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Author Topic: Great Testimony by Captain Sullenberger
Jeff I.
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I was very happy to hear that Captain Sullenberger used the opportunity of appearing before a Congressional Aviation Committee to discuss the potential perils to the industry by the drastic decline in salaries for pilots and other critical personnel. The substance of his arguments are certainly well-known by members of this board but I don't think the flying public in general has a strong sense of how decimated the salary structure has become for pilots, flight attendants, etc. and the direct impact it could have in the future by discouraging top quality younger people from entering the industry as well as retaining the experienced pilots and flight attendants who currently bring so much to allow us to safely travel by air.

Jeff I.

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Glasspilot
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I agree Jeff!

Captain Sullenberger knows he has his "15 minutes of fame" (actually a couple of months or more) and is using it wisely.

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Roger Moore
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I think Captain "Sully" protrayed a very acurate situation in the current airline environment. I have an aquaintence who is a check airmen on the 747 for United out of DEN who says he is making the same now as he did 10 years ago as a copilot. Roger Moore
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Bob Ritchie
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When CA Sullenberger....

...deadsticked his Airbus into the Hudson... he was making almost exactly what I earned as a 44 passenger: FH-227-B, Turboprop captain, at OZA in 1979.(corrected for inflation)

Bob [Frown]

[ 02-26-2009, 21:07: Message edited by: Bob Ritchie ]

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Subsonic Transport
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I didn't see him at the congressional meeting so I don't know what he said he earned. I have seen discussions on other forums that said he makes 124,000/yr. Is this correct?

Bob, is this number correct? I can't imaging a turbo-prop crew making that much money in 1979. Or was that before degregulation.

I never did see an OZ turboprop but we had the same planes flown by Mohawk around these parts. I guess the Dash8 is the closest to it now a days.

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Bob Ritchie
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Subsonic,

OZA captains flying the FH-227 in 1979 were earning wages,corrected for inflation, equal to $140,000.00 today. CV-580 captains earned about 10% more at Allegheny/North Central/Frontier etc.

Deregulation occured in 1978 but OZA and many other airlines continued to gain contracts with pay increases well into the 1980s. Indeed OZA never had a concessionary contract or a B scale.

Baby AirBus rates at USAirways today are in the mid $130,000.00 range.

Bob

[ 02-27-2009, 15:40: Message edited by: Bob Ritchie ]

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extwacaptain
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Over the years, I have not noticed ANY (Not the slightest) relationship between a pilot's ability and his salary.....Never, ever. [Roll Eyes]

Randy Kramer

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Bob Ritchie
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Lest we forget....

.... during the 1960s...TWA pilots were among the highest paid in the world. [Roll Eyes]

Bob

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extwacaptain
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quote:
Originally posted by Bob Ritchie:
Lest we forget....

.... during the 1960s...TWA pilots were among the highest paid in the world. [Roll Eyes]

Bob

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

And.........Your Point Is?????????

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Rocky Dollarhide
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They were obviously the BEST!

R$

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Bob Ritchie
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quote:
Originally posted by Rocky Dollarhide:
They were obviously the BEST!

R$

....carefull now Rocky. You are contradicting Randy's thesis

Bob [Smile]

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mioguido
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quote:
Originally posted by Rocky Dollarhide:
They were obviously the BEST!

maybe the union negotiating committee and it's members had something to do with that good pay. would the company have been that generous without a collective bargaining contract in place? [Roll Eyes]
besides, any pilot who can fly one of those machines is among the best of the best. imo

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Bob Ritchie
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quote:
Originally posted by mioguido:
quote:
Originally posted by Rocky Dollarhide:
They were obviously the BEST!

maybe the union negotiating committee and it's members had something to do with that good pay. would the company have been that generous without a collective bargaining contract in place? [Roll Eyes]
besides, any pilot who can fly one of those machines is among the best of the best. imo

Exactly,

Airline pilots in this country have always been paid what they "could negotiate" not what they deserved. During the era of regulation the cost of salaries and benefits could be passed along to the flying public. Beyond that...not a single part 121, passenger carrying airline was certified by the CAB, after Ozark in 1950,until 1978. No one could fly an airplane weighing over 12,500 lbs. in a part 121 operation without CAB approval! As a result there was almost no one who could replace striking pilots. Thus the unions had a lot more clout.

