Archive for September, 2009

New Blood from Where?

Wednesday, September 30th, 2009

PilotPopFollowing up last week’s discussion on CFI pay, let’s broaden it out a bit more to where the new pilots are coming from or not coming from.

If we continue on the present course, the number of pilots in the U.S. with current medical certificates will dip below 600,000. This is down from 800,000 in the early ’80’s. Not so good!

The question is why? AOPA has done some research on why people don’t become pilots or stay active. Some of the answers were:

1. Time and money – not enough of either or both.

2. Didn’t like the flight school or CFI.

3. It wasn’t as much fun and/or a lot more work than I thought it would be.

4. There are a lot of other cool things to do that give me greater satisfaction.

5. It scares me – all I read about is crashes.

Seems to boil down to the value equation – I’ll pay a lot for something that is perceived of great value and not much for something that isn’t. Is aviation not the value it used to be? Is it becoming so commonplace that the “cool factor” isn’t there? Are the economics totally out of whack? Has it become too complex?

There are no simple answers and this is an unscientific survey but we’d like to hear from all of you – don’t just lurk. AOPA, the Air Safety Foundation, the industry and you, as pilots, all have skin in this game. Collectively, we need to understand the problems and then come up with some ideas.

It’s your turn now……


Wednesday, September 23rd, 2009

instructing2“….The money that had been made since the dawn of aviation by all of this country’s airline companies was zero. Absolutely zero.”

— Warren Buffett, billionaire investor, interview 1999.

There might be a number of flight instructors who feel that way about the money they’ve invested to get the apprenticeship job that so many think it is. The truth is that good flight instruction is some of the most challenging flying there is and we may have the whole pay scale in aviation upside down.

The compensation of CFIs is abysmal in many cases. The worst case is the poverty level wage, with few, if any, benefits and then only when the engine is running – rainy days and Mondays are pretty depressing.

Skilled labor for most any profession begins somewhere about $50 per hour and up. Auto technicians, sailing , tennis, golf, ski instructors and plumbers often do much better. True, they’re not in aviation but….

A friend who runs a flight school and was about to lose one of his senior CFIs offered him $100/hour as well as some benny’s and shazam! – the CFI decided to stay and took a whole new interest in being a really good value to his students.

Another Buffett quote applies here “Your premium brand had better be delivering something special, or it’s not going to get the business.” i.e you’d better be worth it.

As we grapple with how to deal with a high dropout rate for both students and CFIs, I wonder what the community thinks about this?

Hudson Thoughts

Thursday, September 17th, 2009

hudson-seminar-picThis week ASF held a live seminar/webinar in Newark, NJ to discuss the Hudson River corridor collision between a fixed wing aircraft and a sightseeing helicopter. Three hundred sixty pilots turned out and 200 more joined us on the web.

The topic is an emotional one. The FAA and industry formed a working group several weeks ago to figure out what steps should be taken to make the corridor safer for all. Our seminar reviewed the accident, discussed the corridor and what many of the proposed changes would look like.

There was a least some consensus on the need for stricter rules regarding the use of the radio, reporting points, entry and exit points. The Terminal Area Chart will be enlarged with much more detail.

One area that was “warmly discussed” was the proposed altitude separation between transient or through traffic and local flights. Under the proposed rules, the ceiling of the airspace would be expanded to 1,300′ from the current 1,100′ with local traffic staying below 1,000′. The idea is to separate the air tours and helicopter traffic from those flying up or down the corridor – ostensibly one of the factors contributing to the August collision.

SA15There were pros and cons discussed at the seminar and we may ultimately get to the point where nobody is completely satisfied. That may be the best indication of a workable solution. Two objectives to keep in mind – One, we want the corridor to stay open and useful to as many users as possible. Two, it needs to be done in safety. Despite being the only collision in the corrdior for 45 years, aviation is held to a much different standard than other forms of transport. Stay tuned

You can read more here-Fuller Testifies on Hudson River Corridor.