Regional Airline Association’s 2017 Scholarships Now Available

The submission deadline for 2017 RAA Scholarships is May 1, 2017.

If you’re studying for a career in aviation with Upper Limit Aviation and eyeing the Captain’s chair, you may be interested to know that the RAA’s (Regional Airline Association) 2017 scholarship window is open, and the RAA says that they will be awarding four $4,000 aviation scholarships this summer. The money you can earn with this scholarship can fuel your flight training with ULA and put you miles closer to your end goal of the Captain’s chair.

Qualification Details for the 2017 RAA Scholarships

In order to qualify for the scholarship, you must be a US citizen or permanent resident and submit a completed electronic application no later than May 1, 2017. The RAA says they will not be accepting mailed applications, and will only consider digital applications submitted through their website. Applicants will also need to meet the following requirements:

  • At the time of application and award, applicants must be officially enrolled in an accredited college, in a program that is leading them toward a career in the airline industry.
  • Applicants must have a minimum cumulative 2.5 GPA, and provide a transcript reflecting those grades through the previous academic year at either high school or a college.
  • A resume that details the applicant’s working experience, extracurricular, and/or community activities will need to be provided.
  • Applicants will need to submit a 350-word career essay describing their interest in the airline industry.
  • Applicants will need to provide a faculty recommendation.

Student pilots in flight sim cockpit - 2017 RAA Scholarships Now Available

The RAA says that the scholarships will be awarded “without regard to sex, race, religion or national origin.” Instead, they say the following criteria will be used for ranking the scholarship applicants:

  1. Demonstrated scholastic achievement.
  2. Demonstrated work experience, extracurricular and/or community activities.
  3. The strength of the applicant’s faculty recommendation.
  4. The strength of the applicant’s 350-word career essay.

Recipients of the scholarships will be announced on July 14, 2017, and all recipients will be asked for a headshot and short bio so they can be featured in Regional Horizons, the group’s quarterly publication.

For more information, and to apply for the 2017 RAA scholarships, click here to visit their website.

Upper Limit Aviation is proud to offer any and all assistance possible to our student pilots to help them earn these scholarships and achieve their goals of flight and commercial flight.

Featured Image: Kent Wien, CC2

Get started with your flight training today!

If you would like more information, you can:

  • Call us at 801-596-7722

Adjusting to the High Intensity Schedule of Airline Careers

Airline careers necessitate long hours of crushing boredom punctuated by short periods of intensity. The unique demands placed on airline pilots, crewmembers and mechanics can be met with lifestyle and attitude adjustments.

Noah Timmins

Aviation distinguishes itself from other industries as one that eschews the traditional “nine to five”, “clock in, clock out” work schedule. The unique nature of air travel refuses to play nice with normal concepts of schedules, routines, or habits. In order to accept a career with the airlines, one must have an understanding of the real demands of airline careers.

The penultimate goal of aviation is to ferry passengers and cargo from one location to another in a manner both safe and efficient. Achieving this goal takes superhuman effort from a broad range of people involved in the successful launch of an aircraft. Let us take a snapshot of the demands placed upon people in three rungs of the aviation ladder: maintenance, dispatch, and carriage.

Airline Careers For Mechanics

Airline mechanics must keep aircraft safe for flight. Strict regulations require extensive documentation and procedure control, lengthening the time mechanics must spend on each maintenance operation. Unfortunately, an aircraft grounded due to maintenance earns no money, requiring mechanics to work quickly. These two aspects come together forcefully, causing mechanics to work long hours, under stress from airline owners. Additionally, mechanics have no room to make mistakes, as one mistake in maintenance can quickly snowball into the loss of hundreds of lives.

One small omission of a sheet metal repair once caused the death of 520 souls. When Japan Airlines Flight 123 encountered a tail strike incident in 1977, the damage was repaired by installing a new piece of metal over the affected area and the plane was declared airworthy. In 1984, that same section of the tail cone underwent explosive decompression, destroying a piece of the tail, and sending the aircraft into an uncontrollable state. It crashed into the ground, killing 520 people of the 524 on board. This is the deadliest single-aircraft accident in aviation history and the second deadliest behind the Tenerife disaster.

The root cause was a single small step being omitted in the repair process. One person missed one thing, and 520 people died. This kind of stress is placed on mechanics daily: extensive paperwork documentation required by the FAA attempts to counter these incidents. At the end of the day, however, mechanics must maintain strict vigilance, operating one-hundred percent perfectly under the stress of timetables. Joining an aviation career as a mechanic is a daunting step and not to be taken lightly.

Airline Careers For Dispatchers

Aircraft must not just be airworthy, but also, be flight ready. This falls under the authority of aircraft dispatchers. In terms of airline careers, dispatchers are responsible for organizing and planning flights for an airline. They must keep track of thousands of different things: aircraft maintenance status, patterns of weather, availability of food and fuel, assignment of personnel, and management of aircraft flight times. These people form the backbone of organization for an airline, keeping planes on schedule and ensuring that the carriage of people and cargo is both safe and efficient.

Dispatchers also suffer from the pressure of financial accountability: they solely are responsible for aircraft arriving and departing from airports at specific times, thus, they control the revenue stream for airlines on the ground. Without dispatchers, no airlines would able to maintain a set schedule with fully stocked aircraft and up-to-date maintenance.

Offices for flight dispatchers are hectic environments. American Airlines employs over 1,600 dispatchers at their Forth Worth control center, all working in the same huge room. People scurry about, constantly busy, ensuring that all the stars align for successful aircraft launches. Tickers and charts dot the walls, like a scene from the New York Stock Exchange.

