Tag Archives: Marquis jets

IMPENDING PILOT SHORTAGE: MYTH OR REALITY?

Pilot shortage A PILOTLESS AIRPLANEimage017

For several decades young aspiring professional pilots have been tantalized by the aviation oracles, as they were continually told that a pilot shortage is just around the corner. Once again, the impending pilot shortage discussion is intensifying. This time it could be for real. However, the next question is: are the young potential aviators listening or do they care? After a couple decades or more of pilot pay and benefits diminishing while training cost increased, far fewer young people are electing to commit to a career as a professional pilot.
Spending up to $200,000 for the required aviation credentials to be hired by an airline for a starting salary of $22,000 a year is not very enticing. Worse yet, the rookie pilot might be condemned to a job as a banner tow pilot, a pipeline surveillance pilot, or perhaps become caught in the ugly web of being a night freight pilot (often referred to as a “freight dog”). The lifestyle of a freight dog can be researched by reading, The Rogue Aviator; (http://www.therogueaviator.com/). While the brass ring is still there on the horizon it will only be grabbed by the more fortunate few. For every professional pilot making $200,000 a year, there are 10 professional pilots making less than $60,000 per year.
After the horrific crash of Continental flight 3407 operated by Colgan air in Buffalo, New York, a congressional subcommittee on aviation safety was immediately implemented. Everyone’s favorite pilot, Sully Sullenberger was in attendance. When asked what needed to be done to enhance commercial airline safety, Captain Sully of Hudson River fame, pulled no punches. He stated unequivocally that paying the pilots an honest salary was a critical element towards the long-term safety factor. Four years later, entry-level pilot salaries, and all too often salaries of more experienced pilots, remain embarrassingly low. “This too, shall pass.”
Now to the good news! This upcoming pilot shortage is for real. In August of this year, the FAA has mandated, with a few caveats, that airline pilots must have a minimum of 1500 hours total time and an Airline Transport Pilot rating to work for a FAR 121 (airline parameters) aviation company. Currently, the minimum requirement is 250 hours. On January 14, 2014 the long-overdue revised duty and flight time limitations for commercial pilots will take effect. The more restrictive limitations will require the airlines to hire more pilots.
The equally critical factor in this equation is that the inordinate number of airline pilots that will be forced into retirement by the age 65 rule, will open many doors for new hire pilots. Furthermore, corporate aviation is booming and those jobs with companies such as NetJets, Marquis Jet, etc. are becoming quite desirable for the professional pilot. Overseas pilot jobs, particularly in China, will be extremely plentiful. The pilot shortage will drive salaries skyward. Everything is cyclical and this current down cycle for the pilot community is destined to improve significantly. I will also state—after a 36 year aviation career that took me to 44 countries with 25 employer changes—that an aviation career can be an exciting Odyssey. Take your pilot passion and create for yourself an adventuresome career.

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Masters Week: Private Jets Congest Tarmac At Augusta Airports

