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Where will the next generation of pilots come from?

Where will the next generation of pilots come from?

Old Feb 3, 15, 1:06 pm
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Where will the next generation of pilots come from?

The aviation industry needs to get online to reach younger potential pilots

Growth and how to achieve it is the single biggest issue facing the general aviation industry, says blogger Dan Pimentel. The two demographics that most need to be reached are women and people ages 18 to 40. Pimentel says social media is the only way to reach the latter demographic, but the old-school aviation industry largely ignores this newer medium.
Link to Airplanista blog
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Old Feb 6, 15, 8:37 am
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There isn't a shortage of people who want to be pilots. There's a shortage of people who can afford to become pilots given the high cost of getting trained. If the economy continues to improve I'd bet GA participation will go up considerably.

Last edited by Zeeb; Feb 6, 15 at 11:48 am
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Old Feb 6, 15, 10:04 am
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Old Feb 6, 15, 2:01 pm
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Originally Posted by Zeeb View Post
There's a shortage of people who can afford to become pilots given the high cost of getting trained.
This.

I was lucky enough to get my certificate back when 100LL and Jet-A were cheap. (I'm a private pilot, not a commercial one). Fuel isn't the only cost, but it's a big one. Wet rates at my two airports (UES and MWC) have gone up a lot.
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Old Feb 26, 15, 7:33 am
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Even though crude and gas prices have fallen drastically, 100LL hasn't fallen all that much. There's only one company still making tetraethyllead (the LL in Avgas), and they're based in England. I used to work in the aviation fuel industry and 100LL is definitely a boutique fuel now so the price does not fluctuate as much as unleaded at gas stations. While the price will certainly go up with the cost of oil, I've rarely seen it go back down.

Cessna's been introducing diesel engines for their smaller aircraft that can run on Jet-A, but the list prices for those aircraft are so astronomically high that I doubt we'll see a flight school using them anytime soon.

Until companies start picking up the bill for flight training (which I don't necessarily agree with), I doubt will see a huge influx of new pilots as the cost is so prohibitive.

I wanted to be a commercial pilot when I was in my late teens, but I was presented with the opportunity to purchase a home instead. I figured my $10k down payment was a better investment with a house than with a commercial pilot license. The financial prospects, along with some other quality of life reasons that seem to be deteriorating within the career, didn't make sense to me.
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Old Feb 26, 15, 9:51 pm
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Originally Posted by Zeeb View Post
There isn't a shortage of people who want to be pilots. There's a shortage of people who can afford to become pilots given the high cost of getting trained. If the economy continues to improve I'd bet GA participation will go up considerably.
Another issue is the airlines in this country have been recipients of an indirect subsidy for many years: many pilots were trained by the various armed forces' air arms. Big gobs of pilots from WW II and Vietnam in particular. But in more recent years, more expensive aircraft, fewer of them, and the burgeoning use of RPVs / drones doesn't help (yet?)

Otoh, airlines such as Lufthansa and Japan Airlines train their pilots ab initio. Not so long ago, the JL Napa Flight Crew Training Center was operated by IASCO - nice place to train, but they closed in 2010 after JL declared bankruptcy. Over 2,500 new pilots trainer in SEL / MEL lighter aircraft there since 1971. IASCO itself shut down the Napa facility in 2013, though International Airline Training Academy recently signed a lease there to operate a flight training facility for airline pilots.

At some point, I suspect, the airlines will be forced to become active in somevway to support pilot training. The gauntlet for non-military trained pilots in the USA has been expensive and arduous, leading to some years in low-pay minor and commuter airline positions before moving up to the majors. Plenty of supply, less demand, but that appears to be changing somewhat.
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Old Feb 27, 15, 12:21 pm
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The industry is going to have to abandon the ridiculous system of having 'feeder' airlines which exist only for the reason of creating two-tiers of pilots -- lower paid and higher paid.

Also, the system of paying pilots of larger equipment more than pilots of smaller equipment is fundamentally broken over the long term. The skill in flying an A320 is identical to that of flying an A380.

