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Realistic contract pilot options

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Well-known member
Jan 22, 2002
Got a question for the more experienced corporate guys here: I'm a furloughed pilot with a major (yeah, I know I'm wearing the scarlet letter "A"). I have the ability to get funding for a type (most likely a Citation 500 series) through my unemployment.

Just wanted to know if it was at all realistic to try to find some contract work, coming out of school with a type, but no time in type. I have lots of turbojet time, over 6000 hrs, 1000 PIC turbine, but no corporate. Any suggestions? I live in the L.A. area, so there's lots of charter departments to deal with. Does it matter where I get the type? (I'm not sure if I'll be able to get funding for an expensive type-rating course like Flightsafety) What kind of pay can you expect as a contract pilot out on the West Coast for either right or left seat flying?

Thanks for any and all suggestions.
One major concern is how long do you expect to be out? Many companies in the LA area are hiring the furloughed folks because it could be two to three years before they can expect a call back. Talk to your prospective employer and offer them the money given to you for a type and let the company pay the rest. This way you can offer the company temporary services at a greatly reduced training cost and allows you the flexibility of picking the aircraft the company already flies. There are many companies at SNA, VNY, BUR,ONT.
types and pay


hawkerjet's solution of offering a prospective contract employer financial help in training you is interesting. If you can pull it off, I'll be impressed. It is a compromise between buying your way into a job by offseting the opreators training expenses, and asking an operator to pay for your training when you have no experience.

Free or funded ratings can be a bit of a curse to guys in your position. (Not to mention the scarlet letter... seriously). The other pilots you fly with may carry some animosity toward you if they knew you bought your way into a job they busted their humps for. (Contract or not). Using corporate aviation as a fall back position until you get recalled might not sit well with many hard core corp. types...

Although making an equitable trade with a prospective employer can be financially good for both parties involved, you could be making a mistake by offering up your training freebie in advance. Some C/P's and/or D/O's might look at you with disdain, especially if they had to come up through the ranks the hard way. (You don't have to tell anyone how you obtained your financing). If they are only interested in the financial aspects of your offer, then you have to question their motives. If they truly want to help you out, then you may have a chance at getting started in this business.

Contract pilots have to pay for their own training anyway. Best thing to do is to get a popular type rating, find someone who is willing to pay you for sitting in the right seat, and get the experience. We all had to do it somehow when we started. It could be a long road ahead if you go this route but you could get lucky. I know many good honest pilots who worked for years before they got a decent contract business and/or corp career started.

As for daily pay rates, I think experienced Hawker captains can make $400 to $500 per day, (just an estimate). Hope this helps. If it does, next time you are on your airlines hiring board, I hope you can help out a candidate with corporate expeience.

Thanks for the input and opinions. First let me start by saying I'm staunchly against "pay for training". I'd like to think my situation is a little different than someone with a wet commercial ticket heading over to Gulfstream to pay for 1900 time. I can totally see both sides though. I'd hate to think someone would disrespect me because I accepted money that I was absolutely qualified to receive (in order to get me back in the workforce) I've been paying my fair share of taxes, and will continue to do so for many more years.

Like you said, contract pilots are expected to pay their own way, I'm simply letting my tax dollars fund it. I'd never go to an employer and try to "low-ball" the industry by saying, "hey, hire me and I'll pay my own way". I'm saying "would you hire me as a contract pilot if I don't have any time in type." I'm perfectly willing to continue to pay my dues and fly right seat for awhile.

After reading my response, I don't want to come across as mad or defensive. I just hope I can continue flying while I wait it out. Sometimes it takes something like being grounded to realize what absolutely fantastic jobs we really have. Fly safe.

Just wondering, you list a lr-35 as aircraft flown. There are numerouse opperators of lears in the LA area especially VNY. If you were going to get a type why not do it in something you have expirience in? There is alot of corp. exp. on the market right now with little movement to the airlines. I would not expect to sit in the left seat for a long time without substantial exp. in the aircraft.

Good Luck
having a type with no time in the a/c is almost useless in the contract world. if you have a hook or a promise from some friend for work, mabey. my advice to you is get a 737 type and apply to SWA. they are interviewing like crazy and are partial to furlowed guys. trust me on this. also, a 737 type is cheaper than any bizjet type. i have a spreadsheet of all 737 schools in the usa if you want it. get on with them and youll never be out of work again.

Thanks for the response. I kinda figured it would be tough to find contract work without time in type. I do have a semi-promise from a charter outfit to fly a CE-525 after they fly with me for 25 hours. I was just hoping that once I logged a few hours with them I'd be somewhat marketable to other outfits.

In regards to SWA: I in no way want to offend any SWA pilot, as I feel they have a kickass product, but I really don't want to give up my seniority at American. Even if I'm out for several more years, I'll hopefully still land on my feet, as I'm forecast to fly Captain on widebodies for over half of my career. Of course there are no guarentees in life....I'm just trying my best to keep looking at the glass like it's half full.

Blue Skies

A good buddy of mine is also on furlough from AA. I think he is about 2000 from the bottom of the list however has been informed that he will be recalled this May. Hope you don't have to wait too much longer... I know how awful it is to be out of the cockpit for any amount of time.

Did you ever find any contract work?

Good luck,
You made your bed with American. But, What make you think when American kick you out of there bed, you have the right to slip into someone else`s bed at another house. If I got layed off at my corporate job would you let me come over and fly for a few months at american till my old job open up again. Think about it.
Proud to be corporate.
empenage said:
What make you think when American kick you out of there bed, you have the right to slip into someone else`s bed at another house.

Because it is a free country?

Are you one of those anti airline guys because nobody would hire you?

Be honest

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