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Young Pilots Flying Wide Bodies  
User currently offlinezootrix From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 86 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5175 times:

Hi Team,

I've noticed over the past few years that with many airlines, younger pilots (30ish+) are at the controls of the heavies - A330, A340, 777, 747, 767, etc. In the 80s, 90s; your typical 747, 777 captain/FO seemed like a grey haired middle aged man in his 50s & with thousands of hours behind him.

But over the last 10-12 years, it seems that at least 1 of the 2 or 3 pilots in the flight deck is a very young looking guy in his 30s. I've seen this with - NW A330s (before DL buyout), 9W A330s, VS A330s, DL 767s, LH 340s, etc. It does take quite some time and hours to get to flying these wide bodies, which in the past didn't happen until you hit mid to late 40s or early 50s (or I am completely mistaken).

No "ageism" issue here, but I was merely curious as to why this trend? Possibilities are -
- super competent & brilliant young pilots who ace their evaluations and exams,
- high demand for pilots,
- due to globalization, younger pilots are willing to relocate to hubs in foreign countries to take up lucrative offers,
- what else??

Any thoughts?

Many thanks and regards,
zt

19 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 5043 posts, RR: 43
Reply 1, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 9 hours ago) and read 5138 times:

There are a lot of factors here. The biggest is that in a three man crew of old, say a B747-100/200 the third crew-member was a Flight Engineer, and they could be the same age as the Captain. Today, the third crew-member would be a Relief Pilot, and they tend to be much much younger. I look at the RPs I fly with today, and very few are over 30!

Maybe I am getting old, having hit 50, but they look very very young! If you peeked into the cockpit when the RP happened to be sitting in the left seat, it might be a little startling.

Or it just could be luck. I started with Wardair, and became an A310 Captain within a year as the airline was growing very quickly. I was still a few years yet from hitting 30!! And it wasn't skill or expertise that got me there, it was just luck and being at the right place at the right time!


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Photo © N94504




Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlinezbbylw From Canada, joined Nov 2006, 1986 posts, RR: 6
Reply 2, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 8 hours ago) and read 5096 times:

Ill echo what longhauler wrote. Typically new hires at an airline can take two paths either to a wide body and be an RP (or Second Officer as some airlines call them) or an FO on a narrow body. There are pros and cons to both as the lifestyle/layovers can be better on long haul flying and the flying aspect (you actually get to fly below 10,000 feet) can be better as an FO. Some people prefer one to the other and end up going that direction.

In recent memory airlines have been hiring a fair bit of pilots so you can see someone as young as 25 getting hired in Canada to Air Canada, Westjet or Air Transat. While this may be on the lower end of the scale as a 25 year old you tend to stand out and be the butt end for jokes about if you've ever used a razor yet!

Internationally (outside North America) many airlines hire "cadets" who can be considerably younger. A lot of these airlines almost exclusively fly wide bodies and you can have 21 year olds as Second Officers for companies like Cathay. Sharp candidates for sure but may make a passenger take a double take!



Keep the shinny side up!
User currently offlinestarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17068 posts, RR: 66
Reply 3, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day 2 hours ago) and read 4880 times:

Quoting zbbylw (Reply 2):
Internationally (outside North America) many airlines hire "cadets" who can be considerably younger. A lot of these airlines almost exclusively fly wide bodies and you can have 21 year olds as Second Officers for companies like Cathay. Sharp candidates for sure but may make a passenger take a double take!

In that particular case, CX only hires S/Os, an entry point that may not be attractive for many pilots over 30. So you'll get youngsters.

Quoting zootrix (Thread starter):
It does take quite some time and hours to get to flying these wide bodies, which in the past didn't happen until you hit mid to late 40s or early 50s (or I am completely mistaken).

As longhauler says, it depends.

- Seniority is seniority and sometimes older pilots prefer shorter routes and narrowbodies. I've spoken to 320 captains who can be home almost every night. They'd rather bid on ARN-LHR in a 320 and leave CPH-EWR in a 330 to the youngsters.
- Some airlines like CX and SQ only have widebodies. If memory serves the youngest ever 747 captain, who worked for SQ, was 24.
- There are a sometimes variety of career paths.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlinewoodreau From United States of America, joined Sep 2001, 1049 posts, RR: 7
Reply 4, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 1 day ago) and read 4778 times:

The only thing that matters when determining who flies what in the airline is seniority. Nothing else.

The worst pilot in the world can be a captain of a 777/747/380 solely because he was there long enough and his/her turn came up.

You can be the best pilot in the world and never get past flying a regional jet.



