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Flight Instructor Career: What You Need to Know

Are you interested in becoming a flight instructor? We're giving you everything you need to know about a career in flight instruction. Click here.

A flight instructor is a certified individual who specializes in teaching people to fly aircraft, whether it be airplanes or helicopters. Some flight instructors will specialize in a particular category. 

These can be things such as propeller, light aircraft, jet, or commercial aircraft.

Pilots may choose to become a flight instructor for a multitude of reasons. It may be a job long dreamed of. It may be a means of getting hours in the process of becoming a commercial pilot or airline pilot.

It may be the chance to make some money from a much-loved hobby.

A forecasted shortage of pilots in the industry has made the job of an instructor in high demand.

So what do you need to know?

Flight Instructor Certifications

Flight instructor certifications issued by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) are made of the Certified Flight Instructor Certificate (CFI) and the secondary add-on qualification, Certified Flight Instructor - Instrument (CFII or CFI-I). 

The primary CFI certification requires a check ride with a FAA examiner. The secondary add-on certification can be issued by any designated examiner.

Eligibility Criteria

The basic requirements for applying to become certified as an instructor by the FAA are as follows:

  • A minimum age of 18 years
  • Ability to speak, read, write, and understand the English language
  • Currently hold a commercial pilot certificate or an airline transport pilot (ATP) certification

Hold A Valid Medical Certificate

If you already hold a commercial pilot certificate you will already have an aviation medical certificate.

A flight instructor is not required to hold a medical certificate if they will not be acting as pilot in command or as a required crewmember.

However, if you choose not to act as pilot in command, you are only able to accept students who have that designation. It makes sense to obtain the necessary 3rd class medical or higher certification.

Character Attributes

It pays to keep in mind that a flight instructor is first and foremost a teacher. You will be required to work with students of all personality types. 

An instructor needs patience, good communication skills, and the ability to guide others on their learning journey.

Be aware that you made be required to adjust your teaching technique to fit the needs of individual students.

Written Exams

You also have to complete two written exams in the process of becoming certified as an instructor. The first is the Fundamentals of Instruction (FOI) Exam. The second is the FAA Certified Flight Instructor Knowledge Exam.

The FOI Exam focuses on the teaching process. It covers such subjects as learning, effective teaching, and training techniques.

Note: If you already hold a 7th grade or higher teacher's certificate, or you teach at an accredited college or university, it is not necessary to sit the FOI Exam.

The Knowledge Exam will test your overall knowledge of aircraft and flying. It could include recreational, commercial, and private aircraft topics. Questions may also cover instrument, multi-engine, and high-performance categories.

Lesson Plans

All good teachers know the importance of a lesson plan. The lesson plan outlines topics to be covered and the course of instruction for the lesson period. 

Resources which can be useful include printed drawings, charts, and diagrams, as well as advisory circulars and FAA safety briefings.

Your lesson plan should include all requirements in the FAA Practical Test Standards (PTS) for each topic covered.

Be prepared. A kit of pre-printed or gathered materials will save you time in the long run.

Practice Makes Perfect

The initial part of your CFI training will involve review. You'll be given the opportunity to practice to ensure you meet PTS standards. You will also need to be current with operations and FARS (Fatal Accident Reporting Systems) within your local area.

A large percentage of your CFI training will have you sitting in the seat and acting as an instructor to an experienced instructor.

This training will ensure you have the necessary experience to work with students.

You will be expected to evaluate your "student." You will need to give helpful guidance and explain methods and reasoning. The instruction will include ground training such as briefing and debriefing.

You will be required to demonstrate all maneuvers in line with regulations. It is helpful to take these practice flights with different instructors. You may be able to utilize these techniques with your own students.

These practice training flights are an essential lead up to your check flight with an examiner. Make sure to take your lesson plans and conduct the lesson as if you were already "on the job".

The Check Ride

The end of the process is, of course, the check ride. Once you've completed all the steps and your instructor believes you are ready for the examination, you will be signed off for your check ride.

The check ride will follow much the same guidelines as your practice flights. However, this time your examiner will be in the instructor's seat. You will be assessed on everything you were teaching during the practice runs.

Be aware - the check ride can be grueling and challenging. Some instructors have been required to complete multi-day check rides. This means they fly for of 16 hours or more before passing.

Your examiner will want to cover all details. Some choose to spend a significant amount of time on the ground before moving on to the flight portion of the exam.

This is a very real test.

Act professionally, dress appropriately, and demonstrate to your instructor what kind of instructor you'll be once you are certified.

Industry Information

The internet offers a wealth of knowledge for pilots and instructors. The more you know, the more you can share.

The Find A Pilot blog is an excellent source of information about the airline industry and covers topics ranging from Can Judgement Be Taught? to Lessons Learned in a Bad Situation.

A flight instructor has an important role in making the skies a safe and enjoyable place to be. And for the person who loves to be airborne, it is the ideal career path.

 

 

 

 

7 Airline Industry Trends to Be Aware of in 2017

As the airline industry continues to rapidly evolve, there are several trends that you should be aware of in 2017. Learn about these 7 innovative trends here.

Keyword(s): airline industry

The airline industry is getting more technologically advanced and consumer-friendly every day. 

For pilots and other aviation professionals, this means more opportunities for employment and advancement. 

For consumers, this can mean more comfortable and convenient travel. 

But we are an increasingly connected society, and the airline industry is taking note. 

