Real Answers from Real Pilots

How long does it take to move from the Simulator to the Plane?

I’m sure this depends on a multiple things, especially the Pilot’s performance, but assuming you’re a good pilot who makes little to no errors in the simulator:

From day one of safety training with the airline, how long can most newly hired pilots expect to be in the simulator/classrooms before they’re cleared to get in the right seat of a real airline?

Does it take longer to pass the safety course with a major airline than a regional, or are they roughly the same?

Thomas,

Every airline has their own training program curriculum which of consists of ground school, procedural training and finally of course simulator training. The complete training program will typically be approx 8-10 weeks in total again depending on the airline. The number of sim sessions vary from airline to airline. I’ve seen the number range from 6-9 sessions (not including checkrides) but it’s in the sim where you will earn your Type rating for that particular airplane. Once you pass the next time you fly will be in the actually plane with passengers and a check pilot as your Capt. This is the same at a Major and honestly I found the training at the Majors much easier (and less stressful) than at the Regionals. Reason being the transition from twin engine 4 seat prop plane to twin engine 50-70 seat jet is a HUGE difference. But once you’ve flown a jet and understand the systems the next one is just a variation on a theme.

Btw a couple of side notes. First you made the statement “Good pilot who makes little or no errors”. That’s a very traditional school of thought and one you need to abandon. In contemporary aviation training and safety we acknowledge the “inevitability of human error”. We’re human and humans make errors. A good pilot uses his skill, knowledge and judgment to “trap, manage and mitigate” the effects of those errors but also recognizes that errors will be made. You also make reference to “safety courses”? Not sure where you heard that term but I never have? Just curious.

Adam

Thomas,

I am going to second Adam on this one, I found the transition from a GA airplane to a jet to be more difficult than that from the RJ to the 737. The length of the course was about the same, it is just easier once you have already learned how to fly a jet.

Chris

By safety courses, I was referring to the classroom section the airline teach the Pilots and review terms and procedures etc., which i’m assuming is ‘ground school’?
Is ‘procedural training’ where the pilots in training are put on the staged planes for how to physically conduct emergency situations with Flight Attendants?

Thomas,

There are many different types of ground school classes that pilots take at the airlines. At United “Basic Indoctrination” is where the Federal Aviation Regulations are covered. “Systems class” is where the systems of your airplane are covered and “Emergency Procedures” is where operating the aircraft doors, escape slides, life rafts, etc are covered. At United we never practice with the flight attendants. In an emergency they have their duties and we have ours, the two do not really overlap until everybody is off the airplane.

Most of our time is spent in the simulator covering aircraft specific emergency procedures, that is where we really get our workouts.

Chris

Tom,

To give you some reference, here is my schedule from training:

8/8/16-8/15/16: Basic Indoc
8/16/16-9/1/16: Aircraft systems ground school
9/5/16-9/27/16: Sims (Procedures and maneuvers)
9/28/16: ATP CRJ200 practical exam (in the sim)
10/25/16-10/27/16: CRJ Differences training (CRJ 700/900 sim qualification)
11/1/16: First actual flight

So that’s a rough outline of what training is like at a regional. Let me know if you have more questions.

Yarden

Thomas,

We may be talking semantics but ground school as Chris and Yarden have stated really revolves around system study and rules and regs. Hopefully there’s some CRM (Crew Resource Mgmt) which does focus on safety. By procedure training I was actually referring to procedures in the cockpit. Sim time is very expensive and there’s not much sense in wasting time in the sim learning set up flows and running checklists so many airlines have VPT (Virtual Procedural Trainers) or FTDs (Flight Training Devices). Both are similar to sims, as they mirror or contain the cockpit controls but they have no motion or visual screens. They are however excellent at learning procedures.

Adam

Hey guys,

Along the subject but figured i would ask since the topic is here. I have heard both ways that the TypeRating is Out of Pocket or on the flip side that the airline covers the cost (I can only assume that if this is the case you’d have to sign a contract to stay with them for some time as TypeRatings get costly).

How does a pilot in training get paid when going from CFI/GA to Regionals while they get their Indoctrination, Ground School and Sim training completed? Is it a base(Training) hourly or is it just covered as if you were reserve with a minimum guarantee.

Tom,

If you’re hired by an airline (Regional or Major) in most cases the airline will pay for the type rating (the only exception I’m aware of is SouthWest). Most airlines also don’t have training contracts but that is the reason you won’t receive that hiring bonus in full or right away. Also keep in mind if you went around “collecting” types from airlines you might get away with that once but this is a VERY small industry and you could find yourself having issues in the future.

All the airlines have training pay while you’re in training. It can vary but at most it’s somewhat equivalent to min guarantee.

Adam

Thank you Adam! Now that you say it that makes since that they don’t need to make you sign a contract with how close knit the industry is as opposed to the Casino industry that I’m in now. Thanks again!

The lack of signing contracts comes from the contracts that the union negotiates, plus with how common it is for pilots to move from one airline to another as they work their way up through the industry.

Now are all pilots with the same union or do you have a different one from Adam and a different from Yarden (since he’s regional)?

Most pilots belong to the Airline Pilots Association (ALPA). That being said, some pilot groups are represented by the Teamsters and some groups do not have a union at all. Adam and I are both ALPA members while Yarden is not a union member as SkyWest pilots are not unionized.