Like the exchange, things can change at the drop of a hat. A plane might suddenly develop a maintenance issue, or an airline servicing cart might be running late. Dispatchers must be able to find a way to solve this problem, without even having minutes to spare: customers will often be sitting in the plane, on the tarmac, impatiently waiting for takeoff. Their enjoyment of the entire process – and thus their opinion of the airline – could change right at this moment. Dispatchers do not have the luxury of time on their side, thus, they must develop a sense of urgency in their job.

However, dispatchers must also not make mistakes. Like the mechanics, a simple error can lead to a major catastrophe. UPS Flight 1354 into Birmingham, Alabama, flew into the ground in 2013, impacting terrain short of the runway, destroying the airplane. The plane was perfectly airworthy, the pilots were fit for duty, and there was no inclement weather. The issue? Dispatchers sent the airplane to the airport for an instrument flight rules landing, even though the instrument landing system at the airport was inoperative. Effectively, this required the pilots to hand-fly the airplane in for a landing, something they had not planned for due to the mistake made way back at the dispatcher’s office.

This little break in the normal chain of an aircraft landing was enough to push the pilots outside of their comfort and ability zone, causing a further breakdown of situational control, and ultimately leading to the loss of both pilots’ lives and the airframe. All this due to the simple error of one person missing a line in the airport status information panel halfway across the country. The slightest little mistake could quickly snowball out of control, bringing down an airplane and – worse – its load of passengers. This is one of the hardest adjustments to make when pursuing a career in aviation: adopting the mindset required to take the grave responsibility of ferrying people through the air.

Airline Careers for Pilots

Lastly, the pilots. Pilots are the ultimate end-all be-all of safe flight. They are the ones in command of the aircraft from when the wheels leave the tarmac until the inevitable return to ground. Pilots form the “last line” of defense against human mistakes and mechanical errors. This puts them in the most important position of an airline, in terms of having the ultimate responsibility for the safe carriage of passengers. Airline careers as a pilot are a solemn undertaking not for the faint hearted.

Everything a pilot does is regimented to the final letter. Every procedure has a physical checklist called out for it, describing the process required and spelling out each step individually. The presence of both a captain and a first officer ensures that a “call and response” style of completing checklists is accomplished on the flight deck. The first officer will call a requirement, such as “Flaps to fifteen degrees”, to which the captain will comply with, then respond with “Flaps, fifteen”. This process ensures that each checklist operation is completed without any possible errors, and has proven its track record: flying through the air is the safest form of travel today.

This small glimpse into the pilots’ routine in the cockpit highlights the importance of each decision the pilot makes. Moving the incorrect switch in the cockpit could put a plane into a situation that requires an emergency landing or becomes unrecoverable. The famous Air France Flight 447 accident over the Atlantic Ocean in 2009 puts this in perspective: the airspeed indication devices of the aircraft became filled with debris, giving the pilots no indication of the speed of the aircraft. This caused the autopilot – responsible for maintaining level flight – to disengage, causing the aircraft to roll right. The pilot, noticing this, grabbed the control stick and wrenched it left in an effort to bring the aircraft level. However, this control input was actually an over-control input, which dragged the aircraft too far into a left roll, causing an aerodynamic stall and the subsequent loss of life and the airframe.

Effectively, the pilot panicked.

This quality is exactly why airlines put such a strict regulation into flight deck management. Pilot training is a 3,000 hour ordeal of managing the flight deck of an airplane. A large portion of this is spent learning how to make decisions. With the control stick in the left hand, the throttle in the right, and 100 souls on board, a pilot’s decision in flight is something that is not taken lightly.

Learning how to fly a plane is a deceptively simple task. Any person can consistently hit the 1000-foot marker on the runway during an instrument landing in a deadly crosswind. All that requires is skill, and skill can be learned. Spending 3,000 hours flying commercial aircraft will give a pilot that skill. The difficult part about piloting is the part that can only be learned and cannot be taught: being a decisive person. The decisions made on the flight deck of an aircraft are the penultimate example of swift thought and swift action.

Captain Sully’s actions during the famous Miracle on the Hudson are a prime example of the character demanded of pilots. US Airways flight 1549 impacted a fleet of birds shortly after takeoff from LaGuardia airport. Both engines of the aircraft immediately lost power. The first officer grabbed the emergency checklist for engine restart – the proper decision – while Captain Sully immediately grabbed the controls, ready to input commands. Unfortunately, due to the nature of the New York City layout, a suitable diversion was unavailable, due to the low altitude of the aircraft. Realizing this, Sully announced to the air traffic controllers that he would attempt to land on the Hudson river. Landing an aircraft successfully on water was considered practically impossible, making Captain Sully’s decision seem poor.

Captain Sullenberger landing US Airways Flight 1549 in the Hudson River

Photo by: Greg L

However, Sully had made his decision. He could have attempted to divert to a possible airport, or attempted to land on a highway, but he had already laid his cards on the table. All of this decision-making occurred over a period less than two minutes. Sully’s approach to the river was cleverly placed: he avoided the cross-river bridges and brought the aircraft down near ferry terminals. The aircraft impacted the water with the aft fuselage – not the engines – resulting in a hard but safe landing. Recovery was successful, with no loss of lives. The NTSB praised Sully, calling it the most successful ditching in airline history.

Captain Sully had a remarkable level of skill at piloting aircraft, being professionally glider trained. More importantly, however, he displayed exceptional decision-making ability. Several alternatives presented themselves. He could not turn around to LaGuardia, he was too slow to make the turn. He could not continue on to New Jersey, he was too low in the sky. He could not land on the highway, it was too far away. His only option was the river, but it was a bad option. Nonetheless, his decisive action brought him to follow-through with his less than optimal decision, saving the lives of hundreds of people.

