Thursday, February 27, 2014

Doesn't matter how shiny the planes are...

There is a clause in my contract that allows management to cancel the scheduled pilot vacations in case of staffing shortages. This has never happened while I have been here (almost 6 1/2 years), but it's there. The company will reimburse the pilot for any non-refundable payments that had been paid.

I've blogged about the "pilot shortage"...and it appears to be coming more and more true. Below is an email from the PSA union to the pilot group.

Staffing Shortage Update
PSA management has recently taken a number of actions in an attempt to mitigate the pilot staffing shortage. First, management denied or canceled all Association leave for January, February, and March. Second, this weekend, management decided to hold four pilots at PSA indefinitely rather than allow them to begin a class at US Airways in March.

Third, management advised the MEC yesterday that it was canceling vacations for pilots bidding in Round 2 due to extremely short staffing in March. Section 7.H of the Collective Bargaining Agreement describes the responsibilities of pilots and the company when taking this action. As the shortage continues, further vacation cancellations may occur, so every pilot is encouraged to review the language.

Fourth, management has canceled selected recurrent training events—both ground schools and LOFT sessions—over the past week to mitigate the shortage temporarily. This move creates a number of contractual complications in the rescheduling of these events. Delaying training is also unsustainable as it creates further training backlog.

The MEC is concerned that management’s focus on fixing immediate problems will compound the difficulties of implementing new aircraft. Therefore, we strongly encourage PSA management to take a longer view, using realistic targets with a sufficient margin to allow for success. Attempting to operate on a razor thin margin reduces the chances of success during the coming year and is likely to deteriorate the working environment for PSA pilots. We mustn’t be the continued victims of improper planning.

The PSA pilots voted in a concessionary contract last year. In my opinion it lowered the bar for all regional pilots. That lowered bar was presented to the pilots of Expressjet and American Eagle (Envoy)...both voted it down in threats of being shut down.

I can only imagine the blow to morale to PSA pilots are taking now. They will soon make less money (concessionary contract) and now have to forgo their earned and planned vacations with their families.

Mind you this shortage they are having IS NOT due to growth from the 30 aircraft they lowered the bar for. This shortage is for their current fleet. Pilots are still leaving to find greener pastures. I can only imagine it will get worse.

It doesn't matter how shiny those new CRJ 900s are when you are stuck working instead of being on the beach with your family.


  1. OUCH... After reading your blog and others it might be a good thing that the Wifey and I couldnt make the numbers work a few years ago when I wanted to go to ATP(Airline Pilot Career choice)... Crappy just crappy what they put you guys through... Thanks for sharing your thoughts and insights with us!

  2. Yea stay away from those ATP type places. They only want your money. The training itself is good, but it's overpriced and not a smart move. Get a dayjob and train on the side at an FBO that has a few good IFR planes.. Get all of your single engine work done, become a CFI, then get all of your Multi stuff done.. MEI.. Then find a flying job somewhere, only when you have 0 debt. You will need 1500 hours total time and probably 50 - 100 multi.. This will take 2 to 3 years and that's optimistic. budget to live on 1000 dollars a month for those 2 to 3 years, and your first year at a regional.. Hopefully the regionals starting pay is higher than what it is today (In reality, doubling it STILL wouldn't be enough. Triple is more like it) This is what I'm doing and it's a shame, but the greedy CEOs and management did this to themselves.. otherwise I would have taken on a loan and trained the "normal" way.. Not for 16k a year I won't.

  3. The ATP places can be good.... If you plan fire it and understand the economics. I did the ATP self paced program. I started May 5, 2006 with zero time. I had a 40 a week job and trained down the road at the ATP location 3 days a week. I finished March 26, 2007. ATP has it's perks and negatives. I had a post about it... Will have to dig it up ... mid trip right now.

  4. IMHO, ATP style places made SOME sense for a different industry. One without a silly knee-jerk 1500 hour rule. Back before the rule, in theory, you could bang out the program in 6 months, instruct for another 6, and be hired in about a year after starting. That's only 6 months of no income, then 6 months of low instructor income, then 20k a year.. then 30 to 35 your third year. Maybe a captain in 5 or 6 finally making a living wage of about 60-70k (that still doesn't even come close to being fair, considering what goes into becoming a professional pilot.)

    Now the cost of the program has nearly doubled in less than 8 years, you need to spend several years (as opposed to a few months) as an instructor (or other crappy stepping stone job) for 15k a year if you are LUCKY, then it takes you 2 more to get to 30-35k a year which STILL isn't nearly enough to live on and pay your loans. 740 a month by the way for a 65k loan (which is what the 0 to hero program costs now) with a 10 yr payment, 6.8% rate. After taxes, you would be lucky to see 1000 a month as a CFI ,then 740 goes to the loans, assuming you don't have a College loan on top of that? (WHICH by the way, is a requirement) Can you seriously live on 260 a month? Your income would effectively be negative if you had a 35k college loan on top of that.

    Don't get me wrong - the training and the program at ATP is good but that's not the issue. My warning still stands - train to become a pilot by all means.. but do NOT go into debt 1 red cent to do it. If you can't pay as you go, then figure out a way to get a job where you can. I think in 5 to 10 years things will be better for pilots..


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