As perhaps a benefit to FT'ers who like to fly on widebodies, if any meaningful pilot "shortage" materialized, it would seem logical for the airlines simply to order larger aircraft. No reason that the A380 wouldn't do well on USA domestic transcons.
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Old Mar 3, 15, 12:57 pm
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Don't bother reaching out on social media unless you finally want to admit that the main problem is that you can make more at McDonald's in your first year than you can make flying a CRJ.
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Old Mar 4, 15, 7:33 pm
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Originally Posted by pitz View Post
...
Also, the system of paying pilots of larger equipment more than pilots of smaller equipment is fundamentally broken over the long term. The skill in flying an A320 is identical to that of flying an A380.
...
I disagree with you here, not because what you say isn't true about pilot skill, but because pilot pay for larger aircraft is based upon passengers on board.

To me, that is worth more pay. If I were piloting a plane with 400 passengers I'd expect more pay than if I were flying a plane with 100 passengers. It's similar to a sales position; if you bring in more money for the company, you'd expect more pay. That's simplified, but I don't see why pilots shouldn't be paid more for carrying more passengers.
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Old Mar 8, 15, 9:00 pm
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Originally Posted by UVU Wolverine View Post
I disagree with you here, not because what you say isn't true about pilot skill, but because pilot pay for larger aircraft is based upon passengers on board.

To me, that is worth more pay. If I were piloting a plane with 400 passengers I'd expect more pay than if I were flying a plane with 100 passengers.
I know that's the party line from pilots unions and from most pilots themselves. but I don't buy the argument, or really understand it. Does the check-in agent manning the first class line get several times the pay of the one at the coach desk? Does a bus driver driving an articulated bus get twice the pay of one driving a regular bus? Does a train engineer get paid based on the number of cars attached to his engine? Does the First Class flight attendant get several times more pay than the one serving the coach passengers?
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Old Mar 12, 15, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I know that's the party line from pilots unions and from most pilots themselves. but I don't buy the argument, or really understand it. Does the check-in agent manning the first class line get several times the pay of the one at the coach desk? Does a bus driver driving an articulated bus get twice the pay of one driving a regular bus? Does a train engineer get paid based on the number of cars attached to his engine? Does the First Class flight attendant get several times more pay than the one serving the coach passengers?
It is the standard argument from unions and pilots, but it has also been the status quo for the industry within the US for the past century. That doesn't make it correct, but it is what the current system of pay is based off of which would require a lot of difficulty in changing due to union entrenchment for starters. Just because it is difficult though, doesn't mean it shouldn't be changed. I still side with the pilots/unions however.

Airlines have been running profitably for the past few years, so unless another economic meltdown occurs, I don't think any airline will change this standard of pay. And when it does occur, the first airline to try and change it will receive a lot of flak just as when the first airline changes a policy that isn't passenger friendly (checked baggage fees, no more free meals, etc) but eventually the industry follows.

On the private side of flying (corporate & private aircraft), pay is usually based upon the size of the aircraft without unions being involved. A pilot for a G550 earns more than the pilot of a Citation Excel. Passengers are irrelevant in this case because sometimes there's only 1 on a 19 seat private jet

Without union involvement, that's how the market for private jet pilot pay occurred. The sentiment seems to be the same here. Why? I cannot say for sure.

Norwegian Air Shuttle and a few other airlines are changing that standard however (outside the US at least), and if the market is there, I won't oppose it. It seems there will always be pilots willing to fly for cheaper. I've even heard anecdotally that junior British Airways pilots fly the long haul routes because the senior pilots prefer the schedule of itra-European flights which means the newest pilots are flying the largest aircraft. I don't know if that is true, but it would coincide with your opinion.
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Old Mar 18, 15, 10:40 am
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I wonder if major airlines would consider or have in the past funded scholarships to Embry Riddle for a guarantee of service to the airline post graduation. This may be one way to reach out to groups that traditionally have not followed an aviation track.
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Old Mar 23, 15, 5:50 pm
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Originally Posted by UVU Wolverine View Post
On the private side of flying (corporate & private aircraft), pay is usually based upon the size of the aircraft without unions being involved. A pilot for a G550 earns more than the pilot of a Citation Excel. Passengers are irrelevant in this case because sometimes there's only 1 on a 19 seat private jet

Without union involvement, that's how the market for private jet pilot pay occurred.
I would guess experience has at least something to do with what happened there. If you own a G550, I would imagine that you can afford and would want to pay for a more-experienced pilot than a typical Citation owner.

