Peanuts, monkeys and pilots

The following is a US-flavoured comment, but thoughtful and illuminating. It’s penned by a senior US airline pilot who posts under the name Seaavi8tor, but he’s real alright. Some of you will know him and his views.

You can read what he says here, but the following quote provides a flavour of his subject:

“In terms of inflation adjusted dollars, Airline pilots today earn less than half of what they did 35 years ago. The unit of work can be measured by flight hours, duty hours, hours away from home, Revenue Passenger Miles, Available Seat Miles, or most importantly, revenue generated per pilot.”

His argument is that if you pay in peanuts you’ll get monkeys, and this is what the airlines are inviting into their flightdecks.

I agree - many of them (not all) are doing just that. Especially American regionals, and look at what’s been happening to their safety performance recently. Likewise US air taxis over a long period of time.

You’ll find plenty in this blog on a related theme, including:

Don’t marry an airline pilot (Part 2)

Piloting is going blue-collar


3 Responses to Peanuts, monkeys and pilots

  1. Iain 5 September, 2009 at 11:53 am #

    Even with the recent Colgan Air accident the regionals are still relatively safe compared to 35 years ago. Better CRM, autopilots and electronic instrumentation meant less pilots are driving their planes into the ground. Unfortunately this also meant that proper airmanship is now devalued as pilots increasingly rely on automation.

    To be honest, modern aircraft are so safe these days that airlines are starting to think that pilots are nothing more than cost objects, to be minimized as much as possible. What they ideally want to see are single pilot RPT operations, with minimally trained pilots on the minimum wage. This could happen if satellite telemetry becomes mainstream and base can alter aircraft system settings or even fly the aircraft remotely if needed.

  2. Andrew 9 September, 2009 at 1:37 am #

    An Airbus guy is reporting today that the average long haul pilot doing 800-900 hours per year may only clock 3 hours of stick time.
    A private pilot would lose his license with that amount of flying, and I am very sure the number of airline pilots indulging in private flying is quite low.

  3. ecojet 9 January, 2010 at 12:27 pm #

    So Iain, when will you send you loved ones on a UAV?

    Good discussion on this topic here:


    Airbus pilot handling skills concern here: