Airlines making rentals virtually free for pilot training?

Discussion in 'Flight Following' started by Tom Wells, Sep 22, 2022 at 2:47 PM.

  1. Tom Wells

    Tom Wells Pre-takeoff checklist

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    $25/h all paid for on an interest free loan. Not bad for flying an LSA around. Sounds like an amazing deal for aspiring airline pilots. Is there some catch I'm not seeing?


    Per WSJ article: https://www.wsj.com/articles/how-on...shortage-lend-pilots-money-to-fly-11663844401

    Story:
    Regional airline company Mesa Air Group Inc. is offering a new way for pilots who have gone through initial training to build up the hundreds of additional flying hours they need to qualify for airline jobs.

    The airline, which flies for United Airlines Holdings Inc., American Airlines Group Inc. and cargo carrier DHL Express, said Thursday that it acquired 29 small two-seat planes with options to buy as many as 75 more over the next year. It plans to extend pilots interest-free loans to fly those planes around until they have accumulated the hours they need to work at Mesa.

    “I really believe this will crack open the nut in terms of all these pilots out there trying to build time,” Jonathan Ornstein, Mesa’s chief executive, said in an interview.

    Competition for pilots has been fierce in recent months and regional carriers like Mesa have said they have struggled to keep up. That is partly because bigger airlines have raided smaller operators, hiring more quickly than ever to replenish their ranks as they recover from the pandemic. As a result, airlines say, many regional planes have been grounded, without enough pilots to fly them, and dozens of small cities around the country have seen reductions in flights.

    Regional airlines have been boosting pay to lure more recruits. For instance, Mesa recently said it would nearly triple newly hired first officers’ pay to $100 an hour. Horizon Air, part of Alaska Air Group Inc., this month agreed to hike pay by 74% for captains and 85% for first officers. Pilots at regional airlines owned by American Airlines are also getting sizable raises, though a portion is temporary.

    ... ... ...

    Mesa will offer its light-sport planes to pilots for $25 an hour—significantly below the cost of renting a plane at most local airports—and will cover the costs with interest-free loans. Mesa said that pilots in the program will be able to fly up to 40 hours a week, which it said will allow them to build their time more quickly than they could otherwise. Mesa hopes its initiative will eventually accommodate over 1,000 pilots a year.

    The new training program will operate in Florida starting in October and Mesa expects to expand to Arizona. Pilots in the program will get flight benefits and begin building seniority at Mesa and will have “priority status” for employment there once they are qualified. Pilots will have three years to repay the costs.
     
  2. squincher

    squincher Pre-Flight

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    Looks pretty good to me, unless Mesa is a crappy place to work.
     
  3. Jim_R

    Jim_R Cleared for Takeoff

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    I've never paid much attention to LSAs, so am not familiar with the rules. Can an LSA theoretically be IFR-legal, or are those two mutually exclusive?

    I have the (likely mistaken) impression that LSAs were mostly created to satisfy the casual recreational pilot who flew mostly solo or with a buddy, only flew VFR, and so stayed mostly close to home, so I'm wondering how well flying LSAs to build time legitimately develops the experience the FAA minimum-hours requirement is supposedly intended to achieve.

    In other words, is this a good way for Mesa to develop pilots who are ready to fly for an airline, or is this a good way for Mesa to get pilots to check a box to meet a qualification to fly for an airline?
     
  4. texasclouds

    texasclouds Pattern Altitude

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    Like I told a young lad recently, Mesa wouldn’t be waiving cash in your face if pilots were beating on their door begging for jobs.
     
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  5. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    I wonder what their definition of “initial training” is. Also, $25.00 an hour will barely cover the cost of fuel unless that is a dry rate, in which case the hourly rate will be more than double that. Still, it’s a pretty decent rate, but it will still rack up a not insignificant amount of debt.
     
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  6. Tom Wells

    Tom Wells Pre-takeoff checklist

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    Yeah the wet rate for a remos LSA by me is $135 I think. If you're doing $25+gas you're doing pretty well on an interest free loan. It sips 4-5 gph. But it would add up.
     
  7. red4golf

    red4golf Line Up and Wait

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    While I would be interested in something like this I wonder what the quality of these hours would be. The article said that pilots could fly up to 40 hours a week so someone like me would have a blast. That is if they would allow for some really long flights. I fear that the candidate will have 1,000 hours of local practice area flights though.
     
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  8. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Our non-profit youth flying club has a 152 for $85/wet, which is pretty close to at-cost. This is a hell of a deal. If I was 10 years younger, I'd likely change careers with the pot sweetened like it is now.
     
