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Things have to get worse before they can get better

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Things have to get worse before they can get better

Old 10th Mar 2014, 09:47
  #41 (permalink)  
Join Date: Feb 1999
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Bealzebub is a broken record for continually (in 80% of his/her many many posts) talking up the cadet routes via CTC. A good social media marketing tool for that particular organization; the 'advice' is not objective.

Cadets have their place in the world. Should they account for the vast majority of recruitment into the likes of EZY? IMHO the answer is no. Not even BA did that. Cadet recruitment is a money making machine and has an immediate cost benefit and a means for a low paid commodity. It has reduced the value of a pilot and continually erodes the T&Cs for us all.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 10:28
  #42 (permalink)  
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Hear, hear no sponsor. Great post sums the situation up nicely.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 13:00
  #43 (permalink)  
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"A broken record"? I am not sure I understand what you mean. It is a consistent observation qualified by experience, example and substance, rather than a one line meaningless attempt at rebuttal. I am not talking up anything, nor have I mentioned any organisation in this thread as it hasn't been relevant to the discussion. I have no beneficial connection with any FTO and have made clear what my involvement and basis for comment is many times.

These are observations and explanations of something that exists in fact. If you want to dispute that, argue it, disbelieve it, or object to it, then fine. Otherwise I suggest either ignore it or make a contribution worthy of reading. If that is beyond your comprehension or you simply think I am lying then there isn't much I can do about that.

Good experience is good experience. However as history has shown time and time again, experience isn't a substitute for good training, and is often simply the trail of record leading up to the accident. Substituting a bucket full of experience and life experience for solid, mentored and verifiable training may be the pitch when that is all you have to sell, but more and more airlines are no longer buying it.

That is what I see, that is what I have said. You may describe that as "a broken record" and put your fingers in your ears, but it is a reality, and one that you are only too aware of yourself.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 13:38
  #44 (permalink)  
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"Solid, mentored and verifiable", I would accept that if it were over a training period of more than 250 hours. Most of which you don't fly if the weather is bad. At the end of this solid mentored verifiable training you are subject to testing standards which are lower than a UK driving test I.e. a pass rate significantly higher.

I also have operated with cadets who have these levels of experience, albeit outside of Europe. Mostly they have not met even the minimum standards that I or my colleagues would have expected.

I would understand the employment of the top 10% of cadets in combination with the employment of suitably experienced Pilots along the lines of what BA have always done.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 14:09
  #45 (permalink)  
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I think there's some serious overtalking of these cadets going here. I agree its incorrect to overstate the problem that cadets are an accident waiting to happen as that's not true. But overstating how well trained they actually are and generalising that older experienced guys are somehow less trained and use experience as a sub is equally balls. Cadets arent NASA trained heros. We're more or less given the same training in the UK and jump through the same hoops. They hold the same little over priced baby blue licence we all start with plus they have minimum time behind the wheel. Also experienced guys go through the same recurrent training.

Also some hinting generalisations that experienced guys are somehow less trained and able. You get below average low hour pilots and experienced pilots. However what I have with witnessed there isn't this distinction between switched on young buck and slower less able experienced guy. Some of the smartest switched on guys have been crusty old long haul Captains. The knowledge of little tips and things to consider, their judgment was vast and a cadet could not simply read it all in a book and be trained. You need to see and experience half this stuff to learn.

Like I said its nothing to do with accidents waiting to happen its to do with erosion of terms and frankly flipping annoying. Part of that erosion of terms is undermining of experience. It annoys people who value experience and worked their way up that young guys/girls can short cut their way into such and such airline. Do your time, keep your head down and get in the line thanks. We have to deal with it, fine but let's not overstate things. The experienced thing worked 15 years ago. It's changed due to finance and business not because how wonderful it is to have some 195 hour hero behind the wheel of an airbus.

I know experience is no replacement for training but that applies to cadets through to Captains. The difference is on top of the training the experienced guy has more in his wallet as he has some good old experience. You can train until the cows come home but it's no substitute for getting out in the real world with continued good training as a back up.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 14:23
  #46 (permalink)  
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I would understand the employment of the top 10% of cadets in combination with the employment of suitably experienced Pilots along the lines of what BA have always done.
Yes, that is pretty much where we are. The training doesn't stop at the CPL and IR flight tests. That is only one hurdle. The integrated training allows for the airlines SOP's and other specific points of emphasis to be embedded into the ab-initio course structure. The monitoring and selection process allows for the selection of the best candidates, and is reflected in the airline advanced portion of the training. BA may have its own title and gloss, but we utilize the same methodology for our cadet input and have done for a considerable period of time, and since the inception of the programme.

