Pilots Working The Ramp

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Tango01
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Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Tango01 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:30 pm

Now, I know Im gonna get flamed here, but am I the only one who thinks the system takes advantage of low time pilots for cheap labour? Pilots pumping gas, cleaning toilets, tossing bags, etc. Im sure you learn a lot about the overall operation of a company like that, but you could have done that when you were 16 while in high school as a co-op, or you could choose to be a rampie as a career choice without going through flight school. Work ethics are important, but so are your S&R skills that you slowly loose if you don't use.

I have ZERO problems with "paying your dues" I think its great and a necessity to start from the bottom, but why not "pay your dues" by doing jobs that guys with experience wouldn't nornally touch, such as towing banners, throwing meatballs from a C182 at a DZ, some 702 stuff, lots of right seat learning from an oldtimer, you know, not the high end of things, but at least you are perfecting your skills, and you are staying motivated and it serves you to make you better at what you went to school for.

How is tossing bags around for a year or two going to improve your flying skills? I know, you might make connections, you will learn a lot, etc. I know that, but flying wise?

I don't want people to think I have a negative/bad atittude about this. I am just curious why (besides the supply and demand theory) low time pilots must pay their dues in such a way. Was it always like that, or is this a relatively new trend?

I'm not one of those guys who thinks just because you went to flight school you are entitled to a 747 job. So what if you went to flight school? So did another 30,000 dudes. Attitude goes a long way, but Im just not sure if I agree with the current system, I think if anything its sad to see young people struggle like that for a dream.

Please whatever you choose, be safe out there, refuse unsafe work and above all, make sure you are compensated financially. Don't work for free.

Flame away!
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by modi13 » Thu Jan 14, 2010 8:54 pm

The theory behind it isn't "proving one's dues", it's that there is a saturation of pilots waiting for positions; they could work at McDonald's, or work for the company while they wait for a flying spot to open up. As long as we have more pilots than jobs, there will always be a pool waiting to fill any openings, and their options are to work for minimum wage in the service industry, or work for minimum wage where the CP can see their work ethic. I've personally learned absolutely nothing working dock/ramp that I couldn't learn as FO: the captain makes the weather decisions, all pilots should know how to complete a weight-and-balance after flight school, and the company's policies are taught in ground school. Other than filling a wait-list, there's no reason to work the ramp.
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Slats
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Slats » Thu Jan 14, 2010 9:34 pm

It's pretty simple really: X number of entry level flying jobs available and X+500 brand new CPLs to fill those spots. Some get lucky, the majority don't. So they can choose to go work MacDonalds or swing a hammer or they can keep a foot in the door and wait for something to come up. Only way to change things is for there to be more jobs or fewer pilots.........neither are gonna happen. Ever. No sense complaining about something that will never change. Grin and bear it. Welcome to the status quo.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Mustang06 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:32 am

I never liked the status quo....
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by mattedfred » Fri Jan 15, 2010 10:40 am

i worked the dock and flew during my first job

the only problem i have with it is if the employer chooses to pay an employee, who happens to be a pilot, less than an employee that isn't a pilot

i also have a problem with employers that only hire pilots that have worked for them in non-flying positions

i disagree that seniority should start anywhere outside a pilot position
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Ville » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:31 pm

As somebody who will (hopefully not) end up working on a ramp or similar in near future, I've also wondered what are the chances of getting employed as a pilot unless you work for that company doing the crap work? I could work in trades and probably make double what I would as a rampie, but would I ever get hired unless I work in the industry?
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by CBSW » Fri Jan 15, 2010 12:44 pm

I've worked multiple docks, ramps, counters etc.. It takes someone about a week or less to learn the ins and outs of a company..Other than that.. nothing really major to learn.

I see no issues with working the ramp / dock when its done like this:


Pilot works the ramp for 1-3 weeks..

From Week two or even from the get -go pilot starts training AS A PILOT! * what a concept*

* pilot is compensated for groundwork in a fair manner.

