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Training Bonds - I need info for an article please.

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Training Bonds - I need info for an article please.

Old 17th Apr 2013, 23:12
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Question Training Bonds - I need info for an article please.

Hi All,
I'm new to this forum so I'm sorry if a thread like this exists already.

I'm a journo and I'm researching a piece on the ethical standards of airline Ts&Cs of employment etc.
I have questions regarding the bond situation on, specifically, line training and cabin crew training. (Not TR)

Firstly, which of the airlines require a bond for line/crew training? Is it standard throughout the industry or is it merely a few operators?

How much is the bond for and over what period (specifics including year of contract please)?

If a contract is terminated by the operator within the bond period is the remainder still repayable?

If the training is terminated is the bond repayable? How much?

What do pilots/crew think about such schemes? Are contracts weighted fairly in your opinion?

I would be grateful for copies of such contracts and agreements - but please remove personal identifiers. I realise that some of these are considered confidential, of course, and appropriate discretion will be used. PM me if you are willing to supply.

Finally, can anyone PM me if you have had bad experiences. If my article has legs and runs I will need details and your id for fact verification but your identity will be protected should you wish to remain anonymous. I already have some accounts but need more to determine if the issues raised are widespread enough to be in the interest of the public (and to prevent ID's being compromised by deduction).

I won't be replying on the forum as it is not my place to express an opinion - this is preliminary research and a fact finding effort. Finally, all opinions here will be taken into consideration to give an objective view so keep it professional please.

Many thanks in advance to anyone who contributes useful info.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 05:23
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Aviation is a small world, whilst people may well be happy to give you details of contracts, I suspect there will be a reluctance to reveal any identity for fear of persecution. You don't say who you are yourself, just that you are a journalist. Where is any such article likely to be published?
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 06:28
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Ahhhh bonds, I remember them. They were in the good old days of aviation. Thing is you are a few years out of date.

People don't get bonded much theses days, they end up paying for their training instead. Even for line training.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 07:04
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Also the plight of experienced pilots who can no longer find work because of the 200 hour cadets willing to prostitute themselves for less pay than they'd receive at their local McDonalds.
Let's not forget the DEC's working for free at Ethiopian until they've completed their line training.

Last edited by captjns; 18th Apr 2013 at 07:05.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 14:31
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Couple of years ago I got chatting to a journo for one of the red tops down the pub... got onto the subject of P2F and he was initially interested in learning more... gave me his business card etc and I followed up with a long email outlining the practice - who to contact for quotes, blah blah.

Outcome... he thought as it was not illegal, there wasn't a story to be had! I suggested he'd missed the point but it never went any further sadly

I fear it will take a smoking hole to finally get this to the public's wider attention... but will they care? as long as the 10.99 flights to Malaga keep flowing, I doubt it
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 17:07
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Great info

Thanks for the PMs and comments so far. Some fascinating reading. Keep it coming, the more info, the better.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 20:31
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Airlines don't bond pilots anymore, they use pilots as a revenue stream. Next time you are on an aeroplane it is likely that the pilot will have paid more than you to be on the flight. Interns in most professions don't get paid to gain experience: in airlines FOs pay the airline to be 'interns'.

Your article is about 20 years too late, Buddy.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 20:35
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I suggested on another thread that insurance companies could play a helpful role. If they make it more expensive (by increasing premiums) to use pay to fly pilots then to recruit, train and retain skilled employees then that will at a stroke improve what we all seem to agree is a downward spiral. My suggestion was met with deathly silence. Maybe it is unrealistic. But if you hit the beancounters where it hurts in my experience you will get their attention.
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Old 18th Apr 2013, 21:26
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Hi you want a story.

Then write this.

UK Civil Aviation Authority brought to a standstill due to highly ineffecient paperwork forced onto the aviation industry under the new European Aviation agency EASA.
Professional and Private Pilots are having to wait for months for their licences to be issued, Normal turnaround time was ten days to two weeks. Now it is totally out of control as EASA legislation demands excessive form filling and copius amounts of application forms which are not only unnecessary but are disabling the administration system of pilots in the UK.
Pilots have to pay up to 100,000 for their training but cannot start work to pay back the money until their licences have been issued to them. Also, the pilots licence paper was sub divided whereby one cut a whole page of A4 and placed the individual pages into the page pockets on the licence. Unfortunately, EASA say that this is illegal and is promptly fining thousands of pilots for slipping into the trap of thinking logically and they now have to stuff an A4 size sheet of paper into an A5 pocket thus tearing the wallet of the licence anyway.

