Real Answers from Real Pilots

From Regionals to Majors

(Yuran Di Cianni) #1

Hey Guys,

I am not sure if this was already asked, but when you’re at the regionals, how do you build that precious PIC time if you’d be a FO for a few years? Do you strictly wait to be upgraded to Captain or can you go from flying jets to flying turbo prop a few times a month (assuming you can get the time to do it and the airline has turbo props in their fleet) to help build the PIC time? I heard some guys go from FO on a jet to a Captain on turbo props, but I don’t know how they do it or how common that is.

Thanks again for the help!



The simple answer to your question would be yes, you wait to upgraded to captain.

As a new FO at a regional, you usually get what’s called a ‘seat lock’, which means that you are restricted from transitioning between airframes during that period of time (It’s 2 years at my airline, not sure about others). So you can’t hop between aircraft a few times a month.
What could happen though, is that you will be an FO on one airframe, and an upgrade slot opens up on a different airframe sooner than it would open up on your current airframe, you will be able to take that sooner upgrade and get a head start on that turbine PIC.

Let me know if that doesn’t make sense.




The only way to build PIC time is to upgrade to Captain. At an airline pilots typically only fly one type of airplane at a time, you can’t just jump back and forth between jets and turboprops, the airplanes are just too complex and different to be able to do that.

You could go from jet FO to prop Captain (if your airline has them), but then you will be seat locked onto the prop for one or two years depending on your airline contract.


(Yuran Di Cianni) #4


That makes perfect sense! Thank you, sir! Just out of curiosity, what airline do you work for?


That makes sense. Would you ever go in between airframes after some years? Say if you flew 737’s for 3 years then moved to the 757, could you go back and forth if they need you or are you strictly locked in the 757? I met a few pilots that flew an airframe for a number a years, moved to another airframe, but got called to the old airframe when they needed him to fill when needed him too.

Thanks for information, Chris!



I am at SkyWest.

(Yuran Di Cianni) #6


Good stuff! I wish you the best of luck. If I had to choose, SkyWest would be my number one pick. Heard nothing, but amazing things about the company!




Here is how my time at United has been spent:

2007-2010: 737
2010-2012: 757/767
2013: 737
2013-2015: 757/767
2015-present: 737

All of my changes in airplanes have been by choice and because I desired to either fly to new places or come back to the 737 to enjoy added seniority. Generally speaking one can change airplanes every two years at United, then you are free to change. As you can see I have been all over the place when it comes to airplanes.




To further clarify, NO you cannot bounce back and forth between planes (even if you’re type rated in those aircraft). Airline training costs a lot of money and you need to requal in you’re particular plane every year. The airline is not going to put you in the sim at your will and spend tens of thousands of dollars just because you want to. As Chris said most have “seat locks” usually lasting 2 years.


(Yuran Di Cianni) #9


That makes a lot more sense now. I had the impression that it was in the same month, not after a couple of years! Thanks for clarifying!


That also makes sense. Those sims are very costly and I’m sure training a pilot or doing a refresher course on one those sims can range in the thousands or even in the tens of the thousands of dollars.
Thanks for the input!