Good morning everyone,
I am hoping that Hannah would chime in for this question since she is flying for a 135 company.
I was given a CJO with Skywest last year. However, like most pilots my class date was cancelled due to the virus. I have been fortunate to still be flight instructing this past year and have exceeded the 1500 hour min.
I few weeks a chief pilot and a captain from a small corporate company took me out to dinner and enjoyed my company (it’s good to know I still have some charm left in me). They gave me a job offer for a FO position in a CJ3. The chief was very transparent about the year contract saying it is difficult and hard work— Mostly because it is 3 months on the road (which I don’t mind actually because they pay for my living and food per diem and I can save a lot of money). They also will be paying for my type rating. Since the position does not open up until May, I don’t have to accept their job offer until then. The chief pilot cares more about finding the right person then filling the position right away.
The average flight time during the year for their FOs is in between 800-1000 hours.
The predicament will come in May trying to determine what the regionals are doing. If I don’t have a good picture of what Skywest is doing, would it be beneficial to take the job or continue flight instructing waiting for Skywest? It seems like it will open a lot of doors for corporate gigs in the future. I feel like it is a foolish question because a job is a job. I also hope my question doesn’t come off as “pretentious” or “privilege” because I do feel blessed that I have been able to fly this entire year and that I have a potential job opportunity, but I wanted to get your guys opinions in regards to flying a 135 gig and possibly missing out on a year at Skywest if they hire after I sign a contract. I also value the opinion and experience of the leaders on this forum. Thanks.
I absolutely would love to chime in! So you have a very similar situation that I had just back in the fall. So I’ll let you know what I decided in hopes it can help you make your decision, because it isn’t an easy one without a crystal ball.
I too was a Skywest cadet. In may, they rescinded all the CJOs and tuition reimbursement due to COVID. At that point I was at about 1100 hours and looking to pivot. No one knew when the regionals would return hiring but the consensus was at least a year… so the new goal was to find a job that would help me continue to build time, opportunity for new carts and types so when the regionals start hiring again, I’d be more competitive. I found some amazing companies on the part 135 side and started interviewing. I got offered an FO position on a CJ3 with a year training contract since they would pay for my ATP Cert and CJ3 type. I just finished IOE and absolutely love the part 135 life. I get paid really well, get to keep all the hotel points, fuel points, get to go to some really amazing places bigger airliners can’t get in to and the company takes really good care of us. I took this job thinking it would be an an amazing opportunity to continue flying, get a new type and my ATP as well as build some turbine time during the lull while the regionals aren’t hiring but now I love it so much, I may stay here through captain upgrade and get my 1000 PIC time which would make me eligible for majors.
So in your situation, you are closer to Skywest picking up hiring again. Looks like they may be bringing the classes back that they sent home starting in April. When was your original class date? If you were close to March, you could get called soon after April… but if you were a summer or fall class it could still be awhile with a few months full of backlogged classes (and smaller class sizes means it will take longer to get through them).
So my question for you, how set are you on wanting to be at Skywest? If you’re already at 1500 and had a March or April class date, it might be in your best interest to stay and wait for Skywest because securing one of their first class dates could get you on the top of the hiring wave and great seniority once everyone else piles up behind you through the rest of 2021. However, if you were slated for a summer or fall class, I believe you probably won’t get called until the end of 2021 at best so you’d be in a similar position I was in. I would take the 135 job, get your ATP (if the would let you do it at the same time) and CJ type and ride out the year with the 135 experience and contacts and a stronger resume for when Skywest calls you back. That year saving money could also help you repay any loans you may have, because regional pay isnt great. Sounds like you’d be getting great hours there. How’s the upgrade time? If it’s pretty quick, you might consider skipping the regionals too. At the regionals, upgrade time will be slower than precovid. Also, if you went 135, even for a little while, it’s a great back up if/when the airlines hit another rough patch.
Thanks for your response. This was very helpful. My class date was summer (July 28). Since the company is small, they don’t have any set upgrade times. They are looking at getting more airplanes at the end of the year. They only hire within, so if they do, I would be able to upgrade to captain at the end of the year. If I knew for certain that I could upgrade then it would be a no brainer. The Chief pilot gave me various FOs to talk to about the position. All of them are working as captains at other corporate gigs and all of them have positive things to say about the company. Also, the chief pilot is well connected to other corporate companies. Personally, I enjoyed the transparency of the chief pilot and his willingness to work with me. I also like being able to save money. Skywest is obviously ideal, but I don’t want to miss an opportunity that’s presenting itself. Even if I don’t get to upgrade at the end of the year, do you think it would open more potential jobs in the 135 world and eventually a 121 job?
