A Review of Avantair

BeenThereDoneIt

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I just resigned from Avantair. Here is my experience.


The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly


The Planes/Pilots: The schedule is 7-on, 7-off (for now). The East Coast based pilots seem to have earlier starts and later finishes in comparison to the West Coast flyers. You start with 1 week paid vacation. You get 7 sick days, but it is a nightmare to use, as I discuss below. They have a marginal medical insurance plan. I suppose it is better than nothing if you really need one. I chose to decline the medical insurance. The retirement plan isn’t worth mentioning. The company is based at PIE in Clearwater, Florida. Domiciles are scattered across the country, but are only about 1/3 of what NetJets offers.

The Avanti’s are nice planes to fly, very quite, and roomy in the back. But, they handle very poorly on the ground due to an oversensitive hydraulic nose-wheel steering system and the lack of anti-skid brakes. Avantair has had several off-runway incidents and many, many blown tires. There have been aborted take-off’s because of steering systems that have a mind of their own.

The F.O.’s cannot fly with passengers on board until the F.O. gets 225 hours in the Avanti. Approximately 2/3 of the leg-times are live legs and about 1/3 are repo’s. As a result, it takes several months before the F.O. will gain enough flying time to actually get to fly the plane with a passenger on board. The F.O.’s aren’t allowed to do any night take-offs or landings either. The F.O.s don’t get Blackberry’s. FO’s must use their own cell phone and will get a small stipend from the company to help cover a portion of the cost for national calling.

Avantair has a PAC Board that tries it’s best to represent the pilots. As with any company, the PAC can only suggest and ask for things. Only a union contract will pull the pilots into the 21st century with pay and work rules. Some of the pilots are considering talks with one of the unions to see about representation. They need it.

The Good: Avantair seems like a solvent company. They have a unique niche in the market that appeals to a certain class of economic flyer. They are still growing, although aircraft orders have slowed down quite a bit. The vast majority of the pilots are professionals who take safety and their job seriously, but as with any company there are always a few who don’t use a checklist, or consistently have incidents/accidents, etc. Nearly every pilot likes the Chief Pilot. He is very personable and easy to talk to. The only problem is that at times, upper management tries to do his job for him. A lot of micro-management goes on.

Their stock value peaked around $5 per share in early 2008 and in December 08 fell to less than 50 cents per share. It is now trading around $1.75 per share. The pilots who bought in at the beginning lost their a@@es, but the prices are slowing climbing up. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The folks in Pilot Services do a pretty good job helping the pilots. The same number of personnel are now handling twice the number of pilots and aircraft as they did in the past, so we were starting to see some problems as a result.

The Bad: Avantair isn’t very pilot friendly. Right off the bat, they make you sign a contract that forbids you from flying another Avanti for 1 year after you leave Avantair. That doesn’t make sense to pilots who make their living flying planes. The D.O. has said that 90% of the pilots are happy with their job and 10% are not. He doesn’t speak with the same people I flew with. I saw about a 50/50 split at best, and most of them don’t care for the D.O. Standardization is still a problem. It was very hard to find 2 guys who did things the same way. Perhaps the new Procedures Manual will help address that ongoing problem.

It is “expected” that you will carry maintenance problems with you. We had one day where 17 planes (1/3 of the fleet) were in maintenance at the same time for repair/inspection. I was personally on 2 flights that really concerned me. On one flight we were asked if we were OK with continuing a flight at night with scattered IMC conditions at our destination……with an inoperative #1 gyro. The company knew that gyro couldn’t be MEL’ed. We refused, of course. On another flight we were told to keep flying a plane with low oil pressure in flight. I think some captains are intimidated into not grounding a plane when it needs to be.

More than one crew was “convinced by management” to fly out of Hamilton, Montana in the summer even though they didn’t meet the minimum take-off requirements as required by our OP Specs. The company doesn’t want to tell the owner’s “no” and the pilots were expected to put their careers at risk by violating the GOM.

Avantair policy manuals were changed to start charging its pilots $10 for crew meals. If you are given a 29 minute turn-around in the middle of the day and can’t grab any lunch, get ready to grab your wallet if you want a crew meal.

