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Next Generation Pilots

Pay-to-Fly flight has been delayed, or fear of losing their

job because of a decision which will cost the
The study reveals that the new generation of pilots – young pilots – are most airline a stack of money.
vulnerable: 40% of all 20-30 year old pilots are flying without a direct employment Pilots are reluctant to take themselves off
contract. More than half of those pilots working at Norwegian, Ryanair, and other roster if fatigued or sick for fear of retribution.
smaller European discount carriers, have been hired under “atypical” arrangements. In some airlines, getting a captain’s position is
Faced with the difficulty of finding a job while having to pay back their pilot invariably conditional on a base transfer. The
training loans, young pilots end up subsidising their employer, e.g. by paying the newly promoted captains will then work hard
airline to fly its aircraft in order to gain flight experience (“pay-to-fly” schemes). and avoid “creating problems” in order to
30,000 to 50,000 euro for type rating in addition to a huge debt is a reality for a secure a transfer (back) to their preferred
large part of young pilots. But pay-to-fly schemes are neither “new” nor “business home base, where they can try to establish a
models”. They are straight financial exploitation and are now growing exponentially better work-life balance, says the research. Not
in number. to mention that subcontracting chains put
pilots in extremely volatile and precarious
situation, characterized by high dependency
and little protection, often topped up by the
threat of both civil and criminal liability.
as part of an investigation into alleged easily. In addition, 80% of the low fare airline Or the crew member might be under
non-payment of taxes. The Ghent study quotes pilots have to pay for their own hotel room, pressure to accept a one-sided zero-hours
pilots testifying that this is one of their biggest 64% pay for their recurrent training and contract. While the contractor (i.e. crew
“fears”. Interestingly, over 20% of respondents licenses, 62% for their crew ID cards and 59% agency) is under no obligation to offer them
in the survey did not answer the question for their uniforms. Over 90% of LFA pilots work, the self-employed pilot is under pressure
where they pay their social contributions. This receive no per diem. There is not really a to accept whatever work is made available,
could indicate that they are not certain where “win-win” potential related to “atypical” whenever it is made available. Safety and
to pay social security or an indication that they employment or self-employment, which one employment status are intertwined. A pilot
do not pay it at all. Social security inspections, should normally expect in such situation. should simply never have to face a situation in
which could flag out potential problems, are Which brings us to question if the which he/she has to balance commercial
practically non-existent across Europe. self-employment status of respondents is considerations over safety.
Legislation, where it exists, is practically genuine in the first place. More than 25% of This report acknowledges that atypical
inapplicable. survey respondents state not to be able to employment in aviation is on the rise. It has
EU Member States are exclusively responsi- amend instructions of the company based on become the buzz word in the ears of most low
ble for some regulatory domains, including safety considerations. Remarkably, over 90% of fare airlines’ CEOs, and many other airlines are
social and tax legislation. Yet, a patchwork of them indicate to they fly for a low fares airline. considering it.
legislation, with the inevitable loopholes, is a But there are other criteria to determine the
reality in Europe. In this context, having genuine status of self-employed pilots: can they IS THERE HOPE?
elaborate subcontracting chains, social and offer their services to other companies? Do There certainly is hope for European pilots.
fiscal engineering and even tax dodging by they provide essential material for their work The research says it is past midnight and
some airlines – without legislation to like an aircraft? Probably not. action is needed. Strengthening the social
effectively remedy these issues – is quite security law, its cross-border enforcement,
worrying. AND THERE IS AN EVEN BIGGER tackling fiscal and social engineering and
PROBLEM: SAFETY enforcing effectively existing legislation are just
WIN-WIN FLEXIBILITY The potential impact of such employment and a few proposals put forward by the researchers.
These types of employment have been called contract schemes on the crews’ safety decisions Strengthening safety management systems,
into life initially due to demands for a higher and safety reporting is tangible and quite safety report and setting up whistleblowing
flexibility for companies. So what is in for visible. Pilots’ decisions – willingly or mechanisms to counter mala fide management
“employees”? Job security is certainly not “in”, unwillingly – could be influenced by the fact styles are other steps to be taken. Now, the only
contracts for “services” can be terminated that they are not paid for the hours when a thing that Europe needs is political will.
ISSUE 2 | 2015 InterPilot | The Safety and Technical Journal of IFALPA
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