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Airlines Are Quietly Cutting Corners On Costs And Pilot Experience

Over the past couple of decades, the familiar landscape of the airline industry has changed dramatically. Now, smaller and lesser-known regional airlines carry roughly half of all domestic passengers for America’s “legacy” airlines. They supply the legacy airlines with a tremendous cost reduction. They do this by paying their employees only a fraction of what legacy airline employees make in salary. ( More...

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Highflyer1950 11
Welcome to the new reality of aviation. In the past, the airports were full of training schools attracting people who thought they could get a career start. Intros led to PPL, in turn led to Comm Lic., instructors ratings where you really learned how to fly by teaching. Flight hours accumulating to that magic 5000 hr mark to where you might get an Airline interview and a job. Now, somebody in HR said that new pilots should have aviation degrees, 4 years of college, aerodynamic theory, and of course $150,000 and then they turn out a pilot with a Comm Multi IFR license with 250 hours. We used to teach theory of flight without a university degree and if the pilot didn’t cut it, we washed them out. But back then, a Cheeokee or Cessna rented for $22 buck an hour and a twin Commanche $50/hr.
Frank Harvey 5
I really liked the Tomahawk which I remember was even cheaper ($15 or $17.50 ?), which gave one an opportunity to build solo hours, and was much nicer all-round than a 152. Except the Tomahawk was woefully underpowered. I realize this has nothing to do with the topic of the article but had me reminiscing about the "good old days".
Highflyer1950 2
You learned how to use the rudder properly in that PA-38 and boy could you wiind it up in a spin! Except for the tin canning in a full stall it was a decent trainer.
jbermo 1
What made it nicer than a C152?
bentwing60 2
My question as well.The sales #'s don't corroborate that statement and it had exactly the same engine as a 152 down to the L2C. The tail noise got my attention as an instructor when you stalled it and it came to light long ago that many a TraumaHawk was not built to meet the type certificate data sheet. There were fewer ribs than originally speced and the tail was lighter than on the certification airplanes. Full disclosure, I bought a 152 with 387 hours on it, SN.82817 in 1982 for $10,500 and sold it in 1994 for $17,500 and the original tach. read 7700 and some change. It was in a lease program and as an A&P I did my own maintenance and bought parts at the discount rates. I made a $100 grand or so on that airplane and the process and as Highflyer says, "Welcome to the new reality of aviation" and the opportunity I was presented will never come around again. HF hit it pretty well on the flyin part.
Frank Harvey 1
Hi Bentwing - congrats on coming out (financially) ahead. I sank (not literally) my money in sailboats so never invested in a/c but given my record would have lost money there also. I wasn't aware of any structural issues with the PA-38 and I once brushed one's left wing through the top of a tree (displaced threshold way beyond my touchdown aim). I don't recall any elevator/tail problems with airflow or the c of g or trim.
bentwing60 1
Nice to converse with a fellow sailor on an aviation website. My moniker, (bentwing), literally describes a sail, and the 60 came from a type rating. I too have sunk (not literally) LOL a considerable amount of my not vast fortune in sailboats and have found 6 knts. to be as rewarding as 440! There are a lot of us. And I know where "the box" is. Quiet flight is rewarding as well and wakes up dead feet, or not. The lack of compliance with production PA38's TCDS didn't come to light till after production had ceased and they stayed together so no harm, no foul, no AD's. I'm 6'4", nothing was roomy till I flew Challengers, (CL60). Fair winds and cheers.
Frank Harvey 1
The C152 cockpit felt really shoulder rubbing tight, and I'm not fat. The Tomahawk felt far more roomy. Visibility (for me) was far too restricted by the C152 high wing, it felt claustrophobic - to me it seemed just not right; my first flights were in (low wing) sailplanes and perhaps a high wing just felt wrong. The "all-round" visibility, especially upward and behind, seemed so much more "natural". But then the 152 just felt "small" when compared with anything else, even the bench seat Aeronca or a sailplane.

As I said my main complaint was the (apparent) lack of power in the Tomahawk.

The power-on spin entry in the PA-28 was interesting but my "best" (actually worst) spin ever was (inadvertantly, while training) putting a Blanik into a spin at 600 feet AGL (not meters !). Fortunately the instructor recovered immediately and then made me fly the downwind and land. My knees were shaking like crazy after that - I literally had to push with both legs on the rudder and then relieve one side to get the ball centered.
Thomas Hass 1
Well said Highflyer1950. Once upon a time eager pilot candidates inundated flight schools and emerged as commercial pilots ASMEL or ATPs provided things didn't get too exciting during those VMC demos in PA-30 Twin Comanches. (lol) In those halcyon years it also helped if you fit the profile of a fair-haired boy scout who believed in apple pie, Chevrolet and had some military flight experience. A four-year college degree was always preferred though not mandatory at some airlines. What was different back in the great airline pilot body-snatch of yesteryear was the cost of education and flight training were a small fraction of what they are today. Young people are now entering the work force with pragmatic eyes-open, carefully calculating whether boring through a stratus deck into a beautiful morning sky is worth the meager pay still being offered by regional carriers and decades of student loan bills.
Peter Steitz 3
One needs to look at where this article was written. It's the dailycaller. Gotta have a great story to tell.

Most regionals are not regional anymore. They fly 70+ seat twin jets and go to the same airports as the major (legacy) carriers. They also fly to many cities with small airports that do not have the volume to attract a 150 seat jet.

