Give up airline life for corporate?

OldGoat

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I’m looking for some advice from anyone who’s been in the Part 91 world for a while or anyone who has gone from 121 to 91...

I’m considering leaving the airline life for QOL reasons and have an opportunity with a large established flight department (5 jets) in a Fortune 100 company. The job has what I’m missing in my 121 job; no commute obviously and I’ll be home 90% of the time with holidays and weekends off. The company pays industry standard and there are minimal office duties outside of flying. All the pilots I’ve spoken with seem very happy and many have been there for a long time. However, I feel that I may be giving up job security and long term income as my current employer is and should continue to do very well.

What do you think? I know that I’m blessed to be in this position however the decision is making me crazy – it’s only my family’s future we’re talking about.

Many thanks in advance!
 

semperfido

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sometimes change is good. what kind of planes? how many years you have invested in 121 and how does your particular situation look for the future? i was 121 briefly but have been 91 for 20 yrs. i like 91.
 

sluminginpit

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Consider your self fournate to have this opportunity. However, only you can decide what is right. Remember, there is no security in anything, ever. Pilots at Delta sat on the sidelines and watched everything fall apart after 9-11 feeling lucky to be with a stable company like Delta, now look. I struggle with the same decision everyday, weather to leave or stay. Ask yourself whats important, do you want to work for the same company for ever? Look at airlinepilotpay.com, and research your first few years somewhere else, can you afford to go? Good luck in your choice! You will only know if you made the right decision in the end, for now enjoy the ride!
 

BenderGonzales

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I was 121 for 9 years.

Part 91 now and will never look back. Part 91 with large flight department is the best kept secret in aviation.
 

Lead Sled

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OldGoat said:
...I'm considering leaving the airline life for QOL reasons and have an opportunity with a large established flight department (5 jets) in a Fortune 100 company. The job has what I’m missing in my 121 job; no commute obviously and I’ll be home 90% of the time with holidays and weekends off. The company pays industry standard and there are minimal office duties outside of flying. All the pilots I’ve spoken with seem very happy and many have been there for a long time...
It sounds to me like you've answered your own question. Corporate flying has a different "flavor" than 121 flying. I really enjoy and thrive on the variety that comes with a corporate job. Airline flying was boring. I also enjoy the "hands on" nature of the job.

I went the corporate route 20 years ago and I've never looked back. My wife and I have 5 kids and it was for precisely the very reasons you mentioned that I never pursued 121 flying once I left. (And I had 3 or 4 opportunities.) Would I do it again? In a heart beat.

'Sled

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Gulfstream 200

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yeah be careful with that "S" word (stability).

I would take just about any Fortune 100 gig over any airline these days.

No weekend or holidays? we certainly dont do every weekend...but a large department usually has at least one or two long range planes, and they usually do some trips longer than 5 days...going to China for a few stops and back just takes that long. I dont know your situation , just dont count on the weekends home..

I like my PT 91 gig, dont ever want to fly 121. Its all personal choice of course.

Who would have thought a few years ago that the average GV/Global corp guy would make more money and have far better benefits than a DAL or UAL Captain?

The airline bloodbath is a shame, always hate to see good jobs disappear - airline or corporate.
 

mobie

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121 to 91

Make sure you know what you are getting into and what skills you need. I had a great 121 life for 38 years, but kept flying 91 on some nice a/c world wide the same time.

91 takes quite alot more skills than stick and rudder and each 91 dept. requires special skills. Like it or not you will have to endure the 121 "stink" for some time, you will get over it in time.

Do I miss flying 12 days a month on a wide? Yes I do, but I wish I had retired early and found a great 91 dept. where I was not just a number.

I am still flying 91/135, but hope to get that 135 in my past and with a stable 91 for about 5 more years.

Weekends, holidays or plans I do not know of any flying job that you might not have to do them with a smile on your face.

Good luck

Mobie
 

307M

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Being with a "legecy" carrier now for 20 years (17 to go/maybe 23?) I would certainly look at a Fortune 500 corporate job. The 121 gig is not what it used to be nor it will ever return to those levels. As all of us look for, a stable environment with a decent wage, insurance and of course some type of 401K.Is the grass greener on the corp. side(?) I say probably yes cause its really brown on this side.
 

capt_zman

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There is only 1 real problem, in my opinion, of the corporate life vs. 121. Stability. People can argue this vs that and so forth, but corporate life can be brutal. For example, I had lunch with the old boss today and in our conversation he tells me that 2 neighboring flight depts (Very large footware company and a Fortune 500 computer company) just closed their doors and put the airplanes up for sale, all with very little warning to anyone. I've seen this too many times over the years, great jobs gone bad.

You can kill yourself weighing risks, benefits vs. tradeoffs, etc. My advice, just go with what makes you the happiest.
 
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AA717driver

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Goat--I made the move (forcibly) a couple of years ago. I am happy doing what I'm doing. But don't for one second think you have ANY stability in any area of aviation. If you keep that in the back of your mind, you will be ok.

The biggest advantage to 91 v. 121 is that your experience matters. If you fly captain in 91 you are recognized as a captain. FedEx doesn't give a crap that I once flew captain at a major airline--to the panel you go, maggot!

How many days a month are the pilots in this department gone? I'm hearing of more departments short-staffing and paying overtime or bumping the pay a little to make up for it. Or, some are just flying the crap out of their people with no extras. It may not be the land of milk and honey that it appears from the outside.