In 2017, getting there is almost as much fun as being there. 

Here are 7 Airline Industry Trends that everyone should be aware of this year.

The Food Will Be Getting Better

The woes of eating a microwave dinner at 30,000 feet have long been documented. 

Airlines are looking to increase the quality of their meals by partnering with gourmet chefs and food experts from around the world.

These high-end meals will likely be offered at a nominal cost as an alternative to the mediocre free meals typically offered. 

Many airlines are already offering these meals as an option. 

British Airways is currently weighing the pros and cons of removing free refreshments from their flights altogether.

Their argument is that although passengers will have to pay for their food, this enables the standards of taste to be much higher.

A small cost to enrich the overall flight experience. 

More Perks for Loyal Customers

If you are a frequent flier, airlines are looking to keep you around.

Look for more opportunities to receive perks from airline companies.

This could include enhancements of perks that are already enjoyed by many.

For example, the airlines could offer limited increases in the amount of miles received per flight.

This means you will be able to fly more often, and for less.

Free Wi-Fi is Coming

The airline industry is often seen as innovative pioneers in the world of consumer technology.

It seems as though their logical next step is free wi-fi for passengers on all flights.

This would be a fantastic improvement to airline travel that would show the industry is keeping up with the times, as they always have. 

Free wi-fi is immensely convenient for passengers who need to connect to the internet for professional or personal reasons, especially on long flights.

But it also represents a revenue opportunity for airlines who will be able to conduct retail sales over the internet.

The classic "Sky Mall" magazines may be a thing of the past, as passengers will be able to access the catalog through their phones.

You Will Have Cheaper Options

Many airlines these days are offering budget options in an effort to court those who are averse to the expenses of air travel.

American Airlines is following in the footsteps of some European airlines by offering a ticket that includes few perks past a seat.

In basic economy, you are won't be able to enjoy some of the amenities afforded to higher class passengers.

However, these tickets are often much cheaper.

If all you are looking for is to get from point A to point B, this may be a viable option. 

Look Out for Customer-Centric Initiatives

Recent poor press surrounding certain airlines means that the rest of this year will surely be spent wooing consumers back to the airline industry. 

Keep an eye out for these initiatives.

These could include sales on ticket prices, airline sponsored events, and a revised employee-customer relations program.

The airline industry will likely be looking to make sure that their public image becomes more amicable and consumer oriented. 

Security will get tighter, but more organized

The events of the last few decades ensure that airport security will not become lax anytime soon.

Unorganized security practices are often cited as a major deterrent to air travel for many consumers.

After all, many airports have different security rules.

Some require you to remove some articles of clothing while in line, while others make you remove laptops and gaming devices from carry-on luggage.

This lack of cohesion and uniform security protocol can lead to headaches and delays for thousands of travelers.

Part of this lack of organization can be attributed to an exponential increase in security measures without the infrastructure to properly implement them.

Either way, we can assume that airport security protocol can only get more seamless from here.

This could involve a series of measures designed to improve the security experience for customers while also becoming more accurate, including... 

Increased Automation

Like it or not, many of the jobs common today are headed for automation in the next few years.

A lot of procedures that customers are required to participate in before they fly and after they land will likely begin to be computerized in 2017.

Some airports have already automated customs and immigration procedures for international passengers. 

It is very likely that the future of airline bureaucracy lies in the hands of robots and computers. 

This is primarily due to the fact that machines are generally cheaper than people.

As labor costs rise, the airline industry is looking to save money any way they can.

The airline industry is changing, largely for the better.

If you are seeking employment as a pilot or aviation professional, it is important to keep track of consumer and industrial trends. 

But there is no better time to join the airline industry than right now.

In fact, it is likely that the coming years will be defined by a shortage of pilots.

This may be because education and training for pilots do not come cheap. 

However, some may say it's impossible to ignore your passion. 

Airlines are looking for professionals that can be the face of the brand while ensuring that every flight is a successful one. 

If you believe this is you, don't be afraid to follow your dream!

There are many options at your disposal.

You could follow the route of a commercial pilot. 

Or, you could become a contract pilot and work as a freelancer. This can be a great way to have steady work while maintaining a flexible home life. 

No matter what you choose, FindaPilot.com maintains the most expansive resource list for pilots and potential employers on the web. 

Consider becoming a member today!

 

6 Reasons Why Women Should Pursue Their Pilot Career Today

Female pilots serve as an essential asset to the airline industry. Want to learn more? Here are 6 reasons why women should pursue a pilot career today.

Only 3% of pilots worldwide are women.

To put this into perspective, for every hundred pilots, three of them are women while ninety-seven are men!

There are a lot of reasons to explain this large disparity, with societal expectations being a big contributor. From a survey that polled 2,000 women about their thoughts of obtaining a pilot career, 33% stated they passed it off because there weren't role models to look up to. That, and being told it was a "man's job" (10%). 

This is quite disheartening, especially since it's been roughly over 80 years since Helen Richey became the first female pilot to fly a commercial airliner.

Nonetheless, the figures are increasing. The percentage of female pilots working for Ryanair has increased, from 6% to 8%. Also, several airlines have started programs designated to attract female pilots, with easyJet's Amy Johnson Initiative being one of them.

And, many passengers are excited to see that their pilot is a woman, as it inspires their daughters to consider this as a future profession. 

This is but two of the reasons why women should pursue a pilot career now. Read on to learn the four other reasons!

