Need some career advice re: Skywest vs. Charter

jaydee

Well-Known Member
I have been flying commercially for five years now and I'm currently at an impasse as to what my next career move should be. To my own detriment, I have never been good at spending time on the message boards and studying the airline industry in terms of what the the majors are looking for in flight experience and how best to get hired. My goal is to make it to a major eventually, and I would like to get input and thoughts from everybody here about what might be the next best course of action for my career.

I'm currently flying the Metroliner for Ameriflight, getting about 40 hrs/month. I currently have 2900TT, 1300Multi, 600Turbine PIC. I am presently looking to move on to something else (for various reasons I don't need to go into here and now). My primary dilemma is whether to pursue charter or get into a 121 regional. I have recently applied to Skywest and ExpressJet, and am waiting to hear back. My reasoning for considering a 121 regional is that I thought the airlines might want to see some 121 crew and jet time in applicants. I have heard some say that regionals are a great way to transition into a major, and that this would be a more likely way of getting to a major than from the corporate side, while on the flip side, I have heard some people argue that Skywest would not be a wise move after Ameriflight as it would be more of a horizontal transition rather than a move up in career. If the regionals paid a little more, I would hesitate so much, but with a wife and kid (and one more on the way), the 50% pay cut has me pretty worried. I could stomach it for a time if I were sure this was a good career move, but I'm not positive of that. For that reason, I would lean toward a charter job for the improved paycheck, but I'm worried that a bunch of flight time at a no-name charter is going to make getting noticed and hired by a major much more difficult.

My other concern is the 1000Turbine PIC issue. I'm currently a year away from that at my present job, and have understood that it is an important milestone to hit. However, I have a couple of former CFI's who have gotten hired on at majors in the last year with absolutely no turbine PIC, but they both had a lot of jet time from regionals. So, this also has me confused.




Here are my pros/cons for Skywest(my first choice regional) vs. Charter:

Skywest PROS
- 121, crew experience
- good flight time and good schedule


Skywest CONS
- could get stuck in a Brazillia? CON?
- potentially long upgrade times
- 50% pay cut first year (with wife and a kid at home)


Charter PROS
- better money up front
- guaranteed jet time
- potentially shorter upgrade time


Charter CONS
- probably less flight time than SW
- more 135 experience doesn't round out the resume like 121


I know this is a lot of info, sorry for the brain dump. I have a lot of thoughts floating around in my head right now. Any advice, thoughts, or things you can think of that I haven't considered are greatly appreciated. At this point, I'm pretty nervous about making the wrong move.

Thanks in advance!
 

Cessnaflyer

Wooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo
It's your life do what fits you better. I started flying in corporate and loved it. Living in luxury everyday I was at work and never thought anything was going to change. Life threw a little curve ball and I moved to the 121 world. I am just as happier here as I was there. There are somethings I miss from corporate like the life style and the places we go to. But I also like the schedule I have now at the 121 and being able to jumpseat around and see family which is very important to me.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
I'd expand the regionals I'd look at if you can. The more you limit yourself the less likely you'll find something quick. Charter seems like a good consideration, too, but not sure if you have one place in mind or several. I guess what I'm trying to say is if you really want out, the more you can expand your search the better. If your limiting yourself to two regionals and one charter that you like, well, that's only three that your shooting for. I'd be happier with about 20, but that was just me. Guess I wasn't all that picky.

Not sure how bad you want out but sticking it out another year to get the 1000 PIC turbine would be nice. Maybe find another run that has more flying to expedite the process.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
Like Cessnaflyer, I'm also former corporate turned regional (used to fly charter too). It's a tough call, one that I agonized over for weeks. I'm happy with the regional I'm at (SkyWest), but I also caught the beginning of a hiring wave and didn't spend much time on reserve. If I was stuck on perma-reserve, it might be a different story.