  9. Silvaire

    Silvaire En-Route

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    I would guess Commercial, Instrument, Multi-engine since all they expect you to do is "fly around" in an LSA for 40 hours a week until you get your 1500 and an ATP. Sounds brutal.
     
  10. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    If they are genuinely allowing 40 hrs/week in the planes, I would hope this would allow for some good cross country flying. I don't see how it would be any worse experience-wise than primary flight instruction (especially for those who don't have an interest in instructing) or flying jump planes.
     
  11. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Several months of "brutal" LSA flying in exchange for (now) decent starting FO pay. Compared to a lot of other career path options, this isn't horrible.
     
  12. TCABM

    TCABM En-Route

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    I’ve flow 40hrs/week before. It’s physically draining and I was paid well to be doing it.

    For perspective, let’s say somebody needs 1,000hrs to crack the elusive ATP mins, that’s 25 weeks or 6+ months and a $25K loan that’s probably only conditionally interest free. Not to mention we don’t know if that’s wet or dry rate.
     
  13. Cap'n Jack

    Cap'n Jack Final Approach

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  14. Spinka

    Spinka Pre-Flight

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    From Mesas website:

    "If there is no specific curriculum, what do participants do in the air?

    Members are typically paired up with another pilot with similar hours, and experience

    Mesa will offer suggested routes and tools members can fly to simulate routes they might be expected to follow as a commercial pilot. This includes take off, victor airways, and landing at destination airport"

    They expect most to complete the program in about 6 months. That's a lot of hours in a Pipistrel Trainer in that time
     
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  15. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    Interesting - "paired up", so conceivably you could have a lot of PIC/sole manipulator and safety pilot time.
     
  16. Magnus P.IFR

    Magnus P.IFR Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I filled the app out.
     
  17. TCABM

    TCABM En-Route

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    Feels like a variant of pay for training/pay for a job; must have CSEL complete. Here’s the big hook:

    Join Mesa Airlines as a cadet and fly up to 40 hours a week….

    Mesa’s Pilot Development Program offers you time building at $25/hour, fully financed, zero interest. Loans will be available for all cadets in the program, paid back over 3 years while working at Mesa Airlines at our starting pay of $100/Hr… highest pay rate in the regional industry.

    https://www.mesa-air.com/mesa-pilot-development
     
  18. DaleB

    DaleB Final Approach

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    Our actual wet cost to fly an RV-12 is about $35 per hour. That’s fuel, oil, filters, plugs, tires, brakes, all of it. Doesn’t include the non hourly cost for hangar, insurance, and whatever need fixing during the condition inspection.

    And yes, an LSA can be equipped for IFR, and I’ve seen it done. Whether or not they’re legal to fly in actual IMC or not I don’t know.
     
  19. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Cleared for Takeoff

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    I have a slightly related question. I know the maximum international carriers' pilot age is 65. Does that also apply to regionals, absolutely, or conditionally. I think it would apply if the regional had some sort of relationship to a major, but I'm not sure. How about if it has no affiliation with a major airline?
     
  20. Walboy

    Walboy Pre-takeoff checklist

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    I met a guy who is buying his second Colt Aircraft as a trainer and time builder he rents out. He says it stays booked continually. It can be used for LSA, Private Pilot, Instrument and Commercial. I think he said brand new, it is < $200k.

    http://www.texasaircraft.com/

    [​IMG]
     
  21. RyanShort1

    RyanShort1 En-Route

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    That's great for Pipistrel! Those aren't bad little LSA's, either!
     
  22. Tools

    Tools Line Up and Wait

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    1. Safety pilot method. Ya, brutal.

    2. Total check in the box.

    3. LSA cannot fly IMC. Great for training though. Dynon sky view is very apropos for airline training.

    4. There are other airlines doing very similar.
     
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  23. Crashnburn

    Crashnburn Cleared for Takeoff

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    Nice, but it's about 100 lb. short UL for me.
     
  24. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    For those who think 6 months buzzing around in an LSA 40 hours per week is brutal, try doing a medical residency, or what I did, working 50-60 hours a week at a hazmat landfill for a year.

    Heck, probably a great weight loss program, you'll sweat off a couple pounds a day easily.
     
  25. TCABM

    TCABM En-Route

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    Call me when you’ve flown 40hrs/wk for six months.

    Even the FAA tends to draw the line (where the can) at 500 hrs/quarter, 800hrs/half, 1400hrs/yr. When I was active duty, I flew 442 hrs in 90 days once. The last 42hrs were on a medical waiver from our FSO who was observing us daily. This was with no go pill usage. At 442, the flight surgeon said no mas and I had to wait until I dropped below 400hrs in the last 90 days before he’d even look at me to get back in the jet.
     
