Real Answers from Real Pilots

Transitioning aircrafts

How do pilots transition from aircraft to aircraft in there career, i.e:737 to 777

Salah,

EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on seniority. When you’re hired at an airline you’ll be assigned to whatever aircraft THEY need you to fly. Now people automatically assume that will be the smallest airplane of the fleet (and that’s often true) but that has nothing to do with skill or experience. It’s simply a matter of pay and since the larger aircraft pay better the vacancies will most often be on the smaller aircraft. Ok so as time passes airlines expand their routes, get more airplanes, pilots retire etc and vacancies are created. When there’s enough open spots the airline will open a bid and every pilot can bid ANYTHING they like (a newhire 737 FO can bid 787 Capt etc) but the slots will be filled in SENIORITY order. So if there’s one open slot on the 777 and you’re the most senior pilot who wants it you get it, congrats! If however there’s one other pilot who’s senior to you and they bid it the slot it theirs. Make sense?

Adam

Adam https://www.airlinepilot.life/u/adam
https://www.airlinepilot.life/u/adam Pilot Mentor
May 17

Salah,

EVERYTHING at the airlines is based on seniority. When you’re hired at an
airline you’ll be assigned to whatever aircraft THEY need you to fly. Now
people automatically assume that will be the smallest airplane of the fleet
(and that’s often true) but that has nothing to do with skill or
experience. It’s simply a matter of pay and since the larger aircraft pay
better the vacancies will most often be on the smaller aircraft. Ok so as
time passes airlines expand their routes, get more airplanes, pilots retire
etc and vacancies are created. When there’s enough open spots the airline
will open a bid and every pilot can bid ANYTHING they like (a newhire 737
FO can bid 787 Capt etc) but the slots will be filled in SENIORITY order.
So if there’s one open slot on the 777 and you’re the most senior pilot who
wants it you get it, congrats! If however there’s one other pilot who’s
senior to you and they bid it the slot it theirs. Make sense?

Adam

  I understand now thanks for the quick response

In regard to transitioning aircraft, does a pilot fall to the bottom of the pay scale for that airframe. For example 5 year 757 Cpt bids and gets 787. Is he now at 1st year pay because of the transition? I hope that makes sense. Basically, is pay scale by years at airline or years on airframe?

Thanks,
Rich

Rich,

In the vast majority of airlines, no, the pilot does not start over. A FO who is on fifth year pay and then upgrades to Captain will receive fifth year Captain pay.

Chris

Really, wow!! That’s great news. I appreciate the response so quickly.

Rich