Real Answers from Real Pilots

January ‘20 Schedule

Tory

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Is there a discussion/link that explains all the “Totals?” Things like block hours, credit hours, duty hours and what pay relates to each? I haven’t been able to find a good rundown of that stuff. Also, I have seen and don’t understand, things like “trip-rig” or “duty-rig.” I am sure there is an indepth discussion, but my search skills are failing me.
Thanks

There might be one somewhere but I can’t find it either.

  • Block hours are hours flown.

  • Credit hours are hours paid.

  • Trip guarantee or Pay guarantee is used to indicate that parts of a trip or the whole trip have/has been taken away, but the full amount of the trip will be paid. For example, a 20 credit trip can be reduced to 0 credits due to cancellations or maybe the company needs to give that flying to someone else for training, but 20 credits will still be paid to the pilot whose flying was taken away.

  • Duty rig is a fixed number of hours that a pilot is guaranteed to be paid per duty day. The quantity of a daily duty rig is negotiated in the pilot contract. For example, Q400 pilots at Horizon receive a 4.2 duty rig. That means if a Q400 pilot works less than 4.2 hours in a day, they are still paid for 4.2 hours. The E175 pilots do not receive the same benefit which is a different story.

Tory

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Great information…Thanks for the quick reply.

Lonnie,

Tory’s correct except for the Duty/Trip Rig (not that he’s wrong, it’s just a bit more complicated). While a Min Daily Guarantee is a form of a “rig” (ratio in guarantee) it is not actually a Duty Rig. You see for the most part pilots only get paid when they’re in the cockpit. The idea behind rigs is to prevent airlines from keeping their pilots hanging around without paying them. While I believe (?) there may be a few Regionals that have rigs, they’re much more prevalent at the Majors. So here’s a simple (as I can) explanation.

Duty Rig: for the most part these will benefit pilots who fly day or short trips. Let’s say I’m doing EWR-ORD-EWR trip that starts at 8am and returns at 8pm, a 12hr duty day (ridiculously inefficient but I’m just giving an example). That’s only about 4hrs of block (actual flying). My min daily guarantee says I get 5hrs of credit/pay. Better but I’m still gone 12hrs. If my company has a 1:2 Duty Rig that means for every 2hrs I’m on Duty I get 1hr of pay. In this case since my duty was 12hrs I now get 6hrs of pay/credit. Now if instead I’m flying from EWR-IAH-LAX within the same 12hr duty day, that’s now about 8hrs of flying. In that case since the actual block it’s higher than both the min guarantee and the Duty rig. You’d simply get the 8hrs block as your pay and credit.

Trip Rig: is the same idea except it’s generally for longer trips (although the min guarantee and duty rig still apply). With the Trip Rig the clock starts the minute you’re on duty and runs around the clock till you return to your base. For this example let’s say I’m doing a HNL-NRT-HNL 4day trip. With a 4 day trip I’m only flying on the first and the last day. The 2 in the middle I get to hang in Japan at a really nice hotel but I still want to get paid! Using the same terms my block would be about 16hrs for the 2 legs (there and back). A Duty rig won’t help because even if I had 12hr Duty days, at 1:2 I’m only getting a half the duty which is less than the 16hr block since again I was only on duty 2 of the 4 days. The min daily won’t help me because once again I’m only on duty 2 of the 4 days. Enter the Trip rig. The Trip rig pays 1:3.5 for the ENTIRE time I’m away (1hr pay for every 3.5hrs I’m gone). For simplicity let’s say the trip starts at 8am Mon and returns 8am Thurs. That means I’ve been away for 72hrs. 72÷3.5=20.6hrs pay/cred using the Trip rig. Most contacts state you get the highest pay/credit available for the given situation.

Make sense?

Adam

4 Likes

Thank you @Adam

@Adam I just realized that the forum’s emoji selections doesn’t contain a “mind blown” emoji.

! :grin:

Thanks for the insight. Pilot pay is a little bit of a black box for those of us on the outside.

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Phillip,

Trust me, the vast majority of people on the inside don’t really understand either and the above is an incredibly simplified version.

The moral of the story is when pilots are comparing contracts it’s much much more than just the hourly rate. The rigs, guarantees, etc are all negotiable and you have to look at the big picture AND the type of flying you’ll be doing.

Oh and we haven’t even started talking work rules…

Adam

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I was curious if any of the airline pilots here ever come up below what they expected to make over the course of a month due to delays or other forms of lost hours, or with how much schedules seem to change from month to month. Are there ever any times where you need more flight hours but aren’t getting them? And are there ways to offset those gaps, either through additional training or instruction?

Joe,

The answer is no, we never come up below. Delays are inconvenient for passengers and can cost the company but not pilots. First we ALL get a minimum monthly guarantee so you always know the min you’re going to make. Second once you’re scheduled for a trip it’s yours. Even if the entire trip cancels you’re “pay protected” for it.

As far as instructing goes if you mean being an instructor for your airline that is an option but not an easy gig to get. If you mean flight instructing on the side the airline will not allow that plus you could easily make more picking up additional trips.

Adam

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I meant instructing for the airline, sorry for not being more specific.

A semi-related question, do you pilots get to put in a little personal flight time, provided your work hours are compromised? Honestly curious.

Been thinking about how if I go down this route, it would be fun to do some personal flight travel with family. Just interested to know if that’s a possibility.