Coupled with (I hope you are writing this Mr reporter!!!) Coupled with the above insanity, British born English speaking people who have lived in the UK for their entire lives, have English Mothertongue, went to English speaking schools, in England, have to prove that they, speak English!
In order to do this. They have to attend an English course, and have a form telling them they can in fact speak English and have the form signed by a teacher and then trapse all the way across the country to have it countersignesd by the head of training who has to make a statement exactly as written in the instructions, so that the English speaking people in Gatwick can believe that the applicant although born in England, went to an English School, having spoken all their lives, English, can in fact speak English, after having undertaken an Airline Pilot Training course, in English!! Well, one can`t be too careful can one?

Each of the copies of the pilot application paperwork has to be filled in at the completion of the course. There are about 7 or 9 papers. All saying the same thing...........? Why is this?

In the past the UK CAA had one form for one type of licence. One form for another type of licence. So pilots filled in whichever single form was required in order to apply for their licence. Now they have 9 forms for no reason.

If ever there was a reason, an excuse for the UK pulling out of the common market - then this is it, yes, this one seriously takes the biscuit.

After shedding approx 100,000 on their training UK pilots are penalised by excessive delays having their licences issued to them, or not, as is the case.

The cabinet want to know what is happening. The CAA don`t know what is happening., EASA are causing it to happen and the pilots of the UK and indeed Europe, as the damage is not just at home, all European pilots are on the verge of a pilots strike. The British Airline Pilots Association, have yet to comment.

This is an intrusive invasion of a perfectly working system which has been sabotaged - directly - by Europe and the UK CAA have little or no say in the matter and are battling to keep their heads above water as the entire UK pilots licensing system has effectively ground to an ignominious halt.

In light of the coming holiday season it is envisaged that this will cause excessive delays as airlines will not be ablr to fly their routes due to the lack of pilots who are waiting for their licences to be issued. EASA have said that no one can fly until they have recived their licences.
Pilots phoning the UK CAA are unable to get through on the phonelines as there is simply no answer. Emails sent to the CAA are not replied to as the UK CAA are drowning in the workload. There was a suggestion that this may have been a deliberate attack on the UK aviation system by European members of EASA in order to disable UK aviation to enable European airline companies to take over UK routes and passengers and revenue.

Thereby, simply putting UK aviation out of business. A sort of ecomonic cold war. Whether we agree that this is indeed the case or disagree - the fact is, this is exactly what has happened.

Last edited by Natstrackalpha; 18th Apr 2013 at 21:53.
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Old 21st Apr 2013, 11:23
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Additional info.

I am receiving some good information - thank you to those of you who have given me an insight to what's going on in some airlines in particular.

Keep it coming. I appreciate your time.
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Old 21st Apr 2013, 13:02
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I started my flight training at a well known flight school in the Netherlands where a major Dutch airline is normally getting it's pilots from. However, students still have to pay the complete initial (integrated) flight training themselves. Costs are almost 120.000 euro....

Then normally this Dutch airline would hire you if they are in need for pilots. They don't bond, and they pay the typerating and linetraing with a fairly good salary. So no problems if starting for that airline to repay any debts.

However, due to crisis, these cadets are sitting at home working their ass of trying to get a job somewhere else.. But then they find out that the rest of the airlines are asking to pay 2 fly (P2F) with costs in excess of 50.000 euro. That makes their debts going to 170.000 euro. And mostly their salaries are so bad, that they can only afford to pay their interest....

I was somehow lucky to start working for a major German airline. They didn't require me to pay for training or pay to fly, instead they paid everything for me. Their bonding was 55.000 euro for a period of 2 years. And now I enjoy a fairly good salary to repay my debts in a period of 5/7 years...

So if i did quit my job, I am supposed to pay back the remaining of this bond. So if I quit my job after one year, I stil have to pay back 12/24 amount of this initial 55.000 euro that the airline has invested in me.

