys more when he takes a glider at his old hometown, once every 6 months.

Point is that experience in life should be variated, and the day you get that dream job, expect that one day that will not be your dream job.
I chose something else 20 years ago, because I did not want my mother to risk her house with a huge mortgage, that was my only way, I could not live that responsability on my back. There are now prospective pilots/students around the world with that exact burden on their back, how does that feel? And is that a safe pilot, who every time goes to work does not know if he can manage his debts then next 12 months? Will such a burden be a pshycological effect on a pilots performance?

I would think it would, and I think youngsters of today should think about this, before they risk to much of "other peoples money"
How easy is it to loose money that you have not worked for yourself, try to save some yourself, and see if you would take the same chances with your own money.

At my present time I am taking everything step by step, I have set out a 5 year plan to get where I want, if faster than great, if not at least I gave it one proper go. Maybe the career advice given at schools are misleading, because it would not be so tempting if you told prospective students you have to battle for the next 3 to 8 years before you stand any decent half chance to get a half decent job, in these years make sure you have a second job, and fly whatever wings you can get into.

Personally I will take modular, because it is the cheapest option for me, already having logged 120 hours from previous life, I will get this towards my CPL, even if it was almost 20 years ago. Being able to pay for IR / CPL/ ME and MCC, without borrowing one single penny is my aim, so even if it takes me 2 - 3 years, I will have a major advantage, as I will not need to worry about debts loaded on me. Many more could do the same, if they could just be a little more patient and build a better strategy for their career, specially in these hard up times for many.

One thing is very clear, all that goes up has to come down, and soon it will change and things will go back up again. Probably it will take another 2 - 4 years, before we will really feel a strong upturn in the travel business and airlines, still believe many airlines still trying to adapt, and thats why we have seen a few failures lately, but more people are flyig all the time. Heatrow another terminal, plans for more Runways, expansions everywhere, so there will be jobs there in the not to distant future.
Of all the pilots I know, all working with major airlines, they all took modular mode, and worked for many years before they got a proper job, they would fly anything that moved, and even one of them after more than 20 years in SAS, refuses to fly any of their jets, he only flys Twins/Turbo props - he was my first school chief already 20 years ago, at my local flying club, and he still is, and he is what I call a real pilot, and not a computer freak designer pilot - who we all want to be of course, but I would not have wanted that to be my first job as newly born CPL pilot.

Not knocking those who have this as their goal, but if you really love flying, than you would see that as required evil to be able to make a decent living, but as a young pilot you would want try something else first.

Credit party is over now, so maybe we get to see better times for everybody than?

preduk 26th Nov 2008 01:46


I agree with what youíre saying but I must add that itís because of this 'I want' society that we live in today.

The dream airline job at the moment isn't about flying small aircraft around the country or jumping the Scottish Isles delivering mail and newspapers. It's about making 100k a year, chatting up blonde cabin crew, flying huge multi million pound aircraft while travelling the world. Everyone thinks the pilot career is glamorous, go tell anyone that you want to be a pilot and see what they say to you.
If you have your heart and mind set on a dream it's almost impossible to pull you away from it. Most people will be too stuborn to even consider the negative aspects of the job, they would rather dive head first and make the risk. Meaning you're easy prey for the big FTOs and their experienced marketing staff.

The wannabes who are of similar age to yourself have been through life; they have seen the marketing guys, dealt with idiots at work, understand how fast money can dissapear therefore you're a bit more cautious where you place your cash.

Flying hands on is the proper flying, but many people just want the fantasty lifestyle not the flying.

tigermagicjohn 26th Nov 2008 03:58

I know and I see this from many posts here. I am in the very fortunate situation because I have worked hard to get where I am today, and I have lived periods with nothing, so know also how it is to starve.

Being stubborn for your dream is good, it has taken me longer time than expected, and it has taken me a couple of years to decide and the full support of my wife to finally have a go.

Still I can continue my online business full time, both now during schooling and later when I eventually manage to get a job.

I probably will make more money with my business than as a pilot, and if all goes well I might have both, my business and a decent flying job.
I could lazy around at home, and live a comfortable life without jumping back into this crazy life, but that would be just to boring.

But I want to get out flying, air taxi, maybe regional scandinavien airlines or even to Colombia (as my wife is from there) - not disregarding instructing, but thats not my first choice at my current age, I rather want to fly myself, but who knows.

But all life just pushing a button on a A320, might as well just flight sim at home with FSX.
Personally I am against the TR and line training, but due to my age and situation it would be something I would consider. Still it would not be my first choice if the right options become available, I am not going to be a hypocrite to say I would NEVER do TR course, eg. a Ryan Air TR course - if presented with this chance.
But I would not expect this is the first step in a pilot career.
I have lived a fun and cool life until now, probably much more glamours than a pilot career would ever be able to be, my CV would probably be one of the strangest ever, so who knows if I would even ever get a job, having been self employed since I was 20!

tigermagicjohn 26th Nov 2008 04:27



Desert Budgie 26th Nov 2008 09:44

I don't get it?

What's up with the animals?!?

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