In Conclusion

Incidents like that highlight the necessity of decision making. This alone will be the hardest step in accepting airline careers. Mechanics, dispatchers, and pilots all face decisions daily that could have disastrous results if performed poorly. However, strict training and attention to detail, combined with the proper attitude of responsibility, will ensure that people depart and arrive safe and on time. This attitude takes time to develop and comes with experience. In the end, the feelings of successfully delivering people is well worth the effort.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Featured Image: Enrique

Upper Limit Aviation Open House Featured on KUTV

Anders Clark

Upper Limit Aviation’s recent open house was featured on KUTV News, as one of their featured STEM stories.1 Upper Limit staff headed into the 2News studio to show off some aviation related tools and discuss what would be covered at the aviation open house.

ULA started by showing sectional charts, flight plans, and an iPad, and discussing the recent advances in aviation technology aimed at making navigation more streamlined for pilots.

We’ve really progressed a lot from the paper and pencil charts, and technology has come forward leaps and bounds, and now we’re using iPads, we’re using computers … before you’d have to carry five or six paper charts just to make a flight, now you can just move around the country simply by the scroll of a finger.

Also discussed in the video were the importance of the weight and balance and center of gravity calculations for an airplane and how they affect flying, and some more details on the upcoming aviation open house.

We’ll have pathways to careers, from piloting to air traffic control, and all aspects of aviation.

The open house, which took place on Saturday, April 30th, at Upper Limit’s Salt Lake campus, featured access to aviation professionals such as pilots (including commercial airline pilots), mechanics, air traffic controllers, airport operations personnel, flight attendants, military veterans, FAA representatives, and aerospace engineers. A large number of aviation-related businesses and organizations had representatives in attendance as well, including Boeing, Delta Airlines, and the US Air Force.

The aviation open house was a success, with crowds of people in attendance, and Upper Limit hopes to host another one soon.

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Footnotes:

1 – The STEM stories are done in partnership with the Utah State Office of Education, which works to develop Utah’s future workforce in the areas of Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM).

Helicopter Pilot Careers: What Jobs Are Out There?

John Peltier

Wondering what’s available in helicopter pilot careers? Don’t worry, there’s no shortage these days. With the current cadre of Vietnam War-era pilots retired or retiring and an absence of younger military pilots filling their place, there are plenty of helicopter pilot careers available.

Being a helicopter pilot isn’t just all about flying helicopters. Helicopter pilots have a lot of responsibility, an indication of all the difficult training required to get to where they’re at.

helicopter pilot careersHelicopter Pilot Duties

As a helicopter pilot, you’ll be ultimately responsible for the safety of your crew and your helicopter. You’ll have to check cargo & passenger manifests to make sure that it doesn’t exceed the limits of your helicopter. You’ll have to study the weather and be familiar with FAA restrictions, using these skills to plan your flights. You’ll need to carefully inspect your helicopter both before and after the flight to make sure it’s in a safe, flyable condition. There is usually paperwork required after each flight, a requirement of both the FAA and most likely your employer. But there’s a whole lot of fun flying in between!

Helicopter pilots aren’t just helicopter pilots when they go to work. Part of being a licensed and employable helicopter pilot means passing an annual physical exam and staying out of trouble with the law.

Starting Your Helicopter Pilot Career

The helicopter pilot career ladder is more or less set in stone for new commercial pilots building flight time, but after that, it’s like a “choose your own adventure” book with the variety of missions that helicopters fly.

Helicopter flight instructors are always in demand and every helicopter pilot is an instructor at one point in their career. As a new commercial pilot with your instructor license, you’ll be passing down your recently acquired knowledge to new pilots. In doing so, you’ll be building valuable flight time. This flight time is necessary before moving on to other helicopter careers. Being a helicopter instructor also makes you a better pilot. You’ll need to refine your maneuvers in order to demonstrate them to new pilots. And those new pilots will present you with situations that really make you think on your feet!

Other than acting as a flight instructor, flying tours is probably the other helicopter pilot career that almost all helicopter pilots will eventually perform. The exciting thing about tours is the wide variety of locations available. And these locations are not the boring ones – they’re places like Kauai, the Grand Canyon, Alaska glaciers, and Lake Tahoe. Not to mention all of the international destinations! Every day you’ll be flying over scenery that tourists are paying top-dollar to experience. This is a great intermediate helicopter pilot career and aids in building flight time fast. Many pilots are ready to move on to higher-profile helicopter pilot careers after only one busy tour season.

Advanced Helicopter Pilot Careers
helicopter pilot careers

Photo by Acroterion

Building time as an instructor and tour pilot is necessary for many turbine jobs. One of the most rewarding civilian helicopter pilot careers is in the emergency services field. Whether it’s fire, medical, or law enforcement, you’ll go to bed satisfied knowing that you saved lives that day. These jobs are very demanding and will really put you to the test.

Wildfire helicopter pilots are often out in the field for weeks at a time during fire season, away from family and friends, flying through smoke all day and all night.

Emergency medical services pilots are on standby, watching TV, reading, or sleeping when the call comes in – then at the drop of a hat are required to pilot their helicopter through fog to land in an area just slightly larger than their rotor diameter, surrounded by telephone wires, and take a patient to a hospital.

Law enforcement pilots almost always need to spend some time on the street initially, meaning you’ll first have to go to a law enforcement academy. Do well on the ground and you’ll quickly find yourself in the air performing a variety of law enforcement tasks, which include highway patrols and search & rescue.

