View Full Version : Co-pilot saves the day!!!

Airbus Girl
26th Apr 2003, 16:11
From The Sun, April 24th:-

No panic but your pilot has fallen ill

Brit tourists on a holiday jet gripped their seats at 30,0000ft as they were told "Your pilot has been taken ill".
The 219 passengers flying to Tenerife in the Canary Islands then heard the sick captain had COLLAPSED.
The scare happened on the Air 2000 flight from Manchester less than an hour before touchdown.
The plane's co-pilot had to take control of Flight AMM138 and bring it down to land at Reina Sofia Airport in southern Tenerife.
The skipper was seen by a doctor at the airport then rushed to hospital, accompanied by his worried co-pilot.
But holidaymakers waiting to board the plane to fly home to Manchester on Tuesday afternoon were delayed another eight hours while another cockpit crew was found.
A spokeswoman for Air 2000 said last night that the pilot had been kept in hospital overnight for observation.
But she added: "He is now feeling much better. His co-pilot stayed with him at the hospital but is now on his way home. We will know more about what happened when he arrives back in the UK."
The spokeswoman confirmed that the co-pilot had stepped in to land the plane. But she insisted: "That is why there is a co-pilot on planes, for incidents like these. At no point were any of the plane's passengers in danger."

26th Apr 2003, 17:06
Blimey, hope the Bun doesnt find out that I (a mere co-pilot) landed an aircraft on no fewer than 8 occasions in the last week. Several of those flights were packed with could-be horrified holiday makers. Im going into hiding......

In trim
26th Apr 2003, 18:40

We can exclusively reveal, after an undercover investigation, that airlines operating into UK airports put thousands of travellers at risk EVERY SINGLE DAY.

Hidden footage has revealed that airline Captains allow junior members of staff to carry out critical manoeuvres such as landing aircraft, whilst the Captains just sit there without touching the aircraft controls.

Mrs Smith, a horrified passenger, has echoed the view of most of our readers. "How can such a scandal have continued un-noticed for so long. I'm taking my holidays in Blackpool."

Notso Fantastic
26th Apr 2003, 18:49
Don't spoil it! I like the thought the co-pilot is only there for lill' ol' me fer when I pass out through over indulgence and too much partying with the stewies who've taken me out to dinner after competing fer my attention the night before. It's as aviation was meant to be.
PS best wishes to the unwell Skipper who no doubt had something disagree with him on top of the real-world overful, over-worked roster!

26th Apr 2003, 19:01
It was my birthday last week so as a special treat the Captain allowed me to do the takeoff AND the landing .......... I had to polish his shoes for this and carry his suitcases but it was worth it.

Maybe one day I will know what all those switches and dials mean, but I like the pretty views from the windows in the flightdeck and I get free coffee.

I hear Copilots at Suntrash airlines even get a uniform with a hat to wear, and get to push some buttons in flight.

26th Apr 2003, 19:16
such are the consequences of this new fangled crm malarky.
gone forever are the days of white gloves on the boy so you can see where his hands are at night. what next, women in the cockpit that arent refreshing me.harumph,harumph.

DX Wombat
26th Apr 2003, 20:58
:uhoh: Errrr are you telling me, a mere passenger, that they actually allow the apprentice to land the aircraft :ooh: :ooh: and that sometimes they even let them do the take off too? :uhoh: I wonder what the press could have made of the announcement by the CSD of one flight I was on when he proclaimed "The captain has asked me to tell you that that was a fully automatic landing" I can just see it now JUMBO LEFT TO LAND ITSELF WHILST PILOTS SLEEP AFTER LONGHAUL FLIGHT FROM OZ! (it was a QF 747 by the way and I had had a very enjoyable flight)
Let us not forget, however, that some of these wonderful headlines provide a good laugh and light entertaiment on here from time to time. :ok: :rolleyes: ;)

26th Apr 2003, 23:41
Thank god that the need for a co-pilot has been vindicated. With all this low cost malarky going on the bean counters have been wondering exactly what it is the co-pilot does.....

