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Wide Body Time

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Wide Body Time

Old 28th Jun 2018, 21:17
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Wide Body Time

Please excuse my ingorance but could someone please clarify why “widebody” time is so sought after? Is it really that much different than medium haul narrow body time? What is the major difference from being a B737 captain and a B777, A380 or B787 captain? Is the decision making process harder for widebody aircraft? Is a widebody harder to fly?
I’ve always wondered why an experienced B737 or A320 captain can’t easily go DEC on a widebody.
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Old 28th Jun 2018, 22:13
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While the size of the aircraft takes a few hours to get used to, I would say the most common difficulty is adapting to flying longhaul / international. Often you will find very good pilots( myself included), that have lots of experience in a certain areas, whether it be Europe, USA, Brazil, etc.... and when they start flying to China, New Zealand , Bangladesh, Kyrgyzstan, etc.....it is common to struggle with different rules, enormous language barriers, and other peculiarities.
I constantly hear guys say to me, " I don't know how you understood anything he said....I got nothing"
Its just a matter of time and operating experience but not something you will master in class
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Old 28th Jun 2018, 22:21
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At risk of sounding like a grumpy old (wide bodied) git, can I offer the reply that no answer will ever satisfy 99% of the narrow body guys who ask this question.

There are handling issues such as greater inertia, greater anticipation required etc and the ability to manage a much larger crew but the big difference is with the management of the overall operation and the ability to shoulder and discharge the increased burden of responsibility that comes with it.

Your average 737 operator in Europe could have an engine fail in the cruise and instantly see 10+ alternate airports as options on his ND. The situation is very different in a 777 heading over the Pole to West Coast USA when the nearest alternate might be 1000 miles away. That is one of a myriad of differences.

Having flown turbo props, B744 and most Boeing types in between, I can tell you that a very different thought process is involved - that is not to say that narrow body guys coming on to wide body aircraft can't cope. Many do, and do so admirably. But statistically, the company will have a lower failure rate recruiting guys with wide body experience.

All the above said, market forces will (unfortunately) always decide minimum experience requirements and the way this industry is heading, wide body time may well become desirable rather than essential in many more airlines.
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 09:04
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The not so diplomatic response

After you have done 10 years or more in the left seat of a widebody you will realise how stupid that post was.
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 10:26
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ATR, it might appear to be "sought after" but it isn't really. It is, simply, a selection device. Oversubscription to a DEC widebody requirement will cause your Selectors to seek the wheat from the chaff. You will quickly appreciate that the recruiters will feel happier with current widebody and even type rated applicants rather than a slimbody. They shouldn't, it makes no difference but they will just feel more inclined.Witness that in most airlines, this kind of type transition is handled without problems almost every day. I was once shoved in the holding pool for a major because i had no "underslung" jet experience ! Good Grief,

Bananasbanas; Good post. Didn't deserve the hand-bag swipe that followed. Didn't agree with all of it though. The nearest alt being 1000 miles away is a good thing isn't it ? Drills complete , decision (easy) complete, intention declared, crew briefed.......................sit back & order a cuppa................eh ? 10 alternates in your field of choice might be more of a head-scratch.

I loved heading out over the N Atlantic in my "Big Twin" even though it was a "slimbody" and after exceeding the range requirement of UK airfield as possible return alternates, the only option was Kef or Goose. Easy. Loved it. Oh, and then, doing the same on a "widebody" made no difference whatsoever.
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 11:24
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I think allaru’s comment about a “stupid” post was addressed to ATR42DRIVER?
Bit harsh, even so.......
Uninformed maybe but not stupid.
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 12:36
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Always wondered this one as there’s no question that smashing around doing multi legs to challenging fields in a Dash 8 in the winter is a harder day out at work than an ULR in a 777 to a 3000m ILS. But I accept that the demands of the operation are totally different.
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 15:31
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Some wide body pilots feel they are special. Slightly adjusted handling techniques and that's it ! Take a 380 guy put him is a 320 and let him adjust , job done .
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Old 30th Jun 2018, 16:12
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Put any jet pilot into a C206 landing in 600 mt and it’ll be a disaster.