If you can hang on to your current gig and be choosy about finding a good charter job, I'd consider that. But if it's a tossup between some lowlife charter operator and SkyWest (or another regional that doesn't blatantly suck), I'd consider the regional route if it will meet your quality of life (possibility of living in base, etc.). First year pay can be challenging if your stuck on reserve, but once you're a lineholder it's not bad. Second year lineholder jet is very reasonable.

For whatever reason, there are a TON of Ameriflight folks at SkyWest.
 

Maurus

The Great Gazoo
I think a correlation can be made that they are both west coast based companies. Most regionals are middle or east US.

Also Skywest seems to love AMFers. From what I hear they like to toss us in the jet because of our turbine time. The bro would be easier for a piston driver to keep up with.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
I think a correlation can be made that they are both west coast based companies. Most regionals are middle or east US.

Also Skywest seems to love AMFers. From what I hear they like to toss us in the jet because of our turbine time. The bro would be easier for a piston driver to keep up with.
Both planes have their challenges... I always thought it was funny when the jet guys would get cocky regarding the Brasilia. I guarantee that would change quickly on a dark and stormy night into OTH, ACV, or CEC. The Brasilia was an awesome plane for my initial 121 experience, and not because it was easy to fly (extremely fun though!). I really hope I get to fly it again someday.
 

jaydee

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the input guys. Does the 121 experience matter much to the majors? If I go regional, it would be with the hope that it would make me considerably more desirable than staying on the 135 side. If the majors don't really differentiate 121 vs. 135 time as long as you have the hours, then I would probably lean towards corporate. This is what I'm confused about.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
Thanks for the input guys. Does the 121 experience matter much to the majors? If I go regional, it would be with the hope that it would make me considerably more desirable than staying on the 135 side. If the majors don't really differentiate 121 vs. 135 time as long as you have the hours, then I would probably lean towards corporate. This is what I'm confused about.
If you can get a corporate job (which, BTW is a totally different animal than charter), then personally I would go that route. You can still move on to the majors if you desire, or just stay put and still enjoy a high QOL. The tough choice would be if you're comparing an average to crappy charter job vs regional... That's when you really need to start weighing pros and cons.

I'd still be flying corporate if I was paid what I should have been... It was a really fun part of my flying career.
 

SteveC

Really?
Staff member
If getting hours is your priority stick with 121. Busy charter pilots might see 400-600 hours in a year; regional pilot might be closer to 900 - 1,000.
 

Maurus

The Great Gazoo
Both planes have their challenges... I always thought it was funny when the jet guys would get cocky regarding the Brasilia. I guarantee that would change quickly on a dark and stormy night into OTH, ACV, or CEC. The Brasilia was an awesome plane for my initial 121 experience, and not because it was easy to fly (extremely fun though!). I really hope I get to fly it again someday.
Don't take what I said the wrong way, the Bro is a good airplane. It is just from a training point of view that taking someone fresh off the street into a 121 training environment would be harder than transitioning from a 135 environment. Props are a bit more forgiving when mistakes are made and a pilot gets behind so someone that isn't used to flows and such will be better suited. My guess would be that the success rate would be higher for the guys transitioning from 135 into the jets.

That said, it is only a rumor that they toss AMFers into the jets when they are available. Not sure if it is 100% accurate or not.
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
Quite honestly, the training program is more difficult on the Brasilia than the CRJ. Unlike the CRJ, new hires are required to know both CA and FO flows (and way more limitations/memory items). Having recently gone through CRJ transition, the FO flows on the RJ are a cakewalk compared to what was required on the Brasilia. The amount of homework required on the Brasilia each night was pretty crazy, while on the CRJ we were usually finished before class ended.

While it's true that a lot of the non-121 types get Brasillia classes, this is mostly due to most of the former 121 new hires at SkyWest having prior CRJ experience. Heck, most of my new hire Brasilia class consisted of former corporate, freight, and prior airline. The CRJ class that started after us was mostly CFIs...
 
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