Saturday, February 15, 2014

What's Causing a Decrease in Nation's Co-Pilot Salaries?


Once upon a time, finding a job as a pilot or in aviation mechanics used to be a relatively straightforward process.

According to data released by the National Airline Pilot's Association, the difference between what a co-pilot can make with five years experience at a regional airline compared to a major airline is almost $70,000.

Since 2013 Federal Aviation Administration administrators have required co-pilots to possess an airline transport pilot certificate and a total fo 1,500 hours as a pilot. In the past co-pilots were only required to have a commercial pilot certificate which required 250 hours of flight time. In a press release last year, the Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said safety is his number-one priority.

"I am especially pleased to mark my first week by announcing a rule that will help us maintain our unparalleled safety record," Foxx said. "We owe it to the traveling public to have only the most qualified and best trained pilots."

But UAA's Aviation Technology Center directory Rocky Capozzi blames the FAA for the lack of regional airline jobs as well as the difference in pay. Capozzi says the difference of hours can amount to a huge education investment for students to the point they have to take a job with a major airline to pay off their debt.

"Being a professional pilot is much like an internship in medicine," Capozzi said. “Your first job is very low paying, you work like a dog and it's a stepping stone to the next job. But what's happened now is that stepping stone piece has kind of been broken."

The aviation job formula is now more complex and it takes longer to complete but many UAA students are hopeful Alaska's aviation industry will stay strong.

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