Once company see's that said Pilot is not a complete F&**(( up... Shouldn't take very long to do.. Pilot gets off the ramp and into an airplane. I can't fathom how it takes 2-4 years to interview someone on the spot.

I think the ramp culture came from pilots wanting to work in their field while on furlough..as opposed to pumping gas... now its completely abused.

Now, I've worked aviation jobs for companies where I am not promised a slot.. just to make contacts etc while laid off.. Thats 100% okay. And does not resemble the carrot dangling that takes place at many outfits.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by loopa » Fri Jan 15, 2010 1:19 pm

Now, I know Im gonna get flamed here, but am I the only one who thinks the system takes advantage of low time pilots for cheap labour? Pilots pumping gas, cleaning toilets, tossing bags, etc. Im sure you learn a lot about the overall operation of a company like that, but you could have done that when you were 16 while in high school as a co-op, or you could choose to be a rampie as a career choice without going through flight school. Work ethics are important, but so are your S&R skills that you slowly loose if you don't use.

I have ZERO problems with "paying your dues" I think its great and a necessity to start from the bottom, but why not "pay your dues" by doing jobs that guys with experience wouldn't nornally touch, such as towing banners, throwing meatballs from a C182 at a DZ, some 702 stuff, lots of right seat learning from an oldtimer, you know, not the high end of things, but at least you are perfecting your skills, and you are staying motivated and it serves you to make you better at what you went to school for.

How is tossing bags around for a year or two going to improve your flying skills? I know, you might make connections, you will learn a lot, etc. I know that, but flying wise?

I don't want people to think I have a negative/bad atittude about this. I am just curious why (besides the supply and demand theory) low time pilots must pay their dues in such a way. Was it always like that, or is this a relatively new trend?

I'm not one of those guys who thinks just because you went to flight school you are entitled to a 747 job. So what if you went to flight school? So did another 30,000 dudes. Attitude goes a long way, but Im just not sure if I agree with the current system, I think if anything its sad to see young people struggle like that for a dream.

Please whatever you choose, be safe out there, refuse unsafe work and above all, make sure you are compensated financially. Don't work for free.

Flame away!
I think you're bang on.

What we also have to consider though Tango is that a lot of pilot's in our industry also carry around a great sense of entitlement that they are "born to fly" and that they "deserve a fantastic job" ... the list goes on. I think the people having the toughest time in this industry are the low time pilot's who think they know everything. Because of that ego, they get shut down a lot and don't get on board with anybody. I also think that since we have so many low timers thinking like that, operators also have a tougher time weeding out the good applicants from the bad ones. Everybody can "appear" to be nice.

I also don't agree with the fact that the "lucky" people are the ones that get a job as a low timer. I think we all know that as a low timer, you need to work your rear end off to get that first job. The ones that are however lucky are very rare. How often do you see somebody getting on board a king air 200 with 250 hours these days? Cause if they do, now that's lucky !

But getting a ramp job that leads to a flying position; that's not luck. That's working your rear end off !

My 2 cents :roll:
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by ehbuddy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:10 pm

I am just trying to remember when a School Teacher had to prove themselves by being a Janitor for a year before they could teach or a Doctor having to drive a Cab before they could practice.

Its a decision each individual has to make on their own. If you want to work the ramp that 'might' get you a flying job then thats the risk you will have to accept.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Tango01 » Fri Jan 15, 2010 3:34 pm

ehbuddy wrote:I am just trying to remember when a School Teacher had to prove themselves by being a Janitor for a year before they could teach or a Doctor having to drive a Cab before they could practice.

Its a decision each individual has to make on their own. If you want to work the ramp that 'might' get you a flying job then thats the risk you will have to accept.
Exactly, however, there will always be people who will put themselves through the ramp slavery for a chance to fly. There will always be people out there volunteering their time for an outfit that happens to generate revenue from using that dumb ass pilot (AKA working for free) There will always be people who will buy jobs. Heck, there are people out there who would sell a kidney for a job. Operators love it and I don't blame them for it.

