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Ameriflight vs. a regional (like QX or Skywest)

captainover

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I'm weighing my options and would appreciate any input regarding this. I just about have the mins for 135. I'm curious about ameriflight and how going with them for awhile compares to working for skywest or Horizon. I like amflight's bases and the fying sounds like a blast. I undersatnd it's a great way to get turbine PIC in a hurry. They list the starting pay for pilots, but no further mention about how much it sweetens over time. I would love some input about this if anyone has it. Also, I have heard that southwest, FEDEX, and UPS hire directly from them. Is this true? Looking forward to what y'all have to say about this. Thanks!
 

Dave Benjamin

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There are a lot of pilots out there with 1000's of hours in the left seat of an RJ with apps in at all the majors. Don't get too hung up on the idea of 1000 turbine PIC in a 99 or Metro equals a seat in groundschool at WN. You may end up staying a while. I'm not saying it won't happen but I wouldn't necessarily count on it.

Not sure if any Part 135 single pilot flying really "sounds like a blast." I've got a fair amount of 135 PIC in some pretty areas of the country but there's a lot to be said for a Part 121 crew environment. I don't know your quals but judging from your profile AMF might be a good place to gain experience before going to a good regional.
 

Captain Monkey Suit

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Meeting the minimums is just that...minimums. To be selective, you will need to be competitive and not just meet the minimums. Keep being optimistic...but more importantly...keep flying...and keep sending out resumes! Start preparing for interviews...now. Obviously focus on the ones that you will think will be a good choice...SkyWest would be a good choice for a commuter (the only commuter I'd recommend). Commuters used to be a good stepping stone to the majors, but corporate (not charter) would be a more comfortable route to get to the bigger planes. Right now the best salaries are corporate pilots (other than FedEx, SWA, UPS). I fly a very small private jet...yet I make more money then some captains who fly wide body jets all over the world...and more than I ever did...even in the majors! Shocking and disgusting, but true. There are options...that's the good news. Hope that helps you out.
 

traffic pilot

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I worked at Ameriflight for 7 years. When I first started I thought I would get some experience and get on with a commuter/regional. Well by the time I had some competetive experience I was making enough $ that it was difficult to take a pay cut to go back to 1st year FO. I stuck it out and years later left to fly for small jet national airline(737). Anyway finally got hired by Southwest. Had over 10000tt 5000 multi turbine.

Here's my point. It is difficult to go straight from Ameriflight to Southwest.
I know there are some who have done it but I believe they were some charming mofo's.

Flying for a regional vs flying frieght, to me there's no comparison. Flying for a passenger carrier is so much more fun. I wish I could go back and change the past. You have so many more opportunities to network flying for a regional. At Ameriflight you will be meet other pilots but you will rarely fly with them. You all will meet at the sort hub or layover apartment. At a regional you will fly with many different pilots as a first officer and captain thus increasing the chances of making friends and future references.

grain of salt
 

merlindrvr88

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I worked at amerflight for awhile, and it was a pretty good job. PM me and I can give you the lowdown.
 

ksu_aviator

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Having flown for a regional and now at AMF, I can tell you it is a lot harder flying a Metro single pilot than it is to fly anything any regional flies. Consequently, you'll get a lot more respect from your interviewers and you'll actually have enough money to rent an apartment or buy a car. Forget the regionals, they are bad, there is no such thing as a good regional or commuter.
 

Steveair

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My friend flies for AM Flight. It's better than flight instructing but boy do you work. You fly early in the morning and late at night - you rest period is during the day. No A/C in the Cheiftan which makes it a bit warm from time to time. Pilots help load the aircraft.

You do get PIC time but it might take awhile to get to the 99. My friend has been there for over a year and still hasn't touched a 99. I don't believe the money is very good there either.