1. Be the role model you didn't have to young girls 

Just as we mentioned, young girls and women can become inspired seeing you in the pilot uniform. 

Since passengers don't see female pilots often, you're a heroine and role model in these women's eyes. And you may even inspire them to enroll in flight school. 

Also, by becoming a pilot today you're forging the path for women pilots in the future, much like female doctors did in the past.  

Inspiration from female doctors

Speaking of which, remember when doctors and surgeons were primarily male? Not many women were entering the field due to the same reasons women are bypassing the pilot career path now: lack of role models (as previously mentioned). 

However, this changed when more women barrelled ahead and got their medical license anyways.   

Now, one in three doctors is a woman. 

2. Female captains report they're welcomed by their crew

While some female pilots have said they've heard a line or two on their pilot career path that this wasn't for them. Many say that once they become captain, they didn't deal with poor comments or disrespect. 

In fact, according to a CNN Travel article, one female pilot said she only ever had one incident. And that was a passenger who had a fear of flights and didn't feel comfortable having a woman for a pilot.  

While the comment was inappropriate and uncalled for, the fact that this was the only comment this female pilot has experienced in her career shows that we are becoming more progressive. 

3. There are more programs available that encourage women pilots

EasyJet especially has taken the reins on promoting women pilots. In 2015, the airline launched the Amy Johnson Initiative. Its goal is to have 20% of their pilots female. Specifically, the initiative wants to add 50 new female pilots each year by 2020. 

Virgin Atlantic also has a program, the Future Flyers Program, which focuses on appealing to more diverse and female pilots. Of the 12 pilots recruited, according to a guardian article, four of them are female. 

4. More options to pay for flight school

It's understood that flight school is very expensive, costing around $100,000. This cost alone is a huge hurdle for women (and men) who want to attend flight school. It can be especially challenging if you don't have someone financially helping you out with this expense. 

However, some women may not want to take out several loans or enlist in the military (which pays for flight school). Know that you still have options. Some women pursue a degree in aeronautical engineering and work as a flight instructor, accruing enough hours to pay for flight school. 

Scholarships

There are several scholarships available now that specifically single out women. The Women in Aviation and Association for Women in Aviation are but two organizations that offer scholarships and grants for women to pursue their pilot careers. 

5. Know that you're just as good as your male colleagues

There is no specific attribute that would make a male pilot better than a female pilot.

In fact, it's a blend of masculine and feminine characteristics. Specifically, multitasking, communication, and handling different personalities are some feminine characteristics a good pilot would need to have.  

Furthermore, a study revealed that only ten Army helicopters piloted by women crash compared to one hundred helicopters flown by men. 

(While the statistics are too obscure to determine if female helicopter pilots are better than men—since only 3% of women are army helicopter pilots—it shows that women are just as capable.)

6. Enjoy the perks of a pilot career

As a pilot, you get to travel...while getting paid. You can fly to Italy one day and enjoy authentic Italian pizza. And then fly to Hawaii where you can chill on a beach after your shift. 

Plus, you have a flexible schedule. And you're not working a standard 9-to-5 job at a desk. Which makes work stories interesting. 

Then there's the pay. While pilots don't start out with a high salary, you will eventually get it. In fact, the median salary for a pilot is around $127,000

Of course, this depends on what aircraft you fly, with those who pilot jets generally making a higher income. 

On top of that, you'll earn (several) frequent flyer miles (and should receive a discount from the airline you work for). This means your family can vacation on a sizeable budget. 

Bonus: You can celebrate International Women's Day in style

EasyJet recognized International Women's Day by having a special flight entirely staffed by women. And it wasn't just the crew. The ground staff was all female too. 

So, what are you waiting for? We encourage you to check out flight schools.

For more information about how to start your pilot career, contact us. And, while you're at it, check out our blog, including our article, Negotiating Pilot Salaries and Contracts. That way, you have an idea of what to ask for if you do decide to become a pilot.  

 

How much is Pilot Pay These Days? We've Got the Numbers

How much is Pilot Pay These Days? We've Got the Numbers

Have you ever been curious how much pilot pay is? If so, we've got your answer. Take a look at what pilots make for a living. Read on for more information.

If you're a pilot, chances are you love what you do.

If you're looking to become a pilot, it's probably because you're passionate about flying the friendly skies. Not to become a millionaire.

But that doesn't mean you want to work for free.

Whether you've just gotten your pilot's license and are looking for employment or you're a seasoned veteran, it's smart to know how much a pilot's pay is.

so if you've ever been curious about how much pilot pay is, grab a cup of coffee and settle in. You're about to find out.

When It Comes to Pilot Pay, Are All Pilots the Same?

There is actually a fair amount of variety when it comes to being a pilot.

There's also different skill levels to consider.

And the amount of time you've spent working as a pilot. And what kind of a pilot you are.

You could be a:

  • Pilot
  • Co-pilot
  • Flight Engineer

It also depends whether you work on an hourly or salaried basis.

Can the Type of Aircraft Affect Pilot Pay?

Yes. Depending upon what kind of aircraft you pilot, and what your role is, your salary will be affected.

You could fly:

  • Corporate Jets
  • Corporate Non-Jets
  • Commercial Aircraft
  • Commercial Jets
  • Airline Pilot
  • Helicopter Pilot

For large jets, the median pay is $121,408.

For small jets, the median pay is $104,219.

Non-jet aircraft pilot's make far less than their jet flying counterparts.

