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LR-55 or RJ? which would you do?

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Active member
Apr 4, 2002
Honest opinions please. But in the next few months it looks as though I might be able to have a decision between going 135 in a lear 55 or FO for the RJ. I'm young and low time so am also trying to enjoy aviation, not trying to make the majors as quick as some others, and if I get held behind for a couple years because I choose the lear 55 then so be it. I've heard flying the corporate side is a lot of fun and flying the business jets can be exciting. I would also be making probably twice that of what I would get flying the RJ. But also don't want to make a dumb decision and give up a golden opportunity to get on the RJ. So what would you all do?
Do whatever you'll be most happy doing. Determine your goal, and it sounds like you have, then have fun getting there. The only real advantage I can see for the Rj is that you will most likely log about twice as much time per year in it as you will corporate. But if you luck into a corporate job that flys instead of sitting at the FBO, even that point may not go to the RJ. I suspect that hiring at the major level will be slow for a long time, so remember, that RJ job might last longer than you think.


one last thought, if hiring stays slow, what environment would you rather be stuck in? good luck and BTW, a LJ55 is one heck of a nice bird.
I think it depends on what you like and what your goal is. If your interest is corporate flying, go with the Lear. If it's airline flying go with the RJ.

In the early stages you'll do a good bit of sitting with the RJ as well. Not in FBO's but on reserve.

Think also about which airline this RJ happens to be at. Not all RJ's operate in what I would call an "airline environment" while others do. Some of the companies are nice to work for and others are less "user friendly". Some I wouldn't want to work for no matter what they fly.

Do you homework, then go with whatever makes YOU the happiest.
I must say you have a great opportunity. I would suggest that if you are standing with two positions available waiting for your picking, it's not about the aircraft. If so, then hands down pick the Lear.
If you want to fly part 121 then pick the RJ job.
If you want to fly corporate then pick the Lear.

Don't fool yourself into playing the game for a while if your goal is specific. Get the job you want and don't look back.

Good Luck.
The above have been great answers to your questions. Other things to take into consideration might be the ability to move into the left seat of the Lear. Will you be a co-pilot forever? Don't laugh, many corporate jobs out there are single aircraft operations where the new hire pilot will sit right seat for pay etc for many years. If that is the case and your choice of airlines might be an RJ operator with an upgrade time of 3 years or less, then it is a no brainer in my book. RJ pay rates are typically (the big 4 rj operators) like this:

1st year FO 22,000
2nd year FO 30,000
3rd year FO 37,000
4th year CA 52,000
5th year CA 63,000 (line holder at COEX flying about 80 hours a month and picking up no extra trips)

These rates are ballpark based on the COEX pay scale which is going to change dramatically over the next year. Comair, Air Wisconsin, and ACA's rates are higher at the present time than what I've shown you. You must also realize that some companies will have upgrade times shorter than what I've illustrated and some will have much longer upgrade times (eagle). And just when you think you've got all the airlines rated by upgrade times it all changes and airline C then has a shorter upgrade than airline A. Getting confusing?
Like the others have said, you've got to do what's in your heart. If corporate flying is what you want, go with the lear job. I always wanted to fly for the airlines however I still can't help but to stare at a slick lear 25 when I see one.
One more thing. I think you said it would be a 135 lear 55 job. That would in no way harm you if you wanted to transition to an airline. You have lots of paperwork and proficency checks that the airlines like to look at when conducting the interview process. You will operate (paperwork wise) very similar to a 121 scheduled carrier except you will park on the other side of the airport and get free cookies for purchasing fuel.
You must also look at the prospective companies who fly the Lear and RJ. Corporate flight departments are often the first to go when things go bad (economy for example). One change of ownership or CEO could mean the end of the department. On the other hand, a very stable company (Coke, Ford, etc.) is often times a more reliable bet than some airlines.

So the questions are, is the corporate job with a stable company with a proven track record or not and how stable is the RJ operation (Comair, Air Wisky, CoEx type stability or Great Lakes type stability)?
I just wanted to say thanks to everyone who replied. All the advice raises some points and gives me something to think about. Thank you.

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