Pilot Training Expenses Justified With New Pilot Contract


Pilot training is expensive, one company’s new contract may help their employees 

With the latest estimate of $87,000 for the cost of commercial/flight instructor pilot training, it’s easy to see why it’s such a challenging field for young people to get excited about. Add to that the traditionally low starting pay for new professional pilots, and you might have at least a partial explanation of the current pilot shortage we are experiencing. I know this first hand.  

A few years ago, I decided to take the plunge and return to airline flying for the last 7 years of my career. I was a 20-year airline veteran, but I had left my job to raise my 4 young children post 9/11. I had absolutely no regrets, but the thought of bumping my so-so corporate pay to the huge numbers I was seeing in airline pay surveys was too tempting to ignore.  

I was confident that the rapid upgrades and long list of soon to be retirees would propel me to that sweet spot in pay before I knew it. Unfortunately, though, I never got there. The starting pay took me out of the game before I could even give it a go. But there’s hope! Just ask a CommutAir pilot about their new contract!  

Due to the ongoing pilot shortage and the competition for airlines to grab new talent, CommutAir has agreed to a new long-term pilot contract. The regional carrier (40% owned by United Airlines) operates close to 1500 daily flights and flies more than 75 Embraer 145s. The company received increases in pilot pay: 30% for new hire FOs; 25% for new Captains, but, in my opinion, there are more important things in the contract. For example, pilots can live wherever they want. (This was a deal-breaker for me in the old days – commuting was the worst!) CommutAir will now pay for its pilots to travel to and from their chosen home location. They’re also offering sign-on bonuses for direct-hire Captains of $50,000, and if a new hire has previous Part 121 airline experience (me, me!), they get a longevity credit of at least 50%.  

But wait, there’s more!  

  • A 50% match of a 401K, up to 16%  
  • A minimum duty period day of 4 hours  
  • Full pay protection for canceled assignments  
  • Time and a half holiday pay  
  • 200% trip extension pay  
  • Pay increases for instructor pilots  
  • Attractive medical, dental, and vision  
  • Buyback provision retirement benefits  


Way to go, CommutAir at it helps pave the way for the younger generation to see the value of their expensive pilot training. Not to mention paving the way for their own company to compete as they try to keep their trips staffed with qualified, well-trained pilots. It’s a win/win for everyone. 

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