Midway Airlines and the commuter airline...Air New England were certified in 1978 just prior to deregulation. Until deregulation competition was controlled and limited by the CAB. Each airline was in fact a protected franchise. Therefore the glory years of the industry and height of employee compensation. After deregulation airlines and their employees were treated just like other business....wide open, cut throat competition.

During the regulated era...because of the security, pay, benefits and "glory" the airlines attracted our nation's best and brightest to the cockpit. TWA B-707 captain pay in the mid/late 60s was the equilavent of over $320,000.00 per year today. Beat the hell out of working for a living.

In today's industry there is little security and senior captains earn 50 to 60% of their forefather's purchasing power.

That was CA Sullenberger's point. The industry no longer attracts the best talent. Some of our very finest airmen have left the industry already. As CA Sullenberger has pointed out that....he knows of not one airline pilot who would recommend the career to their children. Without a doubt the quality of future pilots in this nation will decline. There will be few "CA Sullenberger" manning the cockpits of the future. He seems to believe that there is a relationship between pay and the quality of those who eventually man our airliners. I happen to agree.

Me? I'd do it again in a heartbeat.... as I am a hopeless romantic. Never would want to do anything else. But I can assure you that many of those with whom I shared a cockpit would not choose to repeat their careers in today's environment.

And by the way...my bright, talented youngest son: who has a private/Instrument licence and once wanted to follow in dad's footsteps...starts Law School this coming August. His mom and I support his decision.

Bob [Frown]

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DC9
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I guess it will become one of those jobs Americans don't want to do! [Big Grin]
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Glasspilot
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Bob:

A well written post. I agree. And it's kinda sad really, what's happened to our profession.

Andy

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dave carr
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I'm not so sure that experienced aviators are leaving the cockpit in such large numbers. It seems that most of those leaving the business are being dropped from the bottom via furloughs. I hear constant complaining about the over 60 pilots causing stagnation in the progress of the more junior pilots. The over 60s senior pilots aren't leaving and the more junior pilots have no place to go.

I would guess that most of the current airline pilots were trained as pilots by the military or in programs such as Embry Riddle. As a result many are only trained to fly airplanes. In our present economic crisis where does a pilot with this background replace a job that pays even 50% of the 60s $320,000?

If I were going to worry about the safety aspect of this awful economic reality I would worry more about moral and focus than I would about experience leaving the cockpit. I don't know how the future will play out as to new pilots coming into the cockpits. Will they be of super high quality? Only time will tell.

Ten years ago young people constantly asked me to talk with them about my career as an airline pilot. I haven't had that happen in the past few years. Would I encourage a young person to follow the airline career path? That depends upon their motivation. If they show the enthusiasm for airplanes that I had as a young man I would say YES, follow the dream. If you just want time off, great retirement and a huge salary, find something else.

Now my question for Bob R. Is your son guaranteed a great career as an attorney? Of course not. The world is changing so fast that any career path that looks promising today can tomorrow become a complete dead end. I suppose that you roll the dice and ??????

Dave Carr

[ 03-02-2009, 11:41: Message edited by: dave carr ]

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Jeff I.
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"I guess it will become one of those jobs Americans don't want to do! "

DC9 -

To circle back a bit, this is why I was appreciative of Captain Sullenberger using his opportunity before Congress to discuss an issue that, while on the surface was unrelated to why he was in front of Congress but, in fact, was absolutely related. I would like to think that the flying public at some point would not accept a growing number of 3rd-rate pilots flying them around. Whether it might be cutting back on critical maintenance or not having fully qualified pilots in control of their aircraft, the airlines are playing an increasingly risky game if they start cutting back on safety.