I must say that my airline really invested 55.000 in me. Their typerating on an Airbus takes almost 100 hours of simtraining and a very large linetraining to get wel trained FO's in their aircraft. Some companies ask their pilots to pay 50.000 euro for type- and linetraining, but mostly make money out of it since they only give a minimal training with minimum hours in sim.... (I think minimum hours for an airbus typeratingprogramme in simulator is about 30 hours or so).

But my own story finding a job and not paying for TR and linetraining is not very common any more in modern world. Most guys that I know did had to pay for their own typerating and linetraining. Some stories here on PPrune.org even suggest that Lionair pilots have to pay 50.000 dollar for their flight training and still getting bonded for a period for 5 years.....

And to make sure you get your story right; its now normally to pay for the initial flight training starting from 0 hours. That training normally takes 2 years whereby the cadet has to pass 14 different subjects in theoretical knowledge, and fly about 200 hours to get their CPL(A), Instrument Rating, and ATPL (A) theory (called "frozen" ATPL(A). This training varies in cost between 50.000 euro (modular) up to 120.000 euro (integrated). Also different cost per country due to differences in tax.

Then after this initial flight training, the airlines take their turn in asking money for typerating and linetraining.

I tell you this because if your article is only about us paying 50.000 euro for typerating and linetraining, then please tell your public that these amounts are being invested after already having invested almost 100.000 euro for the initial triaing.
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Old 21st Apr 2013, 14:32
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lederhosen: the premiums won't go up until there are accidents and loss of life that can be directly attributed to P2F co-pilots. I agree that the risk must be greater with P2F pilots, but I expect that the airlines either haven't told the insurers, or have made a good job of saying that there is no extra real risk.
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Old 21st Apr 2013, 15:32
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Ehmmm... let's make it clearer then. Some airlines don't even test pay-to-fly pilots properly. The only requirement requested is in a bank account...
Ryanair is not one of these though.

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Old 22nd Apr 2013, 15:57
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Firestorm you are of course right, which is why it will be interesting to see if the indian co-pilot in the Lionair crash originally came through the P2F route. Apparently he had a couple of thousand hours which would be two and a bit years there.

Not telling your insurer everything is of course a risky course of action as many claimants have found out in the past. I actually know someone responsible for the aviation line of business with one of the big reinsurers and will sound him out next time we meet.
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Old 23rd Apr 2013, 13:18
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Risks and P2F?

"... the premiums won't go up until there are accidents and loss of life that can be directly attributed to P2F co-pilots. I agree that the risk must be greater with P2F pilots ..."

What is the "risk"? Oh do pray tell!

Just a little bit of honesty would be appreciated in the P2F discussion especially by those, basically almost all pilots, who have literally paid to fly. P2F is something exercised by most, if not all pilots, at some stage during their life in aviation, be it one cent, 50,000 or 100,000 plus dollars. That first dual hour in the first log book was for most us our first step on the P2F bandwagon, with many different routes, options, choices or end points along the way. The fact is that some drivers make an essentially economic decision (yes, with or without a thorough risk assessment) to outlay an additional and incremental payment to progress, advance or continue with their training and flying. In the end, there is no free lunch in life, no-one owes you anything or a job.

For the time being no recruitment ban on P2F pilots led by operators or pilot unions, exists or has been even mooted. No NAA regulator ban or license suspension or revocation of P2F pilots exist because the issue is simply one of proficiency, standards and checks. Why? If the P2F pilot or former P2F pilot passes the checks, meets and maintains the required standards and proficiency then where is the safety issue? My present operator happily and fortunately employs pilots from almost all sources and routes (including former so called P2F pilots) the current exception being the MPL route or former MPL pilot.

Again the issue is not P2F, but rather it is how any airline or AOC holder maintains acceptable levels of safety. The business model simply must be able to sustain safe operations. The fact that the model may include a P2F element is totally irrelevant. If the P2F FO or P2F Capt meet on entry, and continue to operate to, the required standards, then P2F will have no bearing on the safety performance of the airline. The P2F pilots I fly with must be a different bunch as they do not seem to be exhibiting and presenting risky behaviour any more or less than equivalent pilots from other routes.

