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Crew Rotation On Long Flights And Layovers  
User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8201 times:

I have a couple of questions as to how crew rotation works on long flights. Also, I'm curious to the nature of layovers for F/A's and pilots.

Here are a few different scenarios I'd like someone to help clean up for me. All flights are hypothetical Delta Air Lines flights since I am most familiar with that airline:

1. ATL-LAX 77L
Even though this is a 777, are there anymore pilots than a captain and first officer since this is only a 4.5 hour flight?

2. ATL-BCN 763ER
One captain and two first officers? All three are in the cockpit for take-off and landing right? When do they switch?

3. LAX-SYD 77L
I'm certain that on this flight there are two captains and two first officers. What's the crew rotation like on this 14 hour flight?

Finally, what are the layovers like for the pilots? I understand all crew stays in the same hotel, but do they share bedrooms? Are there two pilots in two twin beds? Does each crew member get his or her own room?

Thanks to anyone who may be able to clear up at least some of this mystery to me.


The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
21 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineAirstairFear From United States of America, joined Nov 2009, 82 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8218 times:

Crew members do not share rooms. Unless they choose to after they get there.  Big grin


CAM-1: Aw #. We're gonna hit houses dude.
User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 2, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8138 times:



Quoting AirstairFear (Reply 1):
Crew members do not share rooms. Unless they choose to after they get there.

So lets say you have 4 pilots and 12 flight attendants. The airline books 16 rooms for each crew member?



The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offlineTheGreatChecko From United States of America, joined Mar 2004, 1128 posts, RR: 2
Reply 3, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8105 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 2):

So lets say you have 4 pilots and 12 flight attendants. The airline books 16 rooms for each crew member?

Is there any other way?

I sure as hell don't want to be sharing a bedroom with a person I just spent the entire day locked in a cockpit. Also, what would one do in the event the pilot and copilot are opposite genders?

It's just a cost of doing business.  Smile



"A pilot's plane she is. She will love you if you deserve it, and try to kill you if you don't...She is the Mighty Q400"
User currently offlineTWFirst From Vatican City, joined Apr 2000, 6346 posts, RR: 51
Reply 4, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8105 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 2):
So lets say you have 4 pilots and 12 flight attendants. The airline books 16 rooms for each crew member?

Yes. But the airline pays steeply discounted rates at the contracted hotel.



An unexamined life isn't worth living.
User currently offlineFlyer732 From Namibia, joined Nov 1999, 1367 posts, RR: 21
Reply 5, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8090 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 2):
So lets say you have 4 pilots and 12 flight attendants. The airline books 16 rooms for each crew member?

Yep. Each crew member has their own individual rooms.

As far as your other questions go, I'll answer it as its done at my airline. On flights over 8 hours we have 3 pilots, usually this is 1 captain and 2 first officers, though if we are short on first officers its not out of the question to have 2 captains or even 3 captains.
The break times are usually decided between the pilots, and the lengths are dictated by the length of the flight, or if one of the pilots opts not to take a break, that can add time for the other pilots.
On a 4 pilot crew, all 4 will be in the cockpit for takeoff and landing, they will all rotate for a break during the flight. The return trip will typically be operated by the two pilots who were in the observer seats. So if crew A operates LAX-SYD and crew B is the relief crew in-flight, then on SYD-LAX crew B will operate and crew A will be the in-flight relief.

Hope that helps


User currently offlineSq_ek_freak From United Kingdom, joined Dec 2000, 1633 posts, RR: 20
Reply 6, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 8024 times:



Quoting Flyer732 (Reply 5):
So if crew A operates LAX-SYD and crew B is the relief crew in-flight, then on SYD-LAX crew B will operate and crew A will be the in-flight relief.

Yep, the relief crew are also sometimes called the augmenting crew. For instance, on a tag on flight, let's say DXB-MEL-AKL-MEL-DXB, crew A would fly DXB-MEL, layover, crew B would do MEL-AKL-MEL as a turn, then crew A do the MEL-DXB run back to home base.

Quoting AirstairFear (Reply 1):
Crew members do not share rooms. Unless they choose to after they get there.

Ha! But yes, no sharing of rooms at all, unless by choice which doesn't always mean the obvious...I have slept over in fellow crew's rooms, especially when flying with really good friends! A sleepover if you will  Wink



Keep Discovering
User currently offlineDon From Japan, joined Jun 2003, 274 posts, RR: 0
Reply 7, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 7881 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Reply 2):
The airline books 16 rooms for each crew member?

That would be too much. They book 16 rooms for all 16 of them. (Only one room per crew member).

Sorry, I just couldn't help it. My childish humor. On a serious note, while one per room is mostly correct, there are some airlines from developing countries that require junior cabin crew members to share rooms.


User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 8, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 12 hours ago) and read 7709 times:

Ohhhh man, this is a sore spot with me on the DL front  Silly

Quoting Evan767 (Thread starter):
1. ATL-LAX 77L
Even though this is a 777, are there anymore pilots than a captain and first officer since this is only a 4.5 hour flight?

Only two pilots fly the plane, while two others are deadheaded on it. So, essentially, DL has to crew this flight as if it were an international. One of their lesser-thought domestic rotations for an international route.

Quoting Evan767 (Thread starter):
2. ATL-BCN 763ER
One captain and two first officers? All three are in the cockpit for take-off and landing right? When do they switch?

Yes. Per the DL pilot contract, a flight of 8:01 to 12:00 block time has 1 CA and 2 FO. A flight of 12:01 to 16:00 blocktime has 2 CA and 2 FO. A flight of 16:01 blocktime and longer will have 2 CA and 2 FO with mandatory minimum rest requirements both on layover and time off after the trip.

Quoting Evan767 (Thread starter):
3. LAX-SYD 77L
I'm certain that on this flight there are two captains and two first officers. What's the crew rotation like on this 14 hour flight?

Alright, there are two ways of doing crew rest.... the NW way and the DL way. This is currently a heated battle within the pilot's union, especially on the 747-400 and A330 as DL is trying to get the ex-NW crews to do it their way. So, crash course explanation here.

NW way of doing crew rest on double crew:

2 CA and 2 FO. Crew will discuss amongst themselves in preflight who wants to fly first and who wants to fly second. Whoever may need a takeoff, a landing, or whoever may be tired or wide awake may dictate who chooses what. Of course, if there is ever an impasse, the senior CA chooses first and the senior FO also chooses first.

To determine crew rest time, NW wanted all pilots to be in the cockpit 30 minutes prior to landing and 15 minutes after takeoff. So, you subtract out 45 minutes from the planned total enroute flight time. Just to make our math easy, lets say total air time is 13:45. So, you have a total of 13 hours available for crew rest. NW made this very simple. CA 1 and FO 1 flew for the first 6:30, while CA 2 and FO 2 were in the bunks. The second half of the trip, CA 2 and FO 2 would fly, while CA 1 and FO 1 went to the bunks. At the end of the flight, CA 2 and FO 2 remain as the pilots flying, while CA 1 and FO 1 sit in the jumpseats.


DL way of doing crew rest on double crew:

The most senior captain of the trip is to designate either himself or the junior captain as the "pilot in command" for the flight. The "PIC" is the only captain to sign the dispatch release, despite both CA's being equally as qualified to sign it (not to mention just as easy). The "PIC" will designate, without any form of group decision-making process, which CA will fly first and which FO will fly first. It does not matter if any particular CA or FO is short on takeoffs or landings, whatever the PIC dictates is how the trip will be flown.

DL further allows the PIC to institute any sort of inflight rest-rotation s/he deems they want. If they want to split the available rest time in half, that is their call. DL recommends, however, that the crews switch seats often, taking only 2 hour naps in the bunks at a time.

Now, here is the kicker that NW crews absolutely hate. Given the DL system of 1 captain being "pilot in command", and the other captain being a "relief captain", there are some bizarre procedures for takeoff and landing. Per the DL system, the PIC *must* be in the captain's seat for takeoff and landing. To explain what I mean, here's a quick scenario.

