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AOPA on pilot shortage

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This months issue of AOPA Flight Training had a few good articles on training costs, shortages, and hiring minimums.


The writers of the AOPA articles say that min starting pay in the regionals is about $20K and tops around $75k in seven years. Then jumping to a large airline as an FO drops you back to $40K starting.


They also say to get the training needed in fixed wing to get to the regionals is averaging $65-$100K plus, if you take some specialized training. I have always said it costs more to get fixed wing rated to get a good job over the years. To many ratings and endorsements compared to helicopter ratings, even though the hourly rate is more.


They are also saying that people wanting to start a second career late, 40-50 yr old are having no problems getting hired on the fixed wing side. And, the hiring mins are coming down due to the pilot shortages. They are saying 250 hrs of multi time is getting more common.


The forecast is good for fixed wingers in South Americas and China too, due to the forcasted growth. I have been reading that the heli industry is on the up swing in China, too.


IF, all these rumors are true on the fixed wing and heli sides? It does look like its a good time to start training. My only fear is that they are just trying to keep the training schools in business. I know they need students, but the students need jobs too.


Pick up a copy of AOPA Flight Training Mag Oct 07'. It was very interesting. It would also seem that being a dual rated pilot would be the way to go this day and age, too.


Good luck to us all. I hope all the columnist are correct.

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As a regional fixed-wing guy primarily (working on becoming a dual-rating sort of guy), I can say that there is some validity to the the "pilot shortage", though how profound an effect it will have over the long term is somewhat debatable.


We're currently hiring like crazy, and rumors abound of 500 total time pilots with little to no multi time (think 20 hours). I would presume in general that these people are coming from one of the pilot "factory" schools, like Purdue, Embry Riddle, Delta Connection Academy, etc., who have some sort of "bridge" agreement with my and other companies. We're barely keeping up with attrition for people leaving for the majors (Northwest has started hiring, and we've been losing people to Delta, Southwest, Continental, and the occasional FedEx/UPS guy), losing about 30-40 pilots a month. I hear things at Mesa are much worse, losing 60-70 pilots a month or more; I'm not going to get into a Mesa bashing session, as this site is more grown up than FlightInfo, but many Mesa folks are making lateral job moves to other regional companies because they aren't happy with their jobs at Mesa, or so they've told me.


I don't know that you need to spend $65,000 to $100,000 to get to a regional airline. If you really budget you could get all your ratings for about $40,000, then start CFI'ing your butt off until you can work your way up the food chain. It may be quicker to go through a six-month, rapid fire training program with a bridge agreement, but you'll pay a lot more up front for that and you'll have questionable experience when you get to the regionals (in my opinion). I've seen some pretty sharp 500 hour pilots, but very seldom would I prefer to fly with even the best 500 hour pilot as opposed to the 2,500 hour ex-CFI and ex-Freight Dog.


I don't know much about the helicopter world. It's been a dream of mine for a long time to build enough experience to be marketable as a dual-rated pilot, but in reality I think that those jobs are harder to come by, and getting substantial enough experience in both types is a challenge. Unless I had a limitless bank account, I'd probably pick the one you want to do more and jump in, with the idea of someday transitioning to the other. Even if I never use my helicopter ratings professionally, I'm really glad I'm getting them and someday, I might look back and be very glad I did it. Then again, it may not end up working out, and I'm okay with that. The best jobs are always the hardest to get.

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First thanks for validating this. I have a first cousin that went to a major university and did a BS degree in business with flight minor. I am thinking his mom said it set them back in the $70's. He flight instructed for awhile and now about a year now, is flying the CRJ for a company up north, I forget the name at the moment. I have not talked to him in 2 years, since we are not that close, so I don't know what kind of money he is making.


The thing that most people forget on the fixed wing side is that most of the jobs require a minimum education level of a 4 year degree plus the flight training, that's what makes it so much more expensive and time consuming.


AOPA was claiming that 82% of the companies that hired this year required a 4 year degree. That's a lot of work for a mid life career changer that does not have a degree, like myself. I have 60 hours vocational training that can be applied towards a Tech Management Degree, still it's a lot of work to get to the 128 hrs needed while working full time, family, flight training, and you name it.


Thanks again for the good info.


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Vert Mag, Click current issue, enter your email twice, click enter. Page 8. Interesting article.


There is a growing number of shortages in other fields too. RN's, Truck Drivers, Mechanic/Tech's-auto/heavy diesel/aviation/marine/ag, Trades, etc, etc.. The ANG has had AGE or SE mechanics on the lists for a long time.

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