Outside of the emergency services sector, there are more helicopter missions than could possibly be covered here.

helicopter pilot careers

Photo by JL Johnson

Some other examples of helicopter pilot careers:

  • Getting footage for news outlets, also called Electronic News Gathering.
  • Livestock mustering. Herding cattle in the cockpit of a helicopter rather than on the back of a horse!
  • Aerial photography & cinematography. Some of the best footage in movies and television shows is shot from helicopters!
  • Utilities surveying. Gas companies, telephone companies, and power companies require their transcontinental lines to be surveyed on a regular basis. Sometimes you’ll need to position your helicopter right next to tall wires so that a serviceman can make repairs in the air!
  • Many helicopters are often used for personnel transport. This could be taking workers out to offshore oil platforms or chauffeuring the executive of a large national bank.
  • A few more jobs would include agricultural crop spraying, logging, aerial construction, and heli-skiing.
Helicopter Pilots Are Totally Unique

Being a helicopter pilot is not like being an airline captain. Some jobs will allow you to settle in one area for life, but these helicopter careers are usually rare. More often than not you’ll be chasing jobs as old ones get phased out and new ones come up. You’ll have as much opportunity for diversity as you want to take. Some helicopter pilots have said that they’re the type of people who get restless staying in one spot for too long, and that’s why they chose a career as a helicopter pilot – the lifestyle perfectly fed their urge to travel, be on the move, and/or be challenged with new jobs regularly.

If this sounds exciting to you, now is a great time to start researching flight schools to begin your helicopter pilot career!

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Flight Attendant Training: It’s More than the Seat Belt Demo

If the public had a clue as to how necessary flight attendants are and how rigorous the airline flight attendant training programs are, they’d can their stupid comments.

Vern Weiss

They are there neither to serve you a beverage nor bring you a pillow. That’s what the airline’s marketing departments tell them they should do but it’s not their function. They are flight attendants … air host and hostesses … stewards and stewardesses and they are there for only one reason: to save your life if something goes horribly wrong. It’s a proud profession and tough to enter and equally tough to do.

Flying as a captain for one airline, I was inbound one night to New York’s LaGuardia airport. With 106 people on board, it was the last leg of a long day that started out in Tampa. Due to a hurricane nudging its way up the East coast all occupants in our plane had enjoyed our flight as much as anyone might being dragged on a pothole-filled street in a bathtub. Passengers were crabby and had been taking it out on the exhausted flight attendants all day. As usual in lousy weather, LaGuardia was stacked up and New York Center moved us from one holding fix to another, ostensibly inching us closer to the airport. Although the flight ordinarily took one hour we had been in the air 2-1/2 hours.

As the air traffic controller issued yet another holding clearance, hail began to pound our fuselage. The flight interphone chimed and I answered. The “B” flight attendant said the gentleman in seat 23-C was having chest pains. As is procedure, she made a PA announcement asking if any medical professionals were on board. No. Meanwhile, the first officer was busy convincing Approach Control to give us priority handling into LaGuardia. The airspace was thick with airplanes, every one of them filled with passengers similarly without cheer. Aircraft in a sorry state like ours get priority so we were cleared to leave the holding pattern for immediate radar vector headings to a “conga line” to join the airplanes on the approach. This would still take us north of New York City but then we’d double back and land to the south.

flight attendant trainingAnother call to the cabin and I could hear babies crying behind the flight attendant’s taught voice and what sounded like a guy angrily yelling. She’s doing all she could but 23-C is now sweating profusely and his color is changing. To my right, the first officer is arranging for an ambulance to meet us on the ground. A lady in 5-B then pushes the flight attendant’s call button. The “A” attendant breaks off the commotion around seat 23-C to check on what 5-B needs. 5-B thinks she’s having a baby. “…make that TWO ambulances.”

We are cleared for the approach…I call for flaps. Behind me, the flight attendants are doing cabin checks in the midst of telling 5-B to breathe while watching 23-C for signs to start CPR. They’re running through the before-landing PA announcement like an auctioneer. “Breathe ma’am!” “Hang on, sir!” Glide slope intercept. “Landing gear down”. Flight attendants rushing around to configure the cabin for landing. “Full flaps.” One last plea to 5-C to “BREATHE!” then the “A” attendant hustles to strap in her seat. Passengers see the parking lot lights at window level. Meanwhile, the “B” attendant loosens 23-C’s shirt collar, adjusts the fresh air directed to his face, scurries to her fold-down seat and straps in. Ten seconds later our main landing gear touches down on runway 22.

For flight attendants, it’s all in a day’s work. And very likely on that flight, there were passengers who went home grousing that the flight attendants didn’t offer drink refills.

So, What Does a Flight Attendant Do?

Let’s cut through it all and talk about why a flight attendant is there in the first place. He or she exists to evacuate the aircraft if something bad happens. When an airplane crashes, ditches, skids off a runway or its cabin fills with smoke, the flight attendants are responsible for getting the passengers out. Don’t rely too much on that doofus occupying the seat next to the emergency exit. Like most passengers he was ignoring the flight attendant’s safety announcement and will probably not be able to figure out how to operate the mechanism anyway. In addition, he’ll be crushed and immobilized by people crowding him against the exit. Add to the mix a fuselage that’s upside-down, in water or filled with smoke or fire and it’s no scenario for an amateur. It is the flight attendants who will get the exits open, escape slides activated and people moved out without life-threatening gridlock in the cabin.

flight attendant training

Photo by roman ring

The FAA manual titled Flight Standards Information System (FSIMS) is a repository containing documentation, interpretation, and guidance for FAA inspectors. It’s used for certification and operations of commercial operators. Although regulations specify the criteria1 and duty/rest periods for flight attendants2 it was not until 1985 that the FAA made a legal interpretation to define the flight attendant’s job.3 And here it is: “Safety briefings, Compliance checks of seat belt fastening, Conducting passenger briefings, Ensuring passenger compliance with stowage of the food and beverage tray, Ensuring passenger compliance with the seatbelt and no smoking placards/lights, Checking for the proper stowage of carry-on baggage, Attending distressed passengers, or Responding to emergency situations.” As you see there’s no mention of providing beverage service or pillows. (Those come from the company’s marketing department.)