For large non-jet aircraft's the median pay is $79,106.

Pilot's also have to undergo different types of training depending on the type of aircraft the are certified to fly. 

Can Other Factors Affect Pilot Pay?

Yes. There are actually quite a few factors that come into play with it comes to determining how much pay you can expect.

Factors such as:

  • Location: Depending on what city your hub is in will greatly affect how much pay you receive
  • Company Pay: Each company pays their own salaries to employees based on a number of internal criteria. United Airlines may pay more to their co-pilots than UPS might. It's important to check with each individual company to see how their pay rates differ.
  • Experience: Experience has everything to do with a pilot's pay. 

What is a Typical Starting Salary for Pilot Pay?

Again, it may vary depending upon location, etc but a regional pilot might make anywhere from $20-$50 per hour.

While that may seem fantastic, there's a lot of unpaid downtimes that pilot's experience.

Often pilot's are only paid for time that's considered "in flight". This means you'd only get paid when the parking gear isn't in the brake position.

Check to make sure whether your position is salaried or not.

However, the average pilot can log around 75 hours per month in the air.

And around 150 hours working on:

  • Simulator Training
  • Maintaining Records
  • Performing Pre-Flight Inspections
  • Flight Planning
  • Travel (from hotels to airports)

You can also expect a pay stipend during the training period.

And of course, there's a per diem that's given to pilot's when traveling to cover the costs of meals and incidentals.

How Does a Pilot's Pay Increase?

It's important to understand that each company has its own set of guidelines on how a pilot is paid.

However, there are several general guidelines most adhere to:

  • Most airlines offer a yearly raise
  • The biggest increase in salary is often seen within the first 5 years
  • This increase tends to be larger for first officers than captains
  • The largest increase is usually seen after the 1-year probationary period ends
  • Most first officers become captains after a few years of experience

Here are some comparisons:

Delta Airlines: Starting salary for a first officer of a Boeing 737 is $86 per hour. Based on a 65 hour monthly guarantee this equates to a base salary of $67,080. Add in per diem and the 16% defined retirement contribution and a new-hire FO at Delta can easily make over $80k.

After 10 years at Delta, that same employee can expect to earn $201 per hour or over $180,000 per year base pay including retirement.

For an airline captain at Delta, starting salary is $227 per hour and they can expect to earn as much as $372 per hour by year 12 on the largest equipment. Senior widebody captains can make upwards of $400,000 per year.

As one can expect, regional airlines will pay less than an international airline.

At regional airline Island Air, a first officer starting out can expect to earn $43 per hour. 

By year 5, they can expect to earn $58 per hour. Meanwhile, an Island Air captain can expect to earn $67 per hour their first year and $97 per hour by year 5. 

What Does the Future Look Like for a Pilot?

If you're looking to become a pilot, now is a great time.

The airline industry is experiencing a pilot shortage. By 2026 the airline industry is expecting a 15,000 pilot deficit.

But there are also reasons for that.

Let's take a look:

  • More pilots aging out. The age of retirement is 65. 
  • Fewer newcomers to the industry: As more pilots retire, there are less young people interested in pursuing a career as a pilot.
  • Flight training is costly: In 2013 flight hours were increased by sixfold

Luckily the airline industry is taking notice and doing something about it.

The pilot shortage is costing some airlines to go bankrupt or to consolidate with other airlines.

So the airlines are now realizing they need to be more proactive in finding and retaining pilots. 

Here's what's happening in the airline industry:

  • Major airlines are expected to hire around 5,000 new pilots
  • Major airlines will look for those pilots from regional carriers, the military and flight schools.
  • They're dropping the amount of time it takes between interviewing and an actual job offer
  • They're reducing certain certification requirements that can be costly for the pilot in training
  • They use "flow-through" agreements to find new pilots. This means if you're a regional pilot but work for an airline owned by a larger affiliate, you may be able to jump into a larger position within that larger carrier.
  • Signing bonuses: Airlines are using bonuses to help attract and retain pilots. A signing bonus at the larger carriers can range anywhere from $15,000 to $23,000.

For anyone looking to become a pilot, now is a great time to enter a training program.

The airline industry is actively looking to hire the best and the brightest so if you think you've got what it takes, read on.

We're here to provide all the information you need to find a career as a pilot.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Negotiating Pilot Salary and Contracts

 

Negotiating a salary is one of the most nerve-wracking parts of the job hunting experience for people in just about every profession.

So pilots who are looking to land contracts certainly aren't an exception.

How do you negotiate your pilot salary, and what are some of the tips for making sure you get a fair offer or even negotiate a better one? 

Pilots flying for major airlines have the benefit of relying on their union and representatives to help them get a fair deal. If you're looking for a contract yourself, you'll have to rely on your own negotiation skills to get the pilot salary you need. 

Here's how to do it:

Know What You're Worth

This is tricky, we know. Many people tend to devalue their own worth because they imagine that there are other people out there with more experience who may also be in the running for the job.

But doing your research and figuring out what the average pilot salary is for someone in your position is one of the first steps you should take, even before you start looking for jobs. Knowing what you're worth is half the battle. 

Also, take some time to investigate your potential employer's needs.

Is this a short-term contract with short notice?

That might mean that they're in a bind and need someone badly. Use that knowledge to your advantage.

Do you think you're the perfect candidate for the job?

That too can be something you keep in the back of your mind when deciding on a pilot salary.

