Pay? air attack

Lampshade

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What's can you make in a average season flying air attack (twin engine recips) in CA?
 

avbug

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That depends on the company. Some companies pay by the hour, some daily some both. In fire, there are several types of pay and you need to talk to the company to determine which they pay, and how.

When an airplane sits on duty, it gets daily availability; the flat rate simply for being there. Most companies pay a daily availability rate to the pilot, and for air attack, it's typically in the 225 range, depending on your arrangement, experience, etc. This is in line with a Twin Commander, or something like that. Hourly rates vary; twenty five bucks a flight hour, something along those lines...but again, you really need to talk to the company.

Hourly rates may be for each hour of availability, or it may be flight hour pay on top of daily availability. I spoke to an operator a few days ago that's paying their people about 225 at a rate of about twenty five dollars an hour...that's for 9 hours, which is the basic duty day. A fully duty day is fourteen hours. Some pay what's called extended availability, typically about 40 bucks an hour, for each hour over nine in a day. This operator didn't...they paid the 25 buck an hour up to 40 hours, then paid time and a half. If you're doing 14 hour duty days, then after two and a half days, everything else for the week is overtime. That particular operator had no flight pay.

Perdiem varies widely. That operator paid 125 a day, out of which you cover your hotel, meals, cell, whatever. Others will cover your hotel, their choice of hotel, and a few dollars for the meal. Others will simply give you whatever the government rate is in the area you're working at the time (bearing in mind that you may very well be working in a different area or place every day).

What you make when flying air attack depends on many factors. If the contract is exclusive use, you can calculate your base pay for the length of the contract because you know it's going to be say, a 90 day contract. You have no idea how much you'll fly or what kind of extended availability you'll get, so you can't figure that into your pay...you'll get what you get and you won't know what it will be until it's all over; no way to predict the fires.

If it's a CWN contract, or Call When Needed, you can't even predict your base pay, because you have no idea when you'll be called out, and you have no idea when you'll be coming back home. You may have a good, long season, or you may do very little. One of the operators I noted above had a very poor season last year, as did I. Very little flying, very little use. It happens. I flew both CWN and exclusive use, and neither one produced much. Then again, the government ran out of money last year; it wasn't available to fight fire, and we ended up sitting a lot.

As for California, it's "Region 5, USFS." If you have exclusive use and an assigned base there, you may be able to count on working in California, where Air Attack (AA) platforms tend to fly a lot. However, as an AA, you're also considered a national resource if operating in the federal system, and you can be sent anywhere, any time. If you're CWN, you most likely will be sent anywhere, any time. Or not used at all.

There are no guarantees.
 

Lampshade

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The operator I have been talking to said 35k for a slow season and 45k for a good season + per diem does that sound like a fair ballpark number with a 12 on 2 off rotation?
 

414Flyer

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Operators should be paying the specified hourly amount, plus extended standby and overtime. Flight pay is not required to be paid, but some do anyways.

Most give you the per diem, and I flew for one once one CWN that just gave you a charge card to put hotel/food onto. However I would have rather had the money instead. That same one just paid the normal air ambulance salary when sent out as CWN, which probably was not entirely legal since no hourly or standby pay for the pilot, but federal government doesnt really check to make sure contractors are paying correctly.
 

avbug

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The operator I have been talking to said 35k for a slow season and 45k for a good season + per diem does that sound like a fair ballpark number with a 12 on 2 off rotation?
Sounds ridiculous for a 12 on 12 off rotation. If you're going to go out on fire, trying for time off or a rotation is ridiculous. You have a limited amount of time to go work. Go fly, and stay out until the fires are over.

If you're rotating on and off like that, you stand a good chance of missing a lot of flying, you're only working half the time, and you're wasting a very limited season in which you can make money. The numbers you quoted might work for a full time pilot, but are not right for a part timer, unless you get lucky and get a lot of flying and extended availability during your time off.

As far as comments regarding what the federal government requires pilots to be paid...it doesn't. Some pilots are under the misguided impression that the contract provides any guidance as to what a pilot should be paid. It doesn't.

The contract specifies what the contractor gets paid. The government takes no interest, and has no part in deciding what a pilot get paid. Simply because the contract spells out pilot pay, doesn't mean the government requires it to be paid to the pilot...it doesn't. That's the amount the government will pay to the company for the pilot...but the company is under no law or obligation, nor does the contract require them, to pay the pilot that amount.

What the pilot gets is entirely between the pilot and the operator
 

414Flyer

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Sounds ridiculous for a 12 on 12 off rotation. If you're going to go out on fire, trying for time off or a rotation is ridiculous. You have a limited amount of time to go work. Go fly, and stay out until the fires are over.
I dont think he said 12/12

As far as comments regarding what the federal government requires pilots to be paid...it doesn't. Some pilots are under the misguided impression that the contract provides any guidance as to what a pilot should be paid. It doesn't.

The contract specifies what the contractor gets paid. The government takes no interest, and has no part in deciding what a pilot get paid. Simply because the contract spells out pilot pay, doesn't mean the government requires it to be paid to the pilot...it doesn't. That's the amount the government will pay to the company for the pilot...but the company is under no law or obligation, nor does the contract require them, to pay the pilot that amount.

What the pilot gets is entirely between the pilot and the operator
Yes, actually under McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, there are wage requirements for companies that have federal government contracts, and they must pay employees accordingly.

Forest Service and BLM are not exempt from that either. Forest Service once actually asked for an exemption from that act but was turned down by Dept of Labor.
 