The sick-day policy sucked. You get 7 days per year. If you are sick more than 2 days they expect you to pay for a doctor’s visit and get a note. After three sick days they won’t send you out on your tour at all because they don’t think it is cost effective to airline you out at that point. If you are sick more than three days, be prepared to either lose some pay or burn all 7 sick days.

In December, 08 the company tried floating the idea of going from a 7-7 schedule to an 8-6 schedule of some sort. The details were never finalized because the pilots pitched a fit and many threatened to quit. That idea is idle for now.

Avantair is in the process of dropping its crew-to-plane ratio from 4.2 down to 3.8. This will put a huge squeeze on the pilots. As more of us quit and more planes are bought, that ratio will be reached and then hiring should have to start again. That might be good news for some of you that are looking for “anything.”

The Ugly: Pay! When I hired in I was told that upgrades to captain were running 9-12 months. I accepted the sub-standard F.O. pay on the premise that I would pay my dues the first year and get upgraded. That didn’t happen. Upgrades at Avantair were completely stopped in December 08. The training department is now telling FO’s to expect a second full year as an FO. Avantair thinks it’s second-year F.O.s are worth a whopping $37,000 per year. Due to the upgrade stoppage and insulting pay….I turned in my notice at my 1-year mark with the company. I can bartend 2 night per week and make more money than Avantair pays it’s FO’s, never being away from home, never missing a holiday or a kid’s birthday. It didn’t make financial sense for me personally to stay at Avantair.

As of today, F.O’s are expected to take the captain check-ride at their 12th month of employment (instead of an FO re-currency check), but not expect the actual upgrade or get the captain pay raise. The F.O.s are also required to do the captain “6-month checks” as a captain would, but not get captain pay. That puts the F.O. at risk for busting a check-ride, of which no compensation even exists.

There has been a recent rash of failures during upgrade/re-currency checks. I’m not sure if a lot of pilots suddenly became bad pilots, or if the company is tightening up things because of the number of resumes on their desks. The consensus seems to be the latter of the two.

I quit working overtime for them when most of my overtime pay wouldn’t show up on my paychecks. I shouldn’t have to keep calling them to get my pay straightened out. They did eventually give me all of my overtime pay, but it took several weeks and many, many calls and e-mails.

Synopsis: One guy who posts here says it is the best job he has ever had. It probably is. For me, it was the second worst job I’ve ever had. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. Good luck.
 
Last edited:

NoJoy

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Thanks for taking the time to write your review. When I started out flying 15 years ago, I met a crop duster at our local airport who told me "don't fly for a living" I laughed at that of course. But after 9/11, oil going up to $150.00 a barrel, the age 65 rule, mergers, furloughs and our economic downturn, things in the aviation world are down right ugly! (maybe he did know what he was talking about). I am going to stick with this flying gig until I just can't do it anymore. And I left a law enforcement career to do so. So an analogy might be "flying is a great job, but terrible career, and being a cop can be a terrible job, but a great career"
hmmm
 

johnsonrod

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Beentheredoneit,

Thanks for the informative post. One thing I have learned in aviation is that no aviation job is perfect and pilots will always gripe about something (rightly or wrongly).

It's refreshing to hear some different perspectives. I hope you are able to find a good or better aviation job in the future!
 

HazMat

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Avantair please don't respond its not worth it. I know many will get angry when they read this persons first post but just leave it alone we know the truth. Let it die like it should. The truth will prevail no need to defend ourselves against this. This person will be checking flightinfo every 5 minutes the best thing we can do is let it die
 

hyflyin

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Avantair please don't respond its not worth it. I know many will get angry when they read this persons first post but just leave it alone we know the truth. Let it die like it should. The truth will prevail no need to defend ourselves against this. This person will be checking flightinfo every 5 minutes the best thing we can do is let it die
I thought it was a nice synopsis. Why would you not list your experiences with the company and provide more info for those who are interested??

Personally, I would take the first post with a grain of salt, but yours causes speculation that perhaps there is more going on there than you would like to admit.