I don't know what the answer is and I'm not sure if we have yet reached a critical stage. I only hope it isn't a series of pilot errors and fatal (or near-fatal) accidents that get the airlines (and possibly Congress) to act. A little pre-emptive action might be useful sooner rather than later although I'm not holding my breath on it.

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Bob Ritchie
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quote:
Originally posted by dave carr:
I'm not so sure that experienced aviators are leaving the cockpit in such large numbers. It seems that most of those leaving the business are being dropped from the bottom via furloughs. I hear constant complaining about the over 60 pilots causing stagnation in the progress of the more junior pilots. The over 60s senior pilots aren't leaving and the more junior pilots have no place to go.

I would guess that most of the current airline pilots were trained as pilots by the military or in programs such as Embry Riddle. As a result many are only trained to fly airplanes. In our present economic crisis where does a pilot with this background replace a job that pays even 50% of the 60s $320,000?

If I were going to worry about the safety aspect of this awful economic reality I would worry more about moral and focus than I would about experience leaving the cockpit. I don't know how the future will play out as to new pilots coming into the cockpits. Will they be of super high quality? Only time will tell.

Ten years ago young people constantly asked me to talk with them about my career as an airline pilot. I haven't had that happen in the past few years. Would I encourage a young person to follow the airline career path? That depends upon their motivation. If they show the enthusiasm for airplanes that I had as a young man I would say YES, follow the dream. If you just want time off, great retirement and a huge salary, find something else.

Now my question for Bob R. Is your son guaranteed a great career as an attorney? Of course not. The world is changing so fast that any career path that looks promising today can tomorrow become a complete dead end. I suppose that you roll the dice and ??????

Dave Carr

Dave,

As always your posts are reasonable, well thought out and seemingly without ulterior motivation.

As to those who may be leaving the industry you are largely correct. It is predominately those who have been furloughed. But the kicker is that many decide not to return, when given the opportunity. They are not an insignificant number. For example...recently less than 20% of UAL's furloughees were chosing to return upon their recall. Much the same was going on with AA. A large percentage passed on recall. Many of them have returned to active military service rather than come back to the airlines. My friend, who retired as #1 captain at USAirways had a son who was an AirBus FO at US. His son quit last fall to sell heating and cooling units for JetWays!! His salary is three time what he made as a FO at USAir! All of which means that many of the "best and brightest" are giving up on the industry.

Let's not forget Delta where a massive number of senior pilots retired early during their bankpuptcy process. So many retired early that Delta hired some of them back as retired/contract pilots. Tell me that isn't an example of experience leaving the cockpit....for economic reasons?

At AA several senior captains, including 777 captains have left AA to fly as contract pilots for UAE, Korean, Air India etc. Why? Because the salary at AA is so much lower now and they can retire and double dip. Experience...the best and the brightest leaving.

As for senior pilots staying after age 60. Well it varies at each airline. For everyone except AA and SWA the pilots have lost most all of their retirement plan...so many have to continue to work. As for the senior captain at AA...his/her plan has lost upwards of $1,000,000.00 in lump sum value. So...some of them are staying to try to recover. As for the senior former TWA/OZA guys, nearly all of whom are former OZA....their reasons for remaining are clearly economic....an attempt to make up for the low earning years at TWA. For example: in 2008 there were 37 former OZA guys who reached age 60. ONE retired.

All of this...regardless of the percentage, represents a trend of the present and future. A trend that was unheard of just a few years ago. CA Sullenberger represents a classic example of the type airman the industry once attracted. He and we are talking about the cockpits of the future. CA Sullenberger is conviced, as is almost every active airline pilot today....that the industry will not attract men and women of his caliber in the future.

Point being....your example of experienced pilots staying after age 60 has everything to do with economic circumstance rather than attractiveness of the career. And yes....the current"senior" generation of airline pilots are pretty much trapped by circumstance. Too young to retire...too old to start over. So they stay, as did you and I for that 50/60%.

