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Chief Pilot - A Day In The Life Of...  
User currently offlineKpc777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 12 posts, RR: 0
Posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 5634 times:

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Hello,

I very rarely post and this may be my first "New Topic" (longtime lurker). I did a search and didn't see anything about this topic. I woke up this morning thinking about the role of a chief pilot (I think way too much about airplanes) at a large airline, i.e legacy carrier. Through all my reading on this site and blogs from pilots, I've been able to get a little information. I do understand a chief pilot would deal with personnel actions/issues. I hope you don't mind me asking some general questions and I do understand roles would be different at various airlines.

1. At a large airline, how many chief pilots would there be? Would it be a single person that would have "support" chief pilots through out hubs or regions?
2. Do they still fly to maintain currency?
3. Other than personnel issues, what are other duties would they be involved with.
4. I assume they have been with the airline a very long time to be in the position. Hypothetical, if I flew for United for 20+years, why would I want to be a Chief Pilot? I know that is a very subjective questions, just curious about the career path.

I only ask the questions for my own curiosity. Thanks for taking the time to look at this.

10 replies: All unread, jump to last
 
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17118 posts, RR: 66
Reply 1, posted (1 year 6 months 1 week 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 5514 times:

Quoting Kpc777 (Thread starter):
1. At a large airline, how many chief pilots would there be? Would it be a single person that would have "support" chief pilots through out hubs or regions?
2. Do they still fly to maintain currency?
3. Other than personnel issues, what are other duties would they be involved with.
4. I assume they have been with the airline a very long time to be in the position. Hypothetical, if I flew for United for 20+years, why would I want to be a Chief Pilot? I know that is a very subjective questions, just curious about the career path.

1. It varies. However at a large airline you would might have one overall chief and one chief per fleet. You might also have one training manager and one training manager per fleet.

2. Yes they must maintain currency. Ironically, they will do line checks with a subordinate as the check captain.

3. Paperwork! Talking to the union and management comes to mind.

4. It depends. Some people want to have management pilot jobs, others avoid it like the plague. Depends what type of person you are.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineKingFriday013 From United States of America, joined May 2007, 1303 posts, RR: 10
Reply 2, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 15 hours ago) and read 4859 times:

I'm actually finishing up an internship in one of the chief pilots offices of a major US airline. I don't know too many of the specifics, but I hope I can shed at least a little bit of light on what really happens down there  

Quoting Kpc777 (Thread starter):
1. At a large airline, how many chief pilots would there be? Would it be a single person that would have "support" chief pilots through out hubs or regions?

At my airline, there are Chief Pilots and Flight Ops Managers (FOMs; first officers actually fill this position); the offices have at least a chief pilot and can have more chief pilots and/or FOMs. Each pilot base has an office. Now, at each office, there might not be a chief pilot or FOM for every type that's operated out of that base. For instance, my airport has 737s, 757/767s, and A319/320s, but we currently have two 767ER chief pilots (neither of whom are actually based here! They fly out of a base in our region, though). In the past, there was a chief pilot and a 757/767 FOM in my office; that pilot occasionally fills in when we run low on staff.

Quoting Kpc777 (Thread starter):
2. Do they still fly to maintain currency?

Yes. I've noticed the two I work with often go to HNL, occasionally Asia, and recently one of them swapped with another pilot and flew to Paris.

Quoting Kpc777 (Thread starter):
3. Other than personnel issues, what are other duties would they be involved with.

As Starlionblue mentioned, paperwork -- and lots of it! They sort out crew issues, answer questions and accept feedback regarding procedures and incidents, and also talk to those few pilots who occasionally, umm, miss the mark   They do a lot of coordinating with operations in the airport itself, the tower, and so on. Once in a while, they even cook!

Quoting Kpc777 (Thread starter):
4. I assume they have been with the airline a very long time to be in the position. Hypothetical, if I flew for United for 20+years, why would I want to be a Chief Pilot? I know that is a very subjective questions, just curious about the career path.

It's much more of an office job, which means that you really do get to go home to your family every night. There's also the pay increase, the administrative assistant, etc. It's a big change from flying around all the time. You're not a chief pilot forever though -- it's a 3-year gig here.

-J.



Tho' I've belted you an' flayed you, By the livin' Gawd that made you, You're a better man than I am, Gunga Din!
User currently offlineSXDFC From United States of America, joined Dec 2007, 2425 posts, RR: 22
Reply 3, posted (1 year 6 months 5 days 13 hours ago) and read 4793 times:

I shadowed the Cheif Pilot of MCO back in November 2011, and it was pretty neat getting an insight as to what his responsibilities are, along with the fact it was nice to see something different than the Ramp! The guy I shadowed flew Florida One on her maiden voyage around Florida back in April 2010..


