dfwjim1
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Joined: Fri Sep 09, 2011 8:46 pm

Chief Pilot Questions

Wed Nov 08, 2017 10:12 pm

I often see references to Chief Pilots in this forum so I have a few questions about the position of Chief Pilot:

1). In general, when a person becomes a Chief Pilot does he/she stay in their pilot's union or do they leave the union and go into management with a fixed salary?

2). Is there much competition for Chief Pilot positions within the airlines?

3). Do Chief Pilots with large airlines (AA, BA, JL...etc) with diversified fleets need to be rated in their fleet's heavy jets?

4). Of course Chief Pilots have to fly X numbers of month so when they do is the person in the right seat usually a captain?

5). Do large international airlines have multiple Chief Pilots that are assigned to different regions of the world?

Thanks for your responses!
 
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Starlionblue
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Joined: Fri Feb 27, 2004 9:54 pm

Re: Chief Pilot Questions

Thu Nov 09, 2017 2:25 am

1. It depends on the company, the person and the specific circumstances. We have management pilots who are in the union and others who are not.
2. Sure. Many pilots have management ambitions. It is a prestigious position and many people enjoy that kind of work or see it as a natural career progression.
3. Like any company type, different airlines are organised in different ways. The chief pilot need not necessarily be on the most "prestigious" fleet at the airline.
4. If it is a normal line flight, the pilot in the right seat would usually be an FO.
5. If different fleets are based in different places, then chief pilots could also be so.
"There are no stupid questions, but there are a lot of inquisitive idiots." - John Ringo
 
Woodreau
Posts: 1441
Joined: Mon Sep 24, 2001 6:44 am

Re: Chief Pilot Questions

Thu Nov 09, 2017 3:49 am

At some airlines, there are some chief pilots who do not have the seniority to be a captain. So becoming a chief pilot automatically upgrades them to the left seat, and grants them the captain salary depending on the contract. But once their seniority allows to them to hold captain, they can usually make more money as a line captain or a check airman for far less work than a management pilot, so they resign from the chief pilot position and go back to flying the line.

From my experience flying with chief pilots, mostly they get the bare minimum 3 landings in 90 days. So they are designated as PIC and act as captain for the flight. Some are still sharp... others... well you watch them like a hawk.

It’s all situational and airline dependent.
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VSMUT
Posts: 1257
Joined: Mon Aug 08, 2016 11:40 am

Re: Chief Pilot Questions

Thu Nov 09, 2017 11:05 am

dfwjim1 wrote:
3). Do Chief Pilots with large airlines (AA, BA, JL...etc) with diversified fleets need to be rated in their fleet's heavy jets?

4). Of course Chief Pilots have to fly X numbers of month so when they do is the person in the right seat usually a captain?


3. I worked at an airline where the chief pilot flew the smallest plane in the fleet, the ATR. The airline had multiple types, up to and including 747s.

4. Depends. If he is qualified as a captain (most likely), then he will be flying from the left seat only. If he is also qualified for the right hand seat, then he can take both seats. Then it just depends who he is paired up with by the rostering department. If he is scheduled to fly with a captain who isn't qualified for the right hand seat, then the chief pilot would have to fly from the F/Os position. If he is paired up with a first officer, then he would naturally fly from the left hand seat.

Woodreau wrote:
At some airlines, there are some chief pilots who do not have the seniority to be a captain. So becoming a chief pilot automatically upgrades them to the left seat, and grants them the captain salary depending on the contract.


That would be in the US though. EASA requires you to receive the training and certification on top of the minimum hours and unfrozen ATPL before you can become a captain.
 
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Web500sjc
Posts: 688
Joined: Tue Sep 15, 2009 4:23 am

Re: Chief Pilot Questions

Thu Nov 09, 2017 5:27 pm

VSMUT wrote:
dfwjim1 wrote:
3). Do Chief Pilots with large airlines (AA, BA, JL...etc) with diversified fleets need to be rated in their fleet's heavy jets?

4). Of course Chief Pilots have to fly X numbers of month so when they do is the person in the right seat usually a captain?


3. I worked at an airline where the chief pilot flew the smallest plane in the fleet, the ATR. The airline had multiple types, up to and including 747s.

4. Depends. If he is qualified as a captain (most likely), then he will be flying from the left seat only. If he is also qualified for the right hand seat, then he can take both seats. Then it just depends who he is paired up with by the rostering department. If he is scheduled to fly with a captain who isn't qualified for the right hand seat, then the chief pilot would have to fly from the F/Os position. If he is paired up with a first officer, then he would naturally fly from the left hand seat.

Woodreau wrote:
At some airlines, there are some chief pilots who do not have the seniority to be a captain. So becoming a chief pilot automatically upgrades them to the left seat, and grants them the captain salary depending on the contract.


That would be in the US though. EASA requires you to receive the training and certification on top of the minimum hours and unfrozen ATPL before you can become a captain.


Generally there are 2 types of chief pilots. The Legal Chief Pilot and the “Base Chief pilot”. The legal chief pilot is the pilot in charge at the company, typicalling working In HQ and in charge of the entire Flight Ops department, dealing with the regulator, etc.. Then each base or region may have additional “Chief pilots” who interact more directly with the pilots and local airport personal. The amount of chief pilots depends on the specific airlines organization and cost structure, for instance Major Airlines may have a dozen Chief pilots in one base, and a small airline may have 1 chief pilot for the entire airline. Generally it is considered improper for a Chief pilot to be an FO, so depending on the recruitment process- the position may only be open to captains, or the company may “upgrade” a FO out order. If the FO doesn’t meet the captain requirements, they wont act as a captain when flying the line- but will be considered a captain everywhere else. Of course selecting an FO as Chief pilot is very rare- and the FAA doesn’t allow a person who hasn’t been a captain at an airline to be the egal Chief pilot who works at HQ.
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