Enough training and a monkey can go into space. The question is whether the company is willing to do that and whether the company has experienced FOs willing and able to hold the DEC hand to the varied challenges that a narrow body Captain may not have been exposed to.

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Old 30th Jun 2018, 20:07
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Originally Posted by break dancer View Post
Put any jet pilot into a C206 landing in 600 mt and it’ll be a disaster.

Enough training and a monkey can go into space. The question is whether the company is willing to do that and whether the company has experienced FOs willing and able to hold the DEC hand to the varied challenges that a narrow body Captain may not have been exposed to.


But the same could be said for a widebody guy/girl suddenly being dropped flying into warzones, uncontrolled airfields, severly performance limited airfields, visual approaches / very dynamic approaches to short runways etc etc. As they say here; same same but different. Plus nowadays in this part of the world there's a whole generation of pilots that go straight onto a widebody and don't have any other flying experience to fall back onto. That I can see would be a big issue. I get the inertia and management bit but I fail to see that being a big issue if trained properly and the guy/girl has the right qualities. That can be easily assessed in a sim.

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Old 30th Jun 2018, 23:32
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It's like bananas said,
it is not necessarily the a/c itself, which ads to the problem, it's not to have an alternate at every tree, weather phenomena much more severe after an 8 to 10h flight with no 2 hrs of extra fuel and ATC units that are not necessarily in your favor but actually working against you.
You'll be surprised how isolated your destination can be in a densely populated country sometimes.
I'd strongly recommend that you have flown your a.. off in short/med haul before you try the, share enjoyable, demands of real long haul you might not go to a certain area or destination for two years
and other challenges.
Although I strongly recommend it with the right amount of experience, never get's boring.
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 04:11
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My favorite is the 6700' (2042 m) single engine divert field . 777-300. Northern tier often dealing with snow.
Or diverting with 250-300 passengers into a town that has 100 inhabitants. But at least they should be out of there in 6-12 hours.
And the plane should be fixed within 3-4 days, unless it's on of the 7-10 day repairs.
Narrow body diverts? That barely moves the needle in our operations center.
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 04:54
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Originally Posted by misd-agin View Post
My favorite is the 6700' (2042 m) single engine divert field . 777-300. Northern tier often dealing with snow.
Or diverting with 250-300 passengers into a town that has 100 inhabitants. But at least they should be out of there in 6-12 hours.
And the plane should be fixed within 3-4 days, unless it's on of the 7-10 day repairs.
Has that happened to you?
What is the major difference from being a B737 captain and a B777, A380 or B787 captain

The difference might be the attitude the DECs arrive with. If the trainee puts in the effort and continues after check to line, it is different to, but no more difficult than, medium haul. Millions of pilots do it successfully and easily. It's not difficult. The hard parts are staying awake and dealing for hours and hours with some of the numpties they're now hiring.
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 05:17
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I would have thought if the number of Alternates gets smaller, the decision making gets easier . Many short haul only fellas have joined EK as DEC in past. Most had no problem . Some had a problem adjusting. Just like anyone else who joins .

I just wish it was a requirement to have long haul PIC before becoming management. As these LCC short haul ones we seem to get have no clue what doing the job is like.

Last edited by donpizmeov; 1st Jul 2018 at 12:00.
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 08:24
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Just had a look at my logbook. I haven't been to Australia since December and haven't been to North America since September last year. However, on a reserve month I could have to go to either of these places with only 30 minutes notice. That is different to flying around Europe in a 320 on a couple of sectors every day. Not really harder, just different. Flying the aeroplane is the easy bit.