Bonus animus sit, ab experientia. Quod salvatum fuerit de malis usu venit judicium.
User currently offlineJBirdAV8r From United States of America, joined Jun 2001, 4491 posts, RR: 21
Reply 5, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 23 hours ago) and read 4734 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 1):
And it wasn't skill or expertise that got me there, it was just luck and being at the right place at the right time!

What he said!! It's all about timing (of which you have little control) and sheer luck (of which you have no control).



I got my head checked--by a jumbo jet
User currently offlinelonghauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 5043 posts, RR: 43
Reply 6, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 4663 times:

Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):
The worst pilot in the world can be a captain of a 777/747/380 solely because he was there long enough and his/her turn came up.

I have said this before, and I will say this again. Seniority allows one the opportunity/chance to be a Captain but skill is required to achieve it. And no, not every Captain candidate is successful.



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineTWA772LR From United States of America, joined Nov 2011, 2183 posts, RR: 1
Reply 7, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 20 hours ago) and read 4590 times:

My dad told me that at FedEx all the old guys would fly the TATL and TPAC routes so they could get their hours for the month. Then when he went to CO, he said all the old guys would do the opposite and do the shorter trips so they can be home at night.


Go coogs! \n//
User currently offlineWilco737 From Greenland, joined Jun 2004, 9076 posts, RR: 76
Reply 8, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 18 hours ago) and read 4533 times:
AIRLINERS.NET CREW
HEAD MODERATOR

Quoting zootrix (Thread starter):
younger pilots (30ish+) are at the controls of the heavies

Why is it only about age?
I started at flight school at age 23 and with 26 I was sitting in the 737 cockpit. It is younger than in the US, but the system works differently here.
I am 34 now and flying 744/748 for 2 years now and have a total of almost 6000 flight hours. Why do I need to be 45+ to fly a heavy?
Flying a heavy is not more difficult than a narrowbody. More responsibility? Sure I move on one flight 386 passengers, but when I did 5 flights a day on the 737 I moved 500 people (100 pax each flight)... 5 take offs and landings vs one.
I know this has been discussed many many times.

Why does a pilot on the 744 has to be old and has grey hair? Does grey hair qualify to fly heavies?

wilco737
  



It it's not Boeing, I am not going.
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4211 posts, RR: 37
Reply 9, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 16 hours ago) and read 4509 times:

I was flying a 767 at a US legacy carrier at the age of 26.  


Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlinestarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17068 posts, RR: 66
Reply 10, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 13 hours ago) and read 4424 times:

Quoting Wilco737 (Reply 8):
Why does a pilot on the 744 has to be old and has grey hair? Does grey hair qualify to fly heavies?

Yes. It's in the POH in the Limitations section. "Pilot without gray hair may lead to poor performance." 



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offline747classic From Netherlands, joined Aug 2009, 2176 posts, RR: 14
Reply 11, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 12 hours ago) and read 4409 times:

Quoting longhauler (Reply 1):
The biggest is that in a three man crew of old, say a B747-100/200 the third crew-member was a Flight Engineer, and they could be the same age as the Captain

In 1979 I was a fully licensed professional F/E at the B747-200 at the age of 24. But I agree, my fellow F/E's were a little bit older.



Operating a twin over the ocean, you're always one engine failure from a total emergency.
User currently offlineKaiarahi From Canada, joined Jul 2009, 3033 posts, RR: 28
Reply 12, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 11 hours ago) and read 4366 times:

Different context, obviously, but I was flying C130s at 19 (right seat    ).


Empty vessels make the most noise.
User currently offlineGRZ-AIR From Austria, joined Apr 2001, 574 posts, RR: 4
Reply 13, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 6 hours ago) and read 4192 times:

Apart from whats been written, deregulation also plays a role. In the 60's, most Airlines where government operated "National Carriers" that supplied their pilot demand from the military. Pilots 18-25+ would fly in the military and then start at the respective airline as a FO flying shorthaul, moving on to longhaul FO, then back as a shorthaul Captain and then, for the final stage in the career, become a longhaul Captain. It still works similarly at many of the legacy carriers, majors etc..

Todays market is a little different. You have lots of additional airlines, some of them being not more than a blimp on the radar, others growing heavily and healthily. The latter ones act as a chance to expedite ones career and sit on the left side at a younger age, if one so chooses.

I would prefer the old system. Then again it is nice to fly around heavy metal in your mid 20's.  

GRZ-AIR



When I joined A.net it was still free, haha ;).
User currently offlinepilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3150 posts, RR: 11
Reply 14, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 4 hours ago) and read 4122 times:

Quoting Wilco737 (Reply 8):
It is younger than in the US, but the system works differently here.