SkyWest is a nice place to work... maybe even spend the rest of your career here. You won't make millions, but personally I think it's enough to be happy. Good people, good equipment and for the most part, they take good care of us. No ground schools until at least January though and I've heard there's a pool....
 

citabriapilot

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I think its all what you make of it. There are pilots from all different backgrounds who are getting on with UPS, SWA and the like. I have heard of guys who were well above minimums who didn't get hired and others who were right AT the minimums who did. Personality, references, etc. all come into play. As for time to a 99...I know a guy who was in my class who had a 99 in two months. I'm right at 6 months. It depends on the base and if you are willing to move around. Either way, I don't think either one is necessarily the "best" choice... Do what you can and enjoy the journey.
 

Socalplt

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Apply at both, go to the first one that offers a job. I've flown with guys at SkyWest that have spent many years at AMF or Airnet and have plenty of PIC turbine that have now come to fly at a regional to get some 121 time. Perhaps they'll never need any 121 PIC time to move on to their dream job.
 

AZaviator

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Stability and decent pay are the two main reasons I decided to stay at Ameriflight and not pursue flying for a Regional. I've never had to worry about being displaced or furloughed from Ameriflight. In addition, management is decent, there are no pilot contract issues, and in general you dont have to put up with a lot of the instability issues you would at a Regional. We have a pretty good pilot group, most of who seem to be quite happy with their jobs.

The flying is easy but is overall good experience. Some of our bases have 3 or 4 day work week schedules which beats most schedules at the Regionals. Plus, being home every night is a big plus.

Upgrades can be very quick depending on your base and or if you're willing to move around. Not all people come to Ameriflight with the hopes of flying for SWA or UPS. A lot of our pilots are leaving for really good corporate jobs. I know of two people who have left within the past year that are now flying Gulfstream GV's.

As citabria pilot stated, it is what you make of it. If you want to fly with people and interact with people, then Ameriflight might not be the place for you. If you want good experience at a stable company with the opportunity to built turbine PIC time rather quickly, then this is a company I'd definetly look into.
 

cookmg

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I've been at Ameriflight for 1 year now and I have been extremely pleased with the experience. Just over a year ago I was instrucing in Cessnas and the occasional duchess, now I'm just starting to fly single pilot metroliner with 300 hours of 99 time already in the book. That's quick progress, but not unheard of here, much of it is luck in timing. Though my opinion is clearly biased, and this may be a bit of wishful thinking, I must echo the previous poster's point that for each pilot it is what they make of it.

I guess you could say you'll work hard at AmFlight, but most days you're getting paid for 8 hours while working far less. True, you're gone a long time, but if you can make something of the layover time during the day, they usually get you a crew car and always put you up in an apartment or hotel. I've had jobs where I did work too hard for my money, but this is not one of them. I think Skywest pilots would resent the idea that they don't work hard. Six legs/day is no easy day at the office. They get more DAYS off, but at Amflight you will probably be on DUTY less.

I've heard of many people (certainly an exaggeration) who have gone on to the majors right out of Ameriflight and even met one. I think it is tough to do. But, I think it is probably tough given any background. A lot of the guys who are stuck at Ameriflight, you can tell why. They aren't very personable, they've been flying the same equipment to the same airports over and over, they don't "know their stuff" as well as they should, or they don't have a degree. Also, some very good pilots are just content with hanging out. I suspect there are many more variables in the hiring process than simply who has the most turbine PIC and who flies CRJs. There are a lot of guys with that background not getting hired, but there are some with different backgrounds that are getting hired. Go figure.

One thing that is clear is that within 2 years of being a flight instructor I will be meeting minimums for the majors. That would not be possible at any regional. Also, going to the regionals and logging SIC time for the next few years will only help you upgrade at that carrier. If you ever get laid off, your resume is not going to do much for you. So, while I recognize that the metro is much less sophisticated than an RJ and flying it is not as close to what the majors are doing, there is some security in knowing that if I lost my job I might be able to get a charter job that would keep food on the table.

Sorry this is getting long-winded. All this being said, I would caution anyone from getting stuck here too long. It is hard to continue growing as a pilot here after a couple of years. Even a lateral movement might make sense at that point.