When you've done all of your research, you'll be able to give them a solid value proposition–what you're worth and why you're worth it.

Value Your Abilities Highly

This sounds like the first point, but it's actually a different matter entirely.

Knowing what you're worth is one thing, but actually pushing to get that salary is another.

Some people feel uncomfortable asking for a higher amount, but how uncomfortable will you feel when you realize you're flying for less than what you originally wanted?

The oldest trick in the book is to start high, and for good reason. Whatever number you originally give will act almost like a magnet, drawing the employer's eye, and the amount they're willing to settle at. 

Start high enough so that you might be a little embarrassed by the number, but not so high that you're going to get silence on the other end.

If you've gone through the first step, you should have a decent ballpark idea of what this number is. If you start at the number you actually want, there's a good chance you'll wind up with less, and you certainly won't get more. 

No one's ever offered to pay more once they know the other person will take less.

Let Them Make The Offer

Sometimes you can't avoid being the first one to give a number in a salary negotiation. But if you can help it, let them make you an offer. 

Many employers will screen their different candidates at least partially by what their salary demands are. If you give a number too early in the game, and it's a little high like we mentioned before, there's a chance you could be out of the running. 

It's certainly a risk, but on the other hand, you want to be sure you're getting an offer that makes sense for you and doesn't leave you feeling a little disappointed or regretful. 

Try to get to the point where you feel confident that they want to hire you before talking about your pilot salary. If they ask you immediately, you can either give your higher number or tell them that there are other issues you'd like to talk about first. 

Don't Agree

Okay, so there may be a number that you're ready to jump at. Perhaps they offer you a much higher pilot salary than you were thinking about. If it's a once-in-a-blue-moon offer, then you can agree.

But one of the worst things you can do during a negotiation is to simply say, "Okay," to the offer. People do this because they're nervous, it was a decent offer, or they're worried about negotiating upwards. 

But "okay" takes everything off the table. It's over at that point. 

What do you do instead? Be thoughtful. And actually, think it over. How do you feel about their offer?

A little silence on the line, or a thoughtful "hmm" will put the pressure back on them to improve their offer. Most people don't think about the value of good silence, but it can be an effective bargaining tool.

It's tough for some people to stay silent than it is for others, but you might be surprised at what you can accomplish by saying nothing

Don't Accept A Low Pilot Salary

Look, at one point or another we've all been in a tough spot–you simply need work. Sure, some people get hired by an airline and retire with the same airline, but that's not the way things work out for everyone.

So it's hard to say, "Never accept a low salary." But we're saying it anyway because unless there are extreme circumstances, you shouldn't accept a pilot salary that's less than what you know you're worth. 

Not only will you hate the job because you'll know you aren't making what you should, but accepting low paying contracts drives down salaries, and no one wants to compete for low-paying jobs.

A lowball offer should also raise red flags about the employer in general.

Why are they comfortable offering you this amount?

Is this how they usually treat employees?

What can you expect from them going forward if so?

If you're a pilot looking for contract work, it can often feel like you're on your own. But the process doesn't have to be difficult or painful.

Instead of searching through job boards, join FindaPilot and become a part of our online community where pilots and employers find the right matches every day. 

 

Now is the Time to Take Advantage of the Pilot Shortage

Are you thinking about becoming a pilot? If so, the looming pilot shortage may encourage you to act quickly. Read on to learn more about the shortage.‚Äč

Pilots are some of the most respected people in our society. 

If you have ever considered becoming a pilot, now is the perfect time to make your dream a reality.

An expected pilot shortage in the airline industry means that commercial pilots are in demand now more than ever before.

Once, becoming a commercial pilot was difficult due to competition. Now, sadly, fewer people are interested in becoming a pilot.

But let's inspect the situation with a glass-half-full outlook. 

Today, anybody with a passion for flying and the determination to learn can fill the gap.  

That could be you. Here's why now is better than ever to become a pilot. 

Why the Pilot Shortage? 

Recent statistics show a troubling trend in the number of pilots flying around the United States.  

As Bloomberg has reported, studies from top aviation departments in the United States predict that by 2026, the pilot deficit could be as big as 15,000. 

That's curious, because the average pilot salary is around 80,000 dollars, and the highest earners can make as much as 200,000 dollars. 

So, what's the deal?

The pilot shortage can be explained by a few factors. 

On the one hand, tuition for flight school is very expensive, and some students would rather take another job than take on more debt. 

Another cause for concern is a general lack of interest in becoming a pilot.

There are ways around these dilemmas--the more pressing concern might surprise you.  

The current population of pilots is simply quitting. 

That's not out of their own choosing. The mandatory retirement age for pilots, as mandated by the Federal Aviation Administration, is 65.

That means that a large chunk of seasoned veterans will soon be retiring. 

Airlines are scrambling to fill the expected lack of pilots in a few years. That means better situations for future pilots like you. 

Why not test the waters?

Now is the best time to hop in the academy and begin the process of becoming a pilot. 

The Pilot Process: A Worthy Investment

The biggest deterrent of potential pilots is high tuition. Students don't want to take on the debt of the flight academy.

That fear is a big contributor to the pilot shortage. It's no joke that learning to become a commercial pilot can hit your pockets. 

But that doesn't mean you have no options to make your financial situation manageable. 

There are methods to combat the high costs. From loans to scholarships, there are resources that exist to ease the potential burden of training to become a pilot.

