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PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 3:21 am
by thewizbizman
When an airline schedules two captains to fly a route, does crew scheduling determine a PIC? If so how do they determine this? If not, how is PIC determined and at what point? If PIC is dictated by crew scheduling, can the crew change the PIC prior to, or on the day of the trip?

Thanks.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 3:28 am
by Starlionblue
Well, there's a commander on the flight plan, so I guess that's your answer.

No idea how they determine it. ;)

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 5:25 am
by Woodreau
Most airlines, captains are not qualified to operate as FO unless they also have a right seat qualification.

Check airmen have a right seat qualification so can operate in the captain seat or the first officer seat.

If the check airman is conducting training with a captain, then the check airman is the PIC even though he is sitting in the first officer seat.

The one airline where I worked that qualified captains in the right seat, the captain with the lowest seniority number (i.e. the senior captain) decided who was PIC and let dispatch/scheduling know so that his or her name would be on the dispatch release as PIC. If he wanted to he could change it before every flight. The airline didn’t care who was PIC only that there were two bodies to operate the flight.

So it depends on the airline and the pilot contract as is everything in aviation.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 12:11 pm
by zeke
thewizbizman wrote:
When an airline schedules two captains to fly a route, does crew scheduling determine a PIC? If so how do they determine this?


The operator always assigns the PIC, in the case of a commercial operator it’s the airline or charter operator, in the case of a private aircraft it is the owner.

They can use whatever means they want to choose the PIC.

thewizbizman wrote:
If PIC is dictated by crew scheduling, can the crew change the PIC prior to, or on the day of the trip?


Generally no, I have heard however of some airlines on ultra long haul flights having a takeoff crew and a landing crew. This would be documented by the airline as assigned as such by scheduling.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 7:55 pm
by thewizbizman
Thanks for the responses guys! Follow up, on long-haul multiple-crew flights, what is the procedures for handling unexpected/emergency situations while the PIC/commander is in rest?

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 9:52 pm
by FlyHossD
thewizbizman wrote:
Thanks for the responses guys! Follow up, on long-haul multiple-crew flights, what is the procedures for handling unexpected/emergency situations while the PIC/commander is in rest?


In emergencies, the pilots on the flight deck will notify the captain/PIC. IIRC, the captain in the infamous AF447 accident was on his rest period when the event began and he entered the cockpit to find it in chaos.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sat Mar 20, 2021 10:32 pm
by T18
As a former crew scheduler, I can answer how we did it and oddly it was pretty simple. If two Pilots who were qual for both seats flew together the most senior got the Left seat, unless they specifically called with the other pilot to request a seat swap. That said it was rare to have either two CQFOs or two CA that were right seat current. I do think my current carrier keeps all pilots current for both seats as able and the seniority rule applies if, both are bid as CA, if they are bid as FO they fly as FO unless once again the CA initiates a seat swap.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 1:56 am
by Starlionblue
thewizbizman wrote:
Thanks for the responses guys! Follow up, on long-haul multiple-crew flights, what is the procedures for handling unexpected/emergency situations while the PIC/commander is in rest?


If there is a situation that warrants the commander's attention, he/she is simply notified. However, the relief qualified* first officer is expected to make any necessary decisions up until the captain arrives.

Few situations in the cruise require a very fast response, or more than the first "tactical" actions, before the captain arrives. Say you have an engine failure. A drift-down would be initiated but in most cases, a diversion decision can easily wait a few minutes for the captain to arrive.

Most unexpected events are simply handled by the guys in the seat. This could be anything from a re-routing to a system reset. Anything out of the ordinary would be included in the handover brief when the captain returns from rest.

One of the few situations in the cruise that require prompt action is rapid depressurization. But any pilot is expected to handle that, even solo.


* At my operator, first officers train and are checked out for "relief qualification" after a few years in rank. They can then be "in charge" of another FO or a SO ("cruise pilot") while the captain rests.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 2:45 pm
by CosmicCruiser
We had an unusual situation sometimes where two trips would arrive one city and then both crews would depart on one jet for a 12+ hr leg. In this case the senior capt was PIC.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 6:22 pm
by dfwjim1
Last year I flew from Campinas, Brazil to Fort Lauderdale on Azul and the three pilots were all captains.

Re: PIC Swap With Two Captains?

Posted: Sun Mar 21, 2021 8:24 pm
by VMCA787
When I was at SQ, the flight plan had the PIC annotated. The FOM had miles and miles of text regarding this and basically, the PIC crew did the takeoff and landing. How you took the rest was up to you but if the other crew needed the takeoff/landing a very quick call to crew skeds did the trick.