Pay: Starting is as low as 24K. With training pay, specials, etc I'm at about 30-35 my first year and anticipating about 40-45 second year. Becoming a training captain is a good way to score some extra cash. You won't make much more than 45K unless you are giving training sometimes as well. I don't think anyone in the company is making much over 60K unless in managment.
 

skyhwk74

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You need to take into consideration what kind of lifestyle you want. At AMF you have the opportunity to be home every day, whereas at a regional you'll see home maybe once or twice a week in the beginning.
I'm seriously considering leaving my job at a regional to come back to AMF. It's a great job for some people, depends on your individual goals. Depending on which reqional you go to, upgrade time is about 3-5 years. The experience is great, but there is alot to be said about flying a Metro single pilot at night, in IMC, in icing, in the mountains. It builds character!
I flew a few months with AMF in the BE99 FO program, and I can honestly say the experience was great! I've been at a regional for almost a year now. Flying the ERJ is a blast, the schedule isn't the best in the world. You can typically see a 4 day trip worth only 20 hrs. of flight time with 12-15 hr. duty days. Ocassionally you'll get an overnight where you can relax and have fun, but most days are pretty busy. 5 legs in a day may not sound like alot, but sometimes it wears you down!
Sometimes you just need to experience things first hand to see if it's right for you. I thought flying for a 121 regional would be a great job, but unfortunately it's not for me.
Thats my 2 cents for what it's worth..
Good luck on whatever you decide to do!
 

Vegaspilot99

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I a left regional back in July for Ameriflight and am much happier. Granted the regional was Mesa, I like the flying here and although the Metro is a hand full at times it is very rewarding. I managed to get just over a year of 121 and have four years of crew flying, so I plan to stay at AMF until I get my last job hopefully. Being home every night with weekends off is a plus and although the days can be long, it's not bad at all. The guys at AMF have been really cool and it's nice to finally feel like management cares about their employees. After a year and a half of dreading going to work while at Mesa, it's nice to look foward to flying again. If you have the time I would recommend AMF to anyone.
 
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psysicx

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Plus if you don't mind moving you could go to the EMB which would easier to get on with a major.
 

Dave Benjamin

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ksu_aviator said:
Having flown for a regional and now at AMF, I can tell you it is a lot harder flying a Metro single pilot than it is to fly anything any regional flies. Consequently, you'll get a lot more respect from your interviewers and you'll actually have enough money to rent an apartment or buy a car. Forget the regionals, they are bad, there is no such thing as a good regional or commuter.

Sorry your job at a regional didn't work out for you.

Once you get to the point of being considered for an interview at a major it's about far more than flying abilities. Most people called for an interview have been through a few ground schools and earned one or more type ratings. Based on your background the airline pretty much knows you can muddle your way through training. Southwest doesn't even do a sim check.

Single pilot in a Metro or any complex aircraft being flown under Part 135 is challenging and requires a good scan and flying ability. That kind of flying has practically nothing in common with working in a crew environment flying an A-320 or 737NG. Interviewers are concerned with a lot more than flying ability. They are trying to screen out people that don't play well with others. What's it going to be like to fly with the applicant for a long 4 day trip? What kind of captain will they become? Being a captain for any airline is pretty much a managerial job. You have to be a good problem solver and be able to motivate and lead. The challenge is no longer flying single pilot raw data, non precision approaches in a snowstorm. It's working efficiently with a myriad of people - dispatchers, customer service, gate, ramp, commo, FA's, and FO's and doing everything you can to insure an expeditious and safe flight that begins with an ontime departure. It's being sensitive to different personalities and people from different cultures and backgrounds. It's thinking ahead so you eliminate a problem before it surfaces.

All I'm trying to point it that you may be putting too much emphasis on flying skills and not enough on the other factors that really matter to a future employer. I think your comment about there being "no good regional or commuter" says more about your limited experience at one regional than it does for that segment of the industry. There are many people that enjoy their jobs at a regional and make decent money. I average anywhere from 14-17 days a month off and probably make more money than most if not all line pilots at AMF. I made very little money my first year at a regional but my second year I was making more than I did at AMF.