Plus, for military veterans, The GI bill can help reduce costs, too. 

Plus, airlines are aware of the looming gap, and they are working to incentivize future pilots to join the elite club.

That means you'll be able to cover your financial costs faster than ever before once you are a professional. Maybe just a few years into your career.  

The Security of Being a Pilot

One of the biggest draws of the airline industry is the consistent and secure employment opportunity. 

Today, in a world where industries are constantly changing and shrinking, there remains ample job security, paid vacation time, and work hours for pilots.  

People need to fly. Airlines need pilots. Even young pilots are in demand.  

That's why pilots are consistently given solid retirement plans and bonuses that can lead to a decades-long career.  

And, facing the pilot shortage, airlines are increasing the already-great perks of working as a pilot. 

Even new pilots who begin their careers at regional airlines, as opposed to the big hitters like United, Delta, and American, can make 60,000 dollars out of school.

As you advance in your flying career, the salaries and bonuses only get better.

The perks are so good that even someone with no passion for flying has good reason to fill out an application to pilot school.

But there's so much more than money with a pilot career.  

Oh, the Places You'll See 

A career as a pilot can quite change your perspective on the world.

You won't have to try--you'll simply see more of it. 

The average person cannot afford to travel, whether because of their workload or because of financial concerns. 

A pilot is paid to travel to different places around the world. 

As a pilot, when your shift ends, you'll end up in a city you probably don't know well. 

You'll regularly see places and sights you never thought you'd get to see, at least not until retirement. 

If you're not yet convinced, listen to the words of former pilots. 

One wrote on Slate about how much fun flying is. You get a front-row seat to seeing the planet from thousands of feet in the air.

As he writes, you can rest easy at night, knowing you've done good work.  

You will also get the occasional adventure story too!

An Elite Club

The pilot shortage is a golden opportunity for anyone who understands how fantastic a career can be as a pilot.

Captains have always demanded a certain respect in our society. Anyone who travels by plane knows that the pilot of their flight is in charge. 

You are providing a service that passengers require. For a family traveling across the country for the holidays, for example, you can be the one who gets them there. 

Pilots are the oil that makes the great transportation machine move. 

It's far from a thankless job. A network of veteran pilots can help you succeed. 

The pilot is in charge of the safety of the passengers. That means serious responsibility, and everyone knows it.

So, if you want a career where you are given a hugely important role, day in, day out, look no further than being a pilot. 

Are you up to the Task? 

It's not a coincidence that one of the most critically acclaimed and popular movies last year was about a hero pilot. 

Pilots naturally seem like heroes. 

Even amidst a pilot shortage, people understand pilots to be some of the most important members of society. Do you? 

To learn more about this fulfilling career, start with part one of our series, "So You Want To Be A Contract Pilot?"

 

7 Ways to Prevent Pilot Fatigue

Airline pilots must be well rested and focused before they are legally allowed to take off. Read on for 7 ways to prevent pilot fatigue to keep you flying.

Did you know that pilot fatigue is one of the biggest threats to air safety?

That's right, being well-rested is one of the most important things you can do as a pilot to ensure a safe flight. 

However, the life of a pilot doesn't exactly go hand in hand with rest. Crazy schedules, time zone changes, and other factors can all take a toll on the body and lead to fatigue. 

Unfortunately, if you are fatigued at the start of a flight, it's only going to get worse. That's why prevention is the best way to combat pilot fatigue. 

But what exactly can you do to prevent pilot fatigue? Read this article to find out the top seven ways. 

Causes

First, let's take a quick look at what causes pilot fatigue, as this will help you better understand how to prevent it. 

Pilot fatigue may be caused by:

  • Excessive physical or mental exertion
  • Poor sleep quality
  • Inadequate sleep quality
  • Circadian rhythm disturbances due to working nights
  • Circadian rhythm disturbances due to jet lag
  • Medical Conditions
  • Medications or supplements

1. Fuel Up On Food

Food is energy. And just like a plane can't run without the appropriate energy stores, neither can your body.

So, you need to make sure you are eating the right food, in the right amount, and at the right times in order to prevent pilot fatigue.

First of all, you need to avoid sugary, processed foods as much as possible. We realize this can be incredibly difficult when you're on the go, but eating the right foods is essential for keeping your energy levels up.

Focus on eating wholesome foods, like fruits, vegetables, lean meats, nuts, and seeds. 

You'll also want to load up on foods that are high in complex carbs before a big flight. Some options include potatoes, lentils, beans, pasta, and oatmeal. These foods will help keep your glycogen levels in check so you don't crash (no pun intended).

Also, because the life of a pilot is physically demanding, you want to make sure you are eating enough food as well. You can use this calculator to determine how many calories you should be eating a day. 

 

2. Shed Extra Weight

Ok, even with the physically demanding lifestyle, you still may be packing a few extra pounds around the waist. 

Staying in shape while traveling so much can be tough, and before you know it, extra pounds can creep up on you. 

Shedding this extra weight can make a huge difference in energy levels. Look into revving up your exercise routine or cutting back on your portions to help shed these extra pounds. 

And not having access to a gym is no excuse- here's an 11-minute fighter pilot's workout you can do anywhere. 

3. Drink Plenty of Water 

Dehydration is perhaps one of the biggest energy zappers out there. 

And prolonged dehydration will put you on the fast track to pilot fatigue.

So, drink water. Lots and lots of water.