You can imagine the scenario "studies have shown that rates of pilot incapicitation amongs single pilot crews are lower than multi pilot aircraft and therefore we will scrap co-pilots, giving a a 50% reduction in flight deck labour costs, which when transferred to seat prices results in a saving of 8.2%". Noods of approval from board etc etc:ok:

26th Apr 2003, 23:47
And exactly why would it have been necessary to tell the punters at 30000ft ? Unless it was a diversion, but even then I think I would have used the 'technical reasons' porkie :*.

27th Apr 2003, 00:17
Okay pilots

Someone explain to a dumb white boy why its so amazing that the co-pilot lands the plane. Isn't every co-pilot a pilot waiting for a promotion to the LH seat (is that the correct one):confused:

27th Apr 2003, 00:26

It would have been better to have stopped at '...every co-pilot a pilot'. They all are, and thoroughly professional and fully and well trained, just like every crew member!!!

27th Apr 2003, 00:55

I guess I misstated the question. Does one set out in the profesion to become a co pilot, a pilot or are the the same thing in terms of pay, senority, skills, training?

27th Apr 2003, 01:30
In a previous life I was a DC-3 (Dakota to most of you, I guess) co-pilot, when my skills were considered more-or-less adequate for holding it steady in cruise while the Captain refreshed himself with coffee and fags preparatory to executing yet another cross-wind landing. Oh, and I was allowed to empty the 2 1/2-gallon pail that was an essential part of the sanitary arrangements upon arrival back at base. Mehr nichts! Of course in those days we had never yet heard of CRM.

27th Apr 2003, 01:47
Totally agree with all the above comments concerning fatuous newspaper headlines!

However. let's take the opportunity to pat the copilot on the back for a job WELL DONE!

Having also had the experience of my fellow pilot pass out on me during the cruise I can tell you that it is NOT a pleasant experience! We rely on our colleages for moral support (believe it or not!) and although we practice pilot incapacitation in the Sim it FEELS very different in real life. You are (naturally) concerned for the welfare of your fellow crew member but also have the safety of the pax to consider etc and the perceived increase in workload is HUGE!!

Once again well done to the FO for getting the aicraft on the ground without incident.

You splitter
27th Apr 2003, 02:02
Paper Tiger

I see your point. However it is possible that the cabin crew had to go through pilot incapacitation drills. This could have led to a situation where it was obvious to some pax, especially at the front, that some sort of commotion was going on.

Surely then better to put them in the picture rather than let rumour spread wildy through the ranks.

just a thought.


27th Apr 2003, 02:42
I'm intrigued by this whole story. As a PPL and wannabee big jet pilot, I fly the left seat (obviously) and as I understand it, there is considerable training to convert between left and right seats in the commercial world of aviation. Presumably the co-pilot would have had to fly the left seat for the remainder of this flight, in particular the landing primarily for nose wheel steering. What kind of training do first officers have for events such as this when technically they are only qualified to be in control from the right hand seat?

Safe flying


27th Apr 2003, 03:01

<<considerable training to convert between left and right seats in the commercial world of aviation>>
No actually...

At Big Airways, if you are changing seats same type (R -> L we hope) its 4-6 sims, and maybe 15 sectors (in shorthaul). By far and away the majority of that is "command training", not getting used to the other seat itself...

<<Presumably the co-pilot would have had to fly the left seat for the remainder of this flight>>
No! He would have remained in the RHS.

At BA, all aircraft have NW tillers both sides. For those airlines where not, then tough - he'd have to land it and block the runway... NWS not used on the landing roll - not until you want to taxi off.

<<What kind of training do first officers have for events such as this when technically they are only qualified to be in control from the right hand seat?>>
Both pilots regularly practice "incapacitation drills". Firstly to remember to try and notice when he's "gone"! Surprising how long it takes in the sim, say doing an auto approach to notice he's not said anything for a bit, and then look across to see him slumped over (and grinning!). Secondly, to practice taking everything slowly and thoroughly, and get on the ground, with all the SOPs scr*wed up, since you're by yourself...