Not meant to be flame, but you should just share your experiences, not try to argue and refute his.

:beer:
 

steelersrule74

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It's an interesting first post to say the least. There are many statements made that seem to be able to be refuted if not true. SIC pay, upgrade time, sick day policy, etc. The MEL thing is always problematic. One pilots perspective doesn't make it true but it is a curious thing to say if not. I know Avantair isn't unionized. clearly a non-union airline can adopt a vigorous maintenance program and do the right thing when it comes to write-ups but they also have the option of going in a different direction. One of the primary reasons for unions at an air carrier is to prevent mgt from retribution towards crew members over issues such as these. There's no need to turn this into a union/non-union debate nor an NJA debate as well BUT, Santulli uses the union as a selling point. The number one benefit (according to sales) of NJA is safety. They point to the fact the pilots can't be disciplined for grounding or writing up airplanes and can operate freely with regards to safety.

As I said, one perspective above doesn't make it true. Avantair may be the complete opposite from what's written. On the other hand, with no Union to protect the pilots - it may be spot on.
 

OviedoBob

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I also thought this was a real interesting post, even though it was a first post. A forum board is what prompts discussion, ideas, BS, feelings, experiences, etc. If one doesn't like what they read on a forum, then simply pass on to the next subject. And you can also add your comment(s).

And by the way, I am an Avantair line pilot.
 

golfkilo

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Avantair please don't respond its not worth it. I know many will get angry when they read this persons first post but just leave it alone we know the truth. Let it die like it should. The truth will prevail no need to defend ourselves against this. This person will be checking flightinfo every 5 minutes the best thing we can do is let it die
Hey Haz, if you have a different perspective, by all means, share your thoughts!
 

rondo

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Avantair please don't respond its not worth it. I know many will get angry when they read this persons first post but just leave it alone we know the truth. Let it die like it should. The truth will prevail no need to defend ourselves against this. This person will be checking flightinfo every 5 minutes the best thing we can do is let it die
He/she also posted it on APC as well.

The way the post is written is not typical to these forums. Call me nuts but its almost written too perfect. (Team effort)

The truth of the matter is a lot of airlines, fractionals, charter co's and regionals scout these forums for recon.

I have heard stories of companies who actively came on here looking for negative threads and even set up dialog with members to pinpoint who they were.

I think some threads were started on purpose to lure in employees then weed them out for any reason they could.

Some of these threads are like salt lick for deer. People just can't resist.

My advice, if you must indulge, don't hint on to anyone who you really are.

Just a thought.
 

Noodles

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As a former Avantair pilot, his post is spot on. The pretty much describes my time there.

Almost all of the people that I new when I was there have either quit, or been fired for trying to start a union.

The only part I would disagree with, is when he talks about them being a "solvent company". They haven't made any money yet, and I'm not sure if the will any time soon.
 

mainiac

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I figured we'd start hearing from the old guard, surprised it took 9 posts to get a Noodles response. Don't know him, but since he,(I believe), was gone by the time I started here 3 years ago, the currency of his experience with the company is a bit lacking.

As to the first post, without going on the attack, I'd like to relate my experience here.

Three years this month, 2.5 of which have been as Captain, not because I'm anything special, but hiring was at a boom when I started. Sad that the state of the economy has thwarted Mr Beentheredoneit's progression, but what operator is doing much upgrading right now? How about the fact that Avantair hasn't done any sort of reduction, not even an awesome voluntary offer, ala Netjets.
My bills are paid, my check is on time, my OT appears every week, and I have a better QOL during my time off than I had at my regional job, or my prior, self-employed non-aviation career.
Putting one kid thru college, spending lots of quality time on my days off with kid #2.

Health insurance has not been a problem for me. Geographically, where I live seems very friendly with our provider, my dental is covered by my dentist of almost 20 yrs, my chiropractor appointments don't need a referral. It'd be nice to get Mr BTDI to have commented on a policy that he was familiar with, not one he declined.

Mx issues have never been a problem for me. If it's broke, write it up, and it'll get fixed. If people are feeling pressured, it hasn't been my experience. Genuine, broken problems have always been taken care of wherever I've been.