ATL-NRT on a 777, over 12:01 blocktime so full double crew. CA 1 and FO 1 will fly the takeoff and first half, while CA 2 and FO 2 sit in the jumpseats. On the second half, CA 2 and FO 2 will fly the aircraft while CA 1 and FO 1 go to the bunks. 30-40 minutes out from NRT, CA1/FO1 will come back from the bunks, and CA 1 will get back into the captain seat, while CA 2 sits in the jumpseat. FO 2 remains in the right seat, while FO 1 sits in the jumpseat.

NW crews hate this system because it totally defeats the purpose of even having 2CA/2FO, whereas the system DL uses is explicitly tailored to a system of having 1CA/3FO. NW also further argues that DL's way is a poor system as the CA1 (in the hypothetically situation) has just woken up, and has NO awareness of the weather in NRT, fuel on board, diverts, any on board situations, or anything like that. This is espeically felt in NRT during typhoon season when your nearest available divert may be 2 hours away. CA 2 and FO 2 have been keeping up with these developments for the last 6.5 hours, and yet DL feels that CA 1 should be the one landing the aircraft.


So.... hopefully that's slightly better than clear as mud, haha. As it stands now, most NW crews have simply flat refused to do the DL system and both CA's still sign the dispatch release so both of them can sit in the seat for takeoff and landing.

Quoting TWFirst (Reply 4):
Yes. But the airline pays steeply discounted rates at the contracted hotel.

NW actually owned the hotel in NRT, now acquired by DL. Since they rotate no less than 150 crew members through NRT at any given time, NW felt it more economical to just buy the hotel.


User currently offlineLuftfahrer From Germany, joined Mar 2009, 1020 posts, RR: 2
Reply 9, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 3 hours ago) and read 7644 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):

Extensive answer, thanks for that.

Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):
while two others are deadheaded on it

Deadheaded in order to fly from LAX (to SYD) later on? Or just back to their base, where their duty ends?

Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):
Yes. Per the DL pilot contract, a flight of 8:01 to 12:00 block time has 1 CA and 2 FO.

Can it also be 2 CAs and 1 FO, perhaps as an exception? I am almost sure I have had this line-up some months ago.



'He resembled a pilot, which to a seaman is trustworthiness personified.' Joseph Conrad
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 10, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 7605 times:



Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 9):
Deadheaded in order to fly from LAX (to SYD) later on? Or just back to their base, where their duty ends?

The LAX-SYD and SYD-LAX flights require a double crew, 2 CA / 2 FO. Since DL does not have a LAX 777 base, nor any current international 777 rotations into LAX, they route both the plane and the crew to LAX via the domestic segment.

They need four pilots in LAX, but only two are required for for the ATL-LAX and LAX-ATL flights. Regardless, every ATL-LAX (and return) flight on the 772LR has four pilots aboard, just two flying and two on deadhead. I'm not sure which is the more senior bid line though I'd imagine the deadhead, as those crews can fly directly to LAX from wherever they may live.

Quoting Luftfahrer (Reply 9):
Can it also be 2 CAs and 1 FO, perhaps as an exception? I am almost sure I have had this line-up some months ago.

While definitely more rare, it also happens.

A good example I can think of was just last week on the 747-400 crewing. For some reason on one of the days before Christmas, there was a shortage of reserve FO's for the sports and military charter flights. The company began offering these lines to CA's, to fly as FO but to still receive CA pay for the flights. Of course, this can also happen on regularly scheduled pax flights, and frequently does. Earlier this summer the same thing happened with the SEA A330 base, where SEA-AMS was somewhat regularly crewed with 2 CA / 1 FO.


User currently offlinePGNCS From United States of America, joined Apr 2007, 2825 posts, RR: 45
Reply 11, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days 1 hour ago) and read 7601 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):
The "PIC" will designate, without any form of group decision-making process, which CA will fly first and which FO will fly first. It does not matter if any particular CA or FO is short on takeoffs or landings, whatever the PIC dictates is how the trip will be flown.

Where do you get your information?

Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):
Ohhhh man, this is a sore spot with me on the DL front

Why is this a sore spot with you? I just looked at your profile, and you clearly don't fly for either airline.


User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 12, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 4 days ago) and read 7597 times:



Quoting PGNCS (Reply 11):
Where do you get your information?

Care to challenge anything I've said??

