Where have all the pilots gone?

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Derswede

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Saw this article today:

https://techcrunch.com/2018/04/22/where-have-all-the-pilots-gone/

Guess they never wander by here. Most folks I know have no interest any more in commercial aviation. Admittedly, I hang with a rather esoteric group, but I am the only person that has any interest in aviation in my circle of friends. Several younger guys who are still in a position to train for flying jobs are more interested in writing video games or wanting to do something that does not take years of training to do.
Same problem in commercial trucking. A friend who is 75 and who has retired is getting calls daily from companies looking for CDL drivers. He says kids today have no interest in those kind of jobs. Lack of drive? No incentive? Mom or Dad has yet to kick them out and make them live on their own? I started working as soon as I could hold a hammer or steer the tractor...today, I have friends whose kids are 18-19 years old and they do not even have drivers licenses. Mom and Dad drive them to their Walmart jobs. I've trained several kids on driving...they ask me when I started driving and when I say 8 yrs old, they are surprised. We were building hangers at that time, and an adult could not be spared to go get a couple of 2x4's. I was also tall for my age. Fit just fine in the 1951 GMC pickup.

Derswede
 

BJC

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As long as I have been around airplanes, there have been stories about a shortage of commercial pilots. I’ve never seen any tangible evidence of it, though.


BJC
 

wsimpso1

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The shortage is real.

At my home drome, you can barely get to know most of the CFI's on the field as they move one to other jobs quickly...

Supposedly, every pilot in the registry less than 64 years old with a 2nd Class Medical and a Commercial License has been solicited to fly for a commuter airline.

Last fall a friend of ours who is 62 years old, a recently retired physician with a 2nd class Commercial and 4000 hours, was offered work as an airline pilot. They had searched the registry and pursued him. They were going to get him his Multi, ATP, type him in two different regional jets and start him flying the line in two months. They were not worried about him timing out in three years, their FO's rarely stay a year because much bigger paychecks are available elsewhere after a year's experience.

Billski
 

TFF

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You can get a Regional Airline to pay for a helicopter to airplane license. If you have hours and a commercial helicopter license, they will pay you to get an airplane through ATP. They are betting on already pilots not general public. Conversion only requires a handful of hours. Stepping up to ATP is the only real challenge.
 

Unknown_Target

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As someone who really wanted to be a pilot but chose another career, why would I want to spend $120,000 in education money for a job that pays $30,000, has uncertain hours, and keeps me from having a home life?

I could spend that money and get a job that pays me $60,000 instead, lets me sleep in my own bed at night, and have a stable career. Yes please.

The entire aviation industry is built to suck the life out of people who only want to be pilots above all else. It only wants people who are willing to sacrifice everything to fly planes for a living. There should be no surprise that not a lot of people are willing to do that.

If the pay was better, the career advancement more palatable, the training cheaper - more people would be interested. But right now it's an esoteric pursuit for the maniacly obsessed.
 

Lucrum

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As long as I have been around airplanes, there have been stories about a shortage of commercial pilots. I’ve never seen any tangible evidence of it, though.


BJC
Same here, and incidentally I just read yet another article last month predicting that the often mentioned pilot shortage has finally arrived.
 

rbrochey

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They, like about everyone (think McDonalds jobs, auto assembly lines...) will be replaced by robots. Of course, we'll have to start with cars that run by satellite and have no issue with plowing into pedestrians. And if you think jobs are going to come roaring back onto the north American continent, think again... pilots, truck drivers, burger flippers, call centers, warehousing, meat packing... whatever, are going going gone... of course there will be more jobs for collection agencies.
 

Toobuilder

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I certainly got my passion for aviation from my Dad, but never had the urge to follow his lead as an airline pilot. I saw what that lifestyle did to the homelife and learned very early that it was not for me. As for income, It takes a long time to start making "real money" with the airlines and I'm doing very well in the engineering side of the industry. When you consider the effective hourly wage impact of not getting paid for sitting in a hotel room on crew rest, the airline salary is even less appealing. Im sure that my net salary across my chosen career is equal to or higher than if I had been working the airlines - plus I'm home every night.
 

Aerowerx

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..... He says kids today have no interest in those kind of jobs. Lack of drive? No incentive? Mom or Dad has yet to kick them out and make them live on their own? ....
Its because of how kids have been raised the last 50 years.

Everything is handed to them. They are not taught to be self sufficient. And they are not taught that the world is highly competitive and they have to work for what they want.

Remember all those "no-score" little league games? Everyone gets treated the same regardless of individual ability, so why try harder?
 

rbrochey

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Its because of how kids have been raised the last 50 years.

Everything is handed to them. They are not taught to be self sufficient. And they are not taught that the world is highly competitive and they have to work for what they want.

