Real Answers from Real Pilots

4 on 4 off schedule

Hello all,

First off I would like to thank everyone for the great advise on this website. Like everyone on here I have a passion for flying. I currently work in the business world and literally only doing so because of my awesome schedule. If it was not for my schedule of working 4 days on and 4 days off I would for sure be doing something else (like being a pilot!). I recently started taking flight lessons here in Green Bay, WI at Pilotsmith and it has been an incredible experience. Although, now I am stuck as to what I should do. I know flying is in my future, but don’t know if I should pursue becoming a commercial pilot now or just wait to get my private license when I retire someday and can afford a smaller plane. I think it would be great to become a pilot IF I can have a 4 on 4 off schedule. Below are my main questions:

  1. Is it possible to get a 4 on 4 off schedule as a pilot or something similar to that?

  2. If so, would it only be possible after gaining seniority?

  3. Do you have to fly a minimum amount of hours monthly? Money is not our main concern as we have saved up over the years and wife also makes good money. Family time is our biggest concern BUT would love to be able to also fly.

  4. Anyone happen to know if Pilotsmith is a good flight school for me to go to? Or does anyone know of a good school in Green Bay or Appleton, WI area that they can recommend?

My background:

I am 29 years old, married, and have a 3 year old daughter. I have my associates degree in “Leadership Development”. If I became a pilot I believe I would be fine staying in regionals if that means easiest way to get the schedule I would be after. My wife works the same schedule as me so we would like to keep that going.

Thanks in advance,

Dustin

Dustin,

Only you can decide if flying should be your career or just a hobby but let’s get to your questions and maybe that’ll help.

1 and 2) EVENTUALLY. As you’re already aware EVERYTHING in aviation, particularly scheduling wise, is based on seniority. As a new pilot you’ll fly when, where and how much the company needs you to. As you gain seniority you gain control over your schedule. So how long will it take to be able to get you 4 on 4 off schedule? There’s simply no way to predict as there are too many factors involved but it won’t be for a while.

  1. Yes. All airlines have min hours you must fly, the average is 75. While that might not sound like much that’s actual flight time and doesn’t count down time between, before and after flight. Also as a new pilot you’ll probably have the minimum days off each month which is usually around 12. Take a look at the schedule section for a better idea. Particularly Tori’s since he’s a relatively new Regional pilot.

  2. I’m not familiar with Pilotsmith but I took a quick look at their website and they seem to be your average local flight school. Local flight schools are usually good at what they do which is training recreational pilots. If you want to be a Commercial pilot you’ll be better served training fulltime at a school designed to train professionals.

Adam

Dustin,

Let’s get to your questions.

  1. It will take you several years to get to a 4 on, 4 off schedule and that can never be guaranteed. Over the course of my career, I have flown many six day trips and done up to twelve days in a row. Airline pilots travel the world and that involves some lengthy blocks of time away from home.

  2. Only after gaining a lot of seniority and probably passing up on the opportunity to fly international routes.

  3. At my airline, the minimum is 70 hours per month, but that will involve at least fifteen days of work, which might be in any combination of days. It is actually hard to fly that few hours as the airlines hire full time employees, not part time.

  4. I have not heard of them, sorry.

While staying at the regionals sounds fine, I think you would really come to regret it when all of your friends are making four times as much as you, flying one flight per day to London, flying huge airplanes and eating first class food. Meanwhile, at the regional you will be flying six flights per day with a short overnight in Albany, packing your lunch and looking up at the bigger airplanes. Don’t get me wrong, I am not knocking the regionals, I just think that you will not be happy with the decision to stay there.

Chris

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