I. M. Esperto
27th Apr 2003, 04:42
I always shared legs 50-50 with my FO's. Never any regrets.

TWA policy was for the Capt. to do the TO's.

Back in the 1950's, policy was to let the FO take the left seat, SCD.

27th Apr 2003, 07:47
Dont you hate it when your talking to someone and they realise your not a Captain and they ask if you will be able to fly the plane one day...!!!!! :ugh:

Or when your on the ground and a passenger says to you "Can I talk to the pilot..." mmm so what am I then!!!:sad:

Capt Pit Bull
27th Apr 2003, 08:14

At BA, all aircraft have NW tillers both sides.

Not quite so. The B737 fleet combine both 1 and 2 tiller variants.


Ignition Override
27th Apr 2003, 09:01
You have various other crewmembers already on your plane. In an emergency situation (for the very sick person), you can and should do whatever you want, if necessary.

27th Apr 2003, 11:22
Just arrived from SIM, guess what was the last task at hand. Sure you're right. Me sweating over ZRH while the skipper enjoyed outside view and loving care by CA. With skill check due tomorrow I do get this funny feeling that
a) he's gonna be there flying again the-day-after-stroke
b) he'll be forced to let me land her again.

I could use a buck for a mortgage, is there by any chance a decent tabloid still looking for Mondays headline? Live coverage available. And we communist folks do get around cheap, just like our airlines, you know. :cool: Dear, what a story! :ok:

Congratulations for a job well done and wishes for a speedy recovery form Prague!

27th Apr 2003, 17:01
And what if the co-pilot became incapacitated??? Sheeeet!!!!

Frosty Hoar
27th Apr 2003, 17:18
Was fortunate enough to take the jumpseat recently on what was a command training flight with training cpt in right seat and co-pilot in the left performing as captain.

Throughout the flight the training cpt made several intentional mistakes, and it was interesting to see just how much the stress level could rise, e.g flight director switched off just after take off, FMC "broken" at top of climb,(and u/s for remainder of flight) "autobrake set" (to "0" ) for landing....

On the return flight nothing "happened" until the landing checklist was called for, after calling for it twice the only response from the RHS was "I'm dead", all in all an interesting days flying.

27th Apr 2003, 18:40
Frosty Hoar

Slightly surprised to see such training methods used on a revenue flight. In general a command course would be used to train a potential captain in the standard operation.

As any deviation from the standard operation has an adverse affect on safety, non standard operations normally take place in the simulator - that's what it is there for.

Anthony Carn
27th Apr 2003, 19:02
For all the non-pilots reading, hopefully of use........

There's and enourmous difference, in terms of skill and decision-making ability/experience, between the brand new F/O as opposed to the experienced F/O waiting for the next command vacancy.

There can be an enourmous difference between operating an aircraft with many carried-forward defects and operating one with no defects.

There's an enourmous difference between operating an aircraft into difficult airfields in bad weather and operating into easy airfields in good weather.

There's an enourmous difference in the workload between different aircraft types.

There's an enourmous difference in the cabin crew's ability from one to the next.

Starting with the assumption that the Captain is incapacitated, work out your own combination. You could, possibly, dream up a non-event or, alternatively, a script for an "interesting" movie !

If the F/O in question had the worst of all of the above, then I congratulate him/her.

(PS - I strongly agree with Budgie69's comments regarding line training flights, but that's just IMHO.)

28th Apr 2003, 00:27
"...One passenger, when interviewed, stated that he heard muffled cries of anguish before the cockpit door opened. The co-pilot emerged imploring the cabin attendant to 'help me get this fat bastard out of my seat!' The door then closed and the rest is history...":D

Actually, I really think co-pilots are a necessary evil(the ******s are always hogging the FA's!). I may change my mind on that after my displacement next week, however...;) TC

28th Apr 2003, 00:48

Don't fall for the 'co-pilot' label. We are all qualified with the same licence. How many bars you have on your shoulder is simply a matter of company seniority. I've changed companies a couple of times and am currently 'only' an FO (or co-pilot as the media would have it) yet I have flown with Captains who have fewer hours than I have, but have been with the company longer.

