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r22butters

Sundance's new program for lowtimers,...kinda feels like they're leaving some of us out :(

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My guess is that UND doesn't have enough fools to sign up for the Rotorwing courses. Gee's it all nonsense. Look the rules say you can fly for money with a Commercial Certificate, and that is true in spirit. But then the ugly truth sets in, meeting 135 flight times, then the competitive flight times. It's hard in the Fixed wing side of the house but there is more of it around, so new pilots have a shot at something, in Helicopters, it's very small and just getting certified you are getting into spending serious money, UND is not cheap and to come out of there with the kind of debt some kids are going for and with what the pay scale is and is going to be, I would not do it today. That's just me. The problem with flying is building time to be competitive. The kind of jobs that a 150-hour helicopter pilot are few and far between, and a lot of people chasing those few jobs. And before you say well you can flight instruct, yes you can! You learn a lot about flying by teaching the skill that is a given, but in order for you as a new flight instructor to get the hours you need to move on, you are going to be in a way replacing yourself 15 to to 20 times. Just to get enough flight time logged to get to that "1000" hours. So you have to create even more pilots. All this does is to create an overabundance of pilots that are not really employable due to regulation, insurance, or mandates from the customer. It's a catch 22. It's a little better on the fixed-wing side but not much. It's a very hard road to travel debt free, it's much harder with all the debt a lot of you are taking on. The Army is the place to go for helicopters, but they don't fly like they did in the past, so by the time you have competitive flight times you are looking at being able to retire out of the service. It's not an easy thing, it never was or will be. You could say that it's a Ponzi or pyramid scheme.

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There is something to be learned from every flight. The point I'm trying to make is that in HEMS, you are developing skills and practical knowledge at a much slower rate than a job where you fly every day. At a really slow base it can even turn to the point of complacency.

 

In those 5 years, do you really think you've experienced as much as someone flying utility or offshore who is logging 600-1000 hours a year?

 

For the average pilot who has only been flying a few years, the last thing they should be doing is getting paid to be on standby and only fly 200 hours a year.

 

The trend I'm seeing increasingly is that new guys get burnt out with tours or offshore flying after a year or so, and HEMS is an easy out. There's a ton of jobs open in that sector, so it's more or less a guaranteed job, especially with companies like Air Evac.

 

Do you really want to see 1,500 hour pilots with 1-2 years of commercial experience being funneled into your part of the industry?

 

After writing a long and rambling response and then deleting it I think I can be more concise and answer your questions.

 

In regards to hours, yes flying 600 hours instead of 150 a year will make you more proficient at flying that aircraft. After you get a baseline amount of hours in a part 135 job (Say, ~2000 Part 135, ~3000+TT) I don't think flying 600 hours in the gulf instead of 150 hours in EMS will make you a better EMS pilot.

 

I don't think a 1500 hour pilot should be an EMS driver. (Looking at you, AEL) I also don't think it takes 5000+ hours to be a safe and competent EMS pilot either. I think the more you are exposed to the decision making and scenarios we face in EMS the better you get at it.

 

My disclaimer to all of this is based on my personal experience. I started flying EMS at ~3300 hours, but over 2000 of that was basically in the make/model I'd be flying EMS in. Different strokes for different folks and all that.

Edited by Azhigher
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Quick question~

 

Are we specifically talking about HEMS because people think it is the pinnacle of helo career success?

 

Just wondering.

 

There are other flying job options. Pay is important, but so is location, quality of life, and job satisfaction. Pay seems to be the driving factor in this discussion.

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Quick question~

 

Are we specifically talking about HEMS because people think it is the pinnacle of helo career success?

 

Just wondering.

 

There are other flying job options. Pay is important, but so is location, quality of life, and job satisfaction. Pay seems to be the driving factor in this discussion.

 

No, we are talking about HEMS because of this excerpt from the vertical mag article linked in the first post:

 

"For those interested in Helicopter Air Ambulance (HAA) there is a pathway to Air Methods Corporation, the largest operator of air medical transport in the world. "

 

While that statement alone is vague, based on the context I can only assume that AMC is partnering with UND along with Sundance to try and fast-track new pilots to Part 135 mins and then incorporate them into their companies.

 

Which then brought up the discussion of how much experience is needed to safely and efficiently fly HEMS.

