Next to fighter jocks, helicopter pilots are probably the most iconoclastic flavor of aviators flying today. That’s why the issue of unionization can be so sensitive. Both Petroleum Helicopters Inc. and Air Log have unionized pilot workforces. Both made the transition in widely different ways.
“The changing dynamics of aviation have brought a lot of people to corporate aviation,” said corporate pilot Darcy Eggeman at last month’s Women in Aviation Conference. “The passengers want to know who’s flying the aircraft, who their flight attendants are and who their mechanics are. The best way to do that is to have their own aircraft.
Independent pilots have been joined by flight attendants and mechanics in the newly renamed Independent Contract Aviation Professionals of America association (ICAPAmerica). The organization, which grew out of an online forum for independent contract pilots, held a breakfast get-together in Orlando, Fla., on the last day of this fall’s NBAA Convention.
Where will we find tomorrow’s pilots? The military, long a provider of trained aviators, hasn’t produced sufficient numbers to satisfy the civil aviation demand for quite some time. It is the collegiate and private-academy flight-training programs that have taken up the slack and will continue to be the primary provider of pilots indefinitely.
With the U.S. economy vacillating between recession and recovery for most of the year, no one was terribly surprised when the Department of Labor reported that unemployment figures climbed to nearly 6 percent in October. And as a wavering marketplace goes, so too does the use of business aircraft and hence the need for qualified professionals to staff them.
Ron flies a Gulfstream IV based at Dallas Love Field and he loves his job–most of the time. But the 42-year-old married father of two young children has found the on-demand culture of delivering teams of executives, who make decisions on a dime, is wreaking havoc with his family life.
As one French regional airline bites the dust, another is ready to take its place, operated by the company’s former pilots. R-Lines has been placed into “legal observation,” which means it will almost certainly be declared bankrupt at the beginning of next month following its failure to meet its debt obligations.
Want to learn how to land your dream flying job? Then Job Hunting for Pilots by Gregory Brown (Iowa State University Press; www.isupress.com; $21.95; ISBN 0-8138-1042-6) will help put you on the right glidepath.
The aviation industry has often been heavily focused on the requirement for new-hire pilots to have a college degree, that is up until the past few years when the supply of university-educated applicants began to evaporate. Since supply and demand dictated hiring more people without a college-level education, the industry looked toward high-school graduates who have worked their way up.
Ten pilots acting together have petitioned the FAA to allow airmen to fly as PICs under Part 121 after reaching age 60.