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How is the professional pilot outlook doing these days?


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#1 Midwest Helicopter Guy

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Posted 30 April 2017 - 20:28

Hi everyone,

 

I did some reading about lack of jobs and such in the helicopter pilot industry. The most recent posting I read were from the 2013 time frame. Has anything improved since then in terms of difficulty level in making this kind of thing a career? I looked at some basic statistics posted by the FAA and some other third party sources, but I don't know how accurate those numbers are. One source claimed a general 10% expected growth in the next ten years. I am not exactly sure if that is specifically helicopters or just professional aviation in general. 

 

I already have my private for helicopter and I am in a position where I can go and get my commercial, instrument, and CFI covered. I can say with some confidence that the little bit of time I have flown, I have never regretted it. I guess I am kind of on the fence about if this is a good idea. I talked to a recent student pilot of the flight school I would may attend (Higher Ground Helicopters) located out of Dayton Wright Brothers Airport in OH. He told me that he thought the outlook has been more favorable since the 2008 collapse.

 

When I went home from talking to him, I got a little skeptical because I reminded myself that he may likely have a reason to say that to me. Not to say he is a liar, but just that it may be harder for him to not be bias due to the fact that I may very well be a person that would be helping him build some hours with my hard earned money.

 

Any thoughts on this? 


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#2 adam32

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 12:51

Go to school, get a degree in something that makes good money with benefits and a pension then buy a helicopter for weekend flying...
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#3 Wally

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 14:07

The industry is facing an overall decline. There is a glut of basic pilots right now as result of the military drawing down. as the industry continues to contract, the military guys will make the competition very very tough. Not to mention autonomous/remotely controlled vehicles filling needs niches much more efficiently than any manned aircraft.

 

This is not a "career", it's a performance art. You do it because you want to. You have to want the next job badly enough to invest in it, and you have to want to continue in the field because you want to FLY!

 

I made decent living the last 25 years, but I have been flying since 1968...


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Just a pilot (retired, so I have a LOT of time)...


#4 DizzyD

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 15:53

I would double down on what the previous posters have said, and add that the rotorcraft industry will see pressure from UAV adoption that will limit job growth long term.  



#5 Midwest Helicopter Guy

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 20:16

Thanks for the input Adam, Wally and Dizzy. I could definitely see those things being a very real issue. 

 

Well, my second option would be to go mechanical / electrical engineer. I have a knack for problem solving and trouble shooting. Perhaps that would be a better long term option then.



#6 DizzyD

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 20:32

Maybe not give up on aviation so fast.  Would you be interested in a fixed wing airline career?  Lots of job growth with 1000s of mandatory retirements over the next 5-7 years? Salary over 100K quickly at major carriers.


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#7 Midwest Helicopter Guy

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 20:59

That is a good question. come to think of it, I do have a thing for Casa's and King Air's. I honestly have not given it much thought. I had heard the professional airplane pilot market was similar to that of entering a bar scene with watching people getting slid across bar tables and folks swinging off chandlers and such. hearing that made me want to walk right back out the door.

 

In all seriousness though, I had not started to look into that possibility yet. I do think helicopters are amazing pieces of machinery. I can understand the kind of hard work it took to make those things operable enough for industry to adopt them. Also, I would not alienate the airplanes. They are pretty awesome as well. I think hearing a Rolls Royce RB-211 on wide open is just ten kinds of awesome! Nothing like converting kerosene into kinetic energy!

 

Another thing is that I am also married now so that presents another person that I need to make sure I have best interest in. 



#8 adam32

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 21:31

The only industries with higher divorce rates are the military and law enforcement...

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#9 Midwest Helicopter Guy

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 21:37

I know what you mean. I was in the Corps and marriages were dropping like flies. My squadron worked on harriers and we worked through the night all the time. ended up getting lots of alcoholics. 



#10 avbug

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Posted 01 May 2017 - 22:33

Maybe not give up on aviation so fast.  Would you be interested in a fixed wing airline career?  Lots of job growth with 1000s of mandatory retirements over the next 5-7 years? Salary over 100K quickly at major carriers.

 

 

Quickly is a relative thing.

 

Getting to the majors isn't quick.  Plan 15 years at a minimum.  

 

As for sustainability of marriage, lay that squarely at the door of the partners, not the industry.  That's a people thing, not an aviation thing.


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#11 DizzyD

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 11:34

 

 

Quickly is a relative thing.

 

Getting to the majors isn't quick.  Plan 15 years at a minimum.  

 

As for sustainability of marriage, lay that squarely at the door of the partners, not the industry.  That's a people thing, not an aviation thing.

While 15 yrs was typical when I was job hunting in the 1990s things have changed dramatically.  Go get your CFI and 1500 hours and most Regionals will hire you pay AND pay for your ATP.  At Envoy, get hired with a 22K bonus and upgrade to left seat in 3 years or less, and guaranteed flow to American in 6 years. As a regional captain with a 4 year degree, you'll be getting interview invites at UAL and SWA before 6 years go by.  

