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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

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Is this a dying breed of Airman / Pilot for airlines?

Old 15th Dec 2010, 14:01
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in this GLOBAL trading era, there are plenty of pilots here in the USA...we can export some to nations that don't have an active GA program. So don't cut your standards, hire the best pilots in the world.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 15:42
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Originally Posted by TopTup
Let's not get drawn into who is the better applicant or pilot: military vs GA, or whether highly sophisticated aircraft produced by Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier, (soon to be) Chinese Comac, etc, etc....
You say you aren’t interested in being drawn into a discussion of how pilots are trained because you are simply interested in whether or not the industry is being “dumbed down” as a direct and, I think you believe, deliberate attempt on the part of airline managers who hire inexperienced and (I think you believe that means) “incapable” pilots because these managers would be forced to pay a higher salary to those with more experience and (again I think you believe) capable applicants. Let me say, at the outset, it would be hard to argue with the goal of hiring the most experienced persons available to perform the duties we expect a competent airline pilot to be able to perform. However, both of us should recognize that, for a substantial period of time, doing EXACTLY this was not a huge problem – at least in those countries having had established airline operations for decades. You describe your concern by saying airline managers today hire less and less experienced pilots while simply ignoring the “pools” of qualified pilots, claiming the levels of experience you believe should be a minimum, but refuse to work for the “unrealistic and insulting salaries” being offered.

I don’t desire, nor am I necessary qualified, to become embroiled in a discussion about what influence a particular set of skills, or specifically involved risks, or other such factors, should, or do, have on the “fairness” of the salary offered in exchange for services. When a Goal Tender, Clean-Up Hitter, or Golfer can command annual salaries of tens of millions of dollars and a Police Officer, Fire Fighter, Nurse, or Teacher can command only "one-one thousdandth" of that amount, the normalcy of salary structures are almost impossible to adjudicate. But, let me be clear … I am in no way saying that high-paid “entertainers” are not entitled to whatever salaries they can demand. I may be called altruistic, but I would prefer to believe that the professionalism and dedication of that baseball shortstop on every play and the professionalism and dedication of that surgical nurse during every heart transplant operation are essentially equal – I would prefer to believe that in their own minds they are “giving all they can” to the requirements before them at the time – and would do so regardless of the size of the paycheck they know they will receive at the end of the month. If that short-stop cannot muster the professionalism and dedication required of him fielding a “hot ground ball,” he should investigate changing jobs. If that nurse becomes sidetracked in the performance of his required duties and fulfillment of responsibilities because he is mentally comparing the disparity between his salary and the salary of the last winner of the British Open Golf Tournament, he should investigate changing jobs. By the same measure, a pilot should not take a job flying an airplane if the most important aspect of the job is the size of the paycheck. Today, I believe that way too much of our society’s motivation is centered on “purchased stuff” (or the capability to purchase stuff) and not on personal respect.

The incidents you cite are most certainly examples of exercising extraordinary piloting skills. When extremely unusual circumstances develop and the result is either unbelievably successful (e.g., UAL232 at Sioux City, Iowa, 1989) or unbelievably tragic (e.g., UAL585 at Colorado Springs, Colorado, 1991), we do ourselves a disservice by applauding our foresight or denigrating our lack of foresight in the training that we required and accomplished. ANY accident, any incident, that is brought to the attention of those who design, construct, develop, implement, conduct, and evaluate pilot training programs should require each to busily involve themselves in looking at what may have caused and may have mitigated the factors that were involved. Unfortunately, more often than not, the breakdown is not in the training or the competency of the skill sets involved – but rather there is a breakdown in the diligent thought process about what is being done and why the decisions are made to take the particular actions that are taken. Unfortunately, there are a lot more examples of this kind of problem … e.g., AA1420 overrun landing, Little Rock, AR, 1999; SW1455, overrun landing, Chicago Midway, IL, 2000; Comair191, takeoff, Lexington, KY, 2006; DL191, windshear landing, Dallas, TX, 1985; AA331, landing overrun, Kingston, Jamaica, 2009; and the list could go on to a sickening amount. This comes back to the oft discussed attribute of “professionalism.” The FAA Administrator, in a speech given to the WATS Conference in Orlando, April, 2010, defined professionalism as “doing the right thing, at the right time, every time, regardless of who, or if no one, is watching.”