We generally refer to the 'pilot flying' and 'pilot not flying' when splitting duties on the flight deck, each has well-defined responsibilities, although on some aircraft only the left-hand seat occupant can steer the aircraft on the ground.

Anthony Carn
28th Apr 2003, 00:53
Don't fall for the 'co-pilot' label. We are all qualified with the same licence. How many bars you have on your shoulder is simply a matter of company seniority.

I'll simply say that I disagree strongly with that statement.

It is a massive oversimplification.


28th Apr 2003, 01:00
Thank you Hugofirst for clarifying the implied distinction for me. I was beginning to think I had asked a question on the order of...."We could tell you but then we'd have to kill you"..... I appreciate your kindness

28th Apr 2003, 01:19
Anthony Carn

I don't see why you think it's a "massive oversimplification" I've got an ATPL with the required aircraft type rating, so has the other guy. Either one of us is capable of handling the aircraft.

I know of experienced captains who have left one airline to join another as an FO, for more money and better conditions. You don't suddenly lose your skills or experience just because you are sitting in the right hand seat.


Max Angle
28th Apr 2003, 02:02
Well Hugo as a fairly experienced Captain who was once a fairly experienced F/O I have to agree with Mr Carn, you may be able to fly the aircraft as well as, perhaps better than, the other guy but there is a big difference between sitting in the left seat and the right.

It's not rocket science by any means but I am sure that any recently promoted Captain would confirm that the two jobs, whilst outwardly similar, make quite different demands on you. At the end of the day airlines don't pay skippers £20,000 a year more to do the same job.

Sounds like the Air2000 F/O did a good job, not as easy as it appears to be suddenly flying solo and in command of an airline jet with 200+ pax. and 7-8 crew on board. Don't think I would have come clean about the problem until we where on the ground but that's window dressing really.

Blue Rotor Ronin
28th Apr 2003, 03:33
In the rotary offshore(have to work for a living) the majority of the time there is no option as to who's landing it is. Imagine the joy of the line training Capt. who realises it's the brand new, just relased to the line Co's landing on a semi-sub(non-fixed platform) with full limits (3 degrees pitch and roll and 5 metre heave) let alone sixty knots with sleet. Passengers with prayers. Fixed wing
folk have it easy. Not that I'd change for anything. Fair play to the Co and all's well to the Capt.:E

Anthony Carn
28th Apr 2003, 05:30

Are you seriously trying to suggest that competence in the basic flying of the aeroplane on which you are rated constitutes complete mastery of it's overall operation ? :confused:

The basic aircraft handling side of the job is a minor component of the entire task (at least, if you're trying to do it properly, it is !). It's taken as read that anyone in either seat can at least cope with basic aircraft handling !

When a Captain becomes incapacitated, it's correct decision making, thinking ahead, planning, communicating, monitoring etc. etc. etc. that "saves the day".

(but I always try to remember the priorities - Aviate, Navigate, Communicate, in order of decreasing importance).

28th Apr 2003, 06:50
Captain incapacitation is easily handled by using the appropriate checklist.

Look for credit cards and cash

Obtain pin numbers

Check seniority improvement

Tell the girls who is incharge now

Fly the airplane as it was always meant to be flown

easy, really

28th Apr 2003, 06:53
calypso, aren't you going to tell the boys who is in charge also?

Ignition Override
28th Apr 2003, 07:07
Mr. Carn: That was a good description of contrasting situations.

Does the familiar mantra of "automation, automation", seem to be, at least in the eyes of the media and naiive public, an adequate substitute for experience, judgement and years of training. In addition, hundreds of mainline jets here have almost no automation, which multiplies the workload, even in good weather.

