I recently surveyed our Regional Airline partners about how long it is taking new First Officers to upgrade to Captains at their airline. Across the spectrum of regional airlines the same can be said, upgrade times are coming down. What this means is that the discussion about entry level pay in the regional airlines becomes pointless when you can expect to make Captain, along with the 50% increase in pay, in your second year of flying with your new airline.
Mesa Airlines presently has the shortest upgrade time due to the fact that their pilot group shrank during the recession from 1800 pilots to approximately 500. With the recession in the past and the airline industry making the strongest recovery in the history of the industry, Mesa’s pilot group is growing again and will keep growing for the foreseeable future. This means less time on reserve, coveted crew bases awarded in less time, being awarded desired schedules sooner and flying the aircraft you like sooner.
Pilots from ATP’s Career Pilot Program who were hired less then a year ago by Mesa, after being with ATP training for less then two years, have been told that they will be upgrading within a few months and to start preparing for the promotion to Captain.
I’m using Mesa as an example but PSA Airlines, Republic Airlines, Shuttle America, Piedmont Airlines, GoJet, TSA and Commutair all are presently upgrading First Officers to Captain in less then 2 years. There has never been a better time to become an airline pilot then now, and there never has been a quicker or more efficient path to get there then by training and instructing with ATP.