While most people try to follow the "eight glasses a day rule," this amount actually doesn't work out for everyone. 

Bigger bodies need more water, and smaller ones need less. Therefore, you should be drinking until your pee is almost clear. 

4. Take a Nap

According to NASA, 26 minutes is all it takes to significantly improve performance and alertness. 

Try to squeeze in one of these naps before briefs or flight operations in order to combat fatigue and improve your performance. 

Just make sure you set a timer or have someone wake you up. You don't want to nap too long, as this can cause grogginess and lead to more fatigue. 

5. Get Enough Sleep

This one's obviously easier said than done.

Getting enough sleep is a tricky business for everyone, let alone those who are dealing with wacky schedule changes and different time zones.

The recommended amount of sleep is somewhere between 7-9 hours a night. If you are getting less than this, you will most certainly experience performance deficits. 

Make use of ear plugs and sleep masks in order to make sure you aren't being disturbed if your schedule requires you to sleep during daylight hours. 

It's also a good idea to keep a log of your sleep hours so that you don't accumulate too much sleep debt. 

Typically, you can erase sleep debate by getting in a third of the accumulated debt. For example, if you accumulated 9 hours of sleep debt, you should be back to normal with an additional three hours of sleep. 

Try to get these hours in as soon as possible. If you can't, take care of it over your weekend. 

6. Take Care of Jet Lag

Jet lag is pretty much what you sign up for when you embark on a career as a pilot. 

However, in order to combat pilot fatigue, you'll want to take steps to rid yourself of jet lag asap. 

Tips for preventing jet lag include:

  • Switch your watch to your destination time a few days in advance
  • Slowly switch your wake-sleep cycle to as early as possible
  • Seek daylight during wake time hours

7. Be Smart About Caffeine

We all know how awesome caffeine is. 

However, a healthy relationship with caffeine can quickly spiral into a dependency and a mask for sleep deprivation.

You should treat caffeine as an extra boost to promote alertness, not as a necessary medicine you're throwing back every hour. 

Pure sources of caffeine, like coffee, tea, and dark chocolate, are your best bet. Avoid sugar energy drinks and sodas as much as possible.

Also, make sure you are sticking to the recommended dosage of 100-200mg every 5 hours. 

Pilot Fatigue Wrap Up 

You may think you have nothing to worry about if your fatigue is only minor. 

However, even the slightest level of fatigue can lead to a huge decline in human performance. 

Remember, fatigue can quickly lead to:

  • Dramatic decline in attention
  • Decreased ability to reason and evaluate
  • Increased irritability
  • Deterioration of fine motor skills
  • Poor judgment and poor concentration

If the above prevention methods are not doing the trick, it may be time to see a doctor. You may have an underlying medical condition that is causing your pilot fatigue. 

Got questions about pilot fatigue or any extra tips you'd like to share? Drop a comment below or contact us today!

 

Lessons Learned In a Bad Situation by Clint White

TRAPPED!

Lessons Learned In a Bad Situation by Clint White

Every pilot in his or her career makes mistakes. It is said if you don’t scare yourself in the air at least once you haven’t really flown. There are few replacements as good as experience for a teacher and especially during early in my career when that lack of experience put us in a situation that could have been dangerous, but what is important is what I learned from that situation…

In the late 1990s pilots didn’t have all the weather tools that are available now. Computer modeling on app and other items we take for granted on our app based phones simply did not exist. XM weather in the cockpit was still in the future. In many cases we predicted weather models looking at the prog charts and maps posted in the FBO or flight school. (WSI did exist however).

I had student doing a cross-country flight for his private certificate during a summers day in Michigan. The weather was clear with a chance of thunderstorms both at our departure in Pontiac and our destination of Indianapolis with a return in the evening. The charts did show some storms, but not necessarily the forecast of what was to come. We decided the trip was a go as the student also was close to their check ride and we wanted to check the “cross country” box. So we departed in a Cessna 172P (no GPS or Radar). Everything was “steam gauges” then.

Departure and arrival at Indianapolis was uneventful although the WSI was showing a building line of  thunderstorms near Pontiac. My student and I decided that we would have enough time to arrive back that evening before the weather hit and departed Indianapolis late in the afternoon under a hazy sky…

On the way back the Convective Sigments began. The way ahead looked more and more threatening as we pressed on. Realizing the situation was not favorable we started to look for a way out by turning around. Unfortunately our way back was blocked as well and the line of thunderstorms were closing all around us with no good alternates. The situation looked bad…

Actually we were trapped!!! Severe weather all around us (you could see the lighting in the dimming sunlight) and no way forward or back. It was time for some quick decision making for the situation we got ourselves in! This was a true emergency!

I quickly got on the radio with ATC and called for help. We made our VFR flight an IFR flight and I took over the controls. We asked for help around the weather. By a stroke of luck an Aerostar was ahead of us on the same route with weather radar. He quickly became our “pathfinder” and we basically followed behind in the few holes in the weather. We could easily see the lightning all around us as we were hard IMC at this time. Needless to say we were neverous…ok downright scared

After about 40 miles of picking through the weather we broke out near Pontiac at night to VMC weather and could see the airport with extremely violent weather approaching from the north. Basically constant lighting. We quickly executed a short (visual) approach to the airport, landing smoothly JUST before the rest of the line of weather hit us while taxiing. It was a CLOSE call!

What are the lessons learned from this situation….

