Regional Pilot Pay


New Member
If you haven't noticed already, there's been a lot of moaning and complaining lately about regional pilot pay on

Since the people on these JC forums tend to discuss things in much more rational and mature manner, I wanted to get some of you guys perspectives.

So we know the average starting salary for a new hire pilot at a regional is about 19,000/yr. While I'll admit that's pretty pathetic for a pilot, isn't that STARTING pay? The people on are acting as if that's what they'll be making their whole careers, but I thought captains of RJs made closer to 60,000/yr, and people who were not quite captains but somewhat higher on the seniority list made around 30,000/yr. Sure, that's not six-figure income like what they pay pilots at the majors, but that's still very livable.
And doesn't your pay also depend on what aircraft you fly (jets as opposed to turboprops)?

What do you guys think?
As long as you can get past those first few years I guess.

It is sad that that is the pay for someone who has paid much more (unless they were minitary) to earn the qualifications for the job.

But one of the good things is that if you dodge being furlouged and a number of other things that could happen, Salary can increase pretty nicely I think.
Yeah, regional pay sucks; but the regionals pay that way because of the overabundance of pilots looking for side economics. If the pilots didn't take those jobs, chances are the pay might be forced to get better.

If they know the pilot's willing to work for beans to get a foot in the door, then why pay them in steaks?
Yes Paul that's a 'starting' average and yes RJ Captains can make 60-100K depending on the airline - the problem is it can take years and years to become an RJ Captain. The only way upgrades happen is either attrition OR expansion. Yes there are a few guys retiring every year that will lead to upgrades. Yes some regionals are expanding leading to upgrades but that won't last forever. Until the majors start hiring again(eons from now) people won't be leaving the regionals. Regional expansion can only last for so long(may be a few months - may be a few years) and then career advancement at the regionals will stagnate. Pay as an FO at a regional can be liveable depending on the airline. At Allegheny I was making about $32K a year as a 2nd year FO which is decent but I was flying my a$$ off to make that much and had NO life. If I was able to spend 48 hours a week at home I felt blessed. Just depends on what kind of lifestyle you're willing to accept and what kind of compensation you're willing to accept for that lifestyle. Point is - there are a numbe rof regionals hiring right now but you're going to be an FO for a long time.

So what is typical for a FO's schedule?

48hrs per week at home! Wow that sucks for family.

I was under the impression that most FO's worked 4 on 3 off or something close to that.
. Point is - there are a numbe rof regionals hiring right now but you're going to be an FO for a long time.


[/ QUOTE ]

I wouldn't want the job cause I've no desire to be an FO anyway.
Well Summer it varies based on a whole bunch of factors but for a long time I was doing 4 day trips - day 1 at the airport at 0600 and home on day 4 at 2100, 2 days and then start again. When I was commuting there were many times when I was actually at my home for less than 24 hours - that was the price I paid for commuting(wouldn't recommend it to anyone) but even when I lived in base I wasn't home all that much.

Where I work (at the "World's Most Senior Regional Airline"), F/O's start at about $22,000 a year and "top out" at around $40,000. Senior RJ Captains are currently making close to $100,000. It's not major airline pay, but it's certainly one of the better-paying regionals. The major "sticking point" is the upgrade time - it's probably at least 6 - 7 years.

When you look at pay, it's important to also recognize the fact that the cost of living varies widely from place to place. $30,000 might buy you a comfortable lifestyle in Dothan, Alabama, but it won't get you very far in New York, L.A., or Seattle. (Where I live, the average apartment rent is around $800 a month, well over 50% of my take-home pay.)

As for schedule, I generally work 4 on / 3 off. It's not a bad lifestyle if you're single, but can be stressful on families (especially if they have small children).

I wonder what "Senior RJ Captains" and "close to $100k" really means. I assume you are talking about Comair. If I'm not mistaken you have some 20 yr captains there.

My first 3 years as a regional/commuter puke were as an FO, 1 1/2 at Eagle then 1 1/2 at Mesa. I was rarely home any where near 48 hrs. during a week. This was mostly due to the schedules of junior pilots. I may only have been on 5 days a week, but I would have to commute in the day before and commute home the day off. I remember several times where I was unable to commute home at all due to full flights.

As you gain seniority (or should I say if) you should be able to arrange larger blocks of time off. My last few months at Eagle were 6 on 4 off, and they were usually commutable. We had prevailed to allow one of our Commuter FOs get on the schedule committee, and he managed to get us 7 lines that had two back-to-back three day trips. This was ruined by a senior captain who lived 2 hrs from base was not able to get home during the break between the three day trips. He stepped in and we went back to lots of day trips, and less commutable schedules. It is very rare that you will find airlines catering to commuters, and rarer still that you can find an airline that is based in a city worth moving to.

By the way you will discover the lowest form of living in the world while you are a commuter FO. You will discover crashpads.
I ended up with a pretty nice schedule. I work 10 on, 10 off, and 10 on -call. During the on call time we can ask for days off also. I have an apartment in Anchorage, but commute to Seattle on most of my time off. It doesn't work real well with the on-call days, but having 10 days off in a row allows me to get something done.