Flight attendants (or “FAs”) working for FAA Part 121, 125 or 135 operators fall under strict regulations. This is not the case for a flight attendant working for a Part 91 corporate aviation department. Corporate Part 91 flight attendants very often exist primarily for passenger comfort whereas the air carrier flight attendant is a safety role.

FAs belong to a branch of the Flight Operations department called “inflight.” The phrase “inflight” is used casually to describe those holding the position of a flight attendant (as in saying “Who’s working inflight?” instead of “Who are the flight attendants?”).

Until 2003, FAs were not required to be certificated in the US. The certification process is simple. An air carrier’s Director of Operations confirms that a flight attendant has completed its airline flight attendant training course and submits an application for a Flight Attendant Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency. The certificate need not be carried by the flight attendant but must be produced within 15 days if requested by the FAA or National Transportation Safety Board.4

All About the Airline Flight Attendant Training Programs

So what does the airline flight attendant training program involve? Commercial operators requiring compulsory FAs produce a manual approved word-for-word by the FAA. This “bible” is called the company’s Operations Manual and in it is specified what the company agrees to do to train their inflight personnel. More likely than not, the airline flight attendant training programs greatly exceed the spartan requirements found in the regulations. The Sunday newspapers are full of advertisements from schools offering to train you as a flight attendant. This may make training easier but you will still have to pass the airline flight attendant training program of the specified air carrier for which you are hired.

The training is pretty standard between all airlines with variations necessitated by different aircraft configurations. Some airlines use flight attendants on every type of aircraft they fly while others don’t. Aircraft complexity limits the number that one should fly, but it was more ironed-out in negotiations between the airline and its flight attendants’ union.

Initial airline flight attendant training typically runs run no less than 3 weeks and no more than 8 weeks. The Operations Manual specifies what you will spend in classroom lectures. 95% of your flight attendant training program will be safety-related. You will practice evacuation drills, CPR, and first aid, operation of emergency equipment, safety demonstrations, fire fighting and learn about aviation security. Given the unmindful obsession many passengers have with it, you may be surprised to learn that very little of training is devoted to customer service! It’s very expensive to train flight attendants so the airline wants you producing as soon as possible. So most of what you will learn about passenger amenities comes after you are actually on the job.

Airlines either own their own simulators (or lease them from other companies), and this is where the bulk of your training will occur. You will memorize, practice and be graded on all the announcements but that’s not the “fun stuff.” Your simulator is a mock-up of an actual fuselage. In it, you will experience all sorts of adverse conditions like smoke in the cockpit, severe turbulence, and even ditching. Yep. Be sure to bring a swimsuit because you will evacuate your classmates in a swimming pool built just for this training purpose.

In the last phase of your training, you will be paired with an experienced flight attendant who will fly with you on live, passenger-carrying trips. This final portion of your preparation is called “I.O.E” (Initial Operating Experience). You will work the flight as if you are already qualified but the IOE instructor will be making a final check of your abilities. This ordinarily amounts to a 2 to 4 day trip but can be extended if you need a little more time.

Although fading into obscurity, many airlines still have height and weight requirements. These are not meant to discriminate against anyone. They exist because height and weight may preclude some from being capable of performing the physical demands of their duties. Age requirements are essentially non-existent. In fact, I know a man in his sixties who retired from a career as a bank president! I asked him why he wanted the job of a flight attendant and he said he loved travel, talking to people and hated the rocking chair.

Next time you watch a flight attendant go through their demo with the seat belt and oxygen mask remember that they are even more bored with it than you are, BUT they HAVE to do it. If they don’t, an incognito inspector can bring a violation against them, their airline or even shut down the company. More importantly, someone who IS paying attention may get some vital information that could save their life. Now doesn’t that make drink refills and pillows seem awfully silly?

Get Started With Your Flight Training Today

You can get started today by filling out our online application. If you would like more information, you can call us at (844) 435-9338, or click here to start a live chat with us.

Sources:

1 – Federal Aviation Regulations 14 CFR Part 121 Section 381 Flight Attendants
2 – 14 CFR 121.467 – Flight attendant duty period limitations and rest requirements: Domestic, flag, and supplemental operations
3 – Flight Standards Information System 8900.1 Vol III Chapter 33 Sec. 4 (Para. 3-3513)
4 – http://www.faa.gov/other_visit/aviation_industry/airline_operators/airline_safety/info/all_infos/media/2008/info08016.pdf

Helicopter Pilot Salary: How Much Can You Make?

John Peltier

If you’re considering a career as a helicopter pilot, one of the many aspects you’re undoubtedly wondering about is a helicopter pilot’s salary. I wish there was an easy answer for this, but the truth is that with all of the helicopter pilot jobs available, the helicopter pilot salary range is very wide. But that’s one of the things that make helicopters so cool – the wide variety of missions that you can fly!

On the low end, a commercial helicopter pilot may only earn $25,000 per year while on the high end a salary may be as much as $150,000. The website Payscale.com has surveyed helicopter pilots and found that the average helicopter pilot salary is roughly $73,000.

The Starting Helicopter Pilot Salary

If you’re a new commercial helicopter pilot, chances are you’ll have to pay your dues as a flight instructor. Some tour companies will let new pilots fly piston helicopters on tours if the flight hours for insurance minimums are met.

Flight instructors are for the most part not on “salary”; they get paid by the hour. And this varies between flight hours, ground instructor hours, simulator hours, etc. Different schools also have big swings in pay scales depending on instructor experience and operating costs of the school. If you have a lot of students at a big school chances are you’ll be doing well. At a small school with only a couple of students, you may need to take on a second job until you can build more hours. An average, full-time flight instructor can anticipate making $30,000 during the first year. It may not sound like a lot of money but is necessary for building helicopter flight time for pilot jobs with a higher salary.

