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Regionals: Reserve Schedule for New Hires

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Regionals: Reserve Schedule for New Hires

Old 31st Aug 2019, 15:30
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Join Date: Aug 2019
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Regionals: Reserve Schedule for New Hires

I have been reading in multiple aviation forums (like PPRuNe and others) about new hires receiving 'reserve schedules,' especially when working for some of the regionals (Horizon Air, for example, was one of the commonly mentioned culprits). I'm hoping someone can provide me with some clarification about this. These reserve schedules sound like a nightmare, with the newly-hired pilot waiting around for days, or weeks, to fly, and not being about to plan or schedule anything definitively in their personal lives for at least 1 year or more.

Is this common practice among the regionals for newly-hired pilots? Perhaps I am misinterpreting what a 'reserve schedule' means in the US.

Also, in the threads concerning this topic, many respondents discussed pilots being assigned 'lines.' That means a route, correct? It seems like you have two scheduling options when working for the regionals. Either this nightmare reserve situation, or you are assigned a line and fly the same route over and over again. Again, I could be totally misinterpreting all of this.

I greatly appreciate any insight into this matter. My husband is trying to collect as much information as he can to help him decide which direction he should take while trying to enter the aviation business in the US.
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Old 31st Aug 2019, 20:29
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Join Date: Feb 2004
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ID,

Reserve vs regular "line" scheduling is a complicated subject. I'll try to give you the Reader's Digest version. I don't know if the system here is similar to what your husband has now but it probably has at least some similarity.

As you likely know, everything in an airline is ruled by seniority: what base you're in, what seat/airplane you fly, when you go on vacation...and how your monthly life at work is structured...everything. It's just the nature of the beast, at least here in the USA at any airline where you'd want to work.

There are many variations on a theme where reserve is concerned but being on reserve is usually dictated by one's seniority (some people do actually prefer reserve for personal reasons but I'll leave them out of the explanation for clarity). All airlines will have reserve schedules of various flavors and the seniority of the pilots junior in the base or airplane type will determine who gets it: short call where you must report within a couple of hours of being called, long call where you must be given 12 hours notice for example...or even airport standby where you suit up and sit in the pilot lounge...just in case.

Reserve lines are just blank days of required availability with specific days off designated for the month. Maybe 11 days or so ? It depends on the airline.

There is just no way to predict how long a given pilot, in a given base, on a given airplane will be on reserve against his will. Just too many variables to factor in. And if someone gives you a prediction, it'll be invalid by next week.

As for how much flying one does on reserve, I've seen it go from every day one is on call to so little flying that the pilot runs out of landing currency and has to go to the simulator to reestablish 3 landings within the previous 90 days...and every point on the scale between those points.

As for a monthly "line" of time, that's just a monthly schedule with the specific trips are laid out in advance so one knows all month where/when he'll fly (for the most part). These are awarded, again, by seniority with the senior pilots in a specific airplane/seat/base getting the good stuff and the junior people getting the junk...and every point on the scale between (with junk and good stuff being somewhat subjective terms). This is likely not too different from what your husband has now. Some airlines print the lines on paper and some use a computer system where one enters his preferences of trips/days off/etc and the computer composes/assigns the lines.

For example, I hated reserve and didn't leave one seat or airplane until my seniority would allow me to avoid reserve entirely. And then I stayed on one airplane and base until I had the seniority on that airplane to control EVERYTHING I did at work. I could tell you two years in advance whether I could be at your house for dinner. That level of control took many years to get but that's one way to use seniority. If a person wanted, he could jump from airplane to base to seat as often as possible and be "junior" for decades. Life is short; don't so that.

I think that's the short explanation and others will come along with aspects I missed.

Last edited by bafanguy; 31st Aug 2019 at 23:34.
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Old 1st Sep 2019, 10:48
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Wow. Based on your explanation bafanguy, it really looks like a career pilot must approach their profession like they are playing chess--always 5 steps ahead. You have to line up everything so that eventually, based on seniority, you have the freedom and the authority for some kind of a work-life balance. This is good to know. Very good to know.
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Old 9th Sep 2019, 20:40
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Join Date: Jun 2010
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"There is just no way to predict how long a given pilot, in a given base, on a given airplane will be on reserve against his will. Just too many variables to factor in. And if someone gives you a prediction, it'll be invalid by next week."

What Bafanguy is saying is that picking which airline will have the best reserve sched when you get hired is like this: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Keyn...beauty_contest
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Old 10th Sep 2019, 13:01
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Join Date: Dec 2000
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Originally Posted by IllinoisDavidson View Post
Wow. Based on your explanation bafanguy, it really looks like a career pilot must approach their profession like they are playing chess--always 5 steps ahead. You have to line up everything so that eventually, based on seniority, you have the freedom and the authority for some kind of a work-life balance. This is good to know. Very good to know.
Knowing how to fly the airplane is by far the easiest part of an airline pilot's life. Much more time and effort goes into mastering the scheduling and compensation aspects of the job. Very little in an airline pilot's life is predictable to any degree of certainty.
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