Off the topic a bit, but was the Airbus concept of combining the highest levels of automation intended mostly to appeal to airlines which wanted to let certain extra functions compensate for limited levels of hands-on ("handling")experience? :hmm:

We just came in from seeing a really good movie, "Bend it Like Beckham", and the British lingo is beginning to make more sense.:ok:

28th Apr 2003, 08:30
Not sure how much weight it carries with some operators these days but actually passing a Command Course identified one of the differences between Captain and First Officer.

Basic requirements for selection were, qualification, (licence and type rating), experience, (at least the minimum number of hours required for a Command on appropriate types and in appropriate areas of operation), and suitability, (considered by the company to be ready for promotion based on seniority, attitude and demonstrated competence).

I think that to suggest that the only difference between Captain and Co-Pilot is seniority is to gloss over some rather significant hurdles that have been the downfall of quite a few aspirants in the past. Anthony Carn and Max Angle have, I think, nailed it in one.

28th Apr 2003, 21:11
I say mandate 3-pilot cockpits!

28th Apr 2003, 21:31
As SLF, I'd be far more worried about how the poor guy who was sick was than the competence of the F/O - I take it for granted that the F/O has been trained to handle the situation.

Though I was told that the captain gets the credit for good landings and blames the F/O for the bouncy ones!

Onan the Clumsy
28th Apr 2003, 23:13
And what if the co-pilot became incapacitated?

Isn't that why they have the dog up there with them?

Anthony Carn
28th Apr 2003, 23:41
Isn't that why they have the dog up there with them?
Not wise to use that description. :rolleyes: ;)

29th Apr 2003, 04:17
A Carn and Max Angle

The point I was making (and the question I was answering) is that in an incapacitated pilot scenario it is an aircraft handling problem. The original newspaper report implied that the FO somehow managed to get the thing on the ground in one piece through sheer luck.

This would also imply that if it had been the FO incapacitated, there wouldn't have been a problem. The days of the Captain being a demi-god and anyone else being a mere underling are long gone. You both know the workload on the flight deck - which is why MCC and CRM were developed.

That's also why we practise incapacitation drills in the sim, the workload doesn't decrease just because you're sitting on the left.


. . . oh, and yes, I have done a command course and reached the dizzy heights of Captain with the last lot I was with, just happen to be working for a much more civilised bunch now . . . and in line for the next Captain's vacancy.

Onan the Clumsy
29th Apr 2003, 04:27
The dog thing was from an old joke

The co-pilot's there to make sure the pilot doesn't touch anything, the dog's there to make sure the co-pilot doesn't touch anything and the pilot's there to pet the dog...something like that anyway.

Anyone help me here?

29th Apr 2003, 05:26
As I remember, in my old days as an F/O, the dream of an F/O was that his captain gets sick and he becomes the pilot in command, having an F/E was helping, but not necessary, and having bad weather to "conquer", usually high crosswinds, and him, alone, to make the landing, without the gay in the left seat to tell him what exactly were the right moves!
But then again, that was the old days! I donít suppose that the F/Os nowadays think this way, or arenít they?

29th Apr 2003, 05:55
Check your post:ooh: :ooh: Semantics and/or spelling:uhoh:
I presume you meant "GUYS":confused:
we aim to please, it keeps the cleaners happy

29th Apr 2003, 05:57
Max Angle,
When you say that you would keep quiet about your problem until you were on the ground, I can't help but feel disappointed with your attitude.Smells like a combination of "Press on-itus" and lack of trust in your colleagues ability. I hope to god I never fly with you as a pax or a crew member.

Onan the Clumsy
29th Apr 2003, 06:14

I was on a flight once when we did a go around. It turned out they hadn't got all three greens, so they did a wide circuit, came in and landed. Nothing major really, but you should have seen the commotion in the back. There was much wailing, gnashing of teeth and renting of garments (and the returning thereof to the store by Monday morning). It was a truly horrible sight and one I hope never to see again.