The Mid-Range Helicopter Pilot Salary

Helicopter pilot flying a helicopter over a forested area - Helicopter Pilot Salary

Once you get somewhere over 1,000 hours you’ll be able to secure better helicopter pilot jobs, and most definitely one with a better salary than what you have been earning. Flying as a tour pilot in a turbine helicopter is usually the next progression. An entry-level turbine tour pilot usually makes somewhere around $40,000-$50,000. But again, much of this depends on location, company size, experience level, etc.

Pilots in emergency services generally make more money. A helicopter pilot salary for EMS can range from $50,000-$90,000 per year. Firefighting helicopter pilots typically only work those jobs during the fire season, somewhere around six months, and earn on average $75,000 in the six-month period.

The High-End Helicopter Pilot Salary

The high end of helicopter pilot salaries include jobs flying the offshore oilrigs, and for business executives and other VIPs. These helicopter pilots can expect to earn over $100,000 per year.

Payscale.com has also found that some of the higher-paying helicopter pilot jobs are in Jacksonville, Florida, where an average helicopter pilot salary of $108,000 was reported. Similar salaries were reported in San Diego and New York City. Some of this is compensation for living expenses in those areas. You may be earning more, but you’ll also be forced to spend more.

Bonuses may be available for jobs that require moving around (a relocation allowance) and/or for time in remote areas like the Arctic.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is, don’t expect to earn a lot of money your first few years as a helicopter pilot. This is true in any pilot job. Many people hear “pilot” and immediately see dollar signs in their head. Just like any job you’ll have to pay your dues first and it will challenge you. But it pays off, not only with a better salary later on down the road, but also with the opportunities to do things with a helicopter that fixed-wing pilots only dream of.

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Careers in Aviation: Opportunities Outside of the Airlines

Bryce Bailey

Professional pilot. What was the first image you just thought of? If it was an airline pilot, you’re probably like most everyone else in the country. There are many opportunities to earn a living in a variety of careers in aviation outside of the traditional airline track, however! Below are a few options to get you started.

Agricultural Careers in Aviation

Also known as “crop dusters”, ag pilots perform a critical function for the farmers of America’s agricultural industry. According to the National Agricultural Aviation Association, there are approximately 2,700 ag pilots in the United States with an average age exceeding 50 years old (2015). These pilots will soon be retiring, leaving a unique window of opportunity for those interested in pursuing this exciting path.

Requirements to be an ag pilot include holding a commercial pilot certificate with the respective ratings for the aircraft you’ll be flying (airplane or rotorcraft), a second class medical, a pesticide license for each state you operate in, and being able to meet the insurability requirements for the aircraft you will be flying.

Careers in AviationWhile flying is a significant aspect of the job, there’s more to being an ag pilot than just hopping into the plane or helicopter each morning. It requires a thorough understanding of the chemicals you are applying and knowledge of the crops you are working with. You can expect your first two years on the job to consist of learning the ground operations as a chemical loader before gradually transitioning to the flight side.

Additionally, ag aviation is a seasonal industry. How many crops can you think of that grow in the middle of December? During the summer, ag pilots are up before sunrise and work until the temperature gets too hot for their chemicals to be applied or until the sun goes down, whichever occurs first. In the offseason, ag pilots may work other jobs or complete continuing education in the ag industry.

Most ag pilots are paid based upon the number of acres they treat, with incomes ranging from $20,000-40,000 for first year pilots and rising to $60,000-100,000 for more experienced pilots.

For more information about an ag aviation career, just read this article about Upper Limit Aviation alum Caleb Mason.

Corporate Careers in Aviation

Corporate aviation is another opportunity for an aspiring commercial pilot. According to the NBAA, there are approximately 15,000 business aircraft registered in the United States (2015). These vary from small, single-engine piston aircraft to large, multi-engine transport category aircraft to helicopters. All of these aircraft require someone to fly them! While the first thing that may come to mind when you think of corporate aviation is a Fortune 500 flight department, according to the NBAA only 3% of the U.S. business aircraft fleet is registered to a Fortune 500 company. The rest are operated by smaller companies such as your local supermarket chain or a local law firm.

One exciting aspect of corporate aviation is the variety of airports you will operate into compared to your airline colleagues. According to the NBAA, corporate aviation reaches 10 times the number of airports that U.S. airlines operate into. Rather than fly the New York to Boston milk run for the fourth time in two days, as a corporate pilot, you may fly into Grand Island, Nebraska one day and Jackson Hole, Wyoming the next.

The minimum requirements for obtaining a job as a corporate pilot are a commercial pilot certificate and a second class medical. If the company aircraft requires a type rating, you will, of course, need that as well. Many companies, however, will have established internal hiring minimums, whether as a matter of safety or to meet applicable insurance requirements for the aircraft. Generally, the larger the company and more advanced the aircraft, the higher you can expect the requirements to be.

The pay for a corporate pilot also varies widely from $37,000 as a first officer on a small business jet to upwards of $190,000 as a captain on a Gulfstream 650, according to a 2014 survey conducted by Professional Pilot magazine (Salary study, 2014). In return for these generous salaries, however, you can often expect to be on call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, rather than have the predictable schedule of an airline pilot.

Charter Careers in Aviation

Careers in Aviation

Photo by Fly Jersey

Also referred to as “air taxi” or “on-demand” flying, charter aviation is very similar to corporate aviation. The main distinction is that on-demand flying operates under Part 135 of the Code of Federal Regulations while most corporate flying operates under Part 91.

While Part 91 does not have any explicit regulatory minimums, Part 135 flying does. In order to act as pilot-in-command under IFR during a Part 135 operation, you must hold a commercial pilot certificate and second class medical, have at least 1,200 hours total time, 500 hours cross country, 100 hours night flying experience, and 75 hours of instrument time. In some cases, you must hold an airline transport pilot certificate rather than just a commercial certificate. The requirements to act as pilot-in-command on a VFR flight are slightly less. In this case, you only need 500 hours total time, 100 hours cross country, and 25 hours of night flight (14 CFR Part 135, 2015).

