Aspects of the Airline Job

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The Training

Initial flight engineer or first officer training will include a week of company indoctrination training, three to six weeks of ground school and simulator training, and 25 hours of initial operating experience (IOE), which includes a check ride with an FAA check airman. This schedule is standard among all the majors. National and turbojet carriers also will follow this training schedule for their pilots. Once checked out, you will be required to go to recurrent training. The requirement for recurrent training is twice a year for captains and once a year for first officers and flight engineers. The FAA or company check airman can at any time board the airplane unannounced and conduct a check ride.

Training for an upgrade in position on the same aircraft (e.g., B-727 first officer to B-727 captain) consists of four to seven days of ground school and a simulator aircraft checkout with an FAA or company check airman. Requirements for upgrade training in the same position on new aircraft are the same as initial training, including a three- to six-week ground school, simulator, IOE and check ride. The one-week company indoctrination training is not a part of recurrent training.

Those Furloughs



Furloughs usually are the result of a cutback in service by the airline because of an economic downturn or other market factors. Sometimes furloughs are caused by the replacement of many smaller aircraft with fewer larger ones, a fleet change that reduces the total number of pilots required. Furloughed pilots have recall rights. This means that the company must recall any pilots who are on furlough before hiring new pilots. Most pilot contracts stipulate "recall rights" - the maximum number of years you can be on furlough before the company can remove you from the seniority list. Retention ranges from five years to an unlimited number of years, depending upon the airline. Pilots often are recalled even after the recall rights have expired, based on the needs and desires of the company.

Companies without unions may or may not offer furlough rights. The decision of management prevails in these cases. Sometimes pilots are released without recall rights.

Probation

The probationary period for most of the major carriers is from 12 to 15 months. This is the time when the company is allowed to observe you and decide whether or not you are living up to its standards. No statistics are available, but it is estimated that the primary reason for not making it through probation is the inability to work with other crew members. Other reasons given for dismissal are lying on the employment application (hiding flying violations), stealing, drug and alcohol abuse, tardiness, lack of flying proficiency, etc. About 5 percent of newly hired pilots do not make it through probation. As the qualifications of new-hires drop, there tends to be more attrition during the first year due to inability to perform cockpit duties to airline standards.

Domiciles

Companies establish official domiciles or bases for all pilots. Your domicile is the city where your trips will begin and end. The company will expect you to report at a specified time before departure (usually one hour), do a professional job, and represent the company well.

Many airline pilots who handle scheduled flights live in cities other than their official domiciles. Their situation is referred to as "commuting" and is fairly widespread. At the present time, none of the airlines requires that you reside in your domicile; however, pilots who are on reserve usually will find it necessary to live in the same city as their domicile because of the number of days they will spend on call (18-20 days a month). Moreover, commuting for many airline pilots will be impossible during the first six to 12 months because they may not have pass privileges at that point. Finally, the conditions of a pilot's reserve schedule may prevent him or her from living more than an hour away from the airport; this stipulation is to ensure that the pilot can adhere to short-notice trip alerts.
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