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Burnout in the pilot profession

Old 27th Dec 2011, 08:36
  #1 (permalink)  
Thread Starter
Join Date: Jun 2011
Location: UK
Posts: 34
Burnout in the pilot profession

Notwithstanding ' simple ' fatigue issues, how many of us are suffering from burnout in our careers ?

Novelty worn-off years ago, worries about things going wrong and being too knackered to cope, airlines wiping away all the old protections fought for over many years of sensible negotiating, just sick and tired of sim checks and shift work, fed up with reading endless checklists, and missing family events ?

Piloting today feels more like being a bus driver on the same route in some vast urban sprawl for a never ending eternity.

Be honest, how many of us on PPRuNe are just using the site for pointless grumbling to distract us from the fact that we don't actually like the job that we, expensively, chose ?
Cruise Zombie is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:03
  #2 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 1999
Location: north of barlu
Posts: 6,110
I still enjoy the flying but the three airlines going bankrupt in the last four years has left me l we say a little jaded.

I think the biggest problem that those of us who have been flying for years have in getting other jobs is the utterly stupid and pointless psychometric tests that are a feature of airline recruitment.

Some of these tests may be all fine and good for the generation of computer gamers new to flying but to be faced with flight director test with bars that work backwards is somewhat counter intuitive after thirty years of flying.

Interviews and technical questions I can understand but to have thirty years of safe flying rejected as part of the recruitment picture in favour of a computer game is just insulting.
A and C is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:08
  #3 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Planet Earth
Posts: 1,749
I'll help you get over your burnout you poor things

Try losing your medical after just reaching the top of your career in the LHS after 19 years in the right.

Then spend years fruitlessly trying to find a doctor who can fix the problem while simultaneously going through the divorce from hell, the stress from which
causing you a heart problem which may preclude you from ever returning to the cockpit.

Boredom and fatigue, must be awful,

Grow up
stilton is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:13
  #4 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2004
Location: North Pole
Posts: 913
Best thing I ever did was to retire from flying aged 56!!
newt is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:31
  #5 (permalink)  
Whispering "T" Jet
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Melbourne.
Age: 62
Posts: 586
Yep, did the same at 58. Saw the best years and was very thankful it lasted as long as it did.

Good luck to those still enjoying !
3 Holer is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:40
  #6 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 1998
Location: Formerly of Nam
Posts: 1,595
Flying a good aeroplane + working for a good mob + getting
excellent pay + great roster + having a fantastic lifestyle =
no burnout and look forward to going to work.

Not what I got nor anybody else I know. Does anyone have all
those five elements in that equation?
Slasher is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:40
  #7 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 2003
Location: Cheshire, California, Geneva, and Paris
Age: 62
Posts: 823
I dont think that Cruise Zombies observations about general working conditions are applicable just to the pilot community but applicable to any individual working today.

I just thank God that I am not one of them.
DC10RealMan is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:56
  #8 (permalink)  
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Not what I got nor anybody else I know. Does anyone have all
those five elements in that equation?
Ya right!
Dream Land is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 09:58
  #9 (permalink)  
Join Date: Aug 2000
Location: UK
Posts: 1,914
I can understand the sentiments. The job has gone to computerised roster systems designed to extract the maximum legally possible from you at peak times. I was dreading summers with twelve+ hour duties, minimum rest, 6 days in a row, a life continually spent in yet another hotel. Those of us who have been doing the job a long time have seen it descend from a fun, enjoyable profession to a grind of hard simulator checks (they're not tests, or training anymore, they are examinations to keep your job), increasingly invasive medicals and ground tests, and a time consuming grind. NormaL people work 8 hours a day/5 days a week. Whilst we are decidedly NOT 9-5 people, our supposedly 'well paid' job achieved barely 8 days a month only at home, and for some, vastly less! 70 duty hour working weeks not unusual- there is no EC working time directive protecting transport and hospital employees.

Yes- the fun and enthusiasm has gone out of it. I've now experienced the second-too-last airline failure to hit the UK. Whilst the loss of income is unfortunate, I have other means to fall back on, but a major beneficiary is the reduction of job stress which undoubtedly has risen to unacceptable levels.
Notso Fantastic is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 10:35
  #10 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jul 1998
Location: between 20 & 30 000'
Posts: 6
Sadly, I have to agree.

The industry has changed dramatically since I entered 23 years ago.

The beancounters have a lot to answer for.

Most of my colleagues are jaded by the experience, yet I'm sure we'll miss it like hell when we leave.

Got to find a way to satisfy the cravings without being reliant on a demanding dealer.
gtseraf is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 10:53
  #11 (permalink)  
Join Date: Nov 2000
Location: UK
Age: 63
Posts: 851
Got to find a way to satisfy the cravings without being reliant on a demanding dealer.
Most of us who chose to enter the profession did so because, amongst other reasons, we are inherent thrill seekers. The employer, the authority and most importantly the customer want flights to be 'boring' no thrills and definitely no excitement. Thrills seekers don't find boring satisfying, the consequent inherent tension can express itself in all sorts of ways, 'burn out' may be one.
beardy is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 10:54
  #12 (permalink)  
Join Date: Sep 2006
Location: East Yorkshire
Posts: 454
The beancounters cant be very good, if airlines keep going pop

Obviously that business plan is flawed
Wellington Bomber is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 10:57
  #13 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2005
Location: middle of nowhere
Posts: 348
Got to find a way to satisfy the cravings without being reliant on a demanding dealer
The industry has gone from dealers to pushers ... (listen to the song by Steppenwolf). The only difference is that their actions are still deemed legal!
Gretchenfrage is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 11:30
  #14 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: uk
Posts: 283
Does anyone have all
those five elements in that equation?
Ticking number 1, possibly 4. Number 5 is up to yourself, really.
The beancounters cant be very good, if airlines keep going pop
I always thought. "Let me be good at what I do and let them be good at what they do".
Ticking number 1...
But which of us will get bonuses at the end?
16024 is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 11:49
  #15 (permalink)  
Join Date: Dec 2006
Location: the Metroplex
Posts: 12
I retired 4 month ago, just before my 59th birthday.