It is for THIS reason that I think it IS absolutely imperative that we address the training of those who are hired. I’m not going to launch into another description of the difference between civilian cadet programs and military cadet programs as I believe there is little doubt that a civilian program CAN produce quality airmen – they just have to be determined to do it – and do it correctly. I am also convinced that a simple series of log book entries are not, in themselves, meaningful of anything beyond the amount of ink that is displayed on the page. The vastly more important aspect of those logbook hours are the kind of operation behind the numbers … and what isn’t shown in those logbooks. That unknown aspect is the quality of, and the amount of, training that led up to that individual’s current level of competence and professionalism whatever that level may, or may not, be.

If you believe that hiring only those persons with some number (most are settling on 1,500 hours) in their logbook will satisfy the professionalism problem – please feel free to act on those beliefs. I, for one, am very skeptical that there will be anywhere near the amount of general aviation jobs that will allow each airline pilot vacancy to be filled by someone having already logged at least 1,500 hours of flight time. And if you find sufficient numbers of those who DO meet that requirement, I wonder if you believe that the training and experience those folks will wind up providing you with the professionalism that we both know is necessary to do the job we know has to be done. I wish you well.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 16:36
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Top Tup, in order to maintain credibility would you mind amending your initial post to record Sully's event as being in an A320. Your post mentions a B757.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 18:50
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I find the devolution of these topics rather distasteful at best. What happened to the idea of mentoring? Should an experienced aviator and captain find that his first officer is doing something wrong then why not enjoy the rewarding process of mentoring and teaching? As a double bonus, those who take this attitude quickly realize that they can, and often will, learn just as much from the individual they are treaching.

The aviator, experienced or not, who is not striving for excellence in all he/she does, is doing themselves a disservice. Indeed experience teaches a host of lessons that cannot be learned anywhere else and I believe that irrespective of what type of cockpit one works in (highly automated or not) that fate has a million more lessons to teach. Just because we fly more with computers these days does not mean that those joining the piloting ranks will not have their hands full with challanges with problems that we can hardly envision. In other words their "dark and stormy nights" will be there for them but just in a different flavor.

Frankly I agree with one of the posters who said that the young F/Os that he flies with are sharp. I agree. Instead of moaning on about "how my generation did this and that" I relish what these young men and women will do and how they master the problems they are sure to face. So what if they have not flown an engine out full procdure turn NDB into Lusaka? They bring a lot of savvy and motivation to the game and it will serve them well. I look forward to working with them.

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Old 15th Dec 2010, 20:39
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Clouddriver

Respect for an F/O from a Captain is neither automatic nor a god-given right. We can all tell tales about what a particular pilot did and so forth.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 22:38
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And if l may, l will.

The point of this little story arrives at the end. Your patience would be appreciated.
Two years ago, operating as captain of an ageing jet, l was non-handling into 3k of runway.
My handling colleague maintained 250kts with both gs and loc starting to move at 5000ft, nil wind, and despite my requests to arm the flight director continued to hand fly raw data.
l armed it myself and insisted on flight idle.

Leaving the flight deck for a comfort call on arrival, l was told to wait because he wanted a word.

Somewhat surprised, l waited until he`d completed the plog, at which point l was told, in very direct terms, to touch nothing in future when he was flying until l was told.
l was starting to steam slightly and on explaining that it was l who signed to accept the aircraft, and it would be me in the courts if things went wrong, and as far as l know we don`t take turns at being " captain ",

he said " your trouble is, you`ve never done an mcc course, have you ?"

Since the credit crunch he`s still flying and l`m " resting ".

As a bit of a fraud really - l`ve kept up the rating and class one med, but not flying - l do find it difficult to comment but have to.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 22:39
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In addition to the basic skills and the technical know-how, the qualities I hope to find in anyone at the pointy end of my transport should be judgement, experience, and maturity.

