KAUST
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Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:20 am

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
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mdl412
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:23 am

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.
 
burnsie28
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:27 am

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.
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:28 am

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." - John Ringo
 
ScooterTrash
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:31 am

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
 
moman
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:37 am

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
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PhilSquares
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:48 am

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.

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ScooterTrash
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:48 am

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
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:57 am

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." - John Ringo
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:59 am

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]
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ScooterTrash
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 12:02 pm

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
 
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Starlionblue
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 12:05 pm

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." - John Ringo
 
XFSUgimpLB41X
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 12:12 pm

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.
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KAUST
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 12:44 pm

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
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longhauler
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 9:46 pm

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".
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wing
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 16, 2004 11:44 pm

"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

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TS-IOR
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 1:28 am


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 !!!

 
Rick767
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 2:36 am

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
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SlamClick
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 7:11 am

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.

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cancidas
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Aug 17, 2004 10:58 am

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!"
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beechnut
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Thu Aug 19, 2004 12:48 am

"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
 
AAR90
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Thu Aug 19, 2004 3:53 am

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
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Rick767
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Thu Aug 19, 2004 8:41 pm

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
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Hirnie
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:21 am

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.
 
N766UA
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Fri Aug 20, 2004 10:39 am

How do you decide? Two words: The captain.
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Rick767
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Fri Aug 20, 2004 9:12 pm

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 at the halfway point, so say the First Officer might be PF for Takeoff, Climb and Cruise then halfway across the Atlantic we could swap and the Captain would then be PF for the rest of the cruise, descent and landing.

Quite a nice way of doing it, as we often went out to the Caribbean for 4-7 days stopover so with only two flights (outbound and return) in one week it was nice to get a bit of hands on flying on each sector.

Some Captains also like the idea of swapping between PF / PNF during the cruise on long sectors (say each hour or so). This relieves boredom to some extent as you are swapping between monitoring the systems and the flying, and keeps you sharper in my opinion to subtle problems occurring, you can spot them earlier because you are not bored of what you are monitoring.

Would be interested to hear if any other guys here have used these techniques before and what they thought of them?
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
 
ba299
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Sat Aug 21, 2004 5:19 pm

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 you prefer. And I always ask for the landing in the American airport.
 
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Bruce
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:08 pm

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
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Rick767
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Mon Aug 23, 2004 3:40 pm

"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 the right seat and the Captain stays in the left seat. Also, the First Officer is not "in command" just because he is PF, the Captain retains overall command of the flight, and overall responsibility for the safe operation of the aircraft.

Exceptions would be longhaul flights where additional crewmembers are required to cover as relief pilots, and a First Officer may occupy the Captain's seat while he is on a rest period during the cruise (otherwise known as APIC, or Acting Pilot In Command).
I used to love the smell of Jet-A in the morning...
 
captain777
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Aug 24, 2004 1:48 am

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 left turns of the rudder whilst the pilot on the right controlles the right wing, right elvators and the right turns of the rudder  Big grin Just Kidding  Smile



Captain777
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10mid
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Thu Sep 09, 2004 9:18 am

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 get to fly into an outstation as well as a hub.

Sometimes, special circumstances may change the order. For example, on my last trip, I had my wife and son flying with me for the first time, so I asked the captain if I could fly the leg and he let me. Then on another leg which was supposed to be mine, he asked to fly it since we were going into his hometown.
 
SlamClick
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Thu Sep 09, 2004 11:10 am

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 be unable to fly from the other. Thus we have "seat-dependant task training." The concept is simple. A person with the education, maturity, training and experience to be an airline captain could never possibly figure out for him. . . (okay, or her. . .) self that you have to grab the gear handle with the LEFT hand from the RIGHT seat.

Many years ago (shortly after the airplane was invented) I was flying a DC-3 with a guy who looked like he'd come down the line at Santa Monica with the airplane. He was really old. About four years younger than I am now! And he flew all morning and let me fly all afternoon. We were both captains, but he was the chief pilot. The reason he let me fly the afternoon flights was because he slept all afternoon, over in the right seat, like an old dog sleeping in the sun.

I so badly wanted to "test" the firebell to wake him up but he was pretty big and probably would have beaten the crap out of me.


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Av8trxx
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RE: Pilot/Co-pilot...how Do You Decide Who Flies?

Tue Sep 14, 2004 9:34 am

With my Captains, who flies first is usually determined by whomever really wants to or a game of Rock-Paper-Scissors  Smile/happy/getting dizzy

After that we usually trade legs at the outstations (as every trip goes out then back to LAX). This way we get landings at different airports instead of one person gets all the LAX landings.

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