Retirement is the best thing to happen to me since I got hired by my airline. And of course when the company went Chapter 11 about 3 months later, my choice seemed brilliant.

Over 20 years a Captain with great crews, friends and never so much as a ding anywhere, I feel honored to have been involved with the industry, relieved to be out and sad for my friends caught where they are.

The "good old days" weren't and never will be. The job is a series of obstacles put up by management, government and the tyranny of bureaucracy at every level. Not to mention the "right(s)"of the passengers to cheap vacations on my paycheck.

That said, I enjoyed it and remember fondly the time I was there, and to be truthful, there were some "good old days" although they didn't always involve the job.

Best of luck to all of you still there. Fly safe and enjoy. You'll know when the time is right to leave.
Jurassic Jet is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 11:50
  #16 (permalink)  
Join Date: Oct 1999
Location: South East.
Posts: 680
I've had fifty years in the business including 25 years in the airlines, 22 as a captain.

All I remember, apart from great crews, is the relentless, thoughtless demands of the company. There was no regard for a family life, proper rest patterns, total ingratitude when a job was still successfully completed against the odds and then a regular fight to get a decent salary for the job I loved.
Worst of all was the coercion when we had the audacity to suggest that the limit was being exceeded. We were always short of sufficient crewing requirement, you see.

Like many of us, I had wanted to fly since my Dad first made me a model aeroplane at the age of about seven. The local airfield was a magnet as soon as I could ride a bike.
I was totally focussed and again, like some, I got there.

Best thing I ever did was to retire at 60 and start doing aeros again !
Reminded me of why I had put myself through the pressure of military boards, numbers of subsequent civilian interviews and the airline treadmill.

The best bits ? The military camaraderie, instructing, aeros and now STILL working for myself doing the flying I want to do. I think I may finally even be getting quite good at it !

....But now I'm afraid I actually pity the guys in the glass-cockpit, FBW environment.

Sad, isn't it ?

Last edited by Sleeve Wing; 27th Dec 2011 at 12:00.
Sleeve Wing is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 13:17
  #17 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jan 2006
Location: In a far better place
Posts: 2,479
I made the move some 21 years ago when my carrier in the US went into financial problems and asked for voluntary leave. Having a business that paid the my bills allowed me to take that voluntary leave.

Six months after that began a new adventure in m career as an expat. During the past 21 years as an expat, I've been very lucky and have enjoyed every carrier that I had flown with. I have and continue to experience life abroad I would have never had I returned to the white bread US carrier.

When my contract was up, I either upped for another tour of duty or moved on to a new adventure. IMHO New adventures reduce the chances of the old burn out syndrome. Yeah, there are hoops to jump though but in the long run the experience outweighs the inconveniences that some countries put expats through.

I do see many unhappy crew dogs roaming terminals round the world, especially when I return to the US, with that burnout expression look on their faces. I understand why... trying to jump seat home to be with their families for 2 or 3 days, and back out on the road. That worried look on their faces wondering if they are going to have heated discussions with their spouses because they are never home and living the life of Riley.

I have another four years to go and will be ready to hang up the goggles. Ever since I entered the industry my plan has been to call it quits at age 60, even though the retirement age has been raised to 65. Our plan is to travel around the US in a motor home with a little Honda in tow. I've crisscrossed the US many times in the Flight Levels but never really saw the US. Well now's our chance. There is one thing I don't want to do unless out of absolute necessity, is to travel anyplace by airline.

As for retirement and medical... well, I budgeted for both since the 1970's. Knock wood, my retirement accounts were not affected by the market debacles after 9/11 nor 2008.
captjns is offline  
Old 27th Dec 2011, 21:10
  #18 (permalink)  
e28 driver
Join Date: Jan 2002
Location: UK
Age: 49
Posts: 209
Flying a good plane? Regional Jet - I like it but my many of my colleagues (who didn't fly turboprops) don't

Working for a good mob? Well they ain't Ryanair

Getting excellent pay? Can't imagine what else I could make 64k doing

Great roster? Earlies/Lates, 2 sector/4 sectors - can't imagine how short haul flying is ever going to be much different. More than slightly concerned about what could be in store for us if the EASA FTLs go through as they are proposed

Having a fantastic lifestyle? As long as I can walk my kids to the bus stop/nursery or have my tea with them I haven't got too much to complain about. I used to do 10 nightstops per month

But that's today, who know's what tomorrow will bring...
TDK mk2 is offline  
Old 28th Dec 2011, 03:59
  #19 (permalink)  
Join Date: Jun 2001
Location: Fragrant Harbour
Posts: 4,607
For me, the fun went out of flying when I left the military.

And now, the fatigue, the constant pressure of management decisions, the perpetual adjustment of rosters,the constant re-writng and inventing of SOPS and manuals and attacks on our terms and conditions, especially in the area of FTLs have made the job a chore which quite frankly I would not be upset if I had to stop tomorrow. (Apart from the cash that is!)

Not burnout, just fatigue and tedium.

My advice, go and get a hobby removed from flying and leave the job behind you when you leave the airport. Sailing works for me.
Dan Winterland is offline  
Old 21st Jan 2018, 06:50
  #20 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 2017
Location: South Africa
Posts: 216
I think generally anyone who works in aviation is at risk for burnout. Flying personal and ground staff alike. Shifts. Long hours. Brutal conditions.
Joker11 is offline  

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