Joe,

As Adam said, pilots receive a minimum monthly guarantee. A pilot could have all of their flying taken away and they’ll still make their minimum guarantee.

Now, a pilot could drop trips from their schedule and that would be deducted from the pilot’s min guarantee, but dropping trips is usually only possible if there’s enough reserve coverage.

If a pilot is getting close to losing currency for whatever reason, either flights or sims will be scheduled to prevent a pilot from losing currency.

Tory

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Joe,

If you mean recreational GA flying then yes some do but most I know don’t. Your license is your license and if you should have an incident or accident it could also mean your career. You can but you have to be careful.

Adam

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@Adam, In torturing myself for the last 7 months about this potential career change I’ve tried to tell myself that it’s financially safe. In all my budget assumptions I go as conservative as I can with regard to prospective pay. The more I learn about the collective bargaining aspects of the profession, the salary floor is pretty safe. So aside from: A) the economy tanking, B) me turning out to have no aptitude for flying, or C) losing my First Class Physical (which, at my age is kind of a Russian roulette thing) - I can do this if I want it bad enough.

Seriously, the details about minimum hours and (simplified though they may be) general explanations of pay and benefits, are immensely helpful. Thanks.

Phillip,

You pretty much nail it with the potential risks involved BUT…

Let’s start with B) you’re right and there’s no way around this one. If you can’t fly, well then you can’t fly. That said honestly it’s not rocket science and provided you have some average intelligence and decent coordination you should be fine. That’s why I often suggest some lessons up to solo or even PPL before people go all in. Getting your Private is actually pretty tough but if you can and it’s didn’t feel like it was challenging the full extent of your physical and mental capabilities again you should be fine.

C) this I def get. Not sure if you read what I posted a couple of months ago about a friend if mine losing his medical but yes it’s scary and yes it can happen. For me however if we’re going to talk about random health issues then we might as well be talking about getting hit by a bus. Both random, both nothing you can do about so there’s ZERO point in worrying. What I don’t understand are the many pilots I see running around who still smoke or are morbidly obese. I’m not going to get into a debate or discussion about “body image” here so please no one start and lord knows my beach body isn’t what it was but if you weigh 300lbs and you’re not training for Mr Olympia you’ve got a problem. Your job literally depends on you maintaining some semblance of health, so do it.

Now let’s talk about A). This obviously is huge for many people and I’m pretty sure I’m not telling you anything you don’t already know but I do feel the need to smack you a little so here goes:
A) after the last time the economy tanked a few things have changed. First there was this massive consolidation and it’s much easier for a few larger carriers to weather the storm than many smaller ones spread thin. Second regardless of what the economy does the pilot shortage has turned this industry on it’s ear. The Majors at the top, while not desperate are sucking up bodies faster than anyone could’ve forecast. What that means is even if the economy dives people will ALWAYS need to fly and while hiring may slow some they’ll still have to offset the massive retirements for many years to come. Thing is in addition to the concerns you list when Chris and I started the even bigger cloud looming was simply will I even get an interview let alone get hired? I know plenty of guys who successfully completed their training and even got interviews only to never get a call. There simply wasn’t that much growth or attrition and the supply was high with a relatively low demand. Factor in IF you did get the call your first year pay was under $20k (that they said was the price of admission). I hate sounding like a salesman (I’m far from it) but the environment today is so completely different I honestly scratch my head when I hear people’s hesitance. While there are no guarantees IF you successfully complete your training and build your time you WILL get hired. It’s a no brainer. Not only will you get hired but you’ll actually receive a livable wage AND the airline will help you pay for your training! The icing on the cake are these flows and direct entry programs being set up by all the Majors. Honestly I’ve always been weary of them because I saw earlier attempts fall apart years ago which is why I always offer a caveat. That said the Majors seem concerned they may have issues staffing in the future and are taking real action to address that. What that means to you is the single biggest question mark in this entire industry, while not completely eliminated, has gotten considerably smaller. I’m not sure if people really understand what that means? Flying for a Major is the pinnacle of this profession and now, for the first time in history, if you’re a competent pilot, play well with the other kids and aren’t a complete knucklehead, in all likelihood you will find yourself at a Major. This isn’t lottery type odds, this is a reality. That means having a career doing something you love (and trust me it’s a blast), not working very hard or much and easily making over $200k in a relatively short time and yes eventually seeing that $350k+ will happen for more pilots than ever before in history. I need that mind-blow emoji you were looking for! This it’s why literally every mom and pop flight school in the country is now offering a “Airline Training Program” and why SkyWest literally flew out to Oahu last year and spent quality time at a little FBO with 3 Cessnas and an aging Comanche! It’s insanity!

Anyway that’s my rant for this morning. You’re a smart guy and only you know what’s best for Phillip. Where I’m sitting it’s an easy decision but the view’s much better where I’m sitting :wink:

Adam

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It is easy to get bogged down into the particulars of pay, but a safe way to figure pay is to take the hourly rate and multiply it by 1,000. That will give a pretty fair estimate of yearly salary.

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That’s a great trick… thanks for that! JC

Adam could’ve sold me a pile of cow…-fill in the blank- after reading that post. Can’t wait to get started in this career. This posting fired me up!

Ummm…thanks?

Adam

Oh my. :joy: