IT SEEMS like the dream job: flying over the pristine Ningaloo Reef, weaving through vast canyons in the Kimberley and giving tourists an adventure they won’t forget.
But underneath that scenic backdrop, general aviation pilots are crying out for help, saying they are overworked, underpaid and constantly fatigued due to long working hours.
The four pilots who spoke to news.com.au chose not to have their names published because they believe speaking out about working conditions is a career-ending move in this tiny, high-risk game.
One pilot told news.com.au: “You’re basically knifing yourself in the back”.
‘I’D RATHER GET HIT BY A BUS THAN WORK IN AVIATION’
Michael*, 33, worked as a helicopter pilot in the outback for six years.
“It’s like any job that you start out in, you have to go to some s**thole town or the middle of nowhere for a few years before you get lucky and get transferred out,” he said.
For Michael, work in the Kimberley typically meant spending at least two months away from home, camping in the sweltering desert with no aircon, loved ones or entertainment.
He would work six days on, one day off, for two months straight — which adds up to 56 days’ work and only six days’ rest.
“They flew in food for us once a week and we’d have a bit of power, a few solar panels and a generator but that went to light not to keeping yourself cool,” Michael said.