Examples of this type of flying include Grand Canyon sightseeing flights, medical transport companies, or on-demand cargo companies flying small piston or turbo-prop airplanes between small outstations. Some charter companies do operate larger, turbine powered aircraft however.

According to the 2014 Pro Pilot study mentioned earlier, pay as a charter pilot on the low end is comparable to that of an entry-level corporate pilot, with high end salaries for a charter Gulfstream captain topping out around $149,000 per year. Pay will, of course, vary by company, aircraft type, and region.

Law Enforcement Careers in Aviation

Law enforcement aviation is another opportunity for those who are interested in being a professional pilot, but also want to serve their communities. As a law enforcement pilot, you may fly either fixed wing airplanes or helicopters. On any given day, your mission may be to provide airborne assistance to ground units in traffic enforcement, manhunt or search and rescue operations. Additionally, some state law enforcement agencies also provide executive air transport for senior state government officials (OHP, 2015).

In order to become a law enforcement pilot, many agencies require you to first spend some time as a ground based law enforcement officer to get an idea of what those officers are going through while you are in the air. Additionally, during times of budget reductions, you may be sent back to being a ground based officer if the need for aviation law enforcement manpower cannot be funded. If this does not appeal to you, you might give a second thought to this career path.

Careers in Aviation

Salaries and benefits for law enforcement pilots are often comparable to that for ground based law enforcement and varies widely by region, though the benefits and job security are often good, as with most government positions. Minimum requirements, as a rule of thumb, are a commercial pilot certificate and second class medical.

Conclusion

While being an airline pilot can be one of the great careers in aviation, don’t be a victim of tunnel-vision. There is an abundance of other opportunities available to those seeking a career as a professional pilot outside of the traditional airline track. All you have to do is find them!

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Aviation Careers: Looking at All the Available Options

If you love airplanes but are unsure if being a pilot is for you, like Heinz soup, there are 57 varieties of great aviation careers that are every bit as important and interesting.

Vern Weiss

Did I say 57 varieties? There are probably over 57 different kinds of aviation technicians alone! How d’ya choose one? And what if ‘ya find ‘ya hate it? Let’s start by illustrating the short-sighted public perception of aviation: To most people aviation consists of pilots and air traffic controllers. The End.

Boy are people that think that in W0X0F1 conditions!

Pilot Aviation Careers

OK. let’s get the pilot thing out of the way first so we can move on to the bajillion other aviation careers available. We all know there are pilots but what you may not realize is that there are very different kinds of pilots. There are business pilots, airline pilots, charter pilots, medical transport pilots, bush pilots, instructor pilots, military pilots, agricultural pilots, aerial photography/cartography pilots and the list would continue to the bottom of this page if we let it. But ask a flier who has been a pilot in two or more of these categories if being a pilot in one category is the same as flying in another, the answer would be a resounding “NO!” Flying for the airlines is vastly different than flying for a private corporation which is vastly different than flying as a charter pilot. It’s almost as different when jumping from being one kind of pilot to another as it is changing your job as a pilot to a job as a non-pilot. What makes each category different is way beyond the space available in this article but suffice it to say, there are airline pilots who hated it and quit and became corporate pilots and loved it (and vice versa).

Right now there are 58,100,000 employed in the aviation industry worldwide. With 7,391,000,000 people on planet Earth, we can infer that 1 out of every 127 people you see on the street work in aviation.2

Other Aviation Careers

You are well aware that some of the aviation job categories such as pilots and air traffic controllers require holding a medical certificate. But what if you love aviation and cannot pass the medical exam or are working in one of the areas requiring one then, unfortunately, lose it due to poor health? Fear not. There are bucket loads of other support jobs that would enable you to remain in aviation. Dispatchers, mechanics, avionics technicians, operations management, and instructors are all areas that someone who cannot pass the physical exam can enter and the bonus is that these jobs usually pay very well.

One of the features of working for an airline is the travel benefits. For this reason, many are quite willing to work in support areas such as clerical, publications, cleaning, ramp operations and customer service so they can enjoy worldwide airline travel. A word of caution here, however: Look at all the benefits offered by one company versus another and not just its travel benefits. Some airlines’ travel benefits are essentially in “name only” and are offered with lots of strings attached.

Maybe you just like being around airplanes and managing an airport would fit your lifestyle. These jobs are stable and decently compensated because they are tied to city or county bureaucracies. Not all airport manager jobs will blind you with benefits, however. There do exist some smaller airports where the airport manager is only a part-time gig. In some cases that manager is provided a trailer on the airport property to live in as part of the “compensation package.” Obviously is takes a very special set of circumstances for such an arrangement to be attractive to someone seeking a professional aviation career.

Federal Aviation Careers

Federal jobs abound in aviation. Working for the FAA as an inspector or the NTSB as an investigator is a most interesting job. The pay is good and the benefits are…well… why do you think taxes are so high? Every state has its own department of transportation and state civil service jobs are plum ways to earn a living. Ordinarily when state aviation jobs are advertised applicants are judged on a merit system and ranked by points awarded for their credentials and experience. The highest ranked person gets the job.

Air Medical Aviation Careers

One of the fastest growing aviation fields today is medical air transportation. In addition to bountiful fixed-wing and helicopter pilot opportunities, there are deep shortages for fliers as well as flight nurses, paramedics, and dispatch people. On the up-side there are bajillions of medical transportation companies sprouting up everywhere so if you’d like to live in a more remote or smaller community, the odds are great that a job will sprout up there. Do a search on the Internet and you will find little one-horse towns everywhere looking for people to run their medical flights. In addition to transporting people who are sick or injured to regional medical centers, there are many medical support companies that are in the business of providing transplant organs, blood and tissue to hospitals. When an organ becomes available and someone somewhere needs it, somebody has to fly that organ to wherever it is needed so the pressure is on and the stress high. It is no surprise that the turnover is high too but the pay is very, very good.