You brought up an interesting point about teachers and doctors. Perhaps the reason why teachers don't have to be janitors and doctors don't need to drive cabs (to prove themselves) is because they have a much higher level of preparation and education than that of what's required to become a pilot. They also respect their professions and set a high standard for it. Let's face it, you could be a high school drop out, get $50K (work/parents/loan whatever) and obtain a CPL + MIFR.

Flight schools are at fault as well. How many schools flat out lie to their students and sell the "pilot shortage" and "great career" speech? Sure they don't care because they want money, it's false advertising at its finest.

I don't think this is ever going to change. Might even get worse, if anything...
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by mattedfred » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:08 pm

i know a few people that graduated from teachers college and starting out by teaching for private tutoring companies or moved to get a teaching job or started out on the supply list

they may not have swept the floors at their school but they didn't start out in their desired position

i just have a problem with an airline requiring that all of it's pilots start out on the ramp and when they pay them less than the going rate for ramp personnel

these airlines are just taking advantage of pilots when there is an excess number of them

when the next boom hits these employers will have to hire real rampies for real money
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by ehbuddy » Fri Jan 15, 2010 4:22 pm

If you can find a company that has a good track record of moving new employee's from the Ramp to the Cockpit then I would say it would be a good move.

Back in the early 80's a huge scam was going on where Float Operators would be given Government money to encourage them to hire new employee's. I think the program was called 'First Leap' or 'First Step'.

You would open up that old huge edition of WINGS magazine and it was full of summer float jobs that looked too good to be true.

You would call them up from Calgary with your fresh float rating and 150 hours in your log book and they (the operator) would want you to come out and work on the dock and then they would fit you into a flying position. The Government funding was intended for the Operator to hire local youth but these turkeys knew that an aspiring low time pilot would drive across the country and work for a low wage (that the Feds were paying for) and give 110% of themselves in hopes of flying.

Naturally, summers are busy and the new hire would never set foot in the airplane as the Operator could never find the time to train them. It did not matter because if the new guy caught on and quit another sucker was just a phone call away.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by CBSW » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:35 am

ehbudy,

You missed one thing...


Upon quitting Carrot dangling fishing lodge the said pilot would have his/ her name blasted in the industry for being a "quitter", having a lack of work ethic, and not " sticking out the season."

Thats a wrap...
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by maigashi » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:12 am

Without directing the scorn of others to myself, i think the main reason they do it, it at the end of the line the pilot in the air has total responsibility for himself, the airplane and the souls onboard. At some levels, i think that anyone who would trust my life, the life of the company and the jobs of others employed without seeing someone through a few months atleast especially when they are brand new pilots should not be chrage with safely getting people and cargo from one place to the other. I wholeheartedly agree 2 years is too long but 2 weeks? Get married. Even if you've been with her for years you don't really know her for atleast a few years of close living and a few stresses. Anyone who can get a cpl can fake competence for a few months.
Just due diligence.
maigashi - pilot and ame and loving it both ways
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by mattedfred » Sat Jan 16, 2010 11:25 am

are the minimum standards to obtain a Canadian CPL so low that 703 or 704 operators have to vet their new hire pilots in this manner?

are the hiring practices of said 703 or 704 operators so poor that they feel the need to vet their hire pilots in this manner?

one would think that both of these issues are easily fixed
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Blue Streak » Sat Jan 16, 2010 12:02 pm

It really is too bad that it works out this way once you're trained up in flying and trying to find your first flying position. Some of the funding behind this with rampies sticking around on the ground, is a family with a disposable income. In other words, the odd time here and there you'll have a rampie that is being backed up financially by their parents and are able to stick it out on the ground...thus helping to keep things the way they are.
I personally think if a person has a real love for flying and wants to give it a try and see how it goes for them, then go for it. However, if that person has another interest and avenue for a career, I'd give that alternate career avenue depending on what it is an equal consideration to flying or higher....and then way out your options within a certain time frame after a near term personal employment research forecast!

