Nick Knightly writes about the importance of building PIC time.
Ever get that feeling that you are DISPENSABLE?
Like you could get FIRED any day - and 40 other pilots are just waiting to take your job from you?
And here's why I say that: Because if you’re not building the RIGHT flight time, it could happen. Am I saying there's a WRONG flight time?
Well, not exactly. Any hours are valuable. But there are certainly LESS VALUABLE hours than those that he's currently earning, and by making the WRONG decisions, those hours could end up "trapping" you in the prison of an endless series of low paying jobs (or force you to have to start all over in a few years!)
Unfortunately, many pilots learned this lesson the hard way during the course of the last few years. Let me explain:
We all know that "time-building" is a necessary period in a pilot's career after flight school. You just have to build up those hours for a while until you reach the insurance minimums for the company that you decide to work for. That being said, I remember a few years ago when there was a big hiring boom. A lot of operators (really their insurance companies) lowered their minimum flight time requirements to some pretty crazy low numbers and were hiring pilots with only a few hundred hours. A lot of my Flight Instructor buddies jumped on the sudden opportunity to get into that jet! (I admit I was a little envious, left behind at the flight school - still sweating in that piston twin.)
But then airline business leveled off and those friends didn't upgrade to Captain within a year or two.
Then business got bad and those pilots were furloughed because they were at the bottom of the seniority list.
So there they were. They had earned a good amount of Second-In-Command (SIC) jet time, but the airlines weren't hiring and... you guessed it.
Back to the flight school and the Flight Instructor job again! (If they would even take them back.) Why? Because, for better or worse, THE INSURANCE COMPANIES DON'T CARE TOO MUCH ABOUT SIC TIME! It's that Pilot-In-Command (PIC) time that's the key to having choices and a BACKUP PLAN when the industry inevitably ebbs and flows.
If you focus on building a nice cushion of PIC time NOW, you will have CHOICES in the future. AS SOON AS YOU'RE ABLE, you can get yourself into another PIC position on a bigger, faster airplane where you'll double your income and rack up those hours even more quickly. (And you won't need an Airline Transport Pilot's license.)
By choosing to build PIC time, you'll always have a logbook that would allow you to walk into any turboprop or jet operator and be seriously considered for a well paying position. (Or get directly hired AS A CAPTAIN on the same airline that our buddies are still sitting in the right seat for.)
All because those PIC hours mean something about you. It means that you have the experience to be able to COMMAND THE AIRPLANE AND KEEP EVERYONE SAFE. Insurance companies know that. To put it in the words of the Chief Pilot that hired me in a heavy business jet with 0 turbojet experience, "I know what it's like to be out there making decisions like you've been doing for the last few years. We want someone who can think for himself."
To summarize, the recession that began in 2008 has taught us that if you jump on the first low time SIC job that comes around, you should be aware of the inherent risk (besides the embarrassing salary you'll have to survive on.)
You could be "trapped" on your assigned airplane, unable to risk losing your number on a seniority list while you are waiting to get in the left seat. If you make the upgrade quickly (which is rare these days), cool. You might be safe. But if the industry takes another dive... you'd have no CHOICES without plenty of PIC time in your logbook and you could be back to square one.
It's a counter-intuitive move to "stick it out" in that propeller driven airplane, but when you look at the big picture and consider where you'll end up in a year or two, by making the RIGHT career decisions now, you will avoid a lot of wasted time and financial struggle and instead make a great living sooner.
You're lucky if you have all these choices AHEAD of you rather that BEHIND. It's much harder to undo a choice that you regret than to make the correct one from the beginning! These days, you need to have "The Edge" over those 40 guys after your job.
About the author:Nick Knightly is a pilot who spent many years struggling and bouncing around from one "baby-step" job to the next until he found his dream pilot job. Now, Nick teaches other pilots how to get the most from their pilot career so they can enjoy a great lifestyle and have time to spend with their friends and families.
Learn how to BYPASS 5 to 10 years of struggle in low paying pilot jobs and go straight into your dream pilot job now. Click here to learn more.