Friend of mine is studying at a local air academy to achieve his ATPL. His background of 800 hours or so includes a lot of gliding, a lot of airtowing, a lot of instructing. Which means a lot of independent thinking, cross country flying with no help from either ATC or an engine, and a hell of a lot of takeoffs and landings.

I don't want to upset Air Rabbit, but the reason the military pilots are usually capable is that they have gone through an "exceptionally good screening process" which means only the exceptional are chosen. Alas, in the Uk, military pilots, with the possible exception of helicopter pilots, are facing reduced hours, bases closed, and number of aircraft severely cut.
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Old 15th Dec 2010, 23:14
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l`m sure you mean well.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 00:29
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overun

I honestly wouldn't let him fly the plane anymore. Let him be the non flying pilot...maybe ease him into handling the plane on autopilot in cruise...


face it. there are good pilots and bad pilots out there....good luck.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 00:59
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Big White Bird: You read me wrong. Please re-read my initial post. The reference to the 757 relates to the YouTube video of the engine failure (bird ingestion) on takeoff from Manchester.... (By coincidence I was in NYC on the day of the incident and have a pretty OK appreciation of the difference b/w any Boeing or Airbus!)

AirRabbit:
Thank you for your excellent post. This thread offers an platform for argument and discussion. A different perspective and opinion is always welcomed!

I am by no way stating I am right, but that it is my opinion based on witnessed accounts, experience and other related evidence. I have been [unfortunate] enough to have served a contract (loose term) at Air India as a TRE/I on the 777. I believe too many of us in the west from reputable airlines with steadfast, standardized and transparent training and safety systems find it hard to believe that children with 185 hrs TT are operating in the RHS of a B777 whereby they have little to no appreciation of terms like V1, Vmcg, Vmca, let alone the capacity of minimal raw data flying. They have obtained a job via [criminally] corrupt recruitment and training procedures. Their is IMMENSE pressure on the experienced expat pilots to be thrown out of the country to be replaced by pilots with 185-220 hrs TT and the Capts replaced by those with questionable log books indicating 1500 hrs TT. FACTS from personal witness and experience.

Some put airlines like CX and QF on a pedestal yet those names are nothing but brands generating a public opinion from a well earned past, but now lowering the entrance bar / salaries and T & C's in order to attract pilots with little to zero hours and as such discouraging those with experience and credentials.

I agree with you regarding your analogy that salary does not always correspond to effort or drive. However, we all know of the minimalist pilots not signing on till the second hand hit's the correct minute and those that exist by a the absolute minimal of professional means, take every sick day whether sick or not (and in so doing rely on their colleagues to work in their stead) & survive by a strong union backing. However my point is that the greatest of desires and will to learn and strive in this professional is becoming all too difficult. For example, a newbie FO whose passion is not up for question and determination admirable sits in the seat beside a belligerent Capt who hates his job, hates the airline, hates the aircraft, and so on and so on.....or that FO needs the extra training in the sim or mentoring in the briefing room on heavy jet flight planning, decision making, weather avoidance, correct use of the radar, correct RT in differing FIR's, airport categories and airfields.....who is going to offer it and pay for it? The airline's management culture of cut and slash costs wherever?? Hardly. Whereby the experienced pilot comes already armed with that knowledge and as such the salary he/she commands is representative of that.

Read the CX Forums whereby some 60 pilots stood waiting for the call form over 2.5 years ago. In that time management changed their recruitment process to only cadet pilots coming with little to zero hours. Upon employment these cadets receive zero housing allowance or educational allowance for their children (now or in years to come). This basically has cut the salary by 50% from the accepted normal expat allowances offered as part and parcel of the salary package. Apparently the 60 applicants waiting in the wings were called not long ago and offered a position based on these T's & C's and NOT those T & C's they interviewed and were successful for. All but one I understand turned the offer down. Well done to them!

In this instance CX have priced themselves out of the market for experienced pilots. Please re-read my post offering examples of the (now) interview process eye-witness accounts.

Look at QF, and then please read the article written by FO Joseph Eakins as referred to in a previous post. Please tell me that this is not evidence of a management culture striving to pay less and therefore accept lower experienced and qualified applicants. Now, can this be replaced with training and education? DEFINITELY! Will it or does it? i do not think so as this costs time and money.