.....anymore in flying, what you put in, you're not getting out and it is awful....too bad it wasn't 1969 again!

Cheers and good luck career wise out there :)
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by 'CauseTheCaravanCan » Mon Jan 18, 2010 7:57 am

we've got one of those companies that have very few ground crew to pilots ratio. so that means i'm your ground crew, and the other pilots are my ground crew.

i am sort of sitting in the middle here, i believe all of our new pilots should still work the ramp for a solid month, to get to know how THE COMPANY works before getting an airplane. I'll still let them hop on flights where there's room to get to know the area, but left seat training can wait a month.

it makes our regular customers feel like they know you, and shows the bosses you can drive a forklift without damaging an airplane, running over peoples freight and baggage. And most importantly I think one month will show your true colors as far as how well you get along with coworkers/roommates (got an ego?), your efficiency/safety level (the stories about prop strikes and such that comes up only AFTER the probationary period has lapsed, oy!), and whether you have a serious drinking problem (happened with 2 pilots we had this year).

these opinions only apply to the sort of mom and pop ops. that fly smaller types.

obviously I don't think a captain at air cananda is gonna wanna throw bags for a month first. but maybe he should!?

you're not gonna get paid any less than the salary you agreed on, just sacrifice one months flying hours, in order to better fit in with the company in the long run.

...for what it's worth
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by mattedfred » Mon Jan 18, 2010 9:33 am

if the interviewer clearly explains the job description, working conditions and wages then fine

if the job includes other duties other than flying then fine

if training is either delayed or not scheduled to occur until a specific time in the future but the employee is made aware ahead of time then fine

don't most employers understand what a probationary period is and the rights of the employer and employee during this period?

perhaps a more detailed selection process is required rather than paying a highly skilled professional to cut their teeth slinging bags?

do these employers treat their aircraft in this manner? surely they want to get a new aircraft online ASAP so it make money.

what if the pilot is a model employee yet can't fly? wouldn't this vetting period prove to be a waste of time? i would rather get the guy in the plane as soon as possible to see how he/she can handle my aircraft.

the justifications offered came about after the industry slowed down in my opinion. the justification for placing a newly minted MEIFR pilot in the right seat of anything the day they get their license will change when things pick up again.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Big Pistons Forever » Mon Jan 18, 2010 11:55 am

This is fundamentally a question of what should be versus what is. The low standards required to attain the basic CPL/MEIFR ensures there will always be more wannebe's than available right seats. Of course employers are going to take advantage of this shortage, its just good business, so you may hate it but I do not see the over supply of new pilots drying up anytime soon.

I disagree with the contention that the ramp does not provide significant insight on how an individual will do in a flying position. Driving the airplane up and down is the easy part for any 703 operation. The hard part is hustling your butt for 12 hrs so you can (safely) get in that last fligth of the day, getting along with everyone in the operation, presenting yourself well to the customer, being gentle with the equipment, etc etc. All of these attributes will become obvious, or not, working the ramp.

I think few wannebe's understand just how important developing personal contacts and a reputuation within the industry, is as a way to get started. I tell everyone, take any job connected with the industry, you have to get your foot in the door. The real challenge is to not get stuck in a dead end. You have to make your own assesment as to whether any job is right for you, but never burn any bridges. If it is not working out make sure you leave on good terms.

Bottom line.....Nobody owes you a flying position just because you have a CPL/MEIFR and 200.1 hrs. There are probably 10 pilots for every entry level position open. If you were an employer and had a choice between 9 guys who you have never seen before the interview, or the guy you see hustling on the ramp every day with a good attitude, which one would you put in the flying position ?
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Cat Driver » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:13 pm

If you were an employer and had a choice between 9 guys who you have never seen before the interview, or the guy you see hustling on the ramp every day with a good attitude, which one would you put in the flying position ?
When I was an employer who was looking for a pilot I interviewed the applicant then put them in the airplane we needed a pilot for and if the individual met the standard for the flying position we needed to fill I carefully checked his/her background to see if what they claimed fit what I observed.