First of all, have not ONLY a plan A but a plan B and C too. As soon the weather turned we simply should have landed at the nearest available airport rather than pressing head.

I should not have been influenced by the need to complete my students training the need to “complete the mission” was too big a influencer in the “go-no” decision.

In addition, the best decision sometimes is to simply not do the trip at all. We could have stopped at any time especially in Indianapolis, but we trying to “beat the weather.

Lastly, DON’T be afraid to call for help! If have an emergency, state it! It much easier to fill out the paperwork on the ground (if necessary) then potentially putting yourself in a fatal situation because you “don’t want to deal with it”. ATC can and IS a valuable resource. They want to see you complete the flight just as safely as you do. Frankly they saved our bacon that day!

In conclusion, we ALL have had situation that have scared us good. It’s the lessons we take from those situations that makes us better pilots in the future.

Have you had a “close call” or a situation that gave you a good scare in the air? What did you learn? We would love to know in your comments.

 

 

Rise of the Single Engine Turboprop

by Clint White

Will New Models and Innovation Stop the Sales Slide?

Owner and operators of airplanes are always weighing speed and payload versus cost, especially in the post recession world. For a fairly long time, if you wanted a fast airplane you had to sacrifice the amount you could carry. A good example would be during the “Baby Jet” era before the recession. Aircraft like the Eclipse and Citation Mustang were supposed to be the new “thing” in aviation, but while very good airplanes, high by-in costs and limited payload and range made potential owners look for other options.

On the other end, the person who was looking for a plane that could carry “a lot” could choose a turboprop like the Caravan or Kodiak, but they aren't the fastest things in the sky. A 800 mile trip might take 5 hours or more and that's without refueling. Fortunately, Pilatus had long since had its answer in the PC-12 and more recently the PC-12NG offering speeds nearly twice that of the Caravan and Kodiak with ample passenger and cargo payload, plus higher operating altitudes and the comfort of pressurization.

Cessna has now recognized the potential of the turboprop single market and had decided to fill that niche with the new Denali. While still a mock-up at this point, it offers nearly identical speed, range and cargo capacity to the Pilatus. These aircraft also sport some new features which owners and pilots will enjoy…

-The PC12NG since 2008 has had the Apex avionics system which is similar to the Falcons in some ways, Cessna has countered with the state of the art G3000 systems which like the G1000 is finding its way on more and more airplanes. Pilots may find it easier to use the G3000 if they originally had Garmin experience, but both airplanes now have the full suite of TCAS, EVS and of of course ADB when available. Single pilot operation in either aircraft should be breeze.

-Both airplane use the every popular PT-6. This engine now over 4 decades old has proven it's safety and reliability on countless airplanes and of course as a turboprop is burns less fuel than the jets. Also, as any turboprop pilot or owner knows there are no shortage of shops that can work on the PT-6 for maintenance. Both airplane have or will offer a composite prop for weight savings.

-On the owner side, operating costs are expected to be MUCH LOWER than those for jets.

Variable operating costs are said to be in the $620 per hour range. Interiors will be offered in utilitarian and executive configurations with options like USB ports, WiFi and other amenities. Both airplanes also offer the ability to land on shorter runways (not Caravan or Kodiak short) but still able to get into a majority airports.

Why You Should Hire the (Slightly) Nervous Pilot

by Clint White

The flying profession has always had a certain stereotype attached to it. The image of the ever confident pilot, leather jacket, scarf around the neck with a glint in his or her perfect teeth launching into the sky without hesitation or fear. There is a perception that we sit in the cockpit and laugh in the “face of danger”.

The reality, as almost every pilot knows, is vastly different. We don't live the same age of one pilot, test flying an airplane. Almost every pilot with a paid flying job has not only their responsibility to themselves but also to their passengers which can number in the hundreds. The fact is that we sweat ALL the little details. At least the good ones do.

While I have yet hire an additional pilot for my company there are things that I look for in a good candidate. One of those qualities is what I call that “nervousness” inherit in good, careful aviators. This is completely apart from fear of flying. To be a “fearful” pilot invites paralysis and is can be dangerous, but the “nervous” pilot is one who like to double check the little stuff. They understand the difference between cocky and confident and they know and understand not only the airplanes limits but their own.

Personally I have been flying for nearly 30 years, about 20 professionally. I still have that little bit of concern when I know things like the weather is going to be bad or the the winds high. I double check charts, fuel loads, forecasts. I use my “nervousness” not to paralyze me, but to make me do that extra work to mitigate the risk as much as possible, especially since I am flying single pilot.  This is what I look for in other pilots as potential hires.

My advice when you sit down with the potential candidate is to ask, not only real world questions but also ones like “Have you every really scared yourself flying” The answer should be YES because we ALL have given ourselves a good scare (at least) once. That should be followed up with “What did you learn from that scare” Hopefully your candidate will talk about how that experience helped them become a safer pilot. Perhaps they took additional training or other courses to enhance their safety. I also think it is good when you give a “scenario” type question to construct it so that it is right on the border line of go or no go. I want to SEE how they make that decision. Do they take into account that little bit of “nervousness” that extra bit of time and effort to conduct or NOT conduct the flight.

In conclusion then, give me the (slightly) nervous pilot any day or some overconfident aviator. THAT is the person I want flying my aircraft and my clients!

Remember…there are old pilots and bold pilots, but no old, bold pilots!

Do you still have the same nervousness when you fly? How do you deal with it or use it to your advantage? Please let us know.