The pay isn't great, but better than some. I make $20 a block hour with a 65 hour gaurantee, although we fly closer to 80 hours a month.
TU 1
WE 2
TH 3 D7100 DFW
FR 4 D7100 DFW
SA 5 D7100 DFW
SU 6 D7100 DFW
MO 7
TU 8
WE 9
TH 10 D7100 DFW
FR 11 D7100 DFW
SA 12 D7100 DFW
SU 13 D7100 DFW
MO 14
TU 15
WE 16
TH 17
FR 18 D7100 DFW
SA 19 D7100 DFW
SU 20 D7100 DFW
MO 21
TU 22
WE 23
TH 24 D7100 DFW
FR 25 D7100 DFW
SA 26 D7100 DFW
SU 27
MO 28
TU 29
WE 30
TH 31

This is my schedule for the month of July. I bid day trips for July so I could make it to my son's afternoon swim lessons and go to Oshkosh at the end of the month.

Trip 7100 is a DFW - DCA turn with a 6:45 AM Duty-In and 7:45 AM Departure. It usually duties out at about 2:30 PM. I get home at about 3:30 PM.

17 Days off, no overnights and 86 Credit Hours (Block).

Last month I did an easy 4 day trip with 16 days off with 85 Credit hours.

As for seniority, I have been at ASA for 3 years. Right now I am # 6 (out of about 30) on the CRJ-700 F/O list in DFW.

On our current contract (5 years old now) a 3rd Year F/O on the CRJ-700 will gross in the mid 40's (per year) including per diem.

Hope that helps a little, of course this varies greatly depending on seniority and company.

If you have any questions fire away.
John -

I "ran the numbers" for our RJ Captains and came up with the following figures:

Most junior guy (reserve line, min guarantee 70 hrs/month): $79,900 a year.

Senior guys (regular line, min guarantee 85 hrs/month): $109,300 a year.

This is based on minimum guarantee, and does not include per diem. Keep in mind, our RJ captains are VERY senior (the average is around 16 years with the company). The numbers given above represent the absolute top of the pay scale at this company.

My what imagination your crew schedulers have ..... NOT!

[/ QUOTE ]

Not very imaginative, true. But there are not many ways to get creative with a day turn. If I want variety, I bid the 4 days with DCA, OAK, ONT overnights.

I just wanted to go to swim lessons and Oshkosh.

The reality is after about the first month ot two of scheduled airline flying, does it really matter where you go? Unless it is Savannah or Charleston, San Francisco or San Diego, it's all pretty much the same.

That being said, there is NOTHING imaginative, or intelligent for that matter, about a crew scheduler.
AT ASA with the current contract:

Capt Rates CRJ-700:

18 YR: $102.59
15 YR $93.89
10 YR $80.63

Only an 18 year Captain can break the 100 grand mark. Most of the -700 Captains at ASA are over 15 years with a few around 10 and 1 or 2 at 7 or 8 years. Of course they will be on reserve until the end of time.

Comairs rates are a bit higher. Maybe a Comair person can post the rates for everyone.
How do you get a 85 hr guarantee? At what year does your guarantee jump from 70 to 85?

That's a substantial jump.

I have a friend at Comair (his handle is "Sakis") he is a CRJ Captain and he is making about $60k. He's been there since 1998. (Yes, he paid)
At Allegheny I was making about $32K a year as a 2nd year FO which is decent but I was flying my a$$ off to make that much and had NO life. If I was able to spend 48 hours a week at home I felt blessed. Just depends on what kind of lifestyle you're willing to accept and what kind of compensation you're willing to accept for that lifestyle.

[/ QUOTE ]

Stuff like this is what really makes me wonder if I should go the part 135/corporate route instead of the airline route. I really question whether or not I would ever be able to be gone that long and be able to spend so little time with family. But whatever I do, I'm still interested in being PAID to fly. If nothing else, I AT LEAST want to be an instructor because I have a passion for teaching.

Up to this point, I haven't thought all that much about what I would do after instructing, but I do know that I'd feel very lucky to have a job with a company like Airnet, where you start out in piston twins and eventually upgrade to jets. Their web site even says that most pilots fly at night and have the potential to be home every day. Now perhaps I may be incorrect, but corporate pilots usually don't fly as much as airline pilots, right?

Even having a job flying King Airs here and there would be enough to satisfy me. Anyone have any thoughts on my line of thinking here?
"Even having a job flying King Airs here and there would be enough to satisfy me..."

Sounds exactly like the post A300Capt just recently made, "the grass is always greener."

Those long nights with crappy weather over rugged terrain can get brutal I imagine!
Well there is a downside to everything. At least at the airline when you're off you're off!(Unless of course you're stupid enough to pick up the phone when scheduling calls). Do corporate/charter pilots fly less than airline pilots? Generally yes. About that King Air job - be careful what you wish for. It may be one of the world's best corporate gigs. It also may be a charter job where you're on call 24/7/365 - no days off - $30K a year. Oh by the way - that easy 2 day charter you left on on Monday morning - it's just been extended - it'll be another 6 days before you get home - 8 days on the road when you thought you'd be gone for 2!!(And yes this DOES happen - it's happened to me twice this year) I guess my point would be that just because it's not an airline job doesn't automatically mean that the quality of life is better.

I would say that generally speaking being a corporate pilot is a better job for someone looking to spend the most amount of time at home, however, as a corporate or charter pilot there will be times when you simply have to fly regardless of who's birthday it is or who's wedding you're supposed to attend or what holiday it is - as an airline pilot you have a little more "wiggle" room and usually have a few more tools at your disposal(seniority based trip bidding, trip drops/trades, sick call) when there is an event that you want to attend or a day that you need off.