IMG_0001Sunday at the Masters results in a few billion dollars of corporate Jets parked at the Augusta, Georgia airports. Many of these “corporate tools” will be owned, leased or chartered by men who play golf and earn a large income doing so. Many of them will be owned, leased or chartered by men who enjoy golf, but will became hyper-wealthy the old-fashioned way— that would of course be very lucrative entrepreneurial activity. Some of these people will be referred to as “Banksters.”
The tarmacs at Augusta’s Bush Regional Airport and Daniel field will be congested with aircraft referred to by the corporate pilots as “big iron”. Phil Mickelson, for instance, enjoys his air travel in a Gulfstream V luxury jet that can have a price tag of 40 million dollars; Tiger Woods will be leaving today in his newer model Gulfstream 550, the same one that his ex-wife Elin used to ride in. Currently Lindsey Vonn is a favored passenger. It should be noted that she is “walking-the-ropes” at Augusta National golf course amongst the teaming masses of humanity.
Back to business! These mega-million airplanes are business tools and there are at least 10 other PGA pros that either have their own airplane or engage in the “fractional jet” practice of investing in a small percentage ownership for very restricted use. The wiser choice for most of the golfers is chartering from NetJets, Marquis Jets, and many of the other jet charter operators. Eli Flint of Flight Operations, LLC stated that they have doubled their flights from 2009 and their charters to Augusta for the masters have increased by 50% since 2010. As commercial air travel continues to deteriorate, the use of private Jets will proliferate.
Forty years ago I flew Jack Nicklaus to Augusta for the Masters in a chartered Learjet. In today’s two-tiered economy, if you have to ride around in a Learjet, you are looked upon as “FBO trash.” For nearly a decade of my aviation career I flew the rich and famous and it became very clear to me that if you can afford private jet travel, you will never go to the commercial terminal. Carbon footprint be damned, I’m going to take the jet!
This blog is prepared by aviation author Ace Abbott; http://www.therogueaviator.com, http://www.deadtiredpilots.com, will take you to his books. A visit to http://webtalkradio.net/ will allow you to listen to his aviation talk show.

PRIVATE JETS AT THE MASTERS

If it ain’t a Learjet I ain’t going!

On Sunday past, the Augusta, Georgia airports, Bush Regional airport and Daniel Field were inundated with the private jets of the rich and famous which includes several of the participant golfers in the 76th Masters Golf tournament. Even Bubba Watson, the self-proclaimed country hick from the panhandle of Florida, most likely departed on a private jet. I have nostalgic flashbacks to several early Aprils during the mid-70s when I used to fly Jack Nicklaus to the Masters in the Learjet that he chartered from my company. (For more info read The Rogue Aviator   (www.therogueaviator.com). Will Bubba Watson now be getting his personal jet? I don’t blame him if he does, because anytime one can avoid the commercial airline environment it greatly enhances quality of life (even if you go by Amtrak). I was fortunate enough to spend eight years of my career flying privately chartered and corporate jets and once you have hung around those people that we now identify as “the one-per-centers” you do not want to be exposed to the angry mob back in the “steerage-section” of the commercial jet.

The growth of the private jet travel is certainly fueled by the increased wealth of those few at the top of the food chain, and the desire to avoid TSA has brought to the private terminals (FBOs) many people who would normally pay the exorbitant first class fares on an airline, but have now decided to dig a little deeper into the trust fund to “just take the jet” (a popular phrase amongst the well-heeled). If you have several people travelling you can “take the jet” for only a few thousand dollars more than what you might spend slumming around the crowded, chaotic world of commercial air travel. As a result, there are now several private jet “airlines” that employ experienced and well-trained pilots to get you to your destination safely. A couple of these are Net Jets and Marquis Jets. If you are in South Florida you can ride on Hop-a-Jet, a fine company that was the legacy of an aviation all-star, Harvey Hop. There are some fly-by-night charter companies (such as the one that golfer Payne Stewart unwisely selected without proper vetting), so, if possible, do some vetting before you get on that chartered jet.

After having been through the “back alleys of aviation” during my 36-year aviation career I can only recommend to the professional pilot seeking a stable career with reasonable work conditions and benefits to consider a career in the world of corporate aviation. The quality of life is infinitely better than that which one experiences with most FAR 121 air carriers. I spent 3 consecutive years wandering around Augusta National golf course as my client, Jack Nicklaus made sure that his pilots had tickets to the tournament. Many people will sell their soul for one of those coveted ducats. Also, hanging around five-star hotels with all expenses paid is always preferable to that Motel 6 next to the railroad tracks for an eight hour layover—minimum rest time for airline pilots.

The small downside is the greatly increased  per-capita carbon footprint that results with the fewer people in the airplane. Let us not be concerned about the possibility of global warming devastating planet earth—let the good times roll; we’re taking the jet to St Moritz for the weekend.

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, the author of The Rogue Aviator:in the Back Alleys of Aviation  www.therogueaviator.com).