Quoting PGNCS (Reply 11):
Why is this a sore spot with you? I just looked at your profile, and you clearly don't fly for either airline.

Why would it matter to you at all, other than just permitting you to be your ever-so-typical cynical self??  Wink


User currently offlineEvan767 From United States of America, joined Aug 2005, 2957 posts, RR: 2
Reply 13, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 7498 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):

Interesting, thanks for clearing that up! It does sound like the NW system is better in this case.



The proper term is "on final" not "on finals" bud...
User currently offlineC5LOAD From United States of America, joined Sep 2008, 917 posts, RR: 0
Reply 14, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7485 times:



Quoting Evan767 (Thread starter):
Does each crew member get his or her own room?

I know in the C-5 world, we all get our own rooms due to crew rest requirements. The only we share rooms is with a waiver already put in place at the airfield we are going to. That may also be why airline pilots also get their own rooms.



"But this airplane has 4 engines, it's an entirely different kind of flying! Altogether"
User currently offlineThegeek From Australia, joined Nov 2007, 2638 posts, RR: 0
Reply 15, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 2 hours ago) and read 7479 times:

QF do it completely differently in their 747 & A330 fleets. They have the entry level pilot position of "Second Officer". A flight more than 8 hours of stick time requires one second officer, and if duty time can be more than 12:45 then they need two. Second officers can't be in the left or right seat before top of climb or after top of descent. On the 2 second officer flights, the captain or first officer must in either the left or right seats at all times. I think a SO is legal to right seat a landing or take off but company rules prohibit this.

Also, just because a given crew has flown SYD-LAX on QF107, for example, doesn't mean the same 4 man crew will fly on to JFK. Just the Captain and FO do, and I believe that the second officers fly back with a different CA/FO rather than wait in LAX.

I presume the above applies to the A380 too, but it doesn't apply to the 767 anymore as they reduced long haul flying enough that it's just not worth having 767 second officers anymore.


User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4200 posts, RR: 37
Reply 16, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7469 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 8):
2 CA and 2 FO. Crew will discuss amongst themselves in preflight who wants to fly first and who wants to fly second. Whoever may need a takeoff, a landing, or whoever may be tired or wide awake may dictate who chooses what. Of course, if there is ever an impasse, the senior CA chooses first and the senior FO also chooses first.

Whoops! Until the merger, NW flew double crew trips with 1 CA and 3 FO's... Care to revisit your statements?

Years ago they did 2 CA and 2 FO...but not for a while.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 17, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7468 times:

Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 16):
Whoops! Until the merger, NW flew double crew trips with 1 CA and 3 FO's... Care to revisit your statements?

Years ago they did 2 CA and 2 FO...but not for a while.

Contractually it was changed to that, in practice it was quite often done with 2 CA and 2 FO due to the captain overstaff that was sloughed in attrition, not an immediate dump.

Care to revisit your accusation??  

Regardless, since having become part of DL since 2008 and going back to 2 CA / 2 FO, NW crews simply reverted back to their "old ways" of doing things until DL insisted their [inferior] system of crew rest should be done, issuing several memos about it. Lucky for us though, both captains can still just sign the release and choose to do it the way it's always been done.

[Edited 2009-12-30 20:09:25]

User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4200 posts, RR: 37
Reply 18, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 7461 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 17):
Lucky for us though, both captains can still just sign the release and choose to do it the way it's always been done

Us? You're a student...unless your profile is a fake.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 19, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 days ago) and read 7457 times:



Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 18):
Us? You're a student...unless your profile is a fake.

NW.

I still take sides  Wink


User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4200 posts, RR: 37
Reply 20, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 7446 times:



Quoting Transpac787 (Reply 19):

NW.

I still take sides

Do you work there? You sure try to talk like you do...



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineTranspac787 From United States of America, joined Jul 2007, 3208 posts, RR: 13
Reply 21, posted (4 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 11 hours ago) and read 7403 times:



Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 20):
Do you work there? You sure try to talk like you do...

Why would it matter, at all, if everything that I've posted is correct?? You already tried to debunk me once but failed, and are now subsequently trying alternative avenues to discredit me. Strike two  Wink


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