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.