 

I mentioned pay, because I believe HEMS operators should pay more to attract experienced pilots, rather than lowering hiring minimums further and further.

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https://www.verticalmag.com/press-releases/sundance-helicopters-partners-university-north-dakota-aerospace-pilot-development-initiative/

 

I get emails all the time from HEMS recruiters wanting me to work for them, but never anything from a company like this, whose new minimums I actually meet?

 

Its a screwie industry!

 

After reading through the entire thread, I have to say the HAA angle has spurred some thoughtful conversation on HAA and what experience actually means. I appreciate many of the comments here.

 

There seems to be a lot of assumptions concerning this program and what it means, why it is being established, and who it is for. If I may, Id love to shed some light on this.

 

Many years ago, I was approached repeatedly by different flight schools looking for a marketing angle to partner with them, to give their flight instructors a path to their first 135 experience. I resisted, we as a company resisted at the time due to the plethora of available applicants. Why partner when the supply is plentiful?

 

As the years have sailed by, both the supply and the quality of applicants has dwindled year over year. In recent years we were interviewing 30 to hire 15. After making some adjustments to the process of selection that ratio has greatly improved but the fact remains, there are fewer choices today than there were 5 years ago. We can all opine at length on the "why" in an attempt to get to the root of the issue, but nevertheless the problem persists.

 

After evaluating that process over the last several years, we came to the conclusion that it was a mistake for us to sit back and wait for the talent to come knocking down our door. We as an operator should have been on the front line and involved with pilot candidates from the beginning. We cant sit back and complain about quality while making no efforts to mentor and educate pilot candidates. Enter the Skypath program.

 

We partnered with Leading Edge and UND due to our experiences with the candidates we have received from these schools. Hands down, they have all been great, and are a testament to the programs that exist at these schools.

 

The program is NOT designed as a fast track to HAA or any other field. The program is a track that provides guarantees based on performance, but nothing is fast about it. Skypath is designed to offer professional development and mentoring before and during a pilots tenure with us.

 

Yes, for many pilot candidates HAA is a destination, and we feel it is our responsibility to at least attempt to provide development and experience for those who chose that path. Lets face it, many are going there anyway regardless of what anyone attempts to do. Why not help moderate the process ?

 

If we can provide a pathway to give pilots more time in the 135 environment and more exposure to flying experiences outside of tours, sending them off to HAA with higher than minimum times then it is an improvement. That is the premise behind the reduced hiring minimums that will be a part of the program as it progresses.

 

Currently, we are still at 1,000 hour minimums. The initial operating experience is an alternative method of compliance to the traditional 1,000 hour minimum, and will be implemented in 2019 after careful design and evaluation. This is why the reductions are vague, we are still assessing risk and designing this program for future integration. At the end of the day, the flight schools themselves will help set the minimums that make sense for their operations as well.

 

I think we can all agree that time in a logbook doesn't tell the full story about a pilot, and hours do not equal experience or professionalism in all cases. Many times, it is the nature of our operation that can inhibit growth. This is also a big part of developing this program - reducing "policy" where appropriate and putting decision making back in the hands of the PIC where it rightly and legally belongs anyway.

 

One of my biggest concerns is the developing "flight school to HAA" concept which isn't that far off in some cases much to our collective chagrin.

 

In conjunction with programs like Skypath, we as operators must find ways to improve compensation, schedules and flight assignment diversity in order to slow the transition of pilots. Its a battle for sure, but well worth the struggle to continually improve it.

 

I am certain that there will be many programs like this launched from a variety of angles to help solve this "shortage" perception. (The only real shortage is with experienced pilots.) The ideas are age old, the airlines and the military have been using these concepts forever. The more programs people develop, the better in my opinion.

 

I could ramble for many more paragraphs about the program and its benefits, but I will summarize: Operators need to get involved with pilot candidates early, help them, and move away from a total hours thought process and focus on finding ways to provide experience over flight time.

 

There is no perfect solution, and certainly this program is not perfect and will be developed over time but taking action to help guide pilot candidates and mentoring them to be professionals is our responsibility as an operator. We will never be a flight school - but development is key in any career path.

 

Thanks for your time. PM Me anytime to discuss this or any other array of topics.