Like you I often was asked in the past to participate in career day presentations. It had been years since anyone had asked me. Last month I was asked to make a presentation to the local school's National Honor Society, students who represent our communities best. The society sponsor's daugher and son-in-law are Air Force pilots. So she asked me to put in a plug for airline pilot careers even though I was there to make a presentation on behalf of a humanitarian organization, for whom I do volunteer flying.

I warned her that there would be tepid response but she asked me to talk a bit about my career anyway. When I asked the 52 students how many of them had considered becoming an airline pilot...I braced for the 2 or 3 expected hands. NOT ONE...NOT ONE of them raised their hands!!! Even I was a bit taken aback.

So what does that say? All I know is that 30 years ago being an airline pilot was consistantly among the top 10 career choices. Today...it is no where in sight.

As for my son's choice to attend law school. No...nothing is guarenteed. The old man would have loved for him to have an airline career at least good as my own. But he looked around and saw the reality of what is going on.

Will he make a good living as an attorney? Only time will tell. But I know one thing...he can always hang his shingle out and make a living as a lawyer. Try that as an airline pilot and you will go hungry.

The real tragedy is that my son is exactly the type of young man who would have gone into aviation a generation ago. Now he won't even consider it. Exactly CA Sullenberger's point of concern.

Best Wishes,

bob [Frown]

[ 03-03-2009, 10:05: Message edited by: Bob Ritchie ]

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jeff shrewsbury
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I disagree.

Now is a great time for YOUNG people to get into flying with an eye on an airline career. Very, very important is the desire to fly...above anything else. If one is "hooked" on flying, as most of us were, there is no turning back.

People ask me all the time, "What is retirement like?"...My response is, "I don't know, I never worked a day in my life!!"

The point being is that if you REALLY enjoy what you are doing some other job related downfalls can be outweighed. During all the crisis at TWA since 1968 (numerous paycuts, Icahn, downsizing, fleet reduction, dropping of most international routes, 20 years in the F/E seat, etc.) I still enjoyed going to work, retiring, flying my last several years DFW-HNL as a 767 Captain at AA.

I exposed my three sons to flying. My youngest, 21, has "the bug". He has commercial, multi-engine, instrument, ATP written, Dornier 328 Jet SIC endorsement, part 135 flying (flew Gov. Huckabee during his campaign tour), flew the Grand Canyon Tours since age 19 in multi-engine turbine, was recently hired to fly a privately owned Sabreliner, has two courses to go to complete his Professional Pilot degree.

He already sees what is happening at the airlines, FOR NOW. However, the numbers show there will be a huge shortage in the future. Afterall, with the YOUNG people not interested, such as Bob R.'s son, where will the pilots come from?

Most airline pilots are over 45, therefore most will be gone in 20 years. My son's lofty goal is to be a 777 Captain by the time he is 40. Is he crazy? I don't think so..do the math!

Finally, you note that I mentioned "young" several times. That is the key to absorb the downturns.

Keep pushing and encouraging the young people. They won't be sorry.

[ 03-07-2009, 05:12: Message edited by: jeff shrewsbury ]

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Bob Ritchie
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Jeff,

Your point is well taken. Included is a personal quote from an earlier posting....


......."Me?" "I'd do it again in a heartbeat.... as I am a hopeless romantic." "Never would want to do anything else."........

Bob

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dave carr
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Jeff

I agree that the desire to fly airplanes must be the motivation that leads a person to the business of flying airplanes. When asked about my career as an airline pilot I tried to make sure that I gave the whole picture. I had a wonderful career and would not trade one hour of flying for any other form of earning a living.

Upon giving a young person my version I must realize that I had the best possible career. It did take me 20 years to finally hold a Captain bid but I somehow avoided the furloughs and only spent two years in the F/E seat. Once I made Captain I was able to qualify as Captain on every Jet TWA owned except the 880. Pure luck! Many pilots of our era can't look back and see their airline experience through the same rose colored lenses.

Consider the experience of most of the pilots hired in the last 15-20 years. Many/most have endured furlough, bankruptcy, merger, stagnation, salary cuts, eliminated retirement, zooming health care cost, commuting, security (TSA), bitterness towards management and union and fellow pilots. I'm sure that you can add more to the list. What a mess!!

