Is Indentured Servitude the answer to the world wide pilot shortage?
Apparently some operators believe it is. Take Rex Air in Australia for example: 5K up front and nonrefundable will get you a 100k loan (25K you will pay separately) an Australian commercial/instrument rating and a job as a pilot in just 32 weeks.
Yes you too can go from your Mum’s basement to flying passengers in 8 months.
The catch? There’s always a catch, 7 years of what I consider indentured servitude. Yes you will be paid minus your loan payment and even a 10K bonus to pay off the loan for 6 years (100-60=40+25=65). but if you leave, the rate goes up and you owe a lot. As I read it the student will be paying $9,285.71 a year in principle alone. On commuter pilot wages, living in one of the most expensive places in the world.
Pilot Cadet Loan
The Pilot Cadet Loan is a low interest loan for $100,000 of the course fees. All successful
Cadets will receive the loan but to qualify for the low interest, they must spend at least 7
continuous years employed in the Rex Group. For each year of continuous employment
with Rex, a retention bonus of $10,000 is paid at the end of the first 6 anniversaries and
applied towards the repayment of the loan.
The loan is repayable over 7 years and repayment commences with initial employment in
the Rex Group. Repayments will be done by way of salary deduction and will be on a
sliding scale geared to salary so that the fortnightly repayment represents an affordable
proportion of the estimated pilot’s salary as he/she progresses in Rex.
The remaining $25,000 of the course fees are paid for by the cadet before course
Will this draw the best candidates for the job; is it safe? I think about some of the Airline Pilots I have met and trained with: PhD s, Medical Doctors, Space Shuttle Pilots, etc. College graduates and highly experienced. Some of the best the world has to offer, are cheap tickets worth the risk of 32 week pilots?
Don’t get me wrong I used student loans to get through the University of Missouri and into the Navy Flight program. It was highly competitive with a very large wash out rate. This is a “company store” filling cockpits in 32 weeks. It took me over 2 years to get winged and then another 6 months just to learn a fleet aircraft. This IMO is lowering the bar on safety.
it is a conflict of interest because the company needs pilots and is in control of the training. But even worse they have a financial incentive to get the student through. It begs the question what happens if a student fails? What if a FO can not upgrade? What if a line pilot loses his/her medical?
Is this a good idea?