Sick days...never taken one except for an injury that kept me from flying for 2 tours. So, I have no experience with partial tour sicktime.

FO pay is being looked at right now. The company realizes that the non-upgrade issue at this time merits some kind of increase for FO's second year pay, and the Pilot's Advisory Committee is working on it. Again, who else in the aviation industry is discussing a pay raise right now? Not even the almighty NJ! (that brass ring is pretty awesome, though!)

FO flying live, and night. He's correct on those facts, but unfortunately, I don't think we're 2/3 to 1/3 live/repo, more like 55/45%. And, any FO who has a good standing streak of good landings can ask the captain flying with him to send a rec to the training office, and usually get released to fly live legs before the 225 mark. AS for night flight, it's important to keep PIC's night current, which is tricky in the summer. I had to go do 3 laps around the pattern in SUS last year on summer solstice, that was a late evening!

FO Blackberry, unfortunately not. But the company gives $25/mo to help with FO personal cell usage. (Wish we'd had that when I was an FO!)

All in all, I'm very happy here. I've found Avantair to be a gradually improving, getting-better-all-the-time operation. In my 3 years, I've seen the fleet more than double, go from a 8/6 to a 7/7 schedule, streamline the Start day and Vacation bidding process, and really develop a quality Flight Standards Procedures Guide and training dept. I have no plans to move on, and I'm really sorry to hear from someone who was obviously unhappy.
But, I guess I won't ever have to sit next to him for 7 days listening to the complaints! It really drags your week to hear someone whine non-stop, luckily I feel that the happy/unhappy ratio is closer to the 90/10 that Mr BTDI disputes.

I'm an Avantair Line Pilot, and I approve this message...

(Longest dern post I've ever done)
 

golfkilo

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I figured we'd start hearing from the old guard, surprised it took 9 posts to get a Noodles response. Don't know him, but since he,(I believe), was gone by the time I started here 3 years ago, the currency of his experience with the company is a bit lacking.

As to the first post, without going on the attack, I'd like to relate my experience here.

Three years this month, 2.5 of which have been as Captain, not because I'm anything special, but hiring was at a boom when I started. Sad that the state of the economy has thwarted Mr Beentheredoneit's progression, but what operator is doing much upgrading right now? How about the fact that Avantair hasn't done any sort of reduction, not even an awesome voluntary offer, ala Netjets.
My bills are paid, my check is on time, my OT appears every week, and I have a better QOL during my time off than I had at my regional job, or my prior, self-employed non-aviation career.
Putting one kid thru college, spending lots of quality time on my days off with kid #2.

Health insurance has not been a problem for me. Geographically, where I live seems very friendly with our provider, my dental is covered by my dentist of almost 20 yrs, my chiropractor appointments don't need a referral. It'd be nice to get Mr BTDI to have commented on a policy that he was familiar with, not one he declined.

Mx issues have never been a problem for me. If it's broke, write it up, and it'll get fixed. If people are feeling pressured, it hasn't been my experience. Genuine, broken problems have always been taken care of wherever I've been.

Sick days...never taken one except for an injury that kept me from flying for 2 tours. So, I have no experience with partial tour sicktime.

FO pay is being looked at right now. The company realizes that the non-upgrade issue at this time merits some kind of increase for FO's second year pay, and the Pilot's Advisory Committee is working on it. Again, who else in the aviation industry is discussing a pay raise right now? Not even the almighty NJ! (that brass ring is pretty awesome, though!)

FO flying live, and night. He's correct on those facts, but unfortunately, I don't think we're 2/3 to 1/3 live/repo, more like 55/45%. And, any FO who has a good standing streak of good landings can ask the captain flying with him to send a rec to the training office, and usually get released to fly live legs before the 225 mark. AS for night flight, it's important to keep PIC's night current, which is tricky in the summer. I had to go do 3 laps around the pattern in SUS last year on summer solstice, that was a late evening!

FO Blackberry, unfortunately not. But the company gives $25/mo to help with FO personal cell usage. (Wish we'd had that when I was an FO!)

