Real Answers from Real Pilots

Charter Job or Regional?

Hey guys,

I have 320 TT and CFI check ride in a couple weeks.

I have just been offered right seat in a Citation III with pay and benefits comparable to regionals. They fly ~600 hrs/year.

If I accept the charter offer I would like to skip the regionals and go straight to major.

My real question is: what are the actual number of hours (pic, turbine, etc.) that people need to get on with majors? I know the posted minimums (1500 total, 1000 turbine) but does anyone actually get hired with those numbers? How much PIC turbine do they want to see?

Thanks,

-David

David,

These types of jobs can be tempting, but there are pitfalls to them.

The first that comes to mind is, is the Citation III FAA certified for one pilot or two? If the FAA certified it for one pilot, then the time you spend as a First Officer on it is not logable. I don’t care what their insurance requires or what fable the charter company tells you about part 91 sole manipulator of the controls, if you are not signing for the airplane, you cannot log FO time in a single pilot jet. If the FAA certified it for two pilots, you are good to go.

The second issue is that you are not going to fly very much as an FO and the airlines know this. You will get really good at talking on the radios, getting coffee, washing jets, etc, but not flying. Most charter companies very rarely let the FO fly. So even if you can log the FO flight time, it is likely not quality FO time.

Third issue is that the jets are small, lightweight and not really reflective of airliners. A RJ pilot gets experience working in an airline environment, exactly the same as the majors. While corporate experience is valuable, it is just not the same as the airlines. If I wanted to be a ankle surgeon I would do my residency in orthopedics, not radiology.

Very, very few people get hired at the major airline published minimums. Those are for special cases and for military pilots who do not fly as much. I would recommend the regional route to you, but that is just my opinion.

Chris

3 Likes

David,

Everything Chris said is dead on but it’s your call. The big question for me would be what would you be looking at for upgrade time? The Majors don’t just want 1,000 turbine, they want that turbine PIC (usually at least 2,000hrs). The nice thing about flying for a Regional is you will have a good idea, based on seniority, of how long it’ll take you to upgrade. At a Charter gig there is no seniority or union. Is it when the owner thinks you’re ready or do you need to wait for someone to quit or die? Another consideration is where will you be flying? If this gig is between 2,3 airports, that’s not going to make for a very attractive logbook.

Again your choice and I’m not trying to talk you out of anything, just some things to consider.

Adam

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@dbristow, is this a part 91 gig or a part 135 gig? If it’s part 91, then Chris is right and you can’t log any time in the airplane as SIC because the Citation III is certified for single-pilot. However, if it’s a 135 gig, then the FO can legally log time as SIC in IFR passenger carrying operations (notwithstanding that it’s a single pilot airplane) because the SIC is a legally required crew member under FAR 135.105. This is the same principle that allows FOs at Surf Air, Mokulele, and Cape Air to log all the time they spend in the right seat of the single-pilot airplanes operated by those companies.

I’m more or less in the same position as you–I view this kind of gig as an alternative to instructing on the way to 1500 hours and a regional, not as a pathway to a major.

Kevin,

You have a point, but it is still a weak case and the airlines know it. A single pilot airplane is just that, single pilot. Op specs or not, it is still a single pilot airplane and logging the time is questionable. Maybe it won’t hurt you, maybe it will. Even if you get through a regional interview, that does not mean that it won’t later be an issue in a major airline interview. I wouldn’t risk it.

Chris

Thanks for the input, everyone.

I had to turn down the job for other “life-got-in-the-way” reasons, but this is good info.

I sort of feel like I might be missing out on some really cool aviation if I go directly from instructing in a C172 to 121 ops, and 135 seems like a fun an interesting middle ground, if it’s with a quality company.