That (as I already pointed out) fits into a balanced portfolio of recruitment whereby two thirds (usually) of recruitment is from "experienced" pilot sources. Those sources are a combination of ex-military pilots, and both type and non-type rated pilots from other airlines. Those airlines being companies with recognised and good training regimes of their own, and the successful candidates having CV's, references and interview results that support the contention that they are also the best candidates available for the positions on offer. As an ATO we are not troubled by a candidates lack of type experience if they otherwise present as an excellent candidate. In those circumstances (as with the cadets) we provide that training at no cost to the candidate (albeit there is a 36 month reducing bond period).

Rather like "experience," so "cadet" is defined by the parameters that we accept. It is the quality of training, examination, monitoring, mentoring and history, that makes either of the two words meaningful. It is interesting how so many of the one liners and hear hears that populate these forums decry cadets for their own awful T&C's, yet some of them thought it was perfectly Ok for them to apply in droves to airlines offering such conditions on the basis that it would be a stepping stone to something better. Some have clearly found that the "quality" that suited their earlier ambition is not the "quality" that the airlines with the better T&C's are either looking for, nor need to accept. All very frustrating I am sure!
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 14:23
  #47 (permalink)  
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I disagree to the gentleman who said experience equals more safety. Off course a brand new pilot with just a couple of hundreds hrs there is a potential higher risk BUT as they reach 1000 - 2000 hrs safety becomes more to a personal integrity and the will to follow SOPS, reading and refreshing up on manuals and memory items etc. I flew with many old and highly experienced captains who is not doing that and some do. My point is that after you reach a treshold of lets say 1500 hr on type it is more a personal thing on how structural and professional each pilot behave in the cockpit, you can not just look blindly on how many hrs he got in the sky.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 14:43
  #48 (permalink)  
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I didn't say experience equals more safety, Its better than no experience. It's a plus. (yes I know the training too which applies to all). If experience was flat with its benefits then why can't a 1000 hour Pilot command a 777? Even the authorities believe 1500 TT is relevant for command. Most airlines want more for command and not just because of seniority. Look at the requirements for KAL skippers on the 400. If you're just as good after 1000-2000 hours then these airlines clearly have their doubts. It's in the UK they just don't care what experience the monkey in the right seat has as long as they don't have to spend much on the guy and its glossed over as being 'well trained'.

I do agree you can't generalise that experience is a panacea, but let's not reverse the polarity and generalise either that experienced guys are rubbish at sops and checklists and cadets are all wonderfully switched on and can be trained into knowing everything. As mentioned when I first moved onto long haul years ago flying into some dodgy necks of the world it was the experience of the guy next to me that kept us alive not really the training system. You couldnt be predictably trained for some of the things you come across flying into Africa/Asia. This is more about annoyance at the UK system of late than anything to do with gross safety concerns I think.

Last edited by Cliff Secord; 10th Mar 2014 at 15:00.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 16:55
  #49 (permalink)  
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The on-going discussion about experience v safety v skills: Inherent maturity has a part; attitude to the job; self criticism and discipline etc. Presumably that was covered by all the mind boggling tests and assessments one has to survive in the modern PC selection process. However, in today's new order money buys the type rating; outside the major/legacy carriers the recruitment process may not delve so deeply into the characteristics of the individual; skills are taught and tested as per the minimum requirements. SOP's will be extensive, learned and followed.

A few decades ago the skill element was much to the fore-front. Airmanship, decision making on a daily basis was required and expected. The company had some SOP's loosely based on FCTM and the company had a culture. The DFO expected the captains to take the company's a/c out and back, do a sound safe economical job and pass on the same to the apprentice F/O's. After 6-7 years, at average annual rates, and after having banked sufficient respectable prof checks, your name popped up for command consideration. "OK lad, show us what you've got, and if it's not enough we'll bring you up to scratch because we think you are suitable material." Thank God the trappers & choppers had been put out to grass. Airmanship and understanding of the FCTM was the first SOP. Company idiosyncrasies were not so intrusive, but gave a better understanding of what the other fellow was going to do and when, especially if he was a stranger. Style was still possible. SOP's & FCTM procedures also gave a legal safety net to crews.
Now, some SOP manuals are as thick as bibles and treated the same. Do not be a blasphemer; and even worse a heretic. An SOP guru could therefore behave like they've had an experience transplant and pass a command check at half the hours and time served. Skill? So much is on autopilot that manual handling skills are not the same priority. Decision making? Often the QRH will take care of that and just put the a/c safely back on terra ferma will suffice. Good command decision making, often, is not about technical failures covered in QRH's; it is about looking at the big picture and making a plan of action about a/c, pax, location, repairs, etc. etc.
So does experience mean more safety? Not necessarily; but it might mean less going wrong and better solutions when it does.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 16:56
  #50 (permalink)  
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^^^ spot on, Rat 5. The emphasis on hands on flying is slowly going away. Thank God that most major airlines in the USA still put a heavy emphasis on hands on flying...that's a major issue with many other countries where A/P use is required for just about everything. Indeed, many SOPs that required good judgment in the past are now "lawyered up" and taken down to the lowest common denominator (read: idiot proof.)

