Topic Author
Posts: 223
Joined: Sat Sep 08, 2001 2:05 pm

Airline Captain Question

Sat Feb 23, 2002 9:28 am

There have been a lot of questions regarding airline pilots recently, and here are a few more:

1.When one becomes a captain, will he always be a captain? example-> A United 737 captain wishes to mover over to the 757/767. Will he be the captain or first officer on the new type?

2. If a pilot wants to move to a different plane, can he choose any type he wants, or does he have to move up accordingly?

3. When a new hire is employed at a major airline, do they always start flying the smallest plane in the fleet?

I am not a pilot, I am just curious as to how this stuff works. Thanks.
Posts: 2613
Joined: Sun Jan 30, 2000 8:11 pm

RE: Airline Captain Question

Sat Feb 23, 2002 9:59 am

I am in the UK and so my comments may not (and probably will not) be applicable in other parts of the world.

1. Only if the pilot remains in the same airline. Your position on a seniorty list will determine the number of stripes on your shoulder.

But we have many First Officers on our 757/767 aircraft who have been Captain of a Dash 8 / Fokker 50, even Embrear 145 in the past, with different airlines. That does not qualify them for Captaincy on a 757. In fact many airlines in the UK do not accept direct-entry Captains and so only promote exisiting pilots to 4-bars. Monarch Airlines is an example. If you moved to MON therefore, you would become a First Officer regardless of your present rank or aircraft type.

2. My airline only operates one fleet type (757/767) so this does not apply as all pilots are dual-rated. In BA I think after 5 years or so 737 service a pilot may bid for a fleet change (i.e. go onto longhaul on the 772/744) or opt to stay on the shorthaul 737 fleet and get a promotion to Captain. Financially, there is little difference, but the lifestyle is completely different. Long-term prospects are also better with the widebodies (financially).

3. Not necessarily, in the UK at least. Although generally speaking yes. In the past BA have taken several cadet pilots (sponsored with no airline experience) straight onto the 757 after training (therefore bypassing the 737 and A320 fleets in aircraft size). It all depends where they need pilots, but they will try to aim for the smaller types.

Hope this was of some interest.
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
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Joined: Thu Jun 28, 2001 5:50 am

RE: Airline Captain Question

Sat Feb 23, 2002 10:09 am

I ahve a friend who is a captain for NWAirlink, He stayed a captain with the Saab until his senority was high enough to switch over to CRJ as a Captain. So at Airlink and most US airlines moving is totally based on senority. However I'm sure pilots will correct me if I'm wrong.
A little less Hooah, and a little more Dooah.
Max Q
Posts: 5902
Joined: Wed May 09, 2001 12:40 pm

RE: Airline Captain Question

Sat Feb 23, 2002 11:08 am

Generally, once a Captain always a Captain, due to the seniority system your first left seat is usually in the smallest and lowest paying aircraft.

As positions on larger and better paying aircraft become available, seniority permitting he can move up to these as a Captain unless for some reason he might decide to forgo the left seat in order to fly as a senior First officer on a widebody with a much better schedule.

in the event of cutbacks he might have to move back to the right seat.Seniority is everything including the initial Captains seat which only becomes available when you have accumulated enough.

The best contribution to safety is a competent Pilot.
Posts: 1502
Joined: Tue Feb 12, 2002 8:27 am

RE: Airline Captain Question

Sat Feb 23, 2002 2:06 pm

With the seniority system, you can wait to bid Captain on a large aircraft or jump at the first opportunity(which may or may not be the smallest aircraft in the fleet). A spot on the MD80 may open up before the F100--although not a normal situation. You may delay upgrading to get a better base. The New York area is genarally junior for most airlines. SFO is(or was) pretty junior for UAL. MIA is junior for AA.

It's a money vs. quality of life issue. A friend bid back voluntarily from F100 CA to MD11 F/O a few years ago. He took a pay cut but he works 9 days a month versus 15 or more for narrow body CA.

The seniority system lets you choose.TC
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