I whole-heartedly agree with the definition given regarding professionalism and use it a lot when training myself. How often do we see stand-out performers in the sim or on line checks yet know through reputation or other that what goes on when critical eyes are not looking is something entirely different?

This also begs the question, how can one be BE professional without the tools to KNOW what professional behavior is? (Again, I use the present example of standards of RT we hear about the skies!)
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 04:29
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In some countries it is a fact that first officers on airliners are not only barely out of flying school but have no desire at all to be flying aeroplanes in the first place. I well recall training some newly graduated CPL pilots in the 737 simulator for their type ratings. It doesn't matter here what countries they came from. All of the cadets were studying varying non-aviation related subjects in University. One day government officials arrived and directed all students in a particular class or year undergo the medical examinations required for pilots.

Those that passed were then streamed into potential airline pilots and military pilots. In short they were ordered into their new career regardless of their wishes. Readers are aware of the various Air Indian Express mishaps. A colleague of mine flies as an expat captain with that company. He told of his discussions with a female first officer who confessed to him she hated flying.

As she told the story, her parents had consulted an astrologer for his advice on a money earning career for their daughter. Apparently this was SOP in her part of the world. The astrologer's advice was for their daughter to become a pilot. So she was despatched to Miami where she obtained a FAA CPL and also a B737-800 type rating. A year or so later she was a first officer and with no interest in the job. She thus became the cash-cow for her family and said there were many from the sub-continent in the same situation she found herself in.

This then is the up-coming problem. Not only low experience but no desire to fly. I think this is the future and occasional hull losses will be seen as acceptable and the cost of doing business.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 10:59
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TopTup,

this is a valid discussion.

One that it seems has taken some effort on your part to keep on track, unnecessarily so I think, as in reading your first post it was quite clear what the main thrust of the discussion was about.

You reference CX quite rightly.

The CX lads are right this minute anxiously awaiting the reports from their association who are currently meeting management to discuss pay (salary only, not expat allowances et al).

The history of contracts at CX is well known amongst those affected and the outcome of this pay review will truly be an example of current management practices and there disdain or respect of the modern aviator.

This pay review is overdue and necessary just to align the contract with inflation let alone reward employees for their efforts and loyalty.

Over and above this, the further concern with which you refer to is in fact the entry points into an airline.

CX has attempted to test the concept of a cadetship.
They now offer a cadetship but not a cadetship in the traditional sense of the word.
The cadetship has been reviewed and taylored to suit the experience of the individual.
Those with experience, and historically the Direct Entry Second Officer with full expat package to afford one the opportunity to survive in Hong Kong would typically have 3000-5000 hours from a variety of backgrounds.

These individuals (should they accept the job offer) will now fly light aircraft for a certain period of time so as to tick the box of having completed a cadetship.

These same individuals (as you mentioned) were offered the same "end" position, aka Second Officer, as those prior to the financial downturn of roughly 2008, but now minus the necessary allowances that one needs to survive in Hong Kong.

This is a classic example of not only reducing terms and conditions by attempting to attract less experienced individuals, but in fact in some cases seeking to attract the same experienced individuals but devaluing their skills and knowledge by offering majorly reduced contracts.

Surely that is the clearest example yet of what direction management have been going and intend to continue in with regard to pay versus experience.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 16:48
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Hi TopTup

It appears that perhaps I may owe you an apology, as I was not immediately putting your comments in line with non-US or non-European airline operations. While I’m not privy to what happens in many of these countries’ airline operations, I have heard about and am familiar enough with some such countries to recognize the inherent problems that cultural differences may well spill out into the open. As an example, I can readily understand that teaching the finer points of departing a holding pattern to intercept an arc that leads to a localizer approach, with the intent to land on a 5500 foot runway, has its own unique complications when the person to whom you are teaching this exercise can claim a life-long history of man-machine interaction and energy management understanding that consists solely of bicycle riding – and that only for the last 3 of his 21 years. However, and surprisingly, I will admit to being quite surprised to learn that organizations like Cathay Pacific or Qantas might be plagued with the kinds of maladies you describe. Fortunately, I guess for me, I am not terribly familiar with the operations of airlines operating in in those kinds of “other environments.” However, I do understand, and unfortunately acknowledge, that it is also true that once-proud aviation name plates can be overcome by circumstances and, for a lack of a better descriptor, greedy people … I give you Pan American World Airways as a US example.