I'm not so sure that I agree with your view of the future. This world depression that has us in it's grip is unprecedented. In the coming months we could see the airlines join with the collapsing (collapsed?) auto industry, banks, housing industry, etc. If this happens there is no way of even guessing how this will play out long term. Yes, some people need to fly. No, they don't need to fly on US registered airplanes flown by US carriers flown by US pilots earning $10,000 per month. There is the real possibility of international alliances that could take the control of US aviation right out of the hands of the US. I can only imagine how this would impact the quality of the flying profession and how pilots are employed.

Nobody knows what will happen to the Airline Pilot profession. Nobody knows what will happen to the airlines. The world is changing by the minute and we are riding the wave. Man, is it an interesting ride. Good luck to us all. I hope that BHO becomes the most effective President of all times.

Dave Carr

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Irish
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quote:
I hope that BHO becomes the most effective President of all times.
May I paraphrase Rush Limbaugh, whose "I want Obama to fail" statement is universally repeated by the moderate and radical left media incompletely and out of context?

IF, and Rush and I say again IF, Obama's dream and purpose, aided and abetted by Pelosi, Reid, Dodd and Frank, is to expand our government beyond all reason, destroy capitalism and to drive our country into socialism then we hope Obama fails.

Didn't mean to hijack the thread.

Paul

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dave carr
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Paul

I guess I didn't do a very good job of defining the meaning of "effective" when expressing my hopes for he BHO presidency. Obviously I meant effective in the sense of getting us out of this horrible depression. This is my hope, however I'm not overly encouraged by his initial efforts.

I have never listened to Rush so I'm not one of his disciples. If he said that he wants to see BHO fail in turning the US into a socialist state, then I agree with Rush. Let's say that I wish BHO all the best in resolving our economic woes. I will wish him the worst in attempting to become the North American Hugo Chavez.

Dave Carr

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Subsonic Transport
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If you're going to survive in the airline business, you'd better have a deep seeded desire to be in aviation and fly.

If you depart on a low overcast day with heavy rain, after bitching about management and union heads, lousy pay and benefits, lousy crash pads and commutes, and you then break out into a clear day, if that doesn't give you a little pang of joy, perhaps it's time for retirement.

Over the past couple of years, I've been through some wing bending stress. But, when weather permits, I'll find a hole [a big one] and climb on top. It's a great feeling. It's why I keep going.

Pilots do it better on top!

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Robert Dedman
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The whole world of aviation has always been in a state of flux...new equipment, new training,new rules, etc. and it probably continue that way. I do not mean to bring my history into this discussion except to say, I worked for USAF, Panagra, Capitol, Seven Seas, Interocean, Tran State, Intercontinental US, TWA and NipponCargo....lots of job changes. During the furloughs I went so far as to apply for a job with Caterpillar as South American Rep and when asked what I did before, I told the man and he ask me, would you go back if recalled. I said YES. End of interview. Same thing with Hot Shoppes as manager (all I knew about food was eating it), same deal. The point I would like to make is what has been said before, if you have the "bug" and your only desire is a flying job, work for it and go where ever you can further your career. I still believe that flying can and will be fun and hopefully, rewarding. We had all weathered some miserable times and I am no exception but, I finally made it to TWA, and that was like dying and going to heaven but, those previous jobs, as bad as they might have been, got me in. I still advise young people to look into aviation. Best career I could have ever had, pay cuts, layoffs and all. Part of the "big" experience.
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extwacaptain
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Captain Dedman,

Your most positive thoughts about the airline piloting profession (Past, and Future),
are like a breath of fresh air.

Reading your comments remind me of just how fortunate we both were to have
flown for TWA.

Certainly our passengers who still frequent this message board will find comfort
in knowing that they will always have pilots who love and enjoy their job. (and are
still the 'cream of the crop').

Respectfully,
Randy Kramer

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Robert Dedman
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Thank Captain Kramer!
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