Careercast.com, a career oriented website, released today the list of the most stressful jobs in the united states. Guess who is ranking first ?... us, skippers of the skies. While I definitely agree that this profession is very stressful, I would have to say that I can find numerous other jobs that are, if not more, at least equally challenging on a day to day basis. To be more representative, the survey should have been more oriented toward quality of life. I am saying this because some of the key points that they mentioned, including an average six figures paycheck and 9 hours of work per day is completely wrong and make people wonder what can be so stressful about thoses decent work conditions. The truth is, this job might deserve the number one spot for other reasons. To start, I would have mentioned the fact that pilots are usually reimbursing close to 100000 dollars of tuition fees and that the pay at regionals is between 20000 and 50000 for about the first ten years. If you are even lucky to get there because for the past few years, thousands of us have been furloughed thanks to the oil price and subsequent cost cutting plans and unlike other professions, our experience is not really recognized. When we start at a new carrier, we start back at the bottom of the pay scale. It is also worth mentioning that the 9 hour work day that they give is unrealistic. Pilots are allow, by law, to be on duty up to 16 hours a day. And believe me, we do work that much. While we can usually only fly around 8 hours a day, we still spend the other half of the time, sitting at the gate preparing for the flights or coping with delays being at the mercy, most of the time, of the weather and traffic just like any passengers. And guess what folks... we dont get paid for that lost time. Add to this, the fact that every so often, pilots have to go back to the simulator and prove to the FAA and their companies by doing a checkride, that they are capable of flying and exercising good judgment. While this is necessary to continue having the best trained crewmembers in the cockpit, it is obvious that thoses checkrides are always stressful, regardless of how many you have done in your career. Mainly because as a pilot, your job is on the line everytime. I could also add the fact that half of the pilots have to commute to and from their base and often either sleep in a room with 5 other pilots in a so called crashpad at 300 dollars a month or try to jumpseat before the biginning of the trip and also at the end of it. All of thses factors add to fatigue and create a tremendous amount of stress and make the quality of life a little less attractive than what the article suggests. But just like doctors or firefighters, most of us are pursuing this job because of our passion for the job, hoping that by the time we retire ( without pension by the way ) we can look back and still say that it was a very rewarding career.
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Incredible two minutes video of more than 2400 photos taken during a flight from San Francisco to Paris. Fasten your seat belt and enjoy this quick 11 hours journey taking you across the US and Canada, inside the artic circle and finally over Northern Europe. Enjoy the view !
I have been training at Eagle for a bit more than a month so far and it has been an interesting process. We have been alternating between home and classroom studies. We had to cover airplane systems while covering other subjects that are important parts of a pilot's job. It included among other things, FMS ( flight management systems ) labs where through an interactive computer program we were able to learn and become familiar with the functionalities of the equiment. We also spent some time learning about the abnormal procedures relating to safety, by using the emergency equipments that we have on board like fire extinguishers or life vests and about the operation of the emergency exits. Moreover we were given a speech about high risk situations like terrorism and complicated passengers. While it was done in a very unorthodox manner, it was at least to the point. The past week we started working on cockpit system integration which basically is the process of sitting in front of a plastic display of the CRJ's cockpit and work on the crew members flow and understand how the systems are used at different stages of the flight. It allows pilots to establish some sort of confort and make for an easier transition before starting the simulator sessions. After spending the last month working hard to become familiar with the airplane, I successfully passed my oral check. While I was fully prepared and thought it was pretty straight forward I found myself stumped by two questions. I left the interrogation room more knowledgeable and satisfied by my performance. Now I get to go home for a week or so while I wait for my simulator sessions to start and finally complete my checkride. The amount of pilots who are currently training accross the country are keeping the full motion simulators and training centers very busy lately. It's a good sign of health !