Admittedly, my own interests have been primarily focused on European and North American applications – but, and I’ll go into more detail shortly, I think the process I am advocating may have the best chance of addressing the concerns you are describing – at least that is my belief at the moment.

As you have no doubt recognized, I am more than a little serious about finding a way to better address the needs of the aviation community – primarily in the form of pilot training and evaluation. My background and experience tells me that if this exercise is done properly, there is a very good probability that those completing a program developed to do this will be considered, by any measure, to be capable of occupying the right seat and fully contributing to an airline operation. OK. Now … how should this effort move forward? I am of the opinion that while I’m only one person – any size group starts with one – and I have been committed to finding a way to start, to join, and/or to participate with, a forum whose goal is to specifically address the issues confronting the training of airline pilots. And, I’ve found one.

The United Kingdom’s Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) has recently provided to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), headquartered in Montreal, a recommendation for the international standardization of the structure and likely the application of flight simulation equipment, including all the technical criteria and testing requirements, that address equipment all the way from basic, introductory kinds of devices to the most sophisticated of flight simulators … and quite meaningfully … ICAO has now officially published that document.

Just recently I have learned that the RAeS is now planning to host a conference late next year (2011) where the primary goal is to establish a second international working group that will develop an internationally harmonized set of pilot training standards – very likely using these recently published ICAO simulation standards, to their maximum extent, and relying, at least to some degree, on the ICAO developed (together with the International Air Transport Association – IATA) description of a newly developed pilot training regimen referred to as Multi-crew Pilot License or MPL.

Because of my previous interests in this area and the fact that I’ve been actively searching and researching this subject, I am aware that there have been several instances of “beta testing” of this MPL format. But, I’ve wanted to be sure that such testing was being conducted by, or at least involved, reputable participants. I don’t have the time or the space here to go into details of that research, but I can say that Boeing has been involved with some of these efforts and so far, the results have been, at worst, promisingly interesting, and more often they have been quite impressive.

OK – I am now satisfied that this has at least a potential for success that I think warrants increased scrutiny and probably some detailed analysis. This brings me back to the RAeS plans. Interestingly, the overall effort, as I have been able to understand it, will not simply address pilot training standards … but that it will also include a set of equally harmonized standards applicable to instructors and evaluators – who will be dealing with the pilots for whom we have the serious concerns expressed here. This sounds more like what I wanted to see. Should this effort result in a coordinated set of standards for pilots, for instructors, and for evaluators – where simulation is introduced and used to its logical maximum extent – and is supplemented with reasonable use of actual airplane exposure and training (which the MPL process provides) and the technical requirements of the simulation planned for use has already been examined – through an international review – and published by ICAO, it seems to me that this effort just may be what we all would like to see. Will it be the absolute epitome of excellence? Perhaps. Perhaps not. But, with the level of scrutiny applied by the world’s aviation training and operations experts – at least those with the most experience – it certainly has a shot at being the best that mere humans can develop – at least at this time.

You asked a beautiful question in your last post: quoting you, “How can one BE professional without the tools to KNOW what professional behavior is?” IF, and I recognize the potentials of such a small word, but IF this program takes the responsibility as seriously as was taken in the development of the simulation standards, I have good reason to believe that the result will directly address the necessary knowledge, skills, and attitudes that are undoubtedly required to operate today’s airliners in today’s airspace system. This would undoubtedly provide each student going through the process not only an opportunity to find out what professional behavior actually is – and how to recognize it in themselves and in others - it should provide for the development of an appropriate skill set to exercise that professional attitude in a professional manner. The jewel in the crown is the plan to submit the finished product to ICAO for publication (and I understand that ICAO personnel will be involved from the outset) as a PANS Training document that would then be available for the world's aviation programs.

