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Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?  
User currently offlineKAUST From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 99 posts, RR: 25
Posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7813 times:

Okay on an airplane requiring a two-person flight crew, how do you decide who flies on any particular mission, and what does the other person do? I have heard only one does the actual "flying", or am I misunderstood?

Thanks in advance!
KAUST


"Houston, this is Apollo 8. We are now in Lunar orbit."
32 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineMDL412 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 53 posts, RR: 0
Reply 1, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7773 times:

From what I understand, in times of normal operation, one pilot (either Captain or FO) flies the plane and the other handles the radios/comm/etc. How they pick who? That I do not know, coin maybe  Big grin.

User currently offlineBurnsie28 From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 7557 posts, RR: 8
Reply 2, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7766 times:

my dad usually asks the FO what he wants to do, then if my dad flies say DTW-CMH, then the FO will fly the CMH-DTW flight.


"Some People Just Know How To Fly"- Best slogan ever, RIP NW 1926-2009
User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17075 posts, RR: 66
Reply 3, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7759 times:

It depends very much on airline and so on.

On shorter routes where the crew flies two or more legs together, they usually alternate. One pilot is pilot in command for every other leg and runs the comms plus assists with flaps and checklists when he or she is not PIC..

On longer flights, especially with relief crews, it's normally more complicated. There are long haul crewmembers that only land the plane every month or so.

However, all pilots must have a certain number of hours and landings as PIC in order to maintain proficiency.



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineScootertrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 569 posts, RR: 9
Reply 4, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7749 times:

Everyone is doing something up front...

In two person cockpit, there is a Pilot Flying (PF) and a Pilot Monitoring (PM). The terms may change from company to company, but the idea is the same:

PF: This person "drives the bus" and that is it. He/She devotes all of there attention to managing the airplanes flight path, vertically and horizontally.

PM: This person acts as backup for the PF by monitoring the flight instruments and associated systems status indications. PM is also responsible for completing most checklists (as called for by PF), working the radios, etc. During an emergency, the PM's job may actually be busier than that of the PF.

As far as deciding who flies on a particular leg, that is the Captain's discretion. At my company, we typically split the flying up 50/50. If the autopilot is inop, the First Officer does most of the flying (really!).

Scooter


User currently offlineMoman From United States of America, joined Aug 2004, 1054 posts, RR: 4
Reply 5, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7728 times:

Scootertrash,

How often is the autopilot INOP? Are the jets quite hard to fly without A/P and does it get old?

When I go flying, I refuse to use autopilot, but that's because I'm renting the plane, not being paid to fly =).

Moman



AA Platinum Member - American Airlines Forever
User currently offlinePhilsquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 6, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7705 times:

At my airline (SQ), we generally split the flying 50/50. On longhaul flights there is a "command crew" and it's really up to the Captain of that crew to decide if he wants the leg or if he's going to give it to the F/O.

Someone posted that there are hours required for currency, not so. It's all based on takeoffs and landings.

Also, every airline I have been associated with has their own Standard Operating Procedures (SOP). These detail what the operating pilot (PF) and the Non Flying Pilot (PNF) responsibilities are. Believe me there is no confusion as to what is expected out of each. For me it's a great thing, you know everyone is going to do the exact same thing.



User currently offlineScootertrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 569 posts, RR: 9
Reply 7, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7696 times:

The A/P isn't inop all that often. But when it is, it always seems to be a crummy weather day with lots of bumps. The last time it happened to me, both the A/P and flight director where inop. That day I did 3 ILS and 1 LDA/DME approaches to minimums. Go figure.

I can't address your question regarding the difficulty of flying a jet with no A/P at cruise. I fly Dash 8's. My buds on the jets say it sucks. The Dash flies just fine, but by your fourth leg of the day it gets pretty fatiguing, especially if the weather is bad.

I understand your hesitation to use the A/P. I do this stuff all the time and I don't use it for many approaches. I have a funny paranoia about keeping my skills sharp.

Scooter


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17075 posts, RR: 66
Reply 8, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7686 times:

The autopilot refused to engage on a SAS 737NG flight ARN-MMX once, and we had to turn back. Apparently MMX didn't have any personnel that could fix it. IMHO a tech could just have driven from CPH, but nooooo  Big grin When I talked to the pilots afterward they said a unit had been replaced and they'd missed a step when initializing it. It could only be reset on the ground. Took a techie all of 3 minutes to fix it.

Philsquares, I stand corrected about the hours. Thx for the info.


Scootertrash: If you are doing a very low viz approach, it's my understanding some operators require autoland to be used. Since this obviously requires both autopilots (for example on the 737) to be operative, how are you allowed to dispatch with inop autopilot?



"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4218 posts, RR: 37
Reply 9, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7670 times:

I've had the autopilot differed a couple times. They are pretty twitchy once you get up into the upper 20's/30's because of very high true airspeeds....It's more just tedious and a pain in the arse than anything..especially once those galley carts start moving, haha. You get it all trimmed up finally (though its still wiggly) and then she starts moving again. Instantaneous 100-300 fpm climb. Arm gets kinda tired after an hour or so.