ASPIRING CAREER PILOTS-HOPE ON THE HORIZON

HARVEY HOP; 37,000 HOURS OF HAVING FUN IN THE JET

It has been tough times in recent years for those young pilots that want to earn a living while flying airplanes. Despite the increased cost of jet fuel and the still slumbering U.S. economy there is an optimistic future—at least for the next decade or so. Despite the projected furloughs of several hundred pilots at American Airlines there is still optimism in the future for those people that want to commit to a career as a pilot. It won’t be a walk in the park and it will be a long time before you will reach that six figure income plateau. If you start at the bottom of the commercial pilot heap as a regional carrier pilot, you better have a little extra earning potential (such as a working spouse) because you are going to be mired into a despicable low income for a few years. On the other side of the coin, you will be building flight time and gaining experience while not setting in a cubicle or waiting for the unemployment compensation to  run out.

Corporate aviation is actually doing quite well as the recession had very little effect on those wealthy one percent who can afford this wonderful amenity—once you have had the private jet experience, the thought of sitting back in the cabin on a commercial jet is emotionally trying. Companies such as FlexJet, Marquis Jets, Delta Private Jets, and Piaggio Avanti Charter, just to name a few, employ thousands of pilots. Although the starting salary might only be in the $35,000 to $40,000 per year category, it is a nice lifestyle and you do not end up in low end hotels, or engage in high-speed “bag-drags” around ORD or PHL, without enough time to get a bite to eat. Most captains in the private jet charter world are making at least $70,000 per year. If you can wriggle into the corporate flight department the salaries and benefits then become quite livable with captains frequently being rewarded with $150,000 per annum salaries for keeping “Mr. Big” comfortable and safe. Quite often, the CEOs and executives form a very strong bond with their pilots and the ensuing rewards can be very profound—five star hotels and restaurants and golf at Pebble Beach, for instance.

The major factor in this projected upcoming shortage of pilots is related to mass retirements in the next few years amongst the major airlines, UPS, and FEDEX. The long overdue and absurdly slowly implemented revised FAR 121 flight and duty times will result in a need amongst all airlines to hire more pilots since the new rules result in many instances, of less flight or duty time available from each pilot. Also, many senior pilots are capitalizing on overseas pilot positions. Airlines such as JAL, KAL, Cathay Pacific, and many airlines in the Middle East are constantly in search of U.S. trained pilots. Commercial aviation in India and China is burgeoning and there will be pilot openings for those that will venture away to another culture and lifestyle to make a decent living as a pilot. In China, there are numerous “expatriate” communities evolving for those people who want to be close to their fellow westerners. Quite often these overseas jobs appear onerous but can provide wonderful travel experiences while greatly broadening one’s horizons while being exposed to different cultures. Near the end of my career I very reluctantly took a job flying freight out of Liege’ Belgium and it turned out to be the high point of my aviation career. My book, The Rogue Aviator; in the Back Alleys of Aviation elaborates on this wonderful excursion (www.therogueaviator.com).

An aviation career is similar to every flight that you experience in that it is an adventure. If you pursue your pilot career as an adventure, the “back alleys of aviation” can become tolerable. There is a near certainty that you will miss birthdays and anniversaries and work many weekends but in my 36 year career that took me to 44 countries, the positives trumped the negatives by a wide margin. If you pursue an aviation career to achieve wealth and leisure you will possibly spend a lot of time in the doldrums crying in your beer. The aviation career may not be a bed of roses, but very few retired pilots ever look back and say, “Darn, I wish I had sold insurance.” If you want inspiration to keep the nose to the grindstone in order to pursue that career, my book, The Rogue Aviator will provide such. I will issue a small caveat and that is the rapidly decreasing supply of fossil fuels will require a lot of innovation regarding a source of energy to provide the thrust that creates the lift. Meanwhile, “keep your airspeed up in the turns.”

This blog is prepared by Ace Abbott, author of The Rogue Aviator (www.therogueavitor.com)