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Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:17 am

I was wondering is it possible to do a roundtrip kind of deal when you are a commercial pilot? When you fly is it common to have to do layovers on a regular basis? Also what are the restrictions on how long you can fly per day? Thanks
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 6:52 am

Senority determines what kind of choice you have for your flights. Every time period crew bid for the flights they want to fly. The most senior pilots get what they want. Some prefer a slower pace and pick flights where they sleep at home in their own bed more often. Some prefer to get all their flying over with in a short period of time and then have the rest of the month off. One of the most senior pilots for one of the top ten airlines lives in the Cayman Islands on a yacht. He basically works it so he maxes his flight time for the month in the last half of month one. Usually in about ten days. So he flies the longest legs possible. The second month he squeezes all his flight time into the first half of the month. This way he works about 10 days of one month and 10 days of the next month or about 20 days. Then he has about 40 days off then starts the cycle all over again. He is about to retire and has been with the airline since he started flying quite young. He deadheads back to the Caymans in between.
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:39 am

The bare basics of part 121 flying are this (they get much more detailed than this but I'm going with KISS here):

8 hours a day
30 flight hours in 7 days
100 hours in a month
1000 hours in a year

PNWTraveler hit the seniority thing on the head. I'm a junior guy, so I'm sitting reserve right now. Basically if somebody calls in sick or is going to go over their time or duty limits I get called to take their trip. One thing that he got a little wrong is the term deadhead. What his buddy is doing is Non-revving to his Island home. When deadheading we are technically on duty and getting paid. In most cases this is because we have a pairing that starts outside of our hub or are repositioning to take over a flight. I do this a lot on reserve.

Trips vary based on what kind of flying you do. I'm a regional guy. Our legs are usually 40 minutes to about 2:15. Typically we'll do anywhere between 3 and 5 legs in a day. Guys and gals flying the larger aircraft with more range might only do one or two legs. My flying is out of the hub and then back in. Typically the last flight of a day will be out to an outstation where we'll stay in a hotel overnight and either us, or another crew flies back into the hub first thing in the morning and the process starts again.
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:41 am

Flight and duty hour maximums are determined by the regulations under which the crew operates. There are daily, weekly, monthly and annual limits for "Domestic" operations. The daily flight hour limit can be different for international or overseas flying depending upon the number of crew-members. Flag and Supplemental carriers also have different limits.

However, layovers are often a scheduling function separate from flight hour limitations. Each airline has scheduling rules on how a trip is constructed to gain efficient use of the aircraft and crews. Pilot and Flight Attendant contracts also come into play.

Ideally, an airline will have a variety of types of trips that will end up being favorable for workers in various circumstances and preferences. Some people like to fly every day and come back home. Others live far from their crew base or starting point and prefer longer multi-day trips with lots of layovers. It's a plus if those layovers actually are places they enjoy and have time during the layover to do something other than eat and sleep at the hotel.

During my career, I have worked for some regional carriers that had no layovers. I have also worked for a charter carrier that would keep me on the road 20 or more days once they got me going.
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 8:43 am

Is there a minimum of hours crews must get a night? Do airlines have their own rules in addition to this?
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Wed Sep 19, 2007 9:16 am

Yes, there are a ton of rest rules. They all depend on how long we're on duty, how long we fly, and how much rest we had the night before. Some companies have rules that are more concervative than the FAA's rules. These are usually set in the pilot union's collective bargaining agreement.

This is the basic gist of it. FAA sets a minimum. Minimum might not always be safe. What an 8 hour rest period will really result in is about 5 hours of sleep by the time you ride to the hotel, check in, wake up, shower and get the shuttle back to the airport. The union is going to want more concervative minimums. The company wants us making as much money as possible which means flying as much as possible.
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:19 am

As far as daily limits its 8 hours between rest if you are flying 121, as a flight instructor its 8 hours, and i have no idea about 135.
Pershoyu Spravoyu Litaki!
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RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Thu Sep 20, 2007 4:48 am

Quoting Sushka (Reply 6):
As far as daily limits its 8 hours between rest if you are flying 121

That's only domestic.
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Joined: Sat Mar 06, 2004 3:34 pm

RE: Commercial Pilot Layovers

Fri Sep 21, 2007 3:51 pm

Quoting Sushka (Reply 6):
As far as daily limits its 8 hours between rest if you are flying 121, as a flight instructor its 8 hours, and i have no idea about 135.

It depends on what kind of 135. My airline is a Part 121 carrier but is allowed to use the 135 duty/time regs (b/c we are in Alaska. Why? I don't know). I believe its the unscheduled 135 rules. Basically we can fly (for a two crew aircraft):

1400 hours maximum per year
10 hours of flying max in 24 hours
14 hours maximum duty per 24 hour period
10 hours minimum rest per 24 hour period

And there is a minimum number of days off per quarter (in the range of 15 days) which I haven't looked at in a while because I've been lucky enough to get much more time off than that. Layovers, we don't do those either, I'm home every night, which is nice because up in these parts, you don't want to stay at an outstation overnight if you like running water...

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