I don’t know about anyone else … but … I think this program offers the most objective and most promising set of possibilities that have been brought to light anywhere on the planet up to this point. I am going to try my best to have my company allow my direct involvement with this effort – and if that isn’t possible, I just may have to find a way to finance my own involvement. At the very least, I want to be there … I want to see what is being discussed – what is being decided – and at the very least, I should have an opportunity to insert my little bit of thought, experience, preference, caution, etc. If there are any others on this forum, or similar forums, with similar interests, I would suggest - heck – I would plead - that they contact the RAeS to learn more about the specifics of this upcoming conference – and do everything possible to get involved – right up to the neck! It’s kind of like we here in the US say about our elections … you can’t really complain about who is elected unless you vote as well!

Thanks for reading through yet another of my rambling thoughts …
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 17:57
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overun, in re your short story:

I get the feeling that you have indeed gone through an mcc course (likely more than one) and your cockpit partner was missing some of the lessons learned in an mcc course.

Do I read you correctly?
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 18:13
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In my view, MPL is not idiotic, but the candidates would be better off with more coaching. I personally found that with increasing experience, training sessions in the sim are getting increasingly more interesting i.e. instead of merely hoping to pass the check, you start looking more in potential scenarios and discussions with colleagues.
Why wouldn't you let the MPLs get 1 session in the sim per month in order to stimulate the learning process?
You can put the MPLs in the sim all you want. The fact remains that they will continue to accumulate ZERO PIC time in the airplane, so they will NEVER attain a CPL, IR, or ATPL based solely on their MPL flying. All they will become (or remain) are reasonably competent FOs who may or may not be able to react properly in an emergency or during a non-normal situation. The airlines who hire them will NOT be grooming future Captains!
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 19:08
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Actually, that is wrong. MPL students are hired as future captains, same as their peers that did go through a normal abinitio course before them. After 1500 hours on the line, around 2 years, their MPL CPL will be converted into a normal frozen CPL and in the course of a normal upgrade/command course will generate enough PICus hours to issue a normal ATPL.

Dunno about other schemes, in ours the core phase ends with a normal, which requires a few PIC hours anyway as solo flights are of course part of the training. From the basic phase on(Seminole hours, FNPT and MCC on either Bus or Boeing) however everything is done using multipilot procedures. Other airlines like LH for example use a jet for the basic phase, in their case a CJ1.

I doubt doing 1500 hours traffic patterns will much improve their skills relevant to line flying, 300 hours simulator training however can provide quite an intense and varied training environment. Of course to be able to get into the training one needs to pass quite rigid testing to select the best applicants available.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 19:57
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2 yrs commuter experience, 2 yrs corporate, 8 yrs military, 25 yrs major airline. Seen all types - the background of the pilot doesn't matter. Lousy military trained pilots as well as excellent ones. Lousy G/A pilots as well as excellent ones.

Flying with 10,000+ hr FO's, that have flown, 3, 4, 5, or more airliners, beats the heck out of flying with an inexperienced guy. However, everyone is new when they switch aircraft.

Last FO had approx. 25,000 hrs, flown 4 airliners, 3 corporate jets, ran the flight department at the corporation, owned a flight school, AP mechanic, served on multiple NBAA committees, etc, etc. Trade him for a cadet? Never.

Last edited by misd-agin; 16th Dec 2010 at 19:58. Reason: spelling
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 20:01
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Sim time? They have their purpose. However, no one is ever scared in a simulator. The real world is waaaay different, and more effective, than any simulator for inducing pressure.

Hypothetical this, hypothetical that, sim B.S. walks when you're in the airplane.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 20:22
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What worked 30 years ago when we were hired for qualifications is now not required because of automation. At least that is management bean counters thinking. Let us see what happens to the airlines that took the cheap low hour cadets safety record when their single pilot operations with an apprentice copilot have to do some serious crosswind landings on wet runways. Airplanes and people are more expensive than cheap copilots.
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Old 16th Dec 2010, 21:11
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Major international airlines use abinitio fast-path trained pilots for the last 60 years, there is not much new about it. And what experienced pilots can do on wet runways was very aptly demonstrated this year by american airlines...
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