Part 121 or Part 135

I have two first officer job offers. One offer is from a regional airline flying the E175 and the other is from a 135 operator that flies the PC12. While the offer from the regional airline sounds great and was my first choice initially, I’m starting to have second thoughts. I’m not instrument current and the last job I had was flying part 135 VFR in a Ckerokee Six. I know a couple guys who had VFR jobs flying single-engine piston aircraft and then went on to fly jets, but most new hires at regionals are CFIIs and pilots with lots of instrument and multi time. I’m not an instructor, haven’t shot a full instrument approach in over a year, and haven’t flown a multi in over a year.

Now many of my friends (all of whom are pilots with roughly the same flying experience) and some family members say go with the regional because I already got the offer and I’d be flying a jet!

I, on the other hand, can’t make up my mind. One morning I wake up, and I’m leaning toward the regional. The next morning, I’m in a part 135 mood. Then back to feeling excited about walking through the terminal in that fancy uniform the following morning. I’ve been having these feelings for over a week and I want to make a decision within the next few days because I don’t want to leave these companies hanging and then end up not having any job offer.

While flying for a major would be nice, it’s not my ultimate goal. My ultimate goal is to fly and make a good living off of it, even if it means not making $150k+ a year. I might not sound like the average 26-year-old pilot, but that’s me.

With that said, the PC12 option is good because it comes across as a step between flying a Cherokee and a regional jet. Plus, with my flight time I’d upgrade to the left seat in the Pilatus rather quickly. It is an IFR job, so I’d still need to brush up on my instrument flying.

I’m worried that I might not make it through the training at the regional, even though I was told in the interview that the pass rate is 83-87%. Still wondering how the HR rep came up with those numbers so quickly when I asked her what the pass rate was. Anyway, part of me says I can attempt to get through the 121 training. If I wash out, I can go back to 135 (assuming I’d get hired somewhere). The other part of me says don’t waste time going through rigorous training at the regional; just take it one step at a time, go fly the PC12 for a few years, and come back to fly a jet when I feel ready.

I’d appreciate any advice. Thanks guys.

I don’t really have any advice, although it looks like you have two solid job options in front of you. But I do have a question as a lowly Part 91 pilot/flight instructor who doesn’t fully understand parts 121 or 135 yet. :slight_smile: How does an FO job on a PC12 work? I thought that was a single-pilot airplane. Or does that not matter? Do you log time differently in the right seat of a PC12 versus a 175?


I personally would take the regional job offer and never look back. I would also go brush up on my instrument skills before going to either job.

It sounds great at age 26 to say “I don’t need to make $150k per year”, but when all of your friends are making $200k or more, flying to Rome a few times per month and having fifteen days off, while you are ten years behind them in your career, you might regret that decision.

Most CFIs go straight to a regional jet, the training programs are designed for this. Of course the decision is yours, but it would sure be an easy one for me.

By the way, I think a PC-12 in bad weather could be just as much of a handful as a regional jet.


It is a single-pilot airplane, but some companies require two pilots for insurance reasons. For example, Cape Air sometimes requires two pilots in their C402s. No differences in logging right seat time in a PC12 versus a 175, at least with the company I know of.

just curious…why are you not confident in being able to pass the regional training if you’ve already made it this far?


Part 135 in a PC12 is the ONLY way to go!!!

(I’m kidding. That was just to get Adam and Chris’s attention. ;))

If I had both of these options on the table, I’d go to the regional. It’s a more formal/structured program with a better defined career path and earnings potential.

If for whatever reason you don’t like it (lifestyle reasons, whatever…) you can always go back to the 135 world. The demand for business aviation pilots is even more acute than the regional airlines demand in a lot of cases, and as long as you don’t forget how to plan your own flights while you’re working at an airline there will be business aviation jobs for you out there.


Forget that noise. I’m talking about you, Erik. The voice inside your head. Ignore the voice in your head that says you can’t do it. You’re a multi engine and instrument rated pilot. You’re not current, but you’ve already proven that you have the ability. This is a matter of will power and you’re making it a matter of confidence. You’re doubting yourself before you’ve even started. You’re afraid of failure before you’ve even tried because you aren’t a CFII. So what? Did you get the job offer(s) or not? Will you require more training and effort to get up to speed? Absolutely. But are you WILLING to? That’s the question you need to ask yourself.

Clear your mind and figure out which lifestyle each job offers and pick which lifestyle you’d prefer. Be honest with yourself when you make that decision. Don’t fall prey to confirmation bias. Pick the one you REALLY think is best for you.