 

 

 

  • Envoy Air (formerly American Eagle Airlines) now offers industry leading pay, placing Envoy among the top regional airlines in pilot compensation and enabling First Officers to earn $60,000 or more during their first year. See “Pay Notes” below for more details. 
  • All Envoy new hire pilots receive up to $22,100 signing bonus, payable on their first day of training. Envoy also partners with dozens of Universities and Flight Schools, offering a Cadet Program to help aspiring pilots transition from the classroom to the flight deck.
  • Envoy is a wholly-owned subsidiary of American Airlines Group, with headquarters and training facility in Irving, Tex. (DFW area)
  • All Envoy pilots are guaranteed a direct career path to American Airlines, through our industry-leading flow through agreement. Envoy pilots currently make up half of every American Airlines new hire class, with nearly 65 percent of American’s new hires since 2010 coming from Envoy.
  • Newly hired pilots are currently projected to upgrade to Envoy Captain in less than three years and flow through to American in about six years.
  • With more than 14,000 employees, Envoy operates more than 150 aircrafts on about 800 flights per day to 150 destinations throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.
  • Envoy operates an all-jet fleet comprised of Embraer 175, 145 and 140 aircraft, as well as Bombardier CRJ-700.
  • Currently receiving two 76-seat Embraer 175 aircraft each month through the end of 2017 as part of a fleet commitment from American Airlines of 44 firm orders, with up to 86 additional E175 options.
  • ATP-CTP Course Paid for candidates needing to complete the exam prior to training.
  • Rotor Transition Program (RTP) available for military rotor-wing pilots transitioning to a career in commercial aviation. Pilots train at Coast Flight Training in San Diego, Calif. or San Marcos, Tex. and are eligible to receive financial assistance from Envoy and Coast Flight Training. 
  • Envoy also offers employees a $5,000 referral bonus for every new hire pilot who is referred and passes training.
  • Envoy maintains crew bases at the hubs they share with American Airlines in Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW), Chicago (ORD) and New York (LGA), offers one of the most generous commuting policies in the industry. Commuting pilots receive four company-paid hotels per month at the beginning or end of their trip and schedule flexibility up to six times in a rolling 12-month period, if they experience difficulty with their commute.
  • All Envoy employees are eligible for American Airlines Group Profit Sharing Plan, as well as monthly performance bonuses of up to $100, based on meeting key operational targets.
  • Envoy provides complimentary Global Entry/TSA Pre-Check access to all crewmembers.
  • ATA code: MQ; ICAO code: ENY; ATC callsign “Envoy”
  • This page last updated: April 26, 2017 (Pay Notes)

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#12 Astro

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 12:01

So all we need is 1500 hours and a 4 year degree, or be ex-military? Where do I sign up!
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#13 R0CKPILE

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 12:26

So all we need is 1500 hours and a 4 year degree, or be ex-military? Where do I sign up!

 

I hear there are guys in an office near you in these fancy uniforms that have a dotted line for you.



#14 Astro

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Posted 03 May 2017 - 18:30

I hear there are guys in an office near you in these fancy uniforms that have a dotted line for you.


HA! I'll bet there are! Something tells me the Envoy rep is wearing Go Army underwear, or maybe its the other way around?

#15 avbug

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 00:50

 

While 15 yrs was typical when I was job hunting in the 1990s things have changed dramatically.  Go get your CFI and 1500 hours and most Regionals will hire you pay AND pay for your ATP.  At Envoy, get hired with a 22K bonus and upgrade to left seat in 3 years or less, and guaranteed flow to American in 6 years. As a regional captain with a 4 year degree, you'll be getting interview invites at UAL and SWA before 6 years go by.  

 

 

 

 

 

That's the pipe dream.  The regionals are full of frustrated pilots who thought they'd ride the fast train.

 

There's no pilot shortage, despite the worn myth.



#16 DizzyD

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 02:06

You're probably right, as usual.  Fortunately, airline CEOs are known for being generous businessmen willing to pay bonuses, increased salaries, and training costs even with the thousands of qualified crewmembers you speak of drooling for the job.  

Supply and demand?  nah


Edited by DizzyD, 04 May 2017 - 02:06.


#17 helonorth

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 08:46

Yeah, they probably are just paying to transition pilots not even rated in catagory because it seems like the right thing to do.

#18 Boatpix

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 17:10

We are still finding that every cfi that graduates with my company gets a boat photo job with my company. They get 1000 hours in two years and all get hired away to fly more powerful helicopters as I have the connections.    I know guys that make $200K a year and have great lives.    Maybe you are talking to the wrong people?   In 1986 I simply combined boat photo and R22's and this is simply a better mousetrap. We're still only $250/hour and guarantee you a job. Advertised here since 2001.  Blue Angels airshow near our Far Part 141 Location of Hollywood, Florida starts tomorrow and all our available helicopters will be out photographing the boats spectating.   Cinco de Mayo starts tonight at midnight.  Free spending boat owners subsidize your training and guarantee you a job. Genius.  Go with your passion and move away from the negativity and I make it easy with our free housing and free airline tickets to come take a free flight with us. 


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HelicopterAcademy.com/BOATPIX


#19 Astro

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 18:49

So here's your choice Midwest Helicopter Guy. You can go to work for an R44 operator who will pay you $50/hr on the hobbs, but you'll only get about 10 hours a month (a part-time summer job I considered taking recently) or you can mortgage your house, sell your car, and hit up all your relatives and friends for money so you can buy a job taking pictures of boats!

That about sums up the professional pilot outlook these days, and most likely many days to come!?

#20 avbug

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Posted 04 May 2017 - 18:56

 Free spending boat owners subsidize your training and guarantee you a job. Genius.  

 

 

No, that's not the genius.  Pilot-hopefulls pay you to work for you, buying a job in which you make money off your employee and the people you harass into buying pictures.  The genius is that you've managed to get blood out of a stone, with the pilots being the stone.

 

Where are these helicopter pilots who have been springboarded by boatpix into a 200,000 dollar helicopter money machine?


Edited by avbug, 05 May 2017 - 03:34.

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