Remember all those "no-score" little league games? Everyone gets treated the same regardless of individual ability, so why try harder?
I know I'm not the only one in here who had a job at 15... I pumped gas... got a job with a construction company in the summers, I worked all the time, and was happy to... I could take care of myself and it felt good. Not these kids now... I'd like to see this waste case young guys walk behind a hay trailer and pick up bales behind a moving tractor, toss the bales up then leap up and stack them ... now it's like that moron in the local dollar store... can't seem to function without earbuds smashed into his ears, can't even give change... can't speak because he can't hear you... probably has to work because his mommy told him to.
 

Turd Ferguson

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As someone who really wanted to be a pilot but chose another career, why would I want to spend $120,000 in education money for a job that pays $30,000, has uncertain hours, and keeps me from having a home life?

I could spend that money and get a job that pays me $60,000 instead, lets me sleep in my own bed at night, and have a stable career. Yes please.

The entire aviation industry is built to suck the life out of people who only want to be pilots above all else. It only wants people who are willing to sacrifice everything to fly planes for a living. There should be no surprise that not a lot of people are willing to do that.

If the pay was better, the career advancement more palatable, the training cheaper - more people would be interested. But right now it's an esoteric pursuit for the maniacly obsessed.
The lamented pay argument shows some people don't keep up with the times. It is true for years there was a hyped up shortage and also true that pay was miserably low for an entry level job. However, right now a pilot that meets the requirements can get hired at a "regional" airline and make $60k+ in his first yr. I got a post card from Envoy the other day looking for direct entry captains (aka off-the-street captains) $113k first yr pay. Envoy has flow to American. That means an Envoy pilot will move to American mainline when the requirements are met, future predictions are flow in 5-7 yrs. Piedmont is flowing pilots to AA after 4 yrs right now, today. Do you want to discuss miserly mainline pay and benefits?

The piloting business has a deep void that is only going to get worse. I get recruiting post cards in the mail every other day. $10k-$25k sign on bonuses everywhere. One could almost make a career jumping from carrier to carrier collecting bonuses.

CFI pay is now topping $50/hr at some locations because operators are turning customers away. Even at that rate, those jobs are going unfilled due to no instructors. Had an FAA inspector from Cincinnati riding with me the other day. He said last CFI checkride he administered, the applicant passed, took his temp certificate and went in the next room to fill out his employment paperwork with the flight school then scheduled his first student for the following morning. He saw I had an A&P and he asked if I had IA. I said yes sir, he laughed and said "man you can write your own ticket right now"

At my last mechanic recurrent training in Jan, an FAA guy from the Chicago ACO was giving a presentation on the state of the industry and he is really worried. The A&P mechanic shortage is worse than the pilot shortage. For too many yrs it's been crap pay and conditions when a mechanic could go to a high end car dealer and pull in 6 figures/yr so everyone has left the industry. Shortage of mechanics will impact the whole industry over the next 5 yrs. I get mechanic recruiting postcards in the mail as well. A little airport about 1 hr from where I live send me a postcard looking for a A&P w/ IA to run their maintenance shop. They are turning their base customers away due to no mechanics. I feel bad for them because they are not going to fill that position for the $15-$20/hr they are offering.
 

Streffpilot

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This is an interesting topic.....Just as the wife and I are discussing me continuing my flight training to try to get one of those jobs......
 

Turd Ferguson

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Here is the new reality. Where I'm from $113k is pretty good coin for a motivated 25 yr old kid.

A couple of operators are hatching back room plans to hire non-pilots and train them if it gets to that. It could get to that. These are the same CEO's that 3 yrs ago were saying they would never run out of pilot applicants or even better, never run out of starry eyed kids willing to work for nothing.
 

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Unknown_Target

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Sounds too good to be true. For example, how long does it take you to get to that first year as a Captain? Is that once you finish the training or after 6 years of flying for peanuts?
 

TFF

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Just like any industry, when you are the new hire, you are at the bottom of pay. Why do you pay $120,000 for a $30,000 starting job? Because if you are the smart cookie you are suppose to be, you will be making $300,000 a year once you slide over to the captain seat of a wide body. I live in a town made of pilots. You can make an Ok living being captain at a regional; a ten year employee who has been captain a few years makes about $100,000 in a pretty easy job; regional FOs are screwed for about 2 years and then they are OK. Depending on timing they will move over to captain in 5 years. The drive, though, is too the top. Carrot of big money and lots of time off. Tailoring your work schedule is just as important. Some dabble a couple of flights a week, some cram all the flying in one run and have the rest of the month off, some in-between. Being a pilot is not designed as a stop here at this line and you will be happy with what you got; the industry is designed to push up. I always said pilots wanted to be doctors but were not smart enough but they found an equal paying job with status. Not all true; pilots and others in aviation are some of the smarted people I know; but it is some true. My cousin when he got his MD was payed $38,000 a year; after about 5 it was $100,000; 25 years in its $300,000; depends on specialty. Pilots go through about the same rise as long as they don't get off the train. I also find, like medicine, aviation does not foster a place where if you do not bleed for the job you are welcome. A friend is telling me the big airlines are hiring the ho hum people to fill spaces as mechanics. They will be checking tire pressure for the rest of their career; they will not be the guys doing engine changes which is a big deal at an airline; they will be at the bottom of the pay scale always. They are hated by their hard working piers too. The industry is a "have to want it" industry; not a plug and play industry. Its not like the military one job specialty. In 3 years of working on a Airbus 300, you should have the whole thing down pat at a airline, if you are on the ball. it is a push push industry.
 

