Regional Airlines have suffered through some tough times recently. Their exposure in the news and some social internet sites has cast them in a less than flattering
light at times. Pay rates and work rules for Regional Pilots, alleged pilot
training and professionalism issues have all been reported and then replayed
over and over again on the cable news stations.
In the previous Blog I was pointing out that entry level pay
for new airline pilots can be as low as for other professions, and tried to
point out the difference between flying for a living in the airline industry
and working an average 40 hour workweek in any other profession.
The fact is that once a new airline pilot makes it through
the first year, there will be (on average) a 34.5% pay increase and an average
8.5% pay increase every year after that. Once this new F/O upgrades to Captain,
usually in a few years after starting as an F/O, there will be an immediate 40%
increase in pay, with a flight hour earning them an average of $66.50. This
Captain would earn over $71,000 a year if an average of 89 hours is flow each
month. A Senior (12 year) Captain will make an average of $88.83 per hour, or
$94,870 per year.
Another issue I have heard repeated over and over is the
training of pilots at Regional Airlines supposedly being substandard in some
way. Nothing could be further from the truth.
In the last 25 years I have been through new-hire training
with two different Regional Airlines and I can tell you it was extremely
thorough and frankly it was a challenge at times. I also upgraded to Captain at
both airlines, earning a type rating each time. That training was also
top-notch and every single day of it pushed us to our limits. It was serious,
as if lives depended on it.
The most recent airline accidents that I have researched showed that the pilots
had a shortcoming in their basic pilot training, not the training that they had at the airlines. The reason that ATP trained pilots do so well in airline training, and flying in the airline industry and then go on to react well in airline emergencies is a result of the kind of solid fundamental flight training that they receive before they go on to get a job
with an airline.
In my present position, I have to keep abreast of the training
departments at the top Regional Airlines and I know firsthand how thorough and
effective they are. The Instructors that I have seen at the Regional Airlines that ATP is
associated with are some of the best instructors in the world, and would easily
match up with Instructors at any Major Airline without a doubt.
The FAA places their seal of approval on these training departments just as they do with the Major airlines. Once the training department has the approval of the FAA, they
are constantly inspected for compliance by an FAA Principle Operations
Inspector (POI). Non-compliance is dealt with harshly by the FAA, and these
training departments go above and beyond what they are required to do to make
sure that their aircraft are operated safely.
Maintenance has also been mentioned as an issue according the media at times. I will touch on this subject as well as a few others that
need clarification in the next blog.