Saturday, August 17, 2013

The More Things Change, The More They Stay The Same

A comment on my last post asked if I could elaborate on how the industry has changed since the writing of this book.

The first instance would be the rise and fall of different airlines.

Skyservice and Zoom have disappeared. Sunwing has expanded significantly. Jazz is no longer the exclusive regional airline service provider for Air Canada as SkyRegional also now flies Air Canada routes.

 WestJet and Porter have expanded significantly. WestJet has just recently launched WestJet Encore.

The hiring requirements and statistics have changed for most airlines as well. For example, in the book I mention that Air Canada was hesitant to hire from Jazz - I no longer think that this is the case. Also, with WestJet's expansion, they have recently moved to a 3 pilot base system - Vancouver, Calgary and Toronto.

The next instance would be the various aviation programs out there. There have been more university aviation programs developed since I wrote the book. The full effectiveness of these programs remains to be seen. I think it is great that schools are developing programs where future pilots can get their flight training and a degree. However, the extremely high cost for some of these programs may make it very challenging to get a first job and be able to afford the necessities of life.

I still believe that there is no "Best Aviation Program" in Canada. There are paths that are right for some people, but not for others. But, I'm no longer in a position to be up to date on the requirements for each program and their individual pros and cons. I also know that at various times colleges have had programs with Jazz or other regional airlines for a position for a select group of students after graduation. I'm not sure which of these programs still exist.

Air Georgian in Toronto has also started an Cadet program. This is something that is seen more in European or Asian airlines. It has just started. It's expensive, but the 'guarantee' of a job at the end on a Beech 1900D is an interesting idea. On the one hand, I would have loved to have moved directly to a Beech 1900D right after college. On the other hand, the skills you develop while flying up north are something that you would not get by moving to a commuter airline environment directly after your flight training.

I still think that being a pilot can be a very good job, but it is necessary for people to know what they are getting into. As someone who no longer flies for a living, it's quite interesting to see what the life of my friends and former colleagues are like. In some senses, I'm envious - they get to fly, they get to travel, they have different days off, they have travel benefits etc. On the other hand, they are away from home more often, they are forced to move due to seniority, they miss important dates (birthdays, holidays, child's first steps), they don't have a regular sleep cycle and they have the difficult decision of trying to determine if they should take a pay cut to move to a job at a larger airline.

The general topics outlined in the book are still very relevant in determining if someone should be a pilot, how they should go about doing so and what their career goals are. Some of the specifics have changed.

Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Book and Blog Status

As can probably be seen by the date of blog entries, I haven't been focusing too much on this blog. My full time job as a lawyer keeps me extremely busy.

The book itself is now almost 6 years old. The aviation industry has changed significantly in the last 6 years. Unfortunately, there are a few things in the book that are now out of date. I was looking at doing a second edition, but with my current time commitments, I do not see that happening in the near future. Some of the specific hiring information at different airlines is out of date - in fact, a number of the airlines are now bankrupt!

All that being said, I do think the book still serves its primary purpose of providing the important thoughts and considerations as to whether someone wants to be a pilot. There have been a number of reviews of the book on (Thanks!). One of the most recent one was that the book saved the reviewer $80,000 - as after reading the book, and consulting with his family, he decided being a pilot was not for him.

Being a pilot can be a great job. But it's not for everyone. The book gets you to really think about the road that lies ahead. If your response is "Sounds great, I'm up for the challenge!", then I think you'll really enjoy a career as a pilot.

Also, deciding to become a pilot and the routes to take can be difficult, personal decisions. The book does a good job of outlining the different pros and cons of taking a university / college program, or a traditional flight school. Be sure to check the internet for the most recent programs and program requirements. Unfortunately, with practicing law full time, I have not been able to keep track of all the program requirements and some of the new programs.

All that being said, I do try my best to answer individual questions sent to my piloteh gmail account. That's the only media where I'm able to answer direct questions. I do my best to provide through answers to well thought out questions.

I only ask that questions be specific and related to Canadian Aviation. If a question is "tell me all I need to know to become a pilot" - My answer would be to start by heading to your local library (or ordering off of amazon or chapters if you're so inclined) and reading the book. If there are additional questions afterwards, I am happy to answer.

Fly Safe!