Real Answers from Real Pilots

Captain Upgrade

Hello Mentors,

Happy Tuesday! I believe I’ve read somewhere that Adam is going to do the captain upgrade soon? Could you guys share what the upgrade process involves, what type of new training/material you’ll learn, will you have to rebuild seniority as a captain as opposed to FO, can you pick a new base, etc. Thank you!

Sharon

Sharon,

The upgrade process mostly involves learning to fly the airplane from the left seat, with an emphasis on decision making and team building. First Officers at most airlines are already fully qualified in the airplane, so it is really just a matter of switching seats.

No matter what airplane or seat you go to, you always carry your system seniority with you. Now, that system seniority carries a lot more weight on the FO side than it does on the captain side, so most pilots take a hit in their relative seniority when they upgrade. Some pilots chose to wait until they can be rather senior captains to upgrade, some do it at the first possible opportunity.

Pilots can bid for new bases anytime there is a system bid, which is several times per year at my airlines. Of course, there has to be an open position to bid for.

Chris

Thank you Chris! Would you have to sit in classes for a certain amount of time before you can fly from the left seat? Do you get a pretty significant compensation raise from FO?

The classes are more in the simulator and in the associated briefings, at my airline there is not a lot of traditional classroom time.

Upgrading to captain is roughly a 30% pay increase.

Sharon,

I’m actually starting my upgrade training today (Very excited). In my case this is a little unusual because I had flown the 717 and already have my Type rating in it (basically saying I can operate the airplane as a Capt) BUT I’ve been flying the A330 for the last 2yrs. There are basically 3 types of upgrade at my airline. The full course for someone who’s never flown that particular plane. There’s a short course for those who have the type and have been flying the plane as FO and then there’s me. I’m getting the “D” Upgrade which is a mid-length course. As Chris said it’s a combo of getting prepared for the role as Capt and the duties and responsibilities the position holds AND refreshing my memory to actually operate the plane again. I have 5 days of Ground School and 5 days of Sim. There’s no checkride at the end since I already passed that as FO. As for pay in my case there’s a raise but it’s not huge (about 22%). The reason for this is I’m going from FO on the highest paying aircraft we have to Capt on the lowest. If I were to go A330 Capt there would be a big increase but a) I can’t hold A330 Capt seniority wise and b) I really enjoy the 717 so I’m glad to be returning.

Wish me luck!

Adam

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Wow, Adam, it’s so exciting that you’re starting your upgrade training today! Will you keep the same base? How long will your course take before you are officially a captain for that aircraft? Will there be any sort of exam- I know you said there will be no check ride. Does every airline have similar courses for the upgrade depending on your unique experiences?
PS. I have to apologize in advance for being pretty uninformed of aviation in general, since I’m actually a psychotherapist. :blush:

Most of all, good luck on your first day, I would love to get updates on the process! Thank you for your time!

Sharon

Sharon,

You can actually see the pay rates for all the airlines at APC so you can see first hand the difference between CA and FO rates. Plus you can see the difference between all of the different types of airlines. Here is the direct link to Hawaiian: https://www.airlinepilotcentral.com/airlines/legacy/hawaiian_airlines

You can also see bases for each airline… I think once you look at Hawaiian’s profile you’ll be able to answer your question about him keeping the same base or not. :wink:

Jason

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Jason, thank you for the useful link, has so much interesting info! And I got the answer to the question about Adam’s base. :wink:

Sharon

Sharon,

Hawaiian only has one base, HNL (which is fine with me). The process will take about a month including class, VPT (Virtual Procedure Training, like a sim but no motion), sim and finally UOE (Upgrade Operating Experience) where we fly with check airman. While I don’t have to take any formal exams, there are “validations” along the way. There’s Knowledge, Procedure, LOE in the sim (which is basically a simulated regular flight) and finally a sign off by the FAA (or DE, Designated Examiner). Good times :slight_smile:

Adam

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Adam, sounds like this is going to be one busy month for ya, I hope your first day went well! Thanks everyone for your responses! :blush:

Sharon