Similar arguments were trotted out when the low costs and low cost hybrids went into operation only a few years ago ... essentially critical of the pilots and standards and forecasting doom and gloom in terms of safety and accidents and incidents. Has it eventuated?

Or, is your argument that P2F is only acceptable where the operator is governed by EASA, FAA, or other Western and Developed State NAAs?
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Old 23rd Apr 2013, 17:54
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There is a spectrum from those who have been lucky enough never to have paid a cent of real money, for example trained by a national carrier and repaying their training costs out of an excellent salary to at the other extreme people who have spent upwards of 100,000 euros in getting a licence and then pay another 50,000 to get a type rating with a few hundred hours on type.

If you think this is not safety relevant then we will have to agree to disagree. You are limiting your pool of trainees to those that can afford to pay. Airlines that use this business model (as you call it) have an incentive to churn their pilots so they can earn from the next trainees. So in the worst case they have a continuous turnover of inexperienced, unpaid temporary co-pilots. I see a very real increase in risk.

A decade ago there was outrage at the concept of bonding. But things have moved considerably further down the slippery slope. I think there are going to be accidents in Europe very similar to Colgan and I think the concept of corporate manslaughter will certainly be an issue for the managers responsible.
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Old 23rd Apr 2013, 18:00
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At least the H&S Act 1974 does eventually get results.

BBC News - Firms charged over River Clyde Flying Phantom tug deaths

It would be a shame to sit here in five years time with a similar story in an aviation context but that is where we are heading. If a 3000 hour pilot for Air france can't recognise and recover from a stall then what chance has a guy who has 200 hours and pocket full of cash to pay for a type rating?

Bracing for incoming.
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Old 23rd Apr 2013, 20:55
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The underwriter's/insurers approach will be that, if the airline is a properly regulated carrier, operating to the satisfaction of a recognised regulating authority, CAA/FAA/JADA etc. then that will be good enough for them and no pilot warranty** will be invoked. Insurance is an industry, not a profession.

** Insurers may call for a pilot warranty with single aircraft operations, new operations with no track record, (light to medium aircraft) and will specify minimum hours required, possibly including hours on type etc. When an operator has demonstrated a satisfactory safety record warranties may be removed but more likely the rate will be reduced. From the insurance point of view it hinges entirely around the confidence the underwriters have in the operation.

A bond, in the flying sense, is usually an agreement to give a specified period as return of service after receiving a training course, the bond has a monetary value but provided the return of service period is completed then no money changes hands.

P2F is simply a commercial contract to receive/provide training where money definitely does change hands. I suspect the word 'bond' has been hijacked by the providers to make the whole squalid arrangement sound more acceptable.

1.A binding agreement; a covenant.
2.A duty, promise, or other obligation by which one is bound.

Last edited by parabellum; 23rd Apr 2013 at 20:58.
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Old 24th Apr 2013, 04:15
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Two questions if i may:

Does anyone know how UK law treats a bond for existing employees (already rated on one company aircraft type, for which the pilot was bonded when he joided) when he fleet-changes to another type:

a) on his request


b) on the company's request.

Somehow I can't imagine that another bond would be legal in case b) but that's what's happening at an operator I know (but won't name).

Also, how common is it for companies to bond pilots who change fleets whislt employed by them, even if the fleet change is due to pilot preference?

Last edited by 733driver; 24th Apr 2013 at 04:23.
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Old 24th Apr 2013, 06:23
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Parabellum do you have any evidence for your assertion that this will not affect the insurer's approach. My understanding was that this is much more a bespoke market with negotiation involved. I would suggest that big companies based in Ireland and with a known track record get a different rate from people who keep damaging aircraft in the tropics.

Sources tell me that this has been a pretty good time with few big claims and that premiums are under pressure. So any ideas to get rates moving up are welcome. The really big claims are apparently not for aircraft loss but killing lots of litigious westerners. I think if the beancounters work out that P2F saves them less than the cost of the additional insurance then they will stop doing it.

I am in agreement that this is not the case yet. But I think it would be incredibly helpful if the insurers looked into this. I hope the unions will not just lobby the authorities as they are starting to do, but also the insurance companies.
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