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After reading through the entire thread, I have to say the HAA angle has spurred some thoughtful conversation on HAA and what experience actually means. I appreciate many of the comments here.

 

There seems to be a lot of assumptions concerning this program and what it means, why it is being established, and who it is for. If I may, Id love to shed some light on this.

 

Many years ago, I was approached repeatedly by different flight schools looking for a marketing angle to partner with them, to give their flight instructors a path to their first 135 experience. I resisted, we as a company resisted at the time due to the plethora of available applicants. Why partner when the supply is plentiful?

 

As the years have sailed by, both the supply and the quality of applicants has dwindled year over year. In recent years we were interviewing 30 to hire 15. After making some adjustments to the process of selection that ratio has greatly improved but the fact remains, there are fewer choices today than there were 5 years ago. We can all opine at length on the "why" in an attempt to get to the root of the issue, but nevertheless the problem persists.

 

After evaluating that process over the last several years, we came to the conclusion that it was a mistake for us to sit back and wait for the talent to come knocking down our door. We as an operator should have been on the front line and involved with pilot candidates from the beginning. We cant sit back and complain about quality while making no efforts to mentor and educate pilot candidates. Enter the Skypath program.

 

We partnered with Leading Edge and UND due to our experiences with the candidates we have received from these schools. Hands down, they have all been great, and are a testament to the programs that exist at these schools.

 

The program is NOT designed as a fast track to HAA or any other field. The program is a track that provides guarantees based on performance, but nothing is fast about it. Skypath is designed to offer professional development and mentoring before and during a pilots tenure with us.

 

Yes, for many pilot candidates HAA is a destination, and we feel it is our responsibility to at least attempt to provide development and experience for those who chose that path. Lets face it, many are going there anyway regardless of what anyone attempts to do. Why not help moderate the process ?

 

If we can provide a pathway to give pilots more time in the 135 environment and more exposure to flying experiences outside of tours, sending them off to HAA with higher than minimum times then it is an improvement. That is the premise behind the reduced hiring minimums that will be a part of the program as it progresses.

 

Currently, we are still at 1,000 hour minimums. The initial operating experience is an alternative method of compliance to the traditional 1,000 hour minimum, and will be implemented in 2019 after careful design and evaluation. This is why the reductions are vague, we are still assessing risk and designing this program for future integration. At the end of the day, the flight schools themselves will help set the minimums that make sense for their operations as well.

 

I think we can all agree that time in a logbook doesn't tell the full story about a pilot, and hours do not equal experience or professionalism in all cases. Many times, it is the nature of our operation that can inhibit growth. This is also a big part of developing this program - reducing "policy" where appropriate and putting decision making back in the hands of the PIC where it rightly and legally belongs anyway.

 

One of my biggest concerns is the developing "flight school to HAA" concept which isn't that far off in some cases much to our collective chagrin.

 

In conjunction with programs like Skypath, we as operators must find ways to improve compensation, schedules and flight assignment diversity in order to slow the transition of pilots. Its a battle for sure, but well worth the struggle to continually improve it.

 

I am certain that there will be many programs like this launched from a variety of angles to help solve this "shortage" perception. (The only real shortage is with experienced pilots.) The ideas are age old, the airlines and the military have been using these concepts forever. The more programs people develop, the better in my opinion.

 

I could ramble for many more paragraphs about the program and its benefits, but I will summarize: Operators need to get involved with pilot candidates early, help them, and move away from a total hours thought process and focus on finding ways to provide experience over flight time.

 

There is no perfect solution, and certainly this program is not perfect and will be developed over time but taking action to help guide pilot candidates and mentoring them to be professionals is our responsibility as an operator. We will never be a flight school - but development is key in any career path.

 

Thanks for your time. PM Me anytime to discuss this or any other array of topics.

 

Well I'm working for a company now driving a semi (Fedex) who will hire a guy off the street who does not have a Class A CDL, put him through a pre-course with a "driver developer" (mentor) for about two weeks, then a three week training course with a company trainer, followed then by a two week post-course with the driver developer again, after which he is sent to DMV for testing. After all that he gets with the station manager for final evaluation and then gets to do the job solo.

 

This program not only costs him nothing, but all the while he is actually getting paid!

 

Now I'm guessing driving a semi around city streets isn't as hazardous as flying tourists up and down The Strip all day, but at least this program is open for anyone who wants to apply!

