I have been thinking about posting this for a while and would be interested to hear the thoughts of others. In an airline with two-crew aircraft where pilots rarely leave except due to ill-health or retirement (ie. legacy carriers), I would have thought that one could expect to spend approximately half of one's career in the right seat and half in the left. I know that sort of closed system is virtually impossible in the real world but I'm sure some airlines come fairly close. The reason I am posting is that I often hear of pilots commenting about how long it is taking to get a command and in most cases the wait has been roughly half the number of years they have left to retirement (or even fewer). Basic maths would suggest to me that one cannot expect twelve years as an FO and twenty-five as a captain. What do people think?
Doug, far too may variables. As a 24 year old, ex BA Cadet, I was told that time to Command was 15-20 years. So, I could expect a Command at Age 44 with only 11 years in the seat, to retirement. I left. New Company stuck hard and fast to 5000 hrs for Comand Training. I had 3000. Big expansion saw loadsa 5000 hr chaps joining & getting commands as fast as the next shiny widebody joined the fleet. I was going backwards down the Seniority list..........and left. Joined brand new Operator, 5000 still required but, sensibly, started factoring so that I slipped into the LHS with 4000...........Stayed forever...........well, until they went bust but that's another story.
FANS: Not for a second. Hated the vastness of the Company & the constant "join the Union or else". Flying with the so called "independents" was a breath of fresh air. Captains closer to my age made everyday conversation less stressful & layovers a sheer delight. Oh, and we "shared" the flying; leg for leg a definite & I was favoured with the flying more often than not. Only downside is that I am much worse off as a potential pensioner. Looking to join the gang in Cyprus. The street I have chosen has two pilots. One, ex BA, has the biggest house in the street . The other, a BA bale out, like me, has a smaller abode & less to spend on his fave tipple. Mine will be somewhere in between but it is not really a regret.
PARABELLUM, I might have got the spelling wrong, which seems to irritate you ,but "factoring" was a complex device where total hours were revalued according to lots of variables, like, All jet, jet prop, all airline, millitary, fixed wing, chopper etc. With 4000 hours total, all airline, all jet, sponsored cadet................er, I came out of it quite well. Thank heavens "total P......d", "Ladies Man" "crap pilot", "crap speller", etc was not "factored in". Might still be a cojo on DC3's !
@Landflap may I ask which company that was, sounds like you had a pretty interesting career so far? Apperently in Ryr they are upgrading guys with 3000hrs, so thats about 4 years in the company from scratch, I heard they are trying even to persuade people who do not want to be upgraded, cos of the mandatory base change after cmd.....
Thanks. You even had me stretching for my ageing Odhams Dictionary which I nicked from the 6th form Library in 1965 ! Actually, it only quotes "FACTOR" & "FACTORIZE". I am also uneasy about revealing the company that started the factorizing(cripes, don't know how to articulate now !), because it might give away my identity & I still want to say ETIHAD on PPRuNe..........Damn, said it now ! But, I think it favoured whirlybirds as it gave fixed wing credit where none might have previously existed. Also did a short spell in Gulfair where they too started factoring of hours but guess who that favoured ? Er, if one's hours were "factorized", could one be an ex..........."factory Worker" ? Ok, Ok, !
land flap - thank you for an honest and insightful view of your own career - very helpful. As anyone who has been in the industry any length of time will know, advancement in the civil airline world is 10% talent and 90% being in the right place at the right time. The only people who do not broadly hold to that view (give or take a few percentage points!) are those who have not been around long enough to know the truth. I have said this before but it bears repeating. For those of you familiar with the British game of Snakes and Ladders, you roll the dice and sometimes you think the 6 you threw is going to win the game, only to find you drop down a huge snake at square 99. Other times you throw a 2 and before you know it you are up a ladder to square 88 - a very accurate picture of a commercial pilot's career in my experience!
At easyJet, where I work, there are currently many young Captains who were in the right place at the right time - in the years ahead I do not believe young pilots at our company are going to be so fortunate, or at least not in the numbers of the past. I once met a guy who left the RAF at 38 and was the last guy not be be promoted at BA when they did not promote for many years. He ended up at 55 as a DC10 First Officer - wrong place, wrong time. In my own civil career, I have been incredibly fortunate - I am under no illusion, however, that it could all have been so very different.
I can only echo what ADM says - there is a huge element of luck involved with career progression. From my first flight with paying pax in the back of a turbo-prop and a total of 270 hours, 4 years and 11.5 months later that I was in the LHS of an Airbus. So 5 yr RHS, 11 yr LHS (so far) with 10-15 yr to go....... (hopefully).
Obviously you have to "cut the mustard" to succeed BUT it was only because I was LUCKY enough to choose the correct airline which provided the opportunity. The last few years have seen similar opportunities in some carriers but I think things are going to slow for a while until the € and world economy settle down - the it'll all go nuts again q
Thanks Alexander. Glad it has worked for you too. Very good friend & colleague also left BA at the same time as me & we made no bones about "chasing" the LHS. We both got Commands on young, useful types in new airlines & logged pure P1 for many years before our colleagues who stayed with the Corporation (as it was known) finally got promoted. Risky business though. My mate's company went bust. Tried to get him into mine but we went bust too ! That is the only time we really looked over our shoulders & played the "what if ?" game ! We quickly re-established & enjoyed LHS careers for years to come.
Does remind me of a Paris Layover where I bumped into an American SFO, widebody, BASED Paris ! Gosh, how good does this get ? (!). High on his Company's Bid Line, busy writing hiw own roster. However, he had just been offered his first Command on an ageing B727 Based somewhere ghastly. He asked me for career advice. As I sat in the warm French summer air, viewed the Crazy Horse Menu for the night & sipped on my Napoleon Brandy.......................I was, stuck for words !