ALIMBO

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Sounds ridiculous for a 12 on 12 off rotation. If you're going to go out on fire, trying for time off or a rotation is ridiculous. You have a limited amount of time to go work. Go fly, and stay out until the fires are over.

If you're rotating on and off like that, you stand a good chance of missing a lot of flying, you're only working half the time, and you're wasting a very limited season in which you can make money. The numbers you quoted might work for a full time pilot, but are not right for a part timer, unless you get lucky and get a lot of flying and extended availability during your time off.

As far as comments regarding what the federal government requires pilots to be paid...it doesn't. Some pilots are under the misguided impression that the contract provides any guidance as to what a pilot should be paid. It doesn't.

The contract specifies what the contractor gets paid. The government takes no interest, and has no part in deciding what a pilot get paid. Simply because the contract spells out pilot pay, doesn't mean the government requires it to be paid to the pilot...it doesn't. That's the amount the government will pay to the company for the pilot...but the company is under no law or obligation, nor does the contract require them, to pay the pilot that amount.

What the pilot gets is entirely between the pilot and the operator

Go put some rocks on the railroad tracks and watch em real close.
 

DX Rick

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The two operations I have spoken to say 4 months, $40k+
 

avbug

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Yes, actually under McNamara-O'Hara Service Contract Act, there are wage requirements for companies that have federal government contracts, and they must pay employees accordingly.
The Act contains certain exceptions and is not unilateral. Additional exemptions beyond the Act can be found in 29 CFR 4.123.

The government has long held, and operators have long maintained in practice, that wage determinations between the government and the company do not dictate what must be paid to the contract employee.

What you're describing are the minimum wage determinations that must be paid; these do apply, and are spelled out in the contract, however, not all the wages must be paid. For example, while an employee may work overtime (defined as over 9 hours by most contracts, and defined additionally as over 40 hours by some employers), the Act does not apply to overtime, and the employer is therefore under no obligation to cover it. This is why you'll see so many variances in the pay schedule between operators.

Furthermore, few if any contractors pay according to the minimum schedule. The minimum schedule is always less than the contract amount. For example, if the contract specifies 400 dollars a day for a pilot, but the wage determination is 24 dollars as an hourly rate, then the contractor can take the four hundred dollars for the pilot and pay out only 24 dollars an hour to the pilot. The contractor is NOT under an obligation to pay to the pilot what the contract pays to the contractor.

The Act does not require the employer to pay what it receives from the government to the pilot, and many don't. This applies to the basic daily availability rate, the hourly flight rate, extended availability, mileage, and perdiem.

I dont think he said 12/12
You're right; I misread. He stated a 12 on and 2 off rotation, which isn't a rotation, just a standard schedule with the mandatory 2 days off in every 14 day period.

The operator I have been talking to said 35k for a slow season and 45k for a good season + per diem does that sound like a fair ballpark number with a 12 on 2 off rotation?
An AA operator to whom I recently spoke was also offering a 12/12 rotation, flying pilots in and out so they could spend time at home. I opined that this was a really stupid idea; they agreed, but said that many of the younger flight-instructor crowd looking for those jobs actually wanted to do that. They noted that if the applicants were foolish enough to want to do it, they'd accomodate them.
 

acpilot

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I'd say $30K-$40K is realistic. $30K-$35K would be a typical season...$40-$45would be a really, really great season. I take "season" to mean April-October.

Does this sound right AvBug? By the way, are you from AZ?
 

SpauldingSmails

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I flew air attack for a couple seasons out west in Queen Airs. I'd average between $10k and $12k a month in earnings. I was paid a flat $400/day of duty and the company would cover hotel and sometimes a rental vehicle (depending on location). I was usually scheduled for 12 on/2 off.
 

acpilot

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25 in type with 10 PIC in the past 12 months. USFS "type" is used loosely. 25 hrs in a 310, for example, counts towards any Twin Cessna "type" (310,414,421,etc). Common planes used in this line of work include Twin Cessnas and Aero/Turbocommanders.
 

scubabri

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I think I made about 30K this season, 12 on 2 off while on a fire. I spent most of my time up at KSIY and flew about 180 hours or so.

To get into it, you'll need to have 25 hours of skymaster (or whatever aircraft you use), you'll need to be 135 ifr, and you'll need to do a checkride with the DofI. Our call when needed contract is under the BLM/USFS/DofI it may be different if under Cal Fire.

This is my first year doing it, basically it was lots of sitting around waiting, waiting for smoke to clear mostly. Flights ranged from 2 hours, to 5 hours with 3 hours being the norm.
 

Movin' on up!

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Anybody know who is or will be hiring soon? I live in Oregon, but i am willing to travel.
 

dahldale

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I believe Neptune Aviation will be looking for a co-pilot or two this year. They have a website at NeptuneAviation.com All the info is on the website to get a hold of them. Minimums are "basically" Part 135 Minimums, plus you have to have 800 PIC, it has been a while since I needed to know this info, so it is best guess for all you know it alls out there:) Co-pilot on a P2 is a fun gig, make good money and get to travel a lot and see some very interesting country. If you have any questions feel free to ask me or there are a couple of other guys on here who have done the gig also. Happy New Year everybody
 

avbug

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Is this Captain Dale? How's your Dad? Long time no see.
 

dahldale

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This is Lil' Earl for sure. Big Earl decided to retire at the ripeness of 70yrs. He figured if Waldmen can, he can.
 

Megalops

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Hey Dahl, Jhara here, how you doing man, been meaning to get to Missoula forever to see everybody and do some fishing, hope everything is good.
 
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