Pops

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My grandson always wanted to be an airline pilot and I always told him that he wouldn't like it. After 3 years flying for the airlines he quit and got the best flying job there is out there unless you are flying for your wife's company as I did. He flies for a large international company and the multi billionaire owner and his family. 5 aircraft in the flight dept and he mostly flys a Cessna X all over the world for the company and vacations for the super rich family. In feb he just signed a 20 year contract after the 3 year contract ended. At 30 years old he makes a huge salary, + yearly bonus and a large amount of company stock each year and yearly pay increases. His wife gets to go with him a lot on the family vacations and him and his wife are free to do whatever they want at company expense doing the vacation. All the pilots in the flight dept are treated as family. They have to pay a huge amount of money so the pilots will stay.
He get job offers all the time from other company's and airlines and never looks back. Just got home from watching the Baja, Mexico races. Then off to S. America to watch another race and the company is expanding in Russia.

My first flying job in the 1980's was because a pilot went to the airlines and they needed a pilot NOW for the gov contract. Right place at the right time. I had just lost my job for a auto manufacture when they moved out of the U.S. Started the next day after taking the commercial check ride. The owner of the company told me that they were not going to bid on the contracts because they were to busy the next year. My wife started a company and bought an aircraft for the job and had in modified for the "Restricted Category" that was required and bid on the contract and did it for 7 years. Sold out to a company at the time the gov was wanting my wife's company to bid on jobs on the southern border.

Lots of flying out there making good money besides flying for the airlines.
 
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pictsidhe

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If it gets really bad, airlines will start training pilots themselves.
Green UK pilots are going abroad to get the experience British carriers want.
 

gtae07

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I certainly got my passion for aviation from my Dad, but never had the urge to follow his lead as an airline pilot. I saw what that lifestyle did to the homelife and learned very early that it was not for me. As for income, It takes a long time to start making "real money" with the airlines and I'm doing very well in the engineering side of the industry. When you consider the effective hourly wage impact of not getting paid for sitting in a hotel room on crew rest, the airline salary is even less appealing. Im sure that my net salary across my chosen career is equal to or higher than if I had been working the airlines - plus I'm home every night.
Almost the exact same for me here. Dad was actually home a fair bit and made an effort to be involved with us so it didn't have too much of a bad impact on home life, but he explicitly told me when I was getting ready to graduate from high school "don't go into the airlines. Get a good job, build an airplane, and fly for yourself". I think he would have gotten out a while ago but by the time he realized he didn't like it, there wasn't much else he could do, let alone at comparable pay.

My pay on the engineering side might not be quite what I'd have gotten in the long run with the airlines, but it's much more front-loaded, the quality of life is far better (I'm home every night), and I'm living somewhere with a lower cost of living. It's also a much more intellectually-stimulating job than flying for the airlines--something my dad has lamented before.

Its because of how kids have been raised the last 50 years.

Everything is handed to them. They are not taught to be self sufficient. And they are not taught that the world is highly competitive and they have to work for what they want.

Remember all those "no-score" little league games? Everyone gets treated the same regardless of individual ability, so why try harder?
That doesn't sound like the way I was raised. Yeah, many people my age and younger were brought up like that, but I also know plenty who were not.

Toobuilder and Unknown Target have nailed it--the costs of entry are too high, and the short- and medium-term payoffs are too low, relative to other potential careers. We like to laugh at kids who spend $100k on liberal arts degrees and wind up flipping burgers and pouring coffee, but when I was in the prime age for taking the civilian route to the airlines it was looking like exactly the same deal of $100k+ in expenses for years of low pay, plus the added "benefit" of being away from home for days at a time, sharing crash pads at hubs, etc. Stories abounded of regional pilots whose second jobs (delivering pizzas etc.) paid better than their airline job.

I spent a fraction of that money, graduated with no debt, and went into a career field with generally a better quality of life and starting pay far better than the regionals earned at the time. Some of Dad's friends have tried to convince me to get my ratings and join the airlines, but I don't feel like spending the money I'd be spending on my airplane instead, and then taking a 50%+ pay cut, and being away from home all the time. Maybe one day I'll consider picking up enough ratings to fly as a side job (I know a few people who do), and I was offered an opportunity to be a light sport instructor at one point, but right now, no.
 
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