All in all, I'm very happy here. I've found Avantair to be a gradually improving, getting-better-all-the-time operation. In my 3 years, I've seen the fleet more than double, go from a 8/6 to a 7/7 schedule, streamline the Start day and Vacation bidding process, and really develop a quality Flight Standards Procedures Guide and training dept. I have no plans to move on, and I'm really sorry to hear from someone who was obviously unhappy.
But, I guess I won't ever have to sit next to him for 7 days listening to the complaints! It really drags your week to hear someone whine non-stop, luckily I feel that the happy/unhappy ratio is closer to the 90/10 that Mr BTDI disputes.

I'm an Avantair Line Pilot, and I approve this message...

(Longest dern post I've ever done)
Nice post Mainiac. Nice to be able to see both sides of a story so the audience can decide for themselves.
 

BeenThereDoneIt

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Maniac makes almost $70,000 per year. 2nd year FO's make $37,000. I would assume that maniac is happy. Being paid livable and "above Walmart" wage......he should stay there.
 

golfkilo

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Maniac makes almost $70,000 per year. 2nd year FO's make $37,000. I would assume that maniac is happy. Being paid livable and "above Walmart" wage......he should stay there.
I would assume perdiem adds a good chunk to that $37,000, correct?
 

HazMat

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hyflyin, sorry if i sounded like i was stifling debate, that wasnt my intention, its just we have seen this so many times before. It’s the same MO:
pilot applies for job - pilot gets job - pilot doesn’t like job - pilot leaves job - pilot lashes out at previous job like it was the company’s fault the pilot wasn’t a fit.

I was just hoping to avoid the normal unfounded mudslinging that will follow. But hey, it’s a free country and this board is here to express yourself.

Golfkilo, I am a long time Avantair pilot, I have seen and been involved with the evolution of Avantair and I am obviously pro Avantair and get a bit ticked off when some one with a grudge tries to hurt the 500 some employees we have working here because of a poor decision on their part. In this economy, it’s just not necessary. It is not just pilots that read these boards as SteelersRule74 said.

I was surprised it took so long for noodles to pop up, and I fully expect that all the other past pilots who for whatever reason didn’t work out will also pop up and make the same claims they have been making since they left years ago.

Look, this guy (and we all know who he is) bought a screen name, composed a gripes list, put in enough half truths to make it look like he was being objective and then posted on two (or more) different pilot boards. He obviously has an axe to grind. And, like posters in the past that in part lead to the $10 rule on this board, he is going to try his best to make himself feel better. Good Luck, but my suggestion would be for him to move along.
 

Mvich

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I turned in my notice at my 1-year mark with the company. I can bartend 2 night per week and make more money than Avantair pays it’s FO’s, never being away from home, never missing a holiday or a kid’s birthday. It didn’t make financial sense for me personally to stay at Avantair.

You're not the first person to make this decision here or elsewhere & I'm sure it was not an easy one.
From my perspective, liking what you do is very important - I hope you find a good gig.
Good luck.
 

BeenThereDoneIt

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If Maniac is telling the truth:

Avantair is generating revenue on a mere 55% of its flights and the other 45% are empty flights. If he is telling you guys the truth, then that explains why the company hasn't made any money after 6 years. Maniac, I stand corrected. Thanks for pointing that out to everyone.
 

Noodles

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It's funny that when someone disagrees with your viewpoint towards Avantair that they are posting half-truths, and/or have an axe to grind. The times I have commented on this threads has been what my experience there was.

I can't count the number of times I was called and threatened by the CP or DO to do something that was clearly unsafe, or to fly a broken airplane. I still remember asking the instructor during flight training about calls/flows/procedures and being told "This aint no f'n airline, we don't do the ******************** here."

I refuse to work for a company that has a complete disregard for safety, ecourages their pilots to ignore the FAR's, and treated their people like dirt.

But hey, I work for a company now that is making money, hiring pilots, and buying airplanes. I make more now then I ever could there, plus I'm home every night. Oh, and I only work 8-10 days a month. I have no axe to grind, and could care less what happens there now.

I want to make sure people realize what they are getting into rather than all the fluff that is on here by some people.
 
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