I have a feeling that this will not be the case in a few years with the retirements that are around the corner. We started seeing it before the age was upped to 65.



DMI
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4211 posts, RR: 37
Reply 15, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 4055 times:

Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):

The only thing that matters when determining who flies what in the airline is seniority. Nothing else.

The worst pilot in the world can be a captain of a 777/747/380 solely because he was there long enough and his/her turn came up.

You can be the best pilot in the world and never get past flying a regional jet.

This is absolutely 100% ignorant.

Seniority determines the availability of progression and schedules. The worst pilot in the world won't be flying a 777/747/380 because they won't be able to pass the checkrides. There is a minimum standard to be upheld, and if you make the cut, then you can be a line pilot. Exceptional pilots are offered additional jobs such as instructing and mgmt level positions, so higher pay and better schedules outside of standard seniority progression.

As far as the best pilot in the world and never get past flying an RJ, that is also exceptionally ignorant. Excellent pilots will have stellar records and better jobs will be made available to them over time. Sometimes they might get stuck when things go sour, but over time it will work out if he truly is "the best pilot."



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineViscount724 From Switzerland, joined Oct 2006, 25626 posts, RR: 22
Reply 16, posted (1 year 10 months 3 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 4035 times:

Quoting zbbylw (Reply 2):
Internationally (outside North America) many airlines hire "cadets" who can be considerably younger. A lot of these airlines almost exclusively fly wide bodies and you can have 21 year olds as Second Officers for companies like Cathay. Sharp candidates for sure but may make a passenger take a double take!

BEA Vickers Vanguards had a 3-crew cockpit, unlike TCA/AC, the only other original customer, whose Vanguards were designed for 2 crew. The 3rd BEA pilot on Vanguards sat facing forward in the middle behind the captain and first officer, and was normally a very junior pilot, just out of BEA´s cadet school (Hamble), usually in their early 20s.

If memory correct, BEA eliminated the 3rd pilot on Vanguards in their latter years of service.

Photo of the 3rd BEA Vanguard pilot here, prior to commencement of service..
http://www.flightglobal.com/pdfarchive/view/1963/1963%20-%202224.html


User currently offlineseven3seven From United States of America, joined Apr 2005, 318 posts, RR: 23
Reply 17, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 3737 times:

You'll see this a lot more as a lot of pilots in Europe buy their jobs. Pure supply and demand with no regard to experience.


My views are mine alone and are not that of any of my fellow employees, officers, or directors at my company
User currently offlineB747FE From Hong Kong, joined Jun 2004, 230 posts, RR: 4
Reply 18, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 3725 times:

Quoting 747classic (Reply 11):
In 1979 I was a fully licensed professional F/E at the B747-200 at the age of 24.

You beat me for a year 747classic, I was 25.
All the others were over 60, including my instructor who had 25K hours ONLY in the 747!!

Quoting longhauler (Reply 6):
Seniority allows one the opportunity/chance to be a Captain but skill is required to achieve it.

  

Regards,
B747FE.



"Flying is more than a sport and more than a job; flying is pure passion and desire, which fill a lifetime"
User currently onlinebarney captain From United States of America, joined Nov 2001, 970 posts, RR: 13
Reply 19, posted (1 year 10 months 2 weeks 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 3623 times:

Quoting XFSUgimpLB41X (Reply 15):
Quoting woodreau (Reply 4):

The only thing that matters when determining who flies what in the airline is seniority. Nothing else.

The worst pilot in the world can be a captain of a 777/747/380 solely because he was there long enough and his/her turn came up.

You can be the best pilot in the world and never get past flying a regional jet.






This is absolutely 100% ignorant.

Seniority determines the availability of progression and schedules. The worst pilot in the world won't be flying a 777/747/380 because they won't be able to pass the checkrides. There is a minimum standard to be upheld, and if you make the cut, then you can be a line pilot. Exceptional pilots are offered additional jobs such as instructing and mgmt level positions, so higher pay and better schedules outside of standard seniority progression.

As far as the best pilot in the world and never get past flying an RJ, that is also exceptionally ignorant. Excellent pilots will have stellar records and better jobs will be made available to them over time. Sometimes they might get stuck when things go sour, but over time it will work out if he truly is "the best pilot."

Actually, after 25 years in the US airlines business, I find woodreau's comments to be 100% on target.
I know MANY amazing commuter pilots that have never/will never move on because of circumstance.



...from the Banana Republic....
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