I thought the gear malfunction was no big deal, but the pax reaction scared the p1ss out of me.

It was possible equipment failure so they had to say something to get people in the mood for evac, but with a dead Captain, I'd really rather they didn't tell the pax if it would cause all that fuss.

29th Apr 2003, 06:28
A thought just occured to me - with this new locked cockpit door procedure, how does one go about letting the Dollies in to help your passed out partner in crime - presumably you just leave it on auto pilot, tell atc you'll be back in a minute having had a good look at the TCAS first and hope you don't incapacitate yourself climbing over the cheese tray?

What would happen these days if (god forbid) there was a similar incident to the BA 11-1 that lost its front windshield and the captain was sucked half out the cockpit, had the cabin crew not acted so quickly, he probably would have lost his life, but with the delay in getting things "sorted" enough so that you can let the cabin crew in, you might have a man overboard before help arrives (I know that procedures have changed etc, and the chance of something like this happening again is extremely remote, but what if?)???


29th Apr 2003, 07:58

I believe the joke goes that soon there will be just a pilot and a dog in the cockpit........ the pilot's job will be to monitor the automation and the dog's job will be to bite the pilot's hand should he touch anything..........:O

29th Apr 2003, 10:54
I was on a United Airbus jumpseat a few years ago and we were talking about the automation...

The Capt speculated that one day the FO (generally speaking) would be required to occupy his seat for the take off and landing but during cruise he'd have to go back and help the flight attendants with the beverage service...

He never mentioned dogs, but man those UAL FAs...

...let's just say they're pushy, pushy, pushy.:}

Max Angle
29th Apr 2003, 16:13

I think you have the wrong end of stick old chap.

What I mean't, as I am sure most people reading my post realised, was that had I been the F/O involved I would have been a little bit economical with the truth about what was going on until we had landed. That said, it's quite possible that the front 5-6 rows had seen the whole thing transpire in which case you have to say something that makes sense to them. You can't very well say that there is no problem when the skipper is flat out on the galley floor. If however he was still in his seat but just out of it I would have told the pax. nothing at all until after landing.

Anthony Carn
29th Apr 2003, 16:53
Just my opinion.......FWIW..........

When/when not to make an address to the passengers and deciding upon the ammount of detail can be extremely difficult to decide upon.

Being brutally honest is the easiest option ; no brain needed, but may induce panic.

Being "economical" with the facts reduces the chances of panic, but may backfire if it's discovered that the "economy" is later interpreted as lying. At best, confusion will reign. At worst, panic may ensue, plus a distrust of any further statements or instructions from you.

The difficulty lies in striking a balance. If there was a problem and I felt it necessary to inform the passengers, then I always opted for "reassuring honesty", for want of a better phrase. I definitely never would lie.

Two additional problems ----

Trying to sound calm is essential, but if you're in a bit of a "tizz" yourself (pilots are human beings BTW), then it may be better to keep quiet or delegate. Delegate = to cabin crew, which, from experience, can lead to problems in the translation. :rolleyes:

This may sound ridiculous, but it's a sweeping assumption that that the lone pilot has enough time and spare brain capacity to actually fit an announcement into the whole process. If you're a pilot, remember those simulator sessions and you'll maybe agree. If you're not, then I doubt that, with respect, you can appreciate the sheer workload in some situations. If nothing else in this ramble, I hope that I've conveyed an understanding of the potential for truly huge workload. That's when I remind myself of the phrase I used in an earlier post - Aviate, Navigate, Communicate. It reminds me of the priorities. Note how Communicate - radio calls (to ATC and Company and from weather/status broadcasts) and passenger address comes last !

Glad to hear from anyone who disagrees. Always keen to learn !

Sorry to ramble on, but this is interesting stuff, especially some of the comments from the non-pilots. :ok:

29th Apr 2003, 21:32
Big Air - Its not an issue with Phase 2 doors. As far as a/c fitted with phase 1 and the bac1-11 incident, the CAA reckon its less likely than a cockpit incursion, so we're safer with the doors than without. Its all a balancing act, safety-wise.