Military Aviation Careers

Who hasn’t dreamed of flying a super-cool military fighter jet? If you can qualify, you can. But the military also has many of the same airborne needs as any airline: dispatchers, aviation meteorologists, mechanics, and avionics to name a few. A military pilot may never set foot in a fighter jet. In fact, the military flies passenger transports aircraft such as the Boeing 737 (called a C-40A when in military use) as well as many specialty aircraft that remains hush-hush. One fighter pilot remarked to this writer that he loved getting out of the fighter squadron to fly transport in the Air Force’s C-9A (also known as a McDonnell Douglas DC-9). He said it was “shirt sleeve flying” and a nice change from flying in bulky pressure suits and helmets. Other than all the brass regalia worn by his passengers it sounded pretty much like a corporate flying job.

Which Aviation Career is Right for You?

So how do you decide which direction to go? First realize that it’s not always about the money you’ll make. Countless people are work at jobs paying obscenely high amounts of money, but they hate every morning they wake up. So figure out what you’d LOVE doing. Think about the jobs you’ve considered in the past and the ones advertised in the newspaper that you passed over because you couldn’t see yourself doing such-and-such day in and day out. It may take some time…weeks or months or even years to finally realize what you truly enjoy doing. As the saying goes, “do what you love, love what you do.”

Next, take an honest look at yourself and decide what you want and don’t want from a job. If you hate the idea of being away from your family on weekends, overnights and holidays corporate aviation might not be your thing. But if you like lots of time off and a very good paycheck, you might decide that you can “suck it up” and celebrate Christmas with your family on a different day than December 25th. Sometimes tradeoffs counter-balance the liabilities of an occupation.

If your interests or situation changes don’t be afraid to try something different. There are many aircraft mechanics who grew tired to turning a wrench and segued into the training department of an airline. Who better can explain the systems of an aircraft than a mechanic who used to work on them? Or perhaps you tire of the cubical-centric sedentary lifestyle of a dispatcher and decide you’d prefer to be out in the sunshine on the ramp, guiding in aircraft and seeing just how much abuse passenger luggage can take.

It is said that the average person changes careers at least 3 times during their lifetime. So consider what you think you may enjoy doing and try it. People who love their work often say they learned to like even the parts they once hated. They might not like something but they love their job and know that that “something” is part of what they love. If you find you really like it you will advance nicely. If you discover you hate everything about it, you eventually will probably notice everyone but you is being promoted. Disdain is hard to hide from your employer. Give yourself a break, admit you don’t like it and try something else. After all, guys like Howard Cosell, Tony LaRussa, and Jerry Springer decided after becoming lawyers that they liked other things better. And so can you.

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Footnotes and Sources:

1 This is an aviation weather term, translated it means an indefinite ceiling at ground level but they can’t be sure because the ceiling is obscured and the visibility is zero in fog.

2 http://www.atag.org/facts-and-figureshttp://www.worldometers.info/world-population/

Have You Ever Thought of Becoming a Pilot?

The Journey from Fixed Wing Single Engines to Jets

Shawn Arena

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

That is one question I am sure almost all of us can remember being asked by either parents, teachers, or friends when we were young. Most certainly we replied with an answer such as a ballplayer, a doctor, a nurse, or a fireman.

As we mature and experience the world around us our dreams continue to expand – until that one day when someone would ask that follow-up question “Have you ever thought of becoming a pilot?” Almost immediately our dreams turned towards the sky. That is what happened with me. Though I had a grandfather who first flew in the 1930s, I was left to discover for myself what I wanted to do when I grew up-until he asked the question that titles this article.

If someone has posed that question to you and you don’t know where to begin, hopefully this article will serve as that ‘leading edge of the wing’ to provide some insight. “But I don’t know where to start” may be the question you are asking yourself right now. Don’t worry, there are options readily available to explore. If you are in elementary school, consider a high school that has an aviation program. More and more high schools are expanding their core curriculum to include a private pilot ground school that can lead to earning your Fixed Wing Private Pilot, Single Engine Land Certificate. A nice add-on to also consider with your high school education is getting involved with an ROTC program- an easy bridge to an aviation career. That is what really motivated me!

After high school the amount of four-year universities that offer an aviation education are numerous: Embry-Riddle, Arizona State, Auburn, Ohio State, and Baylor Universities are just a few of the many offering Bachelor’s Degrees in an aviation program.

If you are considering a career in any branch of the military, aviation is an important component of their respective career paths as well (especially the U.S. Air Force, Navy, Marine Corps. and Coast Guard).

Another option to consider if the aviation college or the military paths are not appealing, go down to your local airport and check out the FAA designated flight schools at a Fixed Based Operator (FBO). They are always eager to answer all your questions, provide a career path or even offer you a Discovery Flight to get started on your dream.

Either way you choose to pursue, advance ratings and certifications follow accordingly after the single engine experience. The tip of the pyramid however is the title of Air Transport Rated Pilot (ATP) – another fancy name for Commercial Airline Pilot. The commercial airline pilot is the typical mindset the general public thinks of when talking about aviation. Though the road may be tough – starting out as a regional pilot and then ‘getting your dream shot’ as an airline pilot, the satisfaction is priceless. Corporate aviation is a similar path to the airline pilot career. Since by definition commercial pilots are flying for hire – you get to fly executive aircraft with state-of-the-art automation to some of the most beautiful places on earth. Wow!

So what are you waiting for? Start by exploring your local airport, high school or even college catalogs to see which track you want to pursue as you’re researching becoming a pilot. After all the sky’s the limit.

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