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Contract work

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Dec 6, 2001
My knowledge of the corporate aviation world has been limited to less than a year flying for one of the fractionals (RTA). I've heard people talk about doing "contract" work for PT 92 operators, but am clueless about how to start. I have a Beechjet Type from RTA and am in talks with a couple of Beechjet operators in the area. How does one get paid doing this kind of work, and how much? Salary, or by the day/flight time? What about recurrent training, do I pay for that on my own, or do I sign a training contract?
USUALLY you are paid by the day.... a flat amount (Jet Captain can be from $300 - $1,000 per day depending on aircraft type)...

As far as recurrent training costs, you are on your own....

Some guys can do pretty well being Contract pilots, but most guys I know would rather have the steady salary and benefits of a full time job if they can get it.

Hope this helps!

Good Luck and Fly Safe!
How are training costs handled in the case of a full-time salaried position? I assume that if it is employer paid, they would expect me to sign a training contract? But a full-time salaried position will be hard for a furloughed airline pilot to score... I would like to do the contract work until I declare the furlough terminal and make a permanent career change, which will probably take a year or so. Will I need to spring for the recurrent training on my own to do the contract work?
Training costs are almost always paid by the employer for full-time salaried positions. Most companies do NOT make you sign a training contract.

I agree that being a furloughed airline guy it will be hard to score a full time position, no company is going to want to pay to train you only to have you leave. My company spends about $35,000 per year per pilot for training. As you can see this can get very expensive to have a revolving door.

I can understand a company wanting a furloughed guy to sign a training contract.... They want to make sure they get reimbursed if you leave.... Being a furloughed airline guy is unfortunately not a good position to be in for Corporate work, it is kinda like having a black X on your back.

Your other option to possible avoid signing the training contact is to offer to resign your seniority from your airline position.
I certainly understand a company's interest in their return on the investment they make in training me, I have no problem with that, it is business. But it's too early for me to be willing to resign my seniority number in return for a salaried permanent position. A year from now that might change. That's why right now I'm primarily interested in just doing contract work. So, bottom line, it sounds like you're saying that in order to do that contract work, I'm probably going to have to pay for my own recurrent training. Is that right? Now, I'm a little fuzzy on the Pt 91 rules about jet crews. I flew as SIC on the Beechjet for RTA for 6 months before they typed me, (they just gave me the FSI ground school, then a couple of flights in an aircraft as an SIC certification, then put me on the line) so I assume I could do the contract co-pilot work without the recurrent training to update the type rating, as long as I'm flying with a type-rated captain. I would just need to meet the currency requirements, right? And what do you think would be the going rate for a contract Beechjet co-pilot, $200-$250 a day?
Yes, you SHOULD be able to do contract F/O work without doing a full Flight Safety Recurrent..... You will just need to go out and get your landings to be current as SIC...

The only problem you might run into is Insurance Company requirements... those will vary form employer to employer...

I would guess for a Beechjet F/O somewhere around $250 is the going rate....

Good Luck!
In most metro. areas there is a need for contract pilots. Many companies, 135 operators, and airplane owners like to use us to fill in as needed for their regular pilots. I would start knocking on doors, so to speak. Make yourself some business cards, print some resumes, and head down to the airport and annoy the desk people at the FBO's - they can at least point you in the right direction. I fly right seat in Lears and Citations for $300/day plus per diem. I had some time in type but no type rating. Captains in these get $400-$500/day, but it varies greatly on the operator. Also, this is usually a great way to get your foot in the door should they need someone full-time. Best of luck.........:
Thanks a lot, Falcon Capt, just one more question on the contract work concept. I've talked to an operator that may want to use me as his primary guy on a continuing basis. Is it just a matter of agreeing on per-day compensation, then just flying when he needs me? Or could I get a longer-term agreement, so that I have something I can count on? Here is kind of what I had in mind: He has said that he might fly me an average of 10-15 days a month. At $250 a day, that's $2500-3750 a month. I agree to be his guy for, say, 6 months, or even a year, and if any month falls below the 10 days of work, I get a monthly minimum of $2500. The monthly minimum is kind of an airline concept, but have you ever heard of that kind of arrangement in corporate aviation?
Thanks for all the info,
Thanks. I see you're a -727 FE like me, at least for another month before I get furloughed. Are you still on the panel, or have you returned to the corporate world?

The metro area I live in is small, Peoria, IL, so the jobs are limited. I may spend a couple of days in Chicago going airport to airport, door to door, like you describe.

You can try to make just about any deal you want. I've heard about all kinds. It can't hurt to ask this guy if he'd be willing to accept your idea of a minimum salary.

You might even try to offer a deal where he just pays you a set amount per month regardless of how much or little you fly. It really doesn't matter, its all about what they are willing to accept. Some places might even pay for your recurrent by offering you an initial lump sum of money (signing bonus), which you you could use to go out and pay for the training yourself. IRS rules could be a problem if they wrote the check for the training.