Absoultely agree with what The Don says, you can train a DEC to be a widebody pilot but a LCC short haul manager will never, ever know what it is like.
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 11:39
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I went to EK as a DEC. I was a captain on a 737 at the time. The company I worked for was European based but due to the nature of the operation we flew through Europe, Africa, the ME, Asia and even got to Australia on occasion !! I found no trouble going from the 738 to the 777. But I must admit, I had flown over a lot of the EK network in my previous life.

These days a 240 k round trip is long haul enough for me 😄😄
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 12:27
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Originally Posted by fatbus View Post
Some wide body pilots feel they are special. Slightly adjusted handling techniques and that's it ! Take a 380 guy put him is a 320 and let him adjust , job done .
I think that's the whole problem here...

Most current wide body Captain's started in the narrow body environment so it's just a case of readjusting to a smaller plane and the type of flying you used to do.

Going straight to the left seat of a wide body with only narrow body time and route experience is much harder as there's a lot more to learn in a short space of time with not much chance to practice (a few flights a month). It's especially a problem if the airline you are joining wants to chop you if you aren't 100% up to speed from day one.

So yes, there is a difference depending on your background. It's not so much about the airplane!
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 17:54
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Originally Posted by JAARule View Post
Has that happened to you?

The difference might be the attitude the DECs arrive with. If the trainee puts in the effort and continues after check to line, it is different to, but no more difficult than, medium haul. Millions of pilots do it successfully and easily. It's not difficult. The hard parts are staying awake and dealing for hours and hours with some of the numpties they're now hiring.
It hasn't happened to me. But coworkers have gone into small towns and been stuck for several days.
In Europe and the U.S. the tough decision to make if both engines fail at cruise is to choose which airport you want to attempt your dead stick into. Long haul international to Asia is often a multi hour diversion into an airport that you never want to go to.
Wide body flying isn't that different versus n/b flying but the regions they fly in can be significantly different.

Last edited by misd-agin; 2nd Jul 2018 at 00:03. Reason: spelling
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Old 1st Jul 2018, 18:11
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I went from 10 years 737, including 8 as Capt, into RHS 747. The training was top-notch and I found it enjoyable to learn about the new considerations required for LH flying. Not so much wide-body but long-haul was the main difference. (Having said that, I guess widebody differences include the greater number of passengers and the attendant higher occurrence of medical issues.)

Although in many ways the 744 was not so different to the 737, it was a new airline, new SOPs, new routes and working with three or four flight-deck crew and up to 18 CC that took some getting used to. And as previously mentioned, you only get to fly three or four times a month and do a landing one or two times a month. Any individual destination may only come up once a year. With a large fleet, most times you are flying with strangers. So, each flight is a bit more of an ‘adventure’ and it just takes longer to get the hang of it. That’s what I found anyway.

I wouldn’t have been comfortable about going into the left seat for at least a couple of winter seasons. Little did I realise it would take 18 years! Now LHS on 787 after a brief spell on European A320 Ops.

As others have said, it’s not at all difficult but airlines want to minimise the training risk and so previous LH / WB experience is considered to be valuable.
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Old 5th Jul 2018, 20:03
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My 2c worth - it's not the aircraft, for 'wide body' substitute 'longhaul'. Long haul mindset is you can fly anywhere in the planet with 1hrs notice, you're used to different region's ATC and nuances, you're more careful because you're not going to the same place 10 times a week. You know where to find all the info you need globally, there's many different environments from ice bound US airports, polar, North Atlantic, hot and high, good/bad ATC, China, Russia (metric) etc etc and one small mistake can put paid to your job. Another big difference is that you're used to operating when fatigued, handling an approach and landing after a 10hr flight with only 2 crew takes a bit of getting used to, you adapt but if you're already used to it its valuable.
Another thing is that wide bodies tend to be part of a large fleet, which is run in a different way to smaller operators, so if a candidate has experience being part of a large corporate machine and a history of fitting in well, chances are he/she will fit in easily into the widebodied company environment they're applying for.
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