  26. SkyChaser

    SkyChaser Cleared for Takeoff

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    An LSA isn't exactly a jet, though. I imagine the simpler the plane is, the less exhausting it is to fly? I still wouldn't want to fly for 8 hours a day in one, though, not for six months straight.
     
  27. Z06_Mir

    Z06_Mir Pattern Altitude

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    No way. I am far less exhausted after a day flying a jet (single pilot, mind you) than even a turboprop must less a piston single. Slugging around in the bumps and the heat/cold is not fun or refreshing for 8 hours a day. It's amazing how just the vibrations add to the fatigue.

    Also I suspect it's $25/hr per person, so $50/hr total. If that's dry then it's not *that* far from the cost.

    The program seems bizarre to me. Why are they not just forcing them to be CFIs at Aviate? There has to be a catch even bigger than the 3 year commitment... which is an awful long time to stay at Mesa.
     
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  28. TCABM

    TCABM En-Route

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    it isn’t. I’ve got just a few thousand hours in the E-3, which is a 707-200 airframe.

    Nope.

    In the E-3, we had a galley and a latrine and six bunks on top of a two-axis GPSS autopilot. And pressurization. We could get up and walk around; air conditioning/heating. And 100K lbs of stability at FL340. Not to mention O2 on demand if we wanted/needed it.

    Our most demanding schedule was fly a 14.0 (with 2.0 duty day extension possible) on day 1, rest day 2, spare/on call on day 3. So worst case scenario was fly 30+ hrs in a 72 hr period. Those were brutal days.
     
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  29. Warmi

    Warmi Line Up and Wait

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    Modern LSAs have performance similar to that of Cessna 172 albeit with snappier handling and overall lighter wing loading.

    Here is a tour of a modern IFR training capable LSA
     
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  30. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    It’s a regulatory requirement of all part 121 certified airlines.
     
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  31. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    I’m hoping all the regionals go out of business. So I’m glad to see them having problems staffing.
     
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  32. Dana

    Dana En-Route

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    There are some (not many) LSAs approved for IMC. It depends on the operating limitations, and very few SLSA op lims permit it... but you can convert it to ELSA, in which case IMC is legal if suitably equipped.
     
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  33. red4golf

    red4golf Line Up and Wait

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    We can talk about things that were rough all day long. I know that I was awake in a tank gunners seat for 36 hours with no break. Peed into a Gatorade bottle, smoked cigarettes while scanning for enemy targets even while refueling, pooped in a box with a plastic bag liner because it may have been a chemical environment, could hardly tell the difference between reality and my imagination when given the order to go to bed.

    My original question was about the quality of the flight time but this has turned into a discussion about if a pilot can fly 40 hours a week. Sure they can. I would ask again if the time is beneficial or if it was a way to check a block. If they can take the plane cross country as do as they please, it could be. If they are restricted to certain flight plans and routes, they may decide that it is boring and leave. I bet the interest rate goes from 0% to something astronomical if they don't complete the program. Nothing is free..
     
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  34. Jeff Oslick

    Jeff Oslick En-Route

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    It is also pretty much a certainty that weather will not allow a continuous cycle of 40-hr/week of flying. There will be breaks.

    Also, whether FL or AZ, they'd be wise in most months to start their flying time in wee hours of the morning and finish up by midday before the turbulence and storms build up.
     
  35. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    Fly til you die part 135. There are still some scheduled 135 operators around.
     
  36. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    How’s that relevant to this conversation.
     
  37. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    If they are allowed 40 hours a week, I would think there wouldn’t be any restrictions on where they could go. It should actually be encouraged to get out and go places.

    one problem I see is the No IFR restriction for LSAs. Although I suppose there are ways around that.
     
  38. Greg Bockelman

    Greg Bockelman Touchdown! Greaser!

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    It goes to your comment to crashnburn about regionals age limits. Not all regionals are 121. There are some regionals that are 135, hence no age restrictions.

    But I suppose that depends on how you want to define regional.
     
  39. Tarheelpilot

    Tarheelpilot Final Approach PoA Supporter

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    Yeah. I would say that agreement on a regional airline definition would help.

    what company were you thinking about?
     
  40. bflynn

    bflynn Final Approach

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    Sport pilots cannot fly IMC. The restrictions for aircraft are more complex. FAA rules do not prohibit LSAs from flying in IMC, but aircraft manufacturers might. There’s an argument that the ATSM standard for LSA prohibits IMC, but is that standard regulatory in the US? Many questions…

    note, this is entirely different than flying in the IFR system under VMC.