Asking for other people’s opinions is not a bad idea. Just know that you’re going to get different opinions about which to choose, but the only opinion that matters (in this scenario) is yours. It’s your life and your career. Most pilots would suggest to take the regional job. Valid reasons why the regional is preferred have already been shared. I’m in that group. But I’m not you. Go with the option that makes sense in your mind, heart and wallet.

This forum is a gold mine of information about the part 121 lifestyle. Some part 135 topics have been discussed, but not specific to what you’ve been offered. Read as much as you can on here and ask as many questions as you need. Do more research on the PC12 job and the lifestyle it offers. Talk to a pilot or two that currently flies for the company and get their take. Your subconscious probably already knows which one you should take. You just aren’t aware of it yet.


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Obviously your call and you need to do what’s best for Erik. I’m going to disagree with Tory here as I do think you have a legitimate concern. When I was first hired at ExpressJet there was a guy in our class who like you had been doing a ton of flying but it was predominately VFR. Great guy, knowledgeable, a good stick but in the airline’s words “we can make you an instrument pilot”. He washed out. That said I have no doubt you couldn’t get yourself up to speed in a hurry IF you wanted to. Further to be honest I’d feel much more comfy flying 121 where we operate in a SUPER SAFE (yes that’s actually a real safety industry term) vs 135. This is not saying one is better but 121 ops and equipment have far more redundancies a safety nets.

Regardless I wouldn’t let training (or fear of it) or safety be my deciding factor. I LOVE being an AIRLINE PILOT. I like flying into Major airport terminals, I like the uniform, flight attendants, overnights, travel benefits and even the passengers (most of the time). When I was at ExpressJet they started a 135 charter operation and I was selected for it. Same plane but frankly I missed being an airline pilot. All I mentioned above. Believe it or not I even missed going through security. It was at that point I realized that was my dream. I often say at first I just wanted to fly but ultimately the dream was always to be that tall handsome confident looking Capt walking through the terminal flying off to exotic destinations. I’m neither tall nor handsome but otherwise I did nail the rest and I’m very happy. That’s me and that was my dream. Figure out yours and go for that.


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I never said he should let the airline “make him an instrument pilot.” I think we are actually in agreement. He will require more training and effort to get him up to speed. That should happen prior to airline training. IF Erik has the will power to get his proficiency where it needs to be, he could take either job. How he decides to do that is up to him. The airline should not be responsible.



I never meant to imply that you meant to imply that the airline would or should make him an instrument pilot. I was simply saying he’s got a realistic concern and as you did say “require more training and effort”. I believe you’re correct we are on the same page and that always frightens me :wink:


Agreed. His concern is legitimate. Either way he decides to go, he has a lot of work to do, regardless of his standing offers. I should have included that in my previous post.

His comments about his experience is what got my attention. It sounded negative. I was just pointing out that if he wants to be successful, he should be asking us what he should be doing to prepare instead of focusing on what he hasn’t done.


This response was sent to the wrong email. This email is for Mark Spradlin who asked questions about age and education, not Erik Koppisch.


I was thinking about your post and I wanted to say thank you. Please understand in no way am I criticizing your decision and everyone must do what’s “right” for them but I think it brings up an interesting point. These days we’re frequently asked “what’s the fastest way to build time?” or “I think it would be cooler to fly right seat in a XXX vs flight instructing which is boring bla bla bla”. Ultimately when it comes to getting hired these days it really doesn’t matter. The Regionals are desperate for bodies and if you’ve got 1500hrs you’re going to get hired. The key word in that sentence is hired. You see before the 1500hr Rule and the pilot shortage yes all you needed was your CPL and yes the TT mins were around 700. BUT, to get hired with only 700hrs (or in my case 500 BECAUSE I trained and instructed for ATP) they looked ALOT closer at the other hours and there were mins for those well above the ATP mins. Things like 100+ME, 200+Instrument etc were common place. The Regionals were far from desperate and they not only wanted pilots, they wanted pilots who could pass training. They were looking at QUALITY of hours vs QUANTITY (until the FAA forced them to). The debate continues on the 1500hr Rule but the fact is Regional airlines are hiring pilots with twice the TT they had in the past but their washout rates are also the highest they’ve ever been. Now there may be (and probably are) other factors involved but it’s hard to ignore the numbers. Further our friend Erik, after flying for over a year, is questioning his ability to successfully complete Part 121 training. Personally I believe Erik (with a little training and work, combined with the self awareness vs cockiness) will/would be just fine. The fact that after flying in a capacity he did has him questioning his instrument skills speaks volumes.

Again I appreciate and thank Erik for his candor and as always all can do what they believe is best for them. It does however beg the question do you simply want to be a pilot or do you want to be the best, most proficient and skilled pilot you can be?