Real Answers from Real Pilots

Transition from First Officer to Captain

(Wyatt Parks) #1

I have a question. If I was a first officer at a regional airline, and I am told that I’m being upgraded to captain, from that point on about how long is it until I’m sitting in the captain seat earning PIC hours? Thanks


Hi Wyatt,

Ok first you “won’t be told” you’re being upgraded. Again everything at the airlines is based on seniority. Periodically due to staffing needs (retirements, pilot’s moving on to Majors etc) the airline will announce a bid to fill vacancies. You can bid for a CA (Capt) slot and if there’s one available AND your seniority can hold it you will be “awarded” that slot. Then (again depending on the needs of the airline which can be anywhere from immediately to 6mos) you’ll be scheduled for upgrade training. Upon successful completion of training you’ll then have to complete UOE (Upgrade Operating Experience) with a check airman. After they sign you off you then will start building PIC.


(Wyatt Parks) #3

Thank you for clearing that up. So about how long is upgrade training?



Varies from airline to airline and also if you’re current and type rated in the equipment or not but generally 5-6 weeks (incl days off) plus UOE.


(Wyatt Parks) #5

Thank you for that. So I have gathered together that UOE is roughly 25 hours flight time and then it is decided if you are checked off and good to go or not. Am I correct?



Upgrade training at United lasts about three months total, including IOE. I would suspect that most airlines are about the same.



At United we call it IOE for “Initial Operating Experience”, other airlines use slightly different terms for it. I would say that 25-30 hours is average at UAL for completing IOE, after that time if you are signed off then you are good to go as a Captain.

(Wyatt Parks) #8

Thank you Chris for clearing that up.