The pay at a regional is really very good. The problem a new pilot has is the $$$$ for training and getting the 1500 hours. There are flying jobs out there, that a recent pilot graduate of a two year Associate Degree college flight school, can get hired and earn income while logging flight time.

Majors (legacy) carriers will hire from the Captain pool at a regional. Some have flow through which guarantees, after an interview, a regional Captain a spot in the right seat at the major. There may be a couple of years of lower pay but eventually, the pay is very good.

What I see in many young pilots is a burnout caused by money, lifestyle and inability to be mobile. You have to decide between marriage, living in the same town you were raised in, being close to your family, etc.

Either you make aviation your top priority or you decide to just do it here and there. I think you need to put your life on hold and decide which way to go. Aviation will take much of your time.
Cody B 3
Bad journalism. The title says "Cutting Corners...on pilot experience." Show me where regionals are cutting corners. Lowering hiring standards is one thing, but that is an expression with a different meaning.
jbermo 5
All in all, airlines are prepping for the coming days of fully automated flight. Airline companies seem to hate pilots these days.
Karl Scribner 2
A friend’s son was going to flying school in No. Dak., home for the summer he got a track maintenance job for a regional, railroad. He returned to school, learned from older students the money they were getting offered for flying jobs. Half what he was making on his summer job. About that time the oil boom was hitting No. Dak. He was referred by friends from home to check out the BNSF railroad, soon hired in as a conductor “first officer” equivalent and soon promoted to engineer, Captain. Making well into 6 figures, bought his own airplane and kissed flying as a career goodbye. Hours are similar but the money at his ‘legacy’ carrier, beats his onetime dream of flying.
thomas hess 2
While I've always loved aviation, my career path took me down the road of law enforcement. After nearly 20 years, I can tell you police departments have the SAME EXACT problem. The type and quality of person applying at departments has slid far down the hill. As a Field Training Officer, a majority of those that (barely) passed the academy, failed field training. Do they get washed out? NO! They get remedial training. When they fail that, they get more remedial training. I refused to put my name on them, so somebody else signs for them. I hate to say this, but if you truly knew the level of ineptitude and poor training many officers have, you would sleep with one eye open.
My experience exactly. Made me leave and pursue law. Today's circumstances in LE show up as front page news, with newer officers more of a community liability in many cases.
Andy Bowland 4
With a picture of a "legacy" crash on the cover.

This article makes zero sense, new hire regional F/O's vs legacy senior Captains.
You are correct Andy - and it happened how many years ago???
Andy Bowland 5
What "new reality"??? Regional Airlines have been around since the 70's and really expanded in the 90's and then exploded in size in the early 2000's.

Honestly, this article should not be on here. It is not relevant or pertinent to the reality of aviation today. 60 Minutes, 20/20, and every other investigative news programs already did this article and investigated regional airlines over and over about 20 years ago, and then twice when they had an accident. This is just recycled garbage, with a fresh coat of paint.
zuluzuluzulu 1
If you think these pilots are low paid, imagine the talent regionals’ mechanics pay attracts.
Peter Steitz 1
Many junior mechanics also work the midnight shift. Much of the routine maintenance is done after the planes are finished for the day and everybody else goes home.

Not true for the freight and long haul flights that have a non standard schedule.
jim sink 1
This article was written 30 years ago right?
joel wiley 1
A doctor in town had a clogged sink, so he called a plumber.
The plumber came out in due time, went right to work and had the clogged fixed in 5 minutes.
He presented the doc with a bill for $85.
$85 for five minutes work!, I'm a doctor and I can't make that much in 5 minutes.
The plumber replied "I know, when I was a doctor, neither could I".

How many stoplights have you seen installed only after several fatal collisions?

The search for the lowest you can pay for a pilot is a form of testing to destruction.
Peter Steitz 2
Joel, your story is funny but just like pilots, plumbers are only paid for the job. Pilots get only flight pay even if we are away and on duty 14 hours a day.

If the plumber only did one job that day, he got $85/12 hours=$7 an hour.
AWAAlum 1
But just think - if he had 20 5 minute jobs that day. AND he'd still have the afternoon off for a round of golf.
Dale Nuss 3
If you think hiring a good plumber is expensive, hire a bad one!
joel wiley 4
The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy: neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water.
John W. Gardner
Peter Steitz 2
Joel, somehow I knew you didn't write that.
joel wiley 2
Somehow, I knew it too.
royr2 1
This has been going on since deregulation, and maybe before it. Not news to anyone familiar with the industry. However, those of us in the industry that know our customers - it's a bombshell every time they hear it (haha). The information is there but they continue to "not see" it. But, as long as their wallets control how they fly, that's just what's going to continue happening.
royr2 1
As said in some previous comments too: it's all coming down to fully automated flying, with a contractor not unlike the ones already doing ground handling services almost everywhere now (eeek), working for minimum wage "flying" hundreds of people across the world from a dark room while he sits and watches Netflix on his tablet...yeah, think about that one and let it soak in.
Stefan Sobol 0
They have to do this to offset the vast amounts of money they pay to the pilots at the top end of the pay scale. Paying someone close to $300K a year to work half time just does not make business sense. The guy making the big money is not doing anything different from the regional pilot and is actually working less hard because the regional guys are typically taking off and landing several times a day. The big iron guy flying long distance only has to make one take off OR one landing about every other day.
The pilots at the majors signed on for that deal. Eventually mandatory retirement takes care of those numbers to some degree.

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linbb -6
Get some larger words to prove you are so special in your posts. TROLL


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