I suppose justification for the current pay scale for US commercial pilots could be made another way: the pilots of the bigger birds have more responsibility in terms of cost of aircraft and the number of souls aboard, so you want pilots on the higher end of the experience scale. It's interesting to me that that argument is very far divorced from the revenue argument.

I've even heard anecdotally that junior British Airways pilots fly the long haul routes because the senior pilots prefer the schedule of itra-European flights which means the newest pilots are flying the largest aircraft. I don't know if that is true, but it would coincide with your opinion.
That's a good point, and brings me to the next thing I wanted to mention: Southwest Airlines. The have unionized pilots, and and increasing pay scale for experience. But, at least before the AirTran merger, they flew one kind of aircraft, the 737. And even though they have lots of both Classic and NG 737's, those share the same pilot type certification, so WN had a completely flat model when it came to pilots. Still, the senior pilots made more money than the junior ones, even though everyone flew the same aircraft. And I know of WN pilots who chose the company at the beginning of their careers specifically so that as they got more senior, they could bid better schedules, such as those that never involved being away from home for a night. Compare this with what a typical legacy carrier's pilot pay scale is: to get the higher end of the pay scale, you must fly the bigger birds, which usually means that you fly schedules that involved 2-3 nights away from home several times a month.

What you describe at BA could happen with a legacy US carrier under the current pay rules, if the pilot was willing to take a substantial hit in pay. That is, a senior pilot would probably be at the very top of the bidding ladder to be certified for single-aisle aircraft, since most pilots are trying to go the other way. If there's a pattern of this being done at BA, then their pay scale is probably set up differently, rewarding seniority vs aircraft size much more than the US legacy carriers do. This all is assuming that the BA pilots flying intra-European routes aren't doing so on the same birds that are used for long-haul flights. If BA for example had a few European flights a day on 777 aircraft, than I can well imagine that the most senior 777 pilots would bid for those routes first, especially if they involved a turn that got them back to their base on the same day, and all of that could occur using the same pay scale as in the US.
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Old Mar 23, 15, 6:02 pm
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Originally Posted by safra1 View Post
I wonder if major airlines would consider or have in the past funded scholarships to Embry Riddle for a guarantee of service to the airline post graduation. This may be one way to reach out to groups that traditionally have not followed an aviation track.
That's certainly how it's done in some countries: you get hired to be a pilot, perhaps with zero flight experience. The airline hires you and puts you through pilot school, and you have to complete school and work at least X years as a pilot for that airline to cover their cost in educating you. If you don't, then you have to repay the cost of your training, on a decreasing sliding scale depending on how long you worked as a pilot before quitting or getting fired. It's not unlike the US service academies: if you attend for more than one year, you must serve for at least 5 years as an officer after you graduate, or you owe the government the cost of your education.

I think the bottom line is that at some point, US carriers will have to adjust the way pilots are recruited: either they will have to pay a starting wage such that it makes sense for someone without a trust fund that wants to become a commercial pilot to be able to do so, or they will have to finance the education themselves. I have a sneaking suspicion that instead, they'll try to go the tech company route with a pilot version of an H1B visa so that they can recruit "the needed talent that is in short supply in the US."

Last edited by Steve M; Mar 23, 15 at 6:07 pm
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Old Mar 25, 15, 11:33 pm
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Originally Posted by Steve M View Post
I would guess experience has at least something to do with what happened there. If you own a G550, I would imagine that you can afford and would want to pay for a more-experienced pilot than a typical Citation owner.
The cost of a type rating for a G550 is also substantially more than smaller aircraft (which would make me think that the employer prefer to pay the pilots less due to the higher cost of training), and I don't know if that is related to expectation that pay will be better or not.

The market for Gulfstreams is substantially smaller than commercial aviation as a whole, so I doubt it's really a truly relevant comparison, however I thought the pay scale was similar despite the differences between the two types of flying being done. When money isn't a consideration, I'd assume the owners would want the most qualified pilots flying their aircraft while accepting that such a pilot will cost more.

Originally Posted by Steve M View Post

That's a good point, and brings me to the next thing I wanted to mention: Southwest Airlines. The have unionized pilots, and and increasing pay scale for experience.
Just for the sake of the argument, are you for a seniority based system instead of pay system based on size of aircraft alone? You brought it up, but I couldn't tell if your were more in favor of a seniority system versus size system.
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