After reading though the posts, I think I agree mostly with what was said above, "the erosion of terms"...I.e., the lowering of the bar as we go forward when it comes to training and hiring. The airlines have to address the upcoming shortages and we here in the US are worried that, at some point in the future, pilots will be hired cheaply through subcontractors using pilots from other countries with the absolute minimum training required. The ab initio courses are not that far removed from this. However, The 1500hr ATP rule puts somewhat of a kink to this plan and that's a good thing: requiring more hours and the ATP results in more experienced pilots that will probably not stand for bad T&Cs that a low time newbie would.

So I guess what im saying is, cadets from ab initio courses are not dangerous per se, the system works and the airlines' safety records prove it. But then again, we've seen a couple of accidents that are the result of inexperience and that has no place in an airliner cockpit. What I'm more worried about is the long term effects of these schemes in that it shows a general lowering of hiring standards that the airlines will undoubtedly take advantage of in lowering standards even further (the. "Give em an inch and they'll take a mile" syndrome.) Hiring standards should be going UP, not down, when it comes to experience. That's what I'm worried about.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 17:56
  #51 (permalink)  
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With regard to the original point of the thread "will it get worse before it gets better" ultimately it depends if you are an experienced pilot or cadet. If your a cadet well things are as good as they have ever been with two of the biggest airlines in Europe recruiting exclusively cadets, however, if you are an experience pilot working for say Flybe, Eastern, Loganair, AerArann etc.. unfortunately now I feel you will face many glass ceilings ahead. It's sad as all these airlines have excellent training departments and pilots.

Surely it's all about BALANCE i.e. having a workforce that is from a mixture of backgrounds and experience. From my experience of recruitment, not just from aviation, is that too much of one thing is not good. In my previous job we had a graduate scheme which accounted for approx 15% of our new employees, the others were experienced professionals. Most other industry's recognise that a PORTION of recruitment should be graduates/apprenticeships but not the vast majority - that is unhealthy. Well ryanair is 100% cadets and easyjet not far off that (would be interesting to know what percentage of First Officers, over say the last three years, have been cadets) but it's certainly a majority. We all know (dear god do we know) that cadets are an important part of the process but NOT 100% of that process.

This relentless cadet recruitment over the last few years has really stagnated movement within the industry but the sad truth is that the likes of easyjet and ryanair realise there is an awful lot of money to be made from the recruitment of cadets and that there is an awful lot of willing people ready to hand them these huge amounts of money. Even more depressing was easyjet's recent "experienced" pilot recruitment scheme which involved paying for type ratings, no contract etc..

I certainly can't see easyjet/ryanair changing their recruitment methods, why should they? It's a great revenue stream for them and the training providers that they are tucked up in bed with. If anything I could see it becoming even more pay to fly (than it already is) i.e. pay type rating plus first 500hrs..

I for one am certainly "frustrated" with the current state of the industry and am actively working with our union and my airline to ensure we don't go down the road of paying up front for type-ratings/no contracts for new pilots.. I am happy that my airline does recruit from a mixture of backgrounds/experience, has a thorough but fair recruitment policy based on aptitude/personality/ability and not how much money you can throw at them/what flight school you went to.

As current pilots we all have a responsibility (if we chose to take it) to try and make the industry better and not worse.
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 18:58
  #52 (permalink)  
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Sadly, the LCCs recruit hundreds of cadets compared to the lower numbers recruited by the more traditional employers.

Where this pigeon comes home to roost is when the cadets want to move on to a longhaul carrier once they have gained the required experience, they will have to compete against hundreds of other similarly trained and experienced candidates because the supply is greater than the demand.

circle of life
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 23:13
  #53 (permalink)  
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I think that's really well put RAT5 and aa73.