AMF is a great place to build some time and get some good experience. I enjoyed my time there and don't have any hesitation recommending AMF above most other 135 outfits. Going straight from AMF to a good job at a major is like a hole in one at the golf course. It's great when it works out but if you count on it you're probably gong to be disappointed. Most airlines like hiring experienced captains from regionals because there is little difference between that RJ job and flying an Airbus or 737. Chances are the RJ pilot will have far fewer challenges getting accustomed to the FMS and other automation in his new aircraft compared to a guy who has been handflying a Metro with steam gauges. The Metro pilot might be a better stick but it's going to be a lot more work for him than it is for the RJ pilot.
 

DirtyBeech

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geez, must have some real charming mfer's down in dallas. i can only think of 5 in the last 16 months who are now on with southwest. several others are flying boeings for large freight outfits. must be west texas flyiing, builds character i guess.

jet time, and 121 PIC are overrated. they are nice to have no doubt, but overrated. the regional guys will turn a horse into glue tyring to convince you that pityful pay, long upgrades, and killer schedules are worth....well, they don't know what their worth, as they're still rotting at a regional getting furloughed or their contracts renegotiated.

if you want to get to major NOW, then get all the PIC turbine time you can NOW. 3-5 years from now you'll be interviewing at a major as the regional guy is contemplating his captain upgrade. i'd much rather get on with a big carrier in 3-5 years, get my seniority number, and start making much more money as a WN f.o. (with a great company) than the regional guys ever dreamed. but that's just me.

AMF is a 135 cargo company. 135 freight is what it is, but i believe that it is one of, if not the best way to get to a major. you're going to fly ugly airplanes, in ugly weather, at all times of the night. you'll help load (99's and smaller at amf), and yes even have to deal with no air conditioning. man up in do it, you'll be glad you did.

btw, i'd much rather teach a good stick to push buttons, than teach a button pusher how to be a good stick. oh yeah, it doesn't hurt to know somebody either;).
 

BuckMurdock1

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Though my airline (and overall) experience is more limited than Dave_Benjamin's, I'm inclined to agree with his comments. When applying to a major/national, they know -simply by your meeting their mins- that you can fly. Command experienced by flying S.P. in a Metro is great experience and undoubtedly some of the most challenging flying around. Being resourceful and self-sufficient is good- but 121s want to see teamwork skills. If you're going to be heading to their right seat from a single-pilot left seat, they'll want to see good 2pilot experience (preferably with one or more F/As thrown into the mix)-- from the perspective of both seats (obviously- hence the PIC requirements). Sounds like you already have that experience from a regional.

When I see/hear of pilots from my airline who are lucky enough to get an interview w/ their 'target' airline, I already know how it will turn out ..usually. They may be great sticks, but the ones with great personalities (ie personable, knowledgable, HUMBLE) generally get hired; the D*ckheads don't. The hiring mgr doesn't want their pilot group p*ssed off at them for hiring some full-of-himself A-hole they now have to share a cockpit with for 4days at a time.

Just my $.02
--Good Luck!
 

Dave Benjamin

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DirtyBeech said:
geez, must have some real charming mfer's down in dallas. i can only think of 5 in the last 16 months who are now on with southwest. several others are flying boeings for large freight outfits.

jet time, and 121 PIC are overrated. they are nice to have no doubt, but overrated. the regional guys will turn a horse into glue tyring to convince you that pityful pay, long upgrades, and killer schedules are worth....

if you want to get to major NOW, then get all the PIC turbine time you can NOW. 3-5 years from now you'll be interviewing at a major as the regional guy is contemplating his captain upgrade.

AMF is a 135 cargo company. 135 freight is what it is, but i believe that it is one of, if not the best way to get to a major.

Wow 5 guys in a year and a half. Hate to tell you this but I know of at least one WN new hire class that had 3 of my coworkers sitting together. Ask someone like Chase or one of the other WN guys on flightinfo what the typical new hire class has as far as backgrounds. I think you'll find single pilot freight is not a large percentage of new hires at any major. It's pretty much a mix of military, airline, and corp/frac folks. I know 2 people that I flew with at AMF that got on with WN. I don't know of any that went to AS. I also don't know any that went to FedEx, UPS, Co, or F9. As far as flying "Boeings for large freight outfits" if you're talking about supplementals those jobs often pay less and have worse working conditions than a regional.