With that info, if it were me I’d probably take that job. Especially right now, nothing is certain. I would take the opportunities you have in front of you. As a July class date, they’ve got at least 5 months of full size classes to get through before your name would come up. So from April, add 5 months and it would put you at August at best. But word is they will have to run smaller classes so my guess would be late fall early winter at best before you get called. By then you could have about 400-500 turbine time, CJ type and your ATP. It would be your call then to break your contract and go, or continue out your year or even stay and upgrade to capt. Regionals will be at 2-3 years for upgrade times, so anything sooner than that would be a plus. The CJ job would also open up more opportunities in the 135 world in the future. Just things to think about… but you’re in a great spot!
Just to jump in, I’m A Capt at Hawaiian and while the majority of our FOs come from the Regionals we get a healthy amount from 135 carriers as well. You shouldn’t be concerned about getting locked into that world and who knows? You may love it and want to stay for life.
The old question is would you rather be a limo or a bus driver?
This is very helpful and encouraging information. Thanks, Hannah. I greatly appreciate it!
Thanks Adam! I appreciate it. I always feel good when I can get you to send a smiley emoji!
It was a wink. Smiles require much more effort.
I’ll try to keep the Forum updated on SKW plans, prob know more after the Shareholders call in a few days.
At the moment I’d lean towards CJ job. Paid for PIC Type & ATP is great. Company sounds like one I almost said yes too. You won’t get 800hr multi turbine over 12500lbs at the regionals right now.
Any chance they are located in mid-west? Ohio área? I think my offer back in late 2018 was 1yr service, pic Atp type for $35k plus everything you mentioned.
Enjoy the adventure,
Lynn, many of my fellow CFIs with well over 1,500 hours are struggling just to get noticed and get an interview right now. Folks are taking other flying jobs that were hard-pressed to get anyone with over 500 hours in late 2019. With a drop in new student starts at a lot of flight schools, “a bird in the hand” seems to be the best scenario. I know a few regionals started running classes and even some LCCs have resumed hiring, but looking at the overall picture even if the hiring started picking up by the end of the summer, you’d be far more competitive with a type and some turbine time than someone like myself with comparable (or even greater) flight time and no high-altitude or turbine experience.
This is a tough one. I understand the temptation to wait for your SKW class date, but I’m with Sergey. If you feel like it would be a good fit, I think you should take the CJ3 position.
Yep! This might be the one. Very laid back and family oriented company.
Thanks Sergey. I do feel blessed. Like I said, I wanted to make sure my question didn’t come across as “complaining.” I understand this is a difficult time, and I feel very fortunate with the opportunity. I’m also worried about the hiring being based on “projections.” As we all know, those can change rather dramatically based on demand.
Congrats on having options in uncertain times!
I thought I’ll give you guys an update. The chief pilot will be calling me today, and he might have me start sooner (April). Seems like all the leaves are pointing to just accepting it and dealing with what may come next year. Not sure if anyone on here has any inside information on Skywest. I did hear they may start hiring in April.
So far, I believe they have only brought back one class that was sent home when this all started. Are you a cadet? If so, maybe you can talk to your cadet mentor and see where you would end up on the list for a class date. Maybe they can give you an estimate whether it would be soon or later in the summer/fall.
SKW did not renew the MOA with pilot group and can begin hiring April 1st.
I do not know if they will though.
Over 5000 pilots, about 25 pilots leave per month. Flying about 70% of 2019 so still decently fat on Reserves.
Honestly can’t give accurate advice one way or the other on this. If you’re flying and hold out for SKW it’s not terrible idea, taking the CJ job that flies a ton is also great experience plus more $ now I presume.
You’re doing better than a lot of people so congratulations on having 2 solid options,
I am a cadet. However, they’ve never connected me with a mentor. The administrator they did put me in touch with can’t give me any information. I’m not even sure if they will honor people with CJOs or just out us back in the hiring pool in general.
Either one is a risk, but it still seems like refusing the job is less of a risk than taking the job.
I’ll have to read the letter we all got back in July. I think we’re still “cadets” with an advantage to getting class dates earlier than the general applicant pool.
I think it’s a risk to turn down a job you do have to wait for one that’s not secured yet. I think you should continue to pursue the 135 one and if Skywest calls before you start, then you have a decision to make.
Thanks Hannah and Chris,
I appreciate the encouragement and advice. I’ll keep you updated as to how things progress