As for telling the pax, if they didnt know or suspect, I probably wouldnt tell them. Why bother, it makes no difference to the outcome and after being fed on a diet of headlines like this one they might well feel unsafe. Having said that, I certainlly dont feel critical of the FO in this case - who it sounds like did a professional job.

Onan the Clumsy
29th Apr 2003, 21:49
Bombay, That sounds about right, but I still think the dog needed petting.

1st May 2003, 03:58
Onan, I think I will refrain from any comments on pilots and petting............ : X

Desk Driver
1st May 2003, 15:39
Any news on the guys condition. I know were all having a dig at the sun for it cr*p reporting but the guy might be losing his ticket here.

My best to him anyway!

3rd May 2003, 00:41
Many of the captains at my Major US carrier where my FO in another life. Some I checked out as captain...in another life.

Seven airlines under my belt with 20 thousand plus hours (mostly PIC) CO-PILOT.

I still get a kick out of captains trying to teach me to fly.

Seniority...it seems unfair to have a more experienced PILOT as SIC.

We in the airline business accept it but it burns me when the average bear thinks the FO is a rookie.

A bushpilot
3rd May 2003, 23:03
It might be helpful to know the co-pilots experience level!

In trim
3rd May 2003, 23:23

That's probably pretty irrelevant as this has gone so way off thread. We all know that co-pilots are trained to operate the aircraft single-handedly and there is no doubt he did that! (Though an experienced F/O will obviously be sweating a little less than a 'rookie' just off line training.) ;)

He's probably had a good laugh at this thread!

Ignition Override
4th May 2003, 11:47
To the various laymen on these types of threads:

1) A copilot is roughly equivalent to a co-Captain, although there many exceptions to this generalization, depending on experience, airline, military squadron or company policies etc. Some corporate aviation dpts. (Part 91=general aviation) often allow pilots to fly in either seat. Many USAF C-141 squadrons allowed a pilot with 700+ hours in the right, to also fly under supervision in the left seat as First Pilot (also in Navy transport or patrol squadrons, known as 2P), but apparently this was not common in the C-130.

2) When on the ground in a two-person jet or turboprop cockpit, (in the US) normally the First Officer does the walk-around and after engine start until takeoff checks, for example, he/she does most of the checking and setting electrics, APU, pressurization, and hydraulics plus setting the flaps, trim, weight book for correct bug speed numbers....this is part of it. Also calls on various radios for IFR clearances, start + push/powerback, taxi clearances....even figuring weight and balance plus ensuring that no cargo pallets will shift, causing a crash.

This only describes some of the ground duties in the months when the cockpit is not hot...on the first of three, even six or seven flights in one long duty period, without rest or solid nutrition. When I was in the right seat in the blue sweatbox years ago, Captains sometimes said that it was the hardest cockpit job in the whole airline.

Our FOs on the older two-person machines are reportedly on average much busier than any widebody FE. Therefore the word copilot, as used by the media and most laymen, is often totally misleading and meaningless. And at the US regional airlines-all this work, up to 9 or more legs per day, for not much above the federal minimum wage, because the airline mgmt lobby group (RAA and the ATA) ganged up with certain court jurisdictions and many Congressmen ( a la Delta and COMAIR), possibly with certain White House and/or DOT "staff", to keep it this way.:E

5th May 2003, 14:52
I'm beginning to wonder if there are'nt a few "career First Officers" posting on this thread trying to argue that F/O's are "just as good,if not better" than Capts.

5th May 2003, 21:44
Some FO's are just as good and better than some captains. Some captains are just as good and better than some FO's.

Being captain does not mean the more experienced pilot is in the left seat. It means the more senior pilot is in the left seat. I've known great FO's, I've known weak FO's. I've known great captains, I've known weak captains.

I'm a right seat gray beard and have a lot more experience than most captains I fly with. The vast majority of the guys I crew with recognize and appreciate that, some do not.