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User currently offlineKpc777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 4, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 5 hours ago) and read 4498 times:

Thank you everyone for the posts and explanations. It's very insightful and I appreciate it.

User currently onlinePihero From France, joined Jan 2005, 4633 posts, RR: 77
Reply 5, posted (1 year 6 months 4 days 4 hours ago) and read 4491 times:
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Titles aside, the organisation is , in general as follows :

1/- The VP OPS, to whom reports
2/- For each fleet type, one chief pilot who supervises, works with...
A/- The chief training captain and his - her - cohort of IRE/TREs
B/- The fleet safety officer
C/- The OCC executive pilot for everyday occurrences,
D/- The fleet technical officers, in charge of liaising with the manufacturer / the Maintenance manager (s), treating bulletins, ADs ...etc...
E/- a non flying fleet administrator, in charge of the paperwork and liaison with the different services of the airline (Law, programs, rostering, ATC, passenger services...)
From the above, it is quite obvious that there is an endless series of meetings with all these services, including hearing SOPs transgressions (with the union representatives).
Finally, that job includes being part of the emergency commitee.

They don't fly a lot, being quite busy with all these functions.

It really is a thankless job. Beats me to see that many pilots still want it.  



Contrail designer
User currently offlineKpc777 From United States of America, joined Jun 2012, 12 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (1 year 6 months 3 days 4 hours ago) and read 4268 times:

Pihero,

Thanks for the reply; that's exactly what I was interested in. I was kind of hoping you might post in this thread  .


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20244 posts, RR: 59
Reply 7, posted (1 year 6 months 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 4123 times:

Quoting KingFriday013 (Reply 2):
It's much more of an office job, which means that you really do get to go home to your family every night. There's also the pay increase, the administrative assistant, etc. It's a big change from flying around all the time. You're not a chief pilot forever though -- it's a 3-year gig here.

Interesting. How does one get the job? Is it competitive? What factors into the decision of who the next chief pilot is? Who makes that decision?


User currently offlineClaybird From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 5 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (1 year 5 months 4 weeks 21 hours ago) and read 3653 times:

Typical skills:

For Part 121 or 135 operators the FAA mandates:

To serve as Chief Pilot under Sec. 119.65(a) a person must hold an airline transport pilot certificate with appropriate ratings for at least one of the airplanes used in the certificate holder's operation and:
(1) In the case of a person becoming a Chief Pilot for the first time ever, have at least 3 years experience, within the past 6 years, as pilot in command of a large airplane operated under part 121 or part 135 of this chapter, if the certificate holder operates large airplanes. If the certificate holder uses only small airplanes in its operation, the experience may be obtained in either large or small airplanes.
(2) In the case of a person with previous experience as a Chief Pilot, have at least 3 years experience, as pilot in command of a large airplane operated under part 121 or part 135 of this chapter, if the certificate holder operates large airplanes. If the certificate holder uses only small airplanes in its operation, the experience may be obtained in either large or small airplanes.

Also required (the real deal):

- networking (buddies with the Director of Flight Operations, the VP of Flight Operations or similar with many other key players)
- pro-management approach
- 'political' skills (i.e. know how to look after yourself and your interests)


User currently offlineDocLightning From United States of America, joined Nov 2005, 20244 posts, RR: 59
Reply 9, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 18 hours ago) and read 3336 times:

Quoting Claybird (Reply 8):
Also required (the real deal):

- networking (buddies with the Director of Flight Operations, the VP of Flight Operations or similar with many other key players)
- pro-management approach
- 'political' skills (i.e. know how to look after yourself and your interests)

Well, I figured that much but I guess my question was more:
Does the airline publish that the position is open and invite applications from all qualified applicants, or is Captain Jones specifically invited by Management to take the position? Or does it vary based on airline?


User currently offlineClaybird From United States of America, joined Jun 2013, 5 posts, RR: 0
Reply 10, posted (1 year 5 months 3 weeks 5 days 17 hours ago) and read 3320 times:

As stated above by other users, there isn't one chief pilot, there's many and the structure varies from carrier to carrier.

One example might be like this (there's other examples in this thread, more or less similar):

- Upper management (senior VP, Flight OPS, VP Flight OPS)
- Flight operations leadership: Managing Directors in various departments (training, flight testing, flight standards, etc) and one systems chief pilot
- Flight operations (sub) division with chief pilots for each area/domicile.

The positions are advertised internally, of course, but they're not TOO competitive because they are considered management-related positions. Each airline has its own processes. But applicants are considered based on seniority for sure, but as I said, internal politics play a role too.


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