That method of pilot hiring worked for me right up to 705 level.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Big Pistons Forever » Mon Jan 18, 2010 12:52 pm

Cat Driver wrote:
If you were an employer and had a choice between 9 guys who you have never seen before the interview, or the guy you see hustling on the ramp every day with a good attitude, which one would you put in the flying position ?
When I was an employer who was looking for a pilot I interviewed the applicant then put them in the airplane we needed a pilot for and if the individual met the standard for the flying position we needed to fill I carefully checked his/her background to see if what they claimed fit what I observed.

That method of pilot hiring worked for me right up to 705 level.
Good for you, you hired pilots for pilots job, the way it should be. Unfortunately the majority of todays operators don't work in such a principled way. The current industry reality is start on the dock for float operators and and start on the ramp/dispatch for MEIFR opreations. Hell even flight schools , which used to offer a guaranteed way to get flying as soon as you finished your training, now seem to often want instructors to start as dispatchers :cry:

Obviously every new guy/gal should try for a flying position as their first choice and some lucky ones will get a flying position for that elusive first job, but for the majority the choice is a non flying job in a flying operation or a job outside of aviation. My advice (and everything anyone says on an anonymous bulletin board should be appraoched with a healthy dose of scepticism) is get into the industry anyway you can.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Slats » Mon Jan 18, 2010 2:35 pm

mattedfred wrote:perhaps a more detailed selection process is required rather than paying a highly skilled professional to cut their teeth slinging bags?
I highly doubt I could find even just one fresh CPL that anyone could realistically consider a "highly skilled professional." I think you are highly overestimating the maturity, attitude and skill level of the average 200 hour pilot.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Krashman » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:07 pm

Only way to change things is for there to be more jobs or fewer pilots.........neither are gonna happen. Ever.
Well wait a second... remember just a few years ago when guys were getting jobs before they even left flight school... some outfits were so desperate for guys that they would hire and FO with 250TT right seat in a King Air 200 and captains with 1500TT. There are starting to be a few more jobs out there these days hopefully guys don't start jumping ship and show a bit of loyalty where it is due...
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by Big Pistons Forever » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:22 pm

Krashman wrote:
Only way to change things is for there to be more jobs or fewer pilots.........neither are gonna happen. Ever.
Well wait a second... remember just a few years ago when guys were getting jobs before they even left flight school... some outfits were so desperate for guys that they would hire and FO with 250TT right seat in a King Air 200 and captains with 1500TT. There are starting to be a few more jobs out there these days hopefully guys don't start jumping ship and show a bit of loyalty where it is due...
At the very best time in the industry there might have been a very few pilots who got on with these kinds of time but they are the 3 % exceptions. The only real pilot shortages that ever existed were for experienced captains. Any wannebe that is baseing his/her plans on the idea that there will be a time when their first job will be on a MEIFR turbine is living in a fantasy world.

BTW today is not as bad as it could be, it was worse in the early 1990's. I got an interview/linecheck for a FO position with a PA31 commuter operation at that time. The low time captain had 3000 hrs the high time over 7000 hrs. I had a SCPL and 1300 hrs but only 200 ME. I was not hired even though I thought I did well on the line check, because another guy had an ATPL, a PPC and 500 MEPIC on the Ho.
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Re: Pilots Working The Ramp

Post by TaintedGravity » Mon Jan 18, 2010 3:36 pm

Quick question:

I'm not entirely sure if this has been touched upon yet... But I worked the ramp at a particular company. This company was saturated with hopefuls that slaved for countless months, even up to a couple of years! What I didn't understand was when the company hired outside the company when one of those desired, valuable spots finally opened up!

PS - the rampies and cargo agents alike had (if not more) the hours and met all requirements.
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