I found the boldest indicator of how ruined the UK market is by the cadet thing is that the supposed top employer in the UK is only taking on trainees with no experience. All those old hold poolers etc long forgotten- so long ago that many of those cadets were still at school whilst you waited it out. Got loads of heavy time and a great record of how well you did in checks? Actual experience of emergencies? Loads of turbo prop time dishing out failures left right and centre exposing you to a decent building of your judgemental and flight management skills or what it actually feels like to operate off contaminated runways that aren't just in a sim? Tough doo you're not in the winning. The low hour or no hour bods are straight there while you rot it out.

Yep, yonks ago if you didn't have any experience and times were tough in flying the experienced guys were the only ones getting in. You took a prop job, instructing whatever, any job - you did your flipping time and kept your head down. Maybe you had a few scares along the way, plenty of knock backs and plenty of humble learning pie. Plodding away working up the ladder aspiring to that top Job knowing that decent terms awaited and that there was no mechanism for some Johnny-come-lately attempting to walt mitty his way to the top and bugger up the t and cs for everyone else.

Compare that to now with the Facebook shade wearing CTC have a go heros. Only on wannabes there was a thread running saying how basically some jobs were beneath a CTC/Oxford young dudes. The world has gone mad.

Of course all that past stuff was when a 'cadet' cost the airline money. As we say it's a case of trying ones best to suck up the annoyance. Lets not tart up the reasons these low/no hour guys are suddenly the golden geese. Its because they're cheap. I wish the coffee that the FAA are drinking found its way to the vending machines in Gatwick. Welcome to the layer cake son
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Old 10th Mar 2014, 23:55
  #54 (permalink)  
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Uh oh. Tin hats on boys
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Old 11th Mar 2014, 00:50
  #55 (permalink)  
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Mm. Your point seems to triangulate around the notion that we need top calibre individuals with backgrounds as Doctors lawyers/degrees/ what have in this job and we should feel damn lucky to have you calling by and popping in at the top. Otherwise you'll leave the industry unless you can command the top buck and it'll probably all go to rats tails with the lesser trained numpties and sure there'd be the obligatory smoking hole wouldn't there?

I'm afraid to say you don't need the degree, doctor, lawyer level of calibre. You need the calibre as you say to do well in the training and succeed in flying. Being good at this job is unique in itself. Yes, having a good academic background is all well and good but it's a tiny bit. A lot of the skills are unquantifiable by means of saying what you have achieved in academia or what job you did before. I've flown with sterling individuals who were things like builders and plumbers prior to flying. They just had that alround solidness and psychology that made a day at the office a pleasure, and should the crap hit the fan they were a sound partner in crime.

This is not the mechanism that facilitates you coming in to command the top pay at a major via CTC. That is not at all why the cadets exist in these jobs. It is only temporary that these short cut routes lead to some top salaries. The top salaries are a hang up from the days when it was a challenge to attract and retain people with the correct experience. Cadets cost money to train back then. Then some bright spark realised you can push the burden onto the trainee. Now in the future years to come watch what happens to the top salary that you think you command.

The pay will not be continue to be held high because of some idea that were it to lower they'd be left with untrainable dunderheads who don't have a degree. Feel delusional if you want that you joined the industry straight at the top because you're a top calibre bod who's sword of Damocles over the industry is you could leave for fantastic pay elsewhere because you're so gifted a cadet. It is solely because you are cheaper. Yes, you have to go through some tests and exams etc. So do experienced Pilots applying to those airlines. The extra checks are only because said trainee has never set foot in an aircraft. Big deal.

I have a very far from romantic view of aviation after 20 years in I feel as unromantic about this vocation as you can get. At no point have said I think people should be happy to work for peanuts. In fact I have also said this is all about dollars and cents not for the love of the job. But I simply do not agree that because you have a great academic background, a high brow first career or special skills to pass the CTC/BA tests is why you can come straight to the top and command the top salaries. That is fiction not the truth of the matter. The irony is that it probably won't affect you but this delusion will be the undoing of these top salaries. Well, as you say you don't care as you'll leave and do something else and good luck to you.

Last edited by Cliff Secord; 11th Mar 2014 at 12:12.
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Old 28th Mar 2014, 15:25
  #56 (permalink)  
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I can't believe people are arguing against experience.

Would you get on a flight knowing the drivers were going to be a 2000hr new captain and a 250hr FO?
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Old 28th Mar 2014, 15:38
  #57 (permalink)  
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I don't think the argument is "against experience" it is that within the context of the discussion, "experience" isn't the all encompassing panacea that some might suggest.

Would you get on a flight knowing the Captain had 18,500 hours and the F/O 2,760 hours?

