Plane & Pilot
Saturday, May 1, 2004

Cockpit Career Update Part 1: Is Now The Time To Prepare For An Airline Job?


We invited leading industry representatives to our offices in Los Angeles for a conversation about the future of cockpit careers. Here’s what they had to say.


After September 11, pilot careers in 2001 looked bleak. Newspaper articles confirmed the airlines were hemorrhaging red ink, thousands of pilots had been furloughed and new hires appeared to be a thing of the past. While the media continues to talk about the tough times in the commercial air-travel industry, many insiders think the tide has turned." />
Cockpit Career Update Part 1: Is Now The Time To Prepare For An Airline Job?After September 11, pilot careers in 2001 looked bleak. Newspaper articles confirmed the airlines were hemorrhaging red ink, thousands of pilots had been furloughed and new hires appeared to be a thing of the past. While the media continues to talk about the tough times in the commercial air-travel industry, many insiders think the tide has turned.

According to Kit Darby, president of airline career specialists AIR, Inc., “The media keep saying there are no jobs in the industry, and meanwhile, there were 5,000 new pilot jobs last year. This is the time to train, stay current and build quality time, so as hiring heats up, you’re qualified to apply for the airline job you’ve always dreamed of.”

Hiring among the national airlines is already starting to boom. According to AIR Inc., American Eagle is expecting to hire 400; JetBlue, 200; and SkyWest, 150 pilots in 2004; and many other companies are planning to hire around 100 pilots this year. Mesa Airlines is thriving with 600 pilot hires expected this year.

“This is because of our agreements with United Air Lines, America West and US Airways,” says Richard Castle, chief flight instructor for Mesa Airlines Pilot Development. “And the end of our growth spurt isn’t in sight. We went from about 1,200 pilots to about 1,700 pilots in the last year, and that continues with about 50 to 100 new hires each month.” Only a handful of the nationals still have pilots on furlough.

The normal hiring requirements for Mesa and many other comparable airlines are back to pre-September 11 levels: 1,000 total hours with a minimum of 100 multi-engine hours. But these prerequisites are waived for Mesa pilot development program graduates who are hired with as few as 250 hours. Whether the students go through the ab initio or the PACE program, they’re guaranteed interviews with the airline, with a 90% chance of being hired.




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