My point is that most FO's have the same ability as the captain. My airline does not hire FO's, they hire captains. You get my drift.

By the way, the right seat makes me look 30 years younger. I don't even have to dye my hair.

Ignition Override
6th May 2003, 07:18
Acbus: You have a valid point about some FOs. I checked out as captain over four years ago in a twin-turbofan; but what the public often fails to realize is that many of us choose to fly planes with almost no automation (or so that we can hold a captain's seat), which also means much more work.

And many of our fellow pilots (at this company), before their shining 'debut' on the A-320, 757 etc, only flew the older planes which had a three-pilot cockpit, i.e. C-130, C-141, B-727, DC-10 etc, and many of them have no idea of what is involved: let's correct that-some have little idea what is involved in the old, two-pilot cockpits. This became very apparent during the merger.:yuk:

7th May 2003, 04:59
Thanks for setting me straight, Ignition Overide.
So your company has some pilots who "only flew the older planes which had a three-pilot cockpit, i.e. C-130, C-141, B-727, DC-10 etc"? So does mine.

But, Gosh, I didn't realise. Someone better tell the company. After four years on a 727, with three crewmembers, they should never have let me loose on the 757. After that length of time, I cannot have the faintest idea of "what is involved".

I guess maybe they already know. I am encouraged not to fly it It's got a magic box that lays down a pink string road for me to follow, in case I get lost. After all, there's one less person to ask where we're going.

And I can't fart and look all innocent.

Anthony Carn
7th May 2003, 15:31
It's a fact, based upon personal observation, that when the electronics give up and one has to revert to basics, some pilots are all-at-sea. They're usually the Approved School guys who've never flown the older kit, apart from a few hours basic Instrument Rating stuff in a light piston twin.

Apologies for digressing, but I did'nt start it ! :rolleyes:

Ignition Override
8th May 2003, 14:06
Right Cat 1. My comments referred to a unique situation at my company during a very awkward merger in the late 80's, during which certain Merger Committee types arrogantly & ignorantly looked down on the 100-122 seat jets (one of our fleets) as "light-twins", to quote some of them, in order to protect every wide-body Captain seat while pleading their desperate case ("expectations") with the seniority list Arbitrator. My generalized comments might have been out of context. Those who have not experienced such a merger, in which only one company has widebody aircraft, might be surprised at the levels of self-righteousness which are often displayed by whichever group has the most to lose, in terms of potential earnings and assumptions made about career progression, when hired.

Pardon me if I implied anything about other airlines and their pilots, or any disrespect; if read that way, it was not intentional on my part. That "magenta highway" and VNAV is pretty nice, even if the autothrottles were on MEL a bit during my last month on the 757.:)

10th May 2003, 04:02
I have to admit I am a touch surprised at the length of and the discussion on this thread. Particularly the whole Captain/Co-Pilot/F/O thing.

I, in my innocence always assumed it was rather obvious. Any layman reading this or it seems some lesser experienced pilots may be a little confused.

This is my take on the whole Co-Pilot issue.

Airlines have a rank system, Captain, First Officer, Second Officer.

An aircraft may have a Pilot and and a Co-Pilot and even a third pilot. The Pilot is the Captain of the aircraft. That applies even to puddle jumpers like the Cessna 150. Even a student pilot is Captain when solo.

Terms like pilot flying and pilot not flying doesn't take away from the fact that only one of them can be the Captain/Pilot of the aircraft. When two four barred ranking Captains are on board one is the Captain/Pilot and the other is the Co-Pilot of the aircraft while both remain Captains in rank.

Confused???? :confused: No but suddenly I can see how some might be.

10th May 2003, 06:47

I believe the issue centers on the "amazement" that a first officer was able to land the jet without the captain.

It's not a question of who is in command but, "a first officer was able to land the jet without a captain??!!"

Come on....

12th May 2003, 00:43
You're still not quite there with the dog joke.

The pilot's there to feed the dog. The dog's there to stop the pilot touching anything.