Real Answers from Real Pilots

Chief Pilots

Evening mentors,

My questions tonight deal with chief pilots. I know they have more of an administrative role in their domiciles but what exactly do they do and what’s the process for becoming a chief pilot? Also, do they fly a line just like a regular captain/first officer that’s not on reserve and do they make more than a regular captain?

Thank you!

Kind regards,
Eric

Eric,

Typically, Chief Pilots are line pilots that have crossed over to the management side. They do make slightly more than regular line pilots and they barely fly. At some airlines they are still union members, at other airlines they are not.

I personally cannot imagine giving up the view from the cockpit to sit at a desk five days per week. But hey, whatever floats your boat.

Chris

Eric,

First let me say you could not pay me enough to be a Chief Pilot. From what I’ve seen it’s a thankless job and one that puts you right between the line pilots and mgmt. During my career I’ve experienced only 2 types of CPs, those that favor mgmt. or ones that favor the pilots. Either way you’re going to make one side unhappy. The job is administrative in many regards. They also serve a disciplinary role for the pilot group but can also be an advocate. They participate in mgmt. meetings regarding logistics and flight operation disruptions etc. Contractually many airline contracts state they must be an active current pilot on the seniority list but as Chris said they rarely fly (except to remain current). Many airlines have Asst CPs or Duty Officer positions that you can apply for. Do well and make friends with the right people and that’s generally how you get the job. From what I’ve been told it’s really not that difficult to obtain since most pilots don’t want the job.

Adam