Anyhoo... what scootertrash said is right....except at our airline we refer to the to guys as "Pilot flying (PF)" and "Pilot Not Flying (PNF)"

When the autopilot is off, the PF stick flies the airplane and not much else.
When the autopilot is on, the PF controls the flight guidance panel.

When the autopilot is off.. the PNF works the radios, works the flight guidance panel, and works the FMS.
When the autopilot is on...the PNF works the radios, controls the altitude select knob, and typically works the FMS..thought it goes both ways.



As far as who's flying... its more of "hey, what did you do last trip..outs? ok.. ill take hte outs, you get the backs." Then you alternate from there on each trip. One trip the FO takes the outs, the next the FO takes the backs. It's pretty laid back.

Starlionblue- actually the FO is always considered the SIC...I have no PIC landings in the CRJ until I upgrade to captain next march or so.  Smile But we do have to maintain at least 3 landings every 90 days (doesnt matter if they are day or night)... certainly not a problem in the CRJ. With up to 7 legs a day...haha.

edited because I can't type worth crap.

[Edited 2004-08-16 05:03:11]


Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineScootertrash From United States of America, joined Aug 2001, 569 posts, RR: 9
Reply 10, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7657 times:

Starlionblue:

At some airlines on some pieces of equipment this is true. Like I said, I fly a Dash 8. Our autopilot can be completely inoperative and we suffer no changes to how we operate. Of course, we are limited to CAT I minimums all the time anyway... Typically visibilities no less than 1800 RVR for landing.

Scooter


User currently offlineStarlionblue From Greenland, joined Feb 2004, 17075 posts, RR: 66
Reply 11, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 11 hours ago) and read 7649 times:

Scootertrash, thx for your info. As you say, I have never heard of regulations prohibiting manual approaches for Cat 1 or better weather. This was more like Cat II/III.


"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots."
User currently offlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4218 posts, RR: 37
Reply 12, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 7637 times:

Somewhat useless tidbit of info:

Horizon has HUD's in all their Dash's and CRJ's...they hand fly CAT II/III approaches. Pretty dang neat!

I personally barely trust the CRJ autopilot flying ILS's..its too wiggly and flies them pretty sloppy. I always handfly them...no biggie..it's more fun that way anyways..good to keep the stick and rudder skills nice and sharp.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineKAUST From United States of America, joined Jun 2009, 99 posts, RR: 25
Reply 13, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 10 hours ago) and read 7574 times:

Thanks for the responses everyone!
So, slightly related follow-up question, at what point does an aircraft go from needing a single to needing two pilots? I have heard of some corporate jet aircraft being flown by one person, but they usually need two?

KAUST



"Houston, this is Apollo 8. We are now in Lunar orbit."
User currently offlineLongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 5061 posts, RR: 43
Reply 14, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 3 days 1 hour ago) and read 7352 times:

I always let my F/O pick the legs he wishes to fly, as when I was an F/O, I was never offered the choice. In these times of CRM, I think it is a nice gesture.

From there, the flying usually alternates, or is split in half.

There are however, operational reasons and circumstances when the Captain must be the 'pilot flying' on certain legs. Usually they are weather related, or airport related, as some of our destinations are designated "captain only".



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineWing From Turkey, joined Oct 2000, 1573 posts, RR: 24
Reply 15, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 23 hours ago) and read 7192 times:

"I always let my F/O pick the legs he wishes to fly, as when I was an F/O, I was never offered the choice. In these times of CRM, I think it is a nice gesture."

This is my motto too.As a FO I fly with a lot of different captains from different origins, some(most) are very polite but sometimes you stuck next to some "old guys" who can turn 11 hour duty to a trip from hell.Anytime after flying one of these captains I say to myself I will not act the same way to my FO's when I upgrade to captain.But there are people I know changed drastically from "Mr nice guy FO" to "monster captain" when upgraded. You totally earned my respect with your words.  Big thumbs up Welcome to my RR list.Regards.WING




Widen your world
User currently offlineTs-ior From Tunisia, joined Oct 2001, 3488 posts, RR: 6
Reply 16, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 21 hours ago) and read 7093 times:


In general, gray-haired captains who started on DC-4s and 707s are less confidant in the CRM methods and want to be the master of all the situation, and they would fly manually if they had the choice !!! Anyway...the experience of those old avaitors is GREAT. I remember having watched a documentary on aviation in Africa and there was a British pilot who left brand new acfts and highly equipped airports to fly risky-old airplanes, Hercules C-130 and B727s landing in dusty runways !!! Aviation drives crazy !!!



User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 51
Reply 17, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 20 hours ago) and read 7035 times:

In my experience as a First Officer for nearly 5 years, 90% of the time the Captain has always asked me which sector I would like to fly.

There are obviously sensible circumstances in which it is preferable for the Captain to have the final say and fly a sector himself without asking for your preference, for example during very poor weather, or perhaps when an inexperienced first officer is flying to a slightly challenging airport for the first time.

I am a firm believer that in these situations the maximum exposure to a new route / airport is realised by being PNF for the sector.

