Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Friendliest aviation Ccmmunity on the web
  • Modern site for PC's, Phones, Tablets - no 3rd party apps required
  • Ask questions, help others, promote aviation
  • Share the passion for aviation
  • Invite everyone to Flightinfo.com and let's have fun

corporate->major transition

Welcome to Flightinfo.com

  • Register now and join the discussion
  • Modern secure site, no 3rd party apps required
  • Invite your friends
  • Share the passion of aviation
  • Friendliest aviation community on the web

Winged Sig 599

Well-known member
Aug 15, 2002
To any of you corporate pilots who have transitioned to the Majors, or are thinking about it, or just have advice I have a few questions. I am about to begin the wonderful world of flight instruction. I am looking at instructing at a place that offers an upgrade to their corporate department after about six months. They move you to King Air 200's or Hawker 800 XP's. My main question is regarding quality and quantity of time for the majors. How much longer would it take to acquire time to be competitive for a major airline working in the corporate world versus say working for a regional carrier or commuter? Will they accept the regional guy with lower time because of previous 121 experience, or would the corporate guy be just as competitive?? How is the corporate pay and lifestyle versus a regional guy?
Thanks in advance for any input-
Tough Question


Given the times (read post 9/11, bankrupt companies, downsizing), the competitive minimums are going up about the same velocity as the space shuttle's ascent. It's truly an employer's market right now with very qualified pilots applying for positions of interest.

I believe over the short term (1-2 years), both quality and quantity will rule who gets the interviews. I would estimate competitive minimum times for the majors will be 5000-6000 hours total, and a good quantity of jet PIC time. There are (and probably soon to be more) furloughed pilots competing for any slots that open at the majors. The big question would be if they'll hold out for their company to call them back or take a new position elsewhere.

Obviously, Part 121 time is definitely quality time when looking to move up the food chain. It is my humble opinion that regional operations will do very well if they can survive their code-share partners financial woes. As I'm sure you've been reading, more and more RJ's are joining regional fleets. I know this is very concerning to main-line pilots, but it is a reality. Current scope clauses are limiting the number of RJ's code-partners can operate, but more and more are operating under their own name as well as a code partner (ie. ACA).

I won't pretend to have intimate knowlege of the "airline" environment. Most of what I've learned is through trade magazines, friends and relatives that fly for the majors.

Again, in my humble opinion, a 4000 hour regional pilot would have an edge over a 4000 hour corporate pilot when trying to get an interview, especially with so few airlines hiring right now. However, once in the interview when the entire picture of you and your qualifications are put together, both stand as good a chance as the other in getting hired.

With regard to lifestyle and pay, it all depends on what you want. Corporate pilots may or may not have a schedule, many carry pagers or cellphones. You may fly 28 days a month or 5, depending on the corporation. Pay varies with equipment, though it's my experience that you'll start off at a higher wage at a corporate job over a regional. Upgrades at corporate jobs can be within months to many years depending on their needs. I know of one corporation where you'll be a turbo-prop FO for 4-5 years before upgrading to captian. 7-10 years before moving into their jets. Obviously they are very stable and retain pilots easily.

I hope my input has helped. Best of luck with your career.


Last edited:
Better re-think options

Winged Sig 599,

Gotta agree with 2000flyer.

Now that AA is announcing more layoffs and US air has filed for chaptrer 11 and United is threatening to do the same by the Spring... Maybe you'd better think about another career venue in aviation. The airlines for any newbie these days is risky at best.

As to your question... a lifelong committment to one career is a plus with any employer.

Good luck,
Winged Sig 599 said:
I am looking at instructing at a place that offers an upgrade to their corporate department after about six months. They move you to King Air 200's or Hawker 800 XP's.

Is this place a CORPORATE operator or a CHARtER operator... I don't know many Corporate Operators who have their own flight schools attached...

I think you are possibly confusing apples and oranges...

I agree with CL60... I don't think many "Majors" will be hiring for many years to come... I saw one estimate that said they didn't expect AA to start any new hiring until after 2009...

Make sure you have a REALISTIC view of the industry and your potential career path before you blindly push ahead...

Good Luck and Fly Safe!
I think it is most important to find a job where you can be happy for a few years as there most likely wont be much movement for awhile. As far as experience I would say the single most important factor is pic turbine time. That seems to open more doors than part 121 time. Most of my time is part 121 but I only have 800 pic turbine- I cant even submit an application to any of the airlines currently hiring as they require 1000(fedex, ups, jetblue, swa)
Winged Sig 599,

How is the corporate pay and lifestyle versus a regional guy?

Almost missed this on your original post.

Most legitimate corporate operators pay new guys much better than any regional pays their junior pilots. Our company starts captains off in the high 5 figures to low 6 figures range with a 15% to 25% bonus every year. F/Os start in the $40's or %50's I think. What do regionals start their guys at? $15,000 to $20,000 per year??

If you do get a good corporate flying job, you will probably not want to take a 75% first year pay cut to go to any airline unless that is your ultimate goal.

As for the lifestyle issue, there is absolutely no way to compare my job to a regional job. My QOL is fantastic even when compared to a senior pilot's QOL at a major airline.

Good luck,
Winged Sig 599 said:
How is the corporate pay and lifestyle versus a regional guy?

We are starting our new hires at $75,000-$80,000 first year pay (plus bonuses)... plus when we are on the road we are on full expense accounts... First-class hotels, rental cars, all meals paid, company paid cell phone, company paid calling card...

You don't get this at the Regionals (they pay for your crew hotel can you say Ramada Inn? or Holiday Inn?), you don't get rental cars or meals paid (only per diem, usually about $1.50 per hour) and if you call home it is on your dime...

I think most regionals first year pay is around $20,000 ± $3,000...

I worked 5 days in July (that means 26 days off (at home))...

Decent pay and very good quality of life...

No comparison.... Apples and Oranges...
Last edited:
Most majors won't give corporate guys a chance. jetBlue reserves a few slots to interview each month for folks w/ corporate experience. Airtran has quite a few guys that flew corporate exclusively. Other than that, it is extremely hit or miss. I would not suggest flying corporate or charter if flying for the airlines is your goal.

Also remember Falcon Capt et al work for Class-A operations. They are the exception by far. If you ever get to work for a quality operation, it will be after paying dues at crappy places. Believe me, crappy in the corporate/charter world is much harder to take than in the airline world. Atleast at an airline your seniority counts for something.

I'll take exception to Jay's comments on corporate folks moving to the majors. I don't have enough fingers and toes to count all the people I know who were flying corporate and are now at the majors (DAL, AAL, UAL, etc). Like I mentioned in my first post, you're flight time (primarily) gets you the interview, YOU win or lose the job!

Maybe this will help. I worked for a charter outfit, then was hired by a Fortune 100 corporate flight department. The money was good, but I hated corporate flying (where I worked you never new your schedule in advance). I always wanted to work for a major airline, so when the opportunity to fly for an airline (large national air cargo outfit) was available, I took it. I ended up furloughed from that airline. I now work for the worlds largest regional airline (at 1/3 the pay I was making in the corporate job).

Here are the things I learned/know:

1. There are some great corporate jobs, and then there are ones like I had.

2. The major airline will not hire anybody for years, and when they do hire again they perfer military guys, not corporate guys.

3. nothing is very certain in aviation, even the best corporate job can turn fractional. Also, watch out for mergers.

4. If you really want to work for a major airline, you should get a job with a good regional airline (note that our hiring minimums have raised considerably since 911). After military pilots, most major airlines seem to prefer guys with Part 121 PIC time.

Latest resources