"jet time, and 121 PIC are overrated."
"pityful pay, long upgrades, and killer schedules"

Funny but when you look at the websites of airlines that are hiring like JetBlue, CO, UPS, FedEx,and WN they seem to be looking for guys with PIC jet time.

I'm not sure what you're smoking but not all regionals fit that description. The schedule at AMF tends to be 4 or 5 days a week and you show really early, sit all day at an outstation, and then fly home. In some cases you're really home only long enough to shower, go to bed, and rush out at zero dark thirty. Sadly AMF and other 135 outfits have suffered fatalities from guys falling asleep and flying into terrain. To me that's more of a killer schedule than a 4 day trip with 70 hours away from base even with a reduced rest overnight in the middle. Granted some trips are harder than others and involve more time away from base but if you've got 14, 15 or more days off it's a lot better than AMF IMHO. Next month my schedule is 3 day trips with 17 days off. Show at 1035 and off at 1940. This month it was a 4 day that shows at 1521 and releases at 1150 with 15 days off.

Long upgrades? Depends on where you are. At QX it takes a long time but in the past it's been better. SKYW has had guys upgrade in months but the norm lately has probably been more like 2-3 years. Some places it's going to take a while. I've seen a few of our FO's get picked up by CO with no PIC time.

Pitiful pay? Unless you're working for a really crappy regional second year pay will exceed AMF pay and it continues to outpace AMF every year. Yes first year is pretty paltry. Of course it's not much better at UPS or CO first year (27 and 30 per hour respectively)

One of the shortcomings of AMF is that even if you do get a Be-99 or Metro run you don't build time all that fast. When I was at AMF a lot of those guys only flew a few hours per day. Some of them had split runs where they were flying the PA-31 part of the time.

If majors were hiring single pilot Part 135 guys in large quantities then going to AMF and sticking it out would be a great plan. Fact is the majors hire a few single pilot Part 135 guys here and there, and most likely do so because of some good LOR's and other networking.

I had to laugh when I read:

"if you want to get to major NOW, then get all the PIC turbine time you can NOW. 3-5 years from now you'll be interviewing at a major as the regional guy is contemplating his captain upgrade."

Do you know how many guys I know that already have 3-5 years in as RJ captain, a college degree, and a few LOR's that are still waiting for an interview at a decent major? You have no idea how much competition there is for a relative handful of slots. A good airline like WN probably has 15,000 qualified applicants in their database. A friend at AS told me they had over 10,000 apps on file.

Counting on getting on with a good major after 3-5 years at AMF is more of a long shot than a likelihood. With Check-21 coming into play I'm not sure how stable AMF will be in the next few years Don't they still do a lot of bank work?
 
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AZaviator

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Hey Dave, where do you fly? Just curious.

I haven't seen any kind of big effects yet in our flight scheduels due to Check 21. I believe our Lear contracts are still good through sometime next year. On the turboprop side of things, I have not seen any kind of decline in business due to Check 21. It could happen, but I have not seen it yet. In addition, our bank flights carry a lot more things, in addition to canceled checks. The merger of ABX and DHL has created changes in our schedule more than anything.

As I mentioned before, a lot of our pilots do not want to fly for a large carrier such as UPS or SWA. Many do, but many don't. 135 single pilots guys seem to be quite interested in corporate jobs other flying jobs other than flying for the majors. Me personally, I do not want to fly for an unstable regional, nor do I want to fly for a larger air carrier and have to commute. Ameriflight is a good place to build up PIC turbine time and sit back and decide where you want to go next. It seems like many regional pilots have the attitude of wanting to get their 121 time and then get the heck out as soon as possible. For me, the quality of life is good and I'm always keeping my eye open for opportunities out there. However I'm very content where I am and don't feel the need to jump ship as soon as I can. I think a lot of pilots at Ameriflight share my opinion. We have a lot of pilots who left the regionals to come here, while I'm sure the regionals have many ex Ameriflight guys. As stated before, it just depends on what you want.
 

captainover

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Thanks for the input!

Hey everybody who responded... It's very helpful to hear all your insights. Very interesting. I appreciate it.
 
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