An OUTRAGE: Captain Sullenberger paid the same as a UPS Flight Engineer

Posted on 06. Feb, 2009 by in Featured

First an explanation of pay: An airline pilot is paid by the hour, the flight hour. From push back or brake release until the brakes are set and cabin door open at the destination. There is no premium for overtime normally and you only get paid for what you fly. There are minimums; at my airline it is 64 hours for a month , 3 1/2 a day. You do not get paid for being at work or sitting between flights, we used to have rigs that paid a partial rate for sit time but most of those are gone or are very small. So it is possible to put in a 12-16 hour day and get paid for 3-4 hours.

The amount you can fly a month, week and day are limited by the FAA and further limited by most contracts. A normal month is around 75 hours. Now using the information on Airline Pilot Central’s site; take Captain Sully’s rate of 125$ an hour and multiply it by first 75 then 12. One hundred and twelve grand a year (112,500), for holding thousands of lives a month in his hands; not much is it. Especially when you consider a long shore man can make twice that with overtime.

Think of the experience, licensing and training required to achieve his position. A college degree, written tests and then check flights for: private, instrument, multi-engine, commercial and airline transport pilot ratings. Yearly check rides and type ratings for aircraft flown. It takes hundreds of thousands of dollars and years to get a starting job flying jets for 20 grand a year. Do the math. Now you know why pilots are leaving the industry and/or not even starting.


Historically airlines had three crewman; the venerable Boeing 727, 747 and DC-10 are examples. Each position goes up in responsibility and thus pay. First is the Captain he is in command by FAR’s (Federal Law) and responsible for the aircraft, crew, passengers and cargo. Next in line is the First Officer or more commonly known as a co-pilot, he assists the Captain. Lastly is the Second Officer or Flight Engineer, he monitors and runs the aircrafts sub systems; air conditioning, hydraulics, electric, etc.

727 Flight engineer Panel

An airline pilot is an airline pilot no matter if they carry cargo or people; they are a true profession and earn their money. With spending half of every month on the road and their license always at risk they are all under paid.

Now for the outrage: a UPS (United Parcel Service) Second Officer (Flight Engineer) is paid the same amount for flipping switches for boxes as Captain Sully for saving passengers lives.

3 Responses to “An OUTRAGE: Captain Sullenberger paid the same as a UPS Flight Engineer”

  1. Donald Mack 22 June 2013 at 13:18 #

    liife is kind of unfair, isn’t it?

  2. Golther 18 February 2014 at 21:38 #

    It really seems that this guys has no idea what an FE really does.

  3. Chip 18 February 2014 at 22:27 #

    Really? I’m a rated turbo jet FE, B727. Let me educate you on how things work in aviation. Or at least did, because the FE (flight engineer) position has been eliminated on all modern aircraft. The flight engineer was the entry level position and was paid at a rate. Less than the co pilot, or first officer. The first officer was paid less than the captain, my point was that. The captain position at then USAir was paid lower than the FE position at UPS.

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