Sure you would. Read all about it on page one.
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Old 29th Mar 2014, 04:08
  #58 (permalink)  
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I think the real people that are arguing against the importance of experience are people who own and finance airlines and inexperienced pilots.

I can understand both but the inexperienced pilots who take low paying jobs will soon realize that their salaries don't go up as they gain experience, they just get replaced.

The facts are that modern commercial jet aircraft are highly automated, highly reliable, and very easy to fly compared to older aircraft. They are designed to be so highly automated and redundant as to be largely "idiot proof." Modern flight training techniques are very good as well.

Yes experienced pilots in the cockpit are great to have but the airlines are realizing they're not necessary. The frequency of accidents with inexperienced pilots and modern aircraft is lower than historic rates of highly experienced pilots flying older aircraft. In other words, the aircraft are compensating for inexperience and there's no objective data to show that inexperienced pilots are less safe.

Pilots have become a commodity and are easily replaced with new pilots. The topic of this thread states that things must get worse before they get better and it's absolutely true. Basically high paying piloting jobs will become so rare that the dream or the promise will no longer be enough incentive for people to invest so much in the career. But I think the result will be that the profession becomes less prestigious and the airlines will simply follow the Chinese model of hiring and training kids out of school and paying them average wages (except they will do it far more efficiently). It will be a good job but not great....on par with a train operator. We may likely even see single pilot cockpits.

That's where I see the future heading and the professionals will move on to other careers...thus my handle ..."life after aviation"

Maybe some of us will find jobs flying older planes with "steam gauge" panels and cable flight controls or heaven forbid....propellers...that these younger generation of pilots would be incapable of handling safely.
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Old 29th Mar 2014, 06:00
  #59 (permalink)  
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Originally Posted by lifeafteraviation View Post
Maybe some of us will find jobs flying older planes with "steam gauge" panels and cable flight controls or heaven forbid....propellers...that these younger generation of pilots would be incapable of handling safely.
How true. I have 61 types in my logbook. Of those there are only 3 where a MPL pilot could legally be on board as flight crew.

The current system of student pays works because there is enough of an over supply that airlines can still choose the top performers. But the supply of "not quite good enough" graduates with 100,000 + pound debt increases every day. The word is already getting out and the supply of dreamers with the talent and dosh has to start drying up. The big schools have to keep the numbers up so that means lowering the entry standards. This is inevitable

Those previously mentioned top performers combined with what is generally considered as very robust training departments at both of the big LOCO's is keeping the current situation safe. However the bean counter executives always over reach. So the next "cost management initiative" is IMO absolutely going to be cutting back on the training standards.

Now we have the stage set for a pilot who can keep trying because he has the money if not the talent to get the initial qualification, gets hired because he has the ticket then goes to an airline for IOE run by a cut to the bone airline training office.

Sadly the only thing that causes real change in commercial aviation is a smoking hole with lots of dead bodies. Things will only change if it turns out that a more money than talent new FO who bought his way to the flight deck was a causal factor.

But things are not bad enough yet. I give it another 5 years before the chickens come home to roost.

For those who think people don't care, look at what politician mandated regulatory changes happened in the US after the Colgan Q 400 crash in Buffalo. Europe has not had its Colgan yet, but it is going to happen
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Old 29th Mar 2014, 07:38
  #60 (permalink)  
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A smoking hole with lots of dead bodies won't necessarily improve things for pilots. In fact quite the reverse is possible. When (not if) the first A-380 augers in and takes out 400 souls, if human error is the cause, the race will be on to perfect the pilot-less airliner. Indeed, if the fate of the MH aircraft is determined to have been a deliberate act (and I am certainly NOT implying that it was!), the race could be on soon to make it impossible to send an airline aircraft anywhere other than where it can be safely landed. Progressively, we will see pilots less in control, and ergo, less valued by the beancounters.
The only thing that will slow (but not halt) progress to pilot-less would be if said A-380 goes in as a result of a major design flaw in its automation. Yes, before you jump on me, I know all about the team of heroes who saved that Qantas A-380, and who could forget Capt Sullenberger? But automation failure was not the root cause of either of these events. So, had either event occurred in a pilot-less aircraft who knows if a co-ordinated team of ground control geeks would have or could have handled it? Probably not right now. But fast forward 20 to 25 years and it is quite possible that technology will allow remote control management of virtually any problem short of in-flight break-up.
Therefore, 20+ years from now things will have only got worse for pilots. The few good jobs will be on older airframes where experience may still be well regarded.
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