I also often find that a Captains preference for a sector will be based on him not having to do the walkaround in the rain!

I must admit I will probably employ that tactic when I upgrade to the left seat myself!  Big grin



I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 18, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 15 hours ago) and read 6926 times:

It may be pretty common for the captain to start out, then they alternate. Problem is, with hub-and-spoke operations it works out that the first officer makes all the landings at the hubs and the captain makes all the landings at the outstations. This is because virtually every other landing is at a hub.

At one well-known US airline (small hint there) the f/o's will make nearly all their landings at one of the three hubs and the captains will make nearly all of theirs at the outstations.




Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineCancidas From Poland, joined Jul 2003, 4112 posts, RR: 11
Reply 19, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 days 12 hours ago) and read 6859 times:

usually, the guy in the left seat flies. at least that's the way it is when i'm in the left seat. when i'm sitting in the right i'm looking for any excuse to scream "my airplane!"


"...cannot the kingdom of salvation take me home."
User currently offlineBeechNut From Canada, joined Apr 2004, 726 posts, RR: 10
Reply 20, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 22 hours ago) and read 6660 times:

"One pilot is pilot in command for every other leg and runs the comms plus assists with flaps and checklists when he or she is not PIC.."

Umm, actually, one pilot is in command for ALL legs. Don't confuse pilot flying (PF) with "pilot-in-command" (PIC). The PIC is the PIC no matter who's actually flying the leg, and is the final authority for the safety of the flight.

Mike


User currently offlineAAR90 From United States of America, joined Jan 2000, 3477 posts, RR: 46
Reply 21, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 19 hours ago) and read 6624 times:

In my experience as a First Officer for nearly 5 years, 90% of the time the Captain has always asked me which sector I would like to fly.

I must really be aged, but when I was FO virtually all my Capt's took the first leg of a trip without comment. We then alternated each leg. OTOH, I normally ask my FO which leg(s) they would like to fly.

There are obviously sensible circumstances in which it is preferable for the Captain to have the final say and fly a sector himself without asking for your preference, for example during very poor weather, or perhaps when an inexperienced first officer is flying to a slightly challenging airport for the first time.

Having been flying only red-eyes for the last 9 months my FO question has changed to "did you get a nap and if so, how long?" The most rested pilot then flys the first leg.  Wink/being sarcastic My last trip was my FO's first trip after completing IOE and before I could say anything he asked me if I would fly the first leg...not yet confident with himself.  Big grin



*NO CARRIER* -- A Naval Aviator's worst nightmare!
User currently offlineRick767 From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2000, 2662 posts, RR: 51
Reply 22, posted (10 years 2 months 2 weeks 2 hours ago) and read 6468 times:

I remember my first Line Training flight on the 757 2 days after a few laps of the circuit at EMA. I was most surprised when the Training Captain asked me which leg I wanted to fly, I chose the first as I didn't fancy landing back into MAN after 10 hours duty, but as my luck would have it he was operating the return sector and decided to give me the landing on that one too!

Absolutely terrifying, but sometimes the best way to get confident is just to dive in head first

They weren't bad landings either, if I do say so myself. Big grin



I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
User currently offlineHirnie From Germany, joined May 2004, 595 posts, RR: 0
Reply 23, posted (10 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 13 hours ago) and read 6310 times:

starlionblue,
I think in your first statement you mixed something up. The PIC(Pilot In Command) is always the Captain. He is the "Commander" and therefore responsible for the aircraft. What you described is the Pilot Flying (PF), I think. Perhaps you meant this but just took the wrong phrase...

I don`t know how the airlines handle who flies which leg.
LH crews split it 50/50. I heard that on longhaul out of Frankfurt most often the captain takes the first leg and the FO does the return flight, but this is no rule.


User currently offlineN766UA From United States of America, joined Jul 1999, 8314 posts, RR: 23
Reply 24, posted (10 years 2 months 1 week 6 days 12 hours ago) and read 6289 times:

How do you decide? Two words: The captain.


This Website Censors Me
25 Rick767 : Another aspect which springs to mind regarding this topic is longhaul flights. When I flew the 767 longhaul what we sometimes did was split the duty a
26 Ba299 : In mine longhaul flights we swap quite often at the halfway point of the flight and I think that it's great. Normally the captain always ask which leg
27 Bruce : So when you swap positions do you actually swap seats? F/O moves to the Left Seat when he is going to be in command? bruce
28 Rick767 : "So when you swap positions do you actually swap seats? F/O moves to the Left Seat when he is going to be in command?" No, the First Officer stays in
29 Post contains images Captain777 : well all of the answers above are wrong the real answer is that the pilot on the left hand of the plane controlles the left wing, left elvators and le
30 10MID : At my company, traditionally the captain flies the first leg and then we switch at the outstations, flying 2 legs each. This ensures that both of us g
31 SlamClick : FYI switching seats is unlikely in the extreme, in the USA. Somewhere along the line the FAA decided that a person used to flying from one seat would
32 Post contains images Av8trxx : With my Captains, who flies first is usually determined by whomever really wants to or a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors After that we usually trade legs
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