As far as seniority at an airline goes. If you eventually want to go back to where you were working before, do not resign your seniority. Another option might be for you to offer a corporate operator a training contract for a year. If you get recalled your contract might allow you to take a Leave of Absense upon recall (many do). If you do get recalled, This would allow you to fulfill your training contract and return to your airline when your training contract is up. Just another option, one I might consider when/if I get recalled.

Good Luck,

Like JetPilot500 said, you can really try to negotiate any kind of agreement you want... It will really vary from company to company.... See what they are willing to accept...

Remember shoot high, you can always come down if need be...

Good Luck!

Falcon Capt.
Thanks Gents!
It's all starting to take shape. A leave of absence from my airline is a possibility, (and I'll be very surprised if I'm furloughed less than a year anyway) so I'm not as hesitant about signing a contract. Who knows, maybe after a year, if a recall isn't on the horizon, I'll decide to make this job a permanent career change, once I'm comfortable as a corporate pilot. What do you all think of this job: (not to overstay my welcome here and become a nuisance)

As a matter of fact, this sounds like a pretty good corporate job. As I've said before, my only corporate exposure was at RTA, but the only corporate aspect of it for me was operationally, the flying itself. Administratively, I didn't deal with an actual corporate flight department, I just flew the line, more like an airline structure. My image of a corporate flight department I got from the pilots I flew with at RTA, who came out of a corporate flight department. The story I heard over and over was that a corporate pilot worked for one company for 2-5 years, until he was downsized, or found another job, for another 2-5 years, etc. The job security didn't seem too good. (Of course, airline job security isn't looking too good right now, either.) It seems that anytime business goes bad for a company, the first and easiest thing to chop is the flight department.

But this company I'm talking to has had an airplane since it started business in '79, with the same guy flying for them, the guy I'm trying to contract with now. He's been the only pilot, flying the only plane, that whole time. So the flight department can't really be downsized, only eliminated. But they've had it for almost 25 years, and the business is doing pretty well (insurance). Now they've gone from a King Air to a Beechjet, and need a second pilot.

A schedule was the other part of the corporate horror stories I heard from those RTA guys. There usually was none, they didn't know from day to day if they were flying or not. But this guy I'm talking to says he knows his schedule a least a month out. It sounds like this guy is practically on the board of this company, and has a lot of say-so. "Days off are just that, off," he says. No wearing a beeper. So that sounds pretty good.

Even when I was hearing all the horror stories from the ex-corporate guys, they still always said that the job depended on the company you work for. A lot of corporate jobs are a pain, and temporary, but there are some that are actually great permanent positions. I like the idea of working for him on a contract basis until I figure out which type this is. If the airline thing doesn't pan out, and this job is one of the good ones, maybe this will be all for the best.

But I really have nothing to compare this job to, being my first foray into a corporate flight department. How does it sound to you guys?

Another thought about contract work

Hey Blower,
Here's another thought on contract flying. Whether to work as an employee of the company or be an independant contractor. If you're an employee, then great. Soak it to them and get what you can; pay, benefits, insurance, etc. If you decide to go the contractor route then I suggest forming your own business (i.e. incorporate) and save yourself all the hassle of taxes in other states if that applies in your situation. If you don't form your own business, then the IRS considers you self-employed and if you're in the 28% tax bracket then expect 49% of every dollar you earn to go to taxes, FICA, and other gouges depending on where you live.

I'm going through this nutroll now and the learning curve is steep. If you go this route PM me and I'll try to get you pointed in the right direction. Good-luck and keep the greasy side down!
I have a question too...

I'm a commercial pilot also with a BE400 type rating, but I currently fly right seat on military C-21s (Lear 35s). I've thought about doing some contract work on my time off, but I've only got about 700 hours at present (although I'm logging around 40 hours a month right now). Nearly all my time is in turbine biz-jets or helicopters, and I have a Class I medical. Just wondering what my chances are of doing the same (but on a more limited basis than the above poster). In about 8 months, I should have my Lear type rating as well. Even if my chances are low now (due to total time requirements), I'd like to consider it later.

The monthly minimum pay concept is the same one used by my company. I am paid at a daily rate for each day that I fly, and am guaranteed to be paid for at least 10 days each month, even if I fly less than that. It's just like the airline concept of a monthly hourly guarantee except that it's based on days flown. I've found that it works out very well for the most part.

If the guy is serious about letting you know the schedule days or weeks in advance, then it sounds like a pretty good deal. You'll find that corporate aviation tends to be more of a high end pursuit, much of the time. While there are certainly exceptions to every rule, most corporate pilots tend to be well compensated and have very attractive fringe benefits. We stay in the best hotels, have a high meal allowance, and have a rental car to use on all of our overnights at my company, all at company expense. The downside is the schedule...at my company we're required to carry a cell phone and pager and be ready to have the wheels up within 8 hours, which is a lot better than a lot of places, but still not fun. I have personally been called at 2AM for a 9AM departure, although I am still young and single, so that's not really too much of a concern. Your situation may be different, but it sounds like your "boss" isn't the type that would do that to you anyway.

Not too sure about the recurrent training issue and tax questions, as I never worked on a contract basis, but it looks like some of the other guys gave some good feedback on that anyway.

Best of luck, and if you have any questions, send me a PM or e-mail.