Oh well, nothing's perfect. You just have to realize you are entering a totally different job. Virtually nothing will transfer over to 91 from 121. It took me a while to really get comfortable in 91. Good luck.TC
 

Hpilot

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The 91 job you mentioned sounds great. Like a previous post mentioned though, beware China. A friend flies a Global Express for a large corporation. The first several years he couldn't stop talking about how great it was. Most of the flying was weekdays in the US. He's now spending so much time in Russia and China that he's positioning himself to leave(industry) in the next couple years. Best of luck.
 

sleepy

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Stability? Their isn't stability in any aviation related job. For example, my Fortune 20 Flight Department was planning to expand (two new aircraft and a bigger hanger), then for no clear reason one day it was all cancled. No explaination was given. Pilots had already been trained to fly the cancled aircraft. Another example, look at Georgia-Pacific. A Fortune 500 company with a 40 year history in corporate aviation. Just last week it was announced that they are being purchased by Koch Industries (a private corporation that most people never heard of located in ICT). Now they will probably close the G-P Flight Department (Two CL-604's and three LR-31A's).

Any company can be purchased, any flight department can be closed at any time for any reason.

The only thing I miss about Partr 121 is having a schedule. Make sure that you understand their scheduling practices. Of course they will lie to you and tell you how great the schedule is. Don't believe them.
 

AZ Typed

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BenderGonzales said:
I was 121 for 9 years.

Part 91 now and will never look back. Part 91 with large flight department is the best kept secret in aviation.

5 years 121 here - I second that: 91 (even 135) is the best kept secret in aviation.

AZT
 

TIS

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OldGoat said:
However, I feel that I may be giving up job security and long term income as my current employer is and should continue to do very well.
You're kidding right? Job security at a 121 carrier? Take a look around you! Aloha and Delta are more serious than EVER about closing their doors. United might as well do the same - the dinosaurs!

If you want to stay 121 do it in freight.

If you want to move to Part 91 there are some compelling reasons to do so but, like everything else, there are a few rules.

First, be VERY careful about going to a corporation’s internal flight department. They change their raison d’être every time the CEO changes. Everyone’s on pins and needles until the dust settles after a change. CEOs tend to move along after 3-5 years so your life will cycle like that.

Second, you should be looking for a management company if you can find one. Working for one for those is a bit like buying mutual funds – you diversify your exposure to risk (of planes going away) and help to ensure your own job security in so doing. I work for one and in ten years we have never operated fewer than 12 aircraft but in that same time only one of the clients that was on the property when I started is still here. Diversify your holdings and no one particular departure will affect you the way it would at a corporation.

Third, you should understand CLEARLY that being able to fly the plane is a given in the Part 91 world. That’s what it says on your license – that you can fly a plane. Being good at a corporate Part 91 gig is about EVERYTHING else that goes with rich people who want what they want – whatever it happens to be. Someone mentioned the 121 stink and this is a big part of it. No one will be leading you by the hand. You get your own weather and you file your own flight plans but you do that AFTER you make all the calls to the caterer, the hotels, the FBOs, and maybe even the flower shop to put the whole ball of wax together.

What do you suppose is just about the worst thing you can have happen (besides an in-flight fire) to you in your plane? Anyone? Beuhler? Okay, it's problems that involve your toilet. Thing won't dump, thing won't re-seal, thing won't flush, FBO can't or won't dump it. This is SERIOUS stuff! When you're 6000+ miles from home in say, southern Argentina and it's happening without hope of anyone helping you resolve it, guess who needs to be the crap expert! Yesirree, the part 91 thing is a different deal altogether!

There is one other thing you should keep in mind as you struggle with your decision. As I said before, in the 121 realm you should be looking at cargo. The profit margins are HUUUUGE in cargo. In addition, people may decide they can’t afford to visit Aunt Martha this Christmas but you can bet they’ll send her a package!

But if you choose to go 91 understand the strength of that decision. The problems in the airline world all revolve around MONEY – mostly that which is locked up in pension plans (aside from direct operating costs, of course). They are trying to find ways to cut back so that the meager dollars they make on ticket sales will cover their costs and then some. It’s not working. Even Southwest admits that they’d be in the tank if it weren’t for their fuel hedging right now.

In the Part 91 world, the opposite is true. The folks that own these aircraft treat them as a luxury. They CHOOSE to spend HUUUUGE amounts of money for the privilege. They KNOW they’re blowing money though a furnace at a rate that most of us down here in the trenches can scarcely imagine. Sure they’d like us to keep the steak consumption under control a bit more these days but if they were interested in cutting back they’d be selling the plane and taking the airlines. That ain’t happenin’! The whole reason the airplane’s there is different right down to the core and that difference is a critical one.

One thing I’ve learned in my career is that it is what you make of it. Ten years ago I was forced in to making the same kind of choice you face now. The first company to offer me a position got my loyalty. I had plenty of opportunities to go to major carriers and had I done so, I might very well be looking at the unemployment line instead of my tenth straight annual bonus next month.

Good Luck!

TIS
 
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kingairyahoo

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TIS said:
Second, you should be looking for a management company if you can find one.

...now that would be one of the best kept secrets in aviation...until TIS let it eek out :eek:
 

TIS

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Kinda like one of those wet farts,huh? You don't know the damage it'll do until it's too late, right?
 

cfi76

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I guess there are more people out there with a similar dilemma. I was 135, now 121 with a regional, considering the possibility of returning to the 135 life. One thing you see when contemplating something like this is that the variables are staggering. I feel your pain.
 

kingairyahoo

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TIS said:
Kinda like one of those wet farts,huh? You don't know the damage it'll do until it's too late, right?

lol...well, fortunately i dont think this will cause a rush to fill all the 135 management company pilot slots...not that there are that many to fill cause most of us arent in a hurry to go anywhere :)
 
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