 

I should also mention that a job like this, as a city driver, generally requires at least one year of experience driving a tractor/trailer (our version of the 1,000 hour thing) yet somehow Fedex feels that if they develop the driver then it works out just the same.

 

I myself actually went through this program, because even though I already had my Class A CDL I didn't quite have the one year's experience driving a semi, kinda like if someone already had a CPL, but still less than 1,000 hours. Sundance could hire someone like that, put them through a similar program, then let them fly Strip tours part-time for a while. Then later they could progress to Canyon tours, and eventually a full-time position.

 

,...just sayin'

Edited by r22butters

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R22Butters,

 

It is not my intention to speak for either of the mentioned programs but rather offer some info on them in response to your post. For details on either program, contact the sources in the articles.

 

Both programs in the articles are designed to not just take someone "off the street" but rather to interview pilots that have committed to a career and demonstrated that from day one and through out the process. The industry has been interviewing "off the street" and it creates trying to select pilots from an "unknown pool" which has shown itself to be costly, time consuming and inadequate.

 

I have been involved in discussions with principles from both programs, trained 54 CFIs at one school and all CFIs at the other. Both schools have superior programs to immerse pilots in training in a SMS, college programs and effective FTDs.

 

I know you want to see these concepts open to anyone and they are. Just go to one of the schools offering participation, commit to a career in helicopter aviation, complete the steps, get interviewed, and possibly get hired. This is somewhat similar to the vetting process used by the airlines.

 

End users (companies doing the hiring at this level, want to know who and what they are drawing from and have that be a selective pool of skilled pilots with both demonstrated flying and head working skills.

 

You can expect other employers to be looking for the same pilot pool to draw from as they programs mature and show their successes.

 

Well I'm working for a company now driving a semi (Fedex) who will hire a guy off the street

(employers want to know the background and commitment level of pilots-vetting) who does not have a Class A CDL, (totally know possess the desired skill sets) put him through a pre-course with a "driver developer" (mentor) for about two weeks (know they have trained in the desired"pre-course"), then a three week training course with a company trainer (specific line oriented company 135 training), followed then by a two week post-course with the driver developer again (new hire evaluation period, expected to be very successful with little or no attrition), after which he is sent to DMV for testing. After all that he gets with the station manager for final evaluation and then gets to do the job solo.

This program not only costs him nothing, but all the while he is actually getting paid! (Companies that are "end" employers do not take on the massive expense of training pilots that could drop out at any time, that need to be monitored and developed and possibly not suited for hire)

Now I'm guessing driving a semi around city streets isn't as hazardous as flying tourists up and down The Strip all day, but at least this program is open for anyone who wants to apply! Both of the programs in the articles are open to anyone that wants to participate and show the structure of how to move forward.

I should also mention that a job like this, as a city driver, generally requires at least one year of experience driving a tractor/trailer (our version of the 1,000 hour thing) yet somehow Fedex feels that if they develop the driver then it works out just the same. (the programs are the developing)

I myself actually went through this program, because even though I already had my Class A CDL I didn't quite have the one year's experience driving a semi, kinda like if someone already had a CPL, but still less than 1,000 hours. Sundance could hire someone like that, put them through a similar program, then let them fly Strip tours part-time for a while. Then later they could progress to Canyon tours, and eventually a full-time position. (Why would any company want to take all of this on when these programs are in place that will meet their requirements?)

,...just sayin'

 

Mike

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Both of the programs in the articles are open to anyone that wants to participate and show the structure of how to move forward.

So, someone who already is a commercial pilot with less than 1,000 hours can apply to these programs then?

 

I stand corrected.

 

,...never mind then :)

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R22Butters,

 

Participation requirements should be checked with program administrators.

 

"I know you want to see these concepts open to anyone and they are. Just go to one of the schools offering participation, commit to a career in helicopter aviation, complete the steps, get interviewed, and possibly get hired."

 

I believe both programs begin at the initial flight school levels.

 

Contact the programs for exact details.

 

Mike

Edited by Mikemv

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Back when I was an aspiring career pilot I went to HeliSuccess where they introduced me to the bottleneck between the surplus of lowtimers and that first 1,000 hour, liveable wage type turbine job.

 

Does that surplus of struggling lowtimers still exist?

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