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Command Training

Old 29th Sep 2012, 15:33
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Command Training


I'm doing a little research into how different airlines approach command training, specifically what if any systems/courses/resources are in place to prepare a co-pilot for command training.

So far, most seem to have little in the way of continual development towards command from day one as a co-pilot, preferring instead to wait until a co-pilot has a command planned in the near future and then provide a ground-school course and perhaps some line training sectors. Therefore I would be especially interested to hear of any airlines that have any programs for command development for co-pilots irrespective of an imminent command.

Thanks for any thoughts..

Last edited by rookie#1; 29th Sep 2012 at 15:39.
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Old 29th Sep 2012, 15:50
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Ryanair do. A three year program. Each year has an info pack available on the crew website with a preamble stating areas of personal development, ability and skills that the candidate should be working towards or have attained. Attached is a technical and SOP questionnaire with up to 250 questions which drags you through pretty much all of the manuals and company publications and if done honestly will give you a pretty comprehensive knowledge of the books.

Candidates have to self certify on our training admin website that they have been completed. They can be expected to be asked about these at the 6 monthly simulator sessions. Regardless of their hours a Command Upgrade assessment form is completed by the TRE to monitor their progress versus their hours towards upgrade.

In the past a "grooming" sim was given. This was a chance to practice the Captains role in the sim and advice and progress report was given. Followed by a grooming flight with a training Captain. Then when the candidate was scheduled for a course there are two days of line training with the Co-Pilot introduced to the role while still seated in the right seat and given some preparation for the upcoming command course.

The pass rate improved dramatically since these measures were brought in and usually the candidates are highly prepared for their courses.

Lot's of problems in FR but training is taken quite seriously and is very well structured with the resources available.

Last edited by Telstar; 29th Sep 2012 at 15:50.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 00:55
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Flybe are far and away the leaders in this regard.

The 'Command Development Programme' is a fully structured
2 year programme of self study and improvement. It is
administrated by the f/o's Base Capt and has lots of
support from all the different depts within in the
company to ensure the future Capt has a full
understanding of the role, knowledge is
so important and flybe promote this.

I believe the orange lot have tried to copy it, what is
it they say, copy is flattery!
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 00:58
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F/O Development programme also runs at Thomson
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 03:43
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My airline just throws you in the sim, sink or swim. Quite a few failures. Their attitude is that an FO should pretty much know what to expect and should not need much training to be at the required standard.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 14:33
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I recall Paramount Airways (Bristol based operator) 22 years ago. An F/O with around 3000 RAF hours (including multi engine jet command) and two years 737-200 F/O time with Paramount. He switched to the left seat for two weeks training and awarded a command. There was none of this myriad of theory and simulator bashing to make the Right Stuff.

When asked why the F/O got a command so quickly, the chief pilot, Captain Mike Kennett, replied that the F/O had flown with the company for two years and had not only flown all the routes but knew his job and proved to be a good pilot. All that was needed now was to switch to the left seat for taxiing practice using the nose wheel steering and from then on he was on his own as a captain.

I thought that was a most enlightened approach to the question of command training and the F/O proved to be a first class captain. I know this because I flew with him on many occasions and he was light years ahead of some of the puffed up other four bar morons I have crewed with in my time.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 15:12
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Since about 5 years we have a command preparation program that starts once an F/O is one year with the company. Until then it was a matter of surviving the cut...ridiculous multiple and unrelated failure simsessions etc etc.

Still don't know how I survived....

Last edited by Track; 30th Sep 2012 at 15:16.
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Old 30th Sep 2012, 16:49
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From day one (or maybe day two)

I was brought up with "role reversal". On my leg as PF I got to act as PIC, make the logbook and handle everything from communication with ground crew and decision making. My DFO saw it as Line Training "light".

Once I did my command training, I had already tried the role as PIC from my comfortable right seat.

The guys in the left seat who put some more effort in to this was always keen on discussing matters during cruise etc. Fantastic way to do it i think.
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Old 6th Oct 2012, 13:41
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It is the duty of the commander of the aircraft to help the fo of any operation with the decision making processes that are required when moving from fo to captain. One of the major criticisms that I had of less experienced commanders, having been a trainer for many years. Is that they very quickly forget how it was to be an experienced fo! The frustrations involved in having basic decisions taken away by a control freak in the left hand seat. CRM aside, it is incumbent on any commander to help develop the skills of his/her less experienced collegue. This cannot be done if said pilot constantly interferes with routine decisions. The attitude should always be that of trying to develop good thought processes, the aircraft commander always always has a veto.
With that thought in mind, the fo who is allowed to develop those skills, will ultimately find the command course a doddle, and on reflection continue to then develop the skills of his less experienced collegues.
He will then be respected by his fellow crewmember enhancing CRM. Why do we find this concept so difficult.
Any command course that has a high failure rate,is flawed. Pandering only to the ego of whom ever had designed it , but is is highly questionable as to its cost effectiveness.
When long ago,in the airline a collegue of mine was working for, he had the temerity to ask the chief pilot where his command course was when offered a command,he was told in no uncertain terms that his four years in the right hand seat was his command course so out of my office and stop wasting my time. The company concerned had an enlightened view towards development of fo's however.
This thread obviously indicates that we are not learning from past good practice.
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Old 6th Oct 2012, 21:17
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I'm sorry n77 but "courtesy" ! Please! As a commander do you really feel it necessary to demonstrate how big an ego you have. How magnificently magnanimous of you. To courteously allow your FO to make the odd decision here or there must make your day.
To watch a keen FO develop from an inexperienced pilot who is not only a danger to himself, but to others as well. Into an excellent forward thinking, situationally aware professional, is greatly assisted by enlightened commanders forcing sometimes rather reticent FO's into decision making. As I said before you always have the power of veto. Use it when necessary and explain why. Wisdom after all comes with experience, grasshopper !

Last edited by saddest aviator; 6th Oct 2012 at 21:35. Reason: correct spelling and make additions
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Old 6th Oct 2012, 21:59
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Saddest Aviator: I don't know what company you work for, but in the one where I work, 70% of F/O's already think they know a lot more than the Cpt before they reach 500 hrs.

But i agree with above, it is not a line captains job to nurse or train, thats the job of a trainer.
It's a line cpt job to get the operation going as smooth, safe and precise as possible, and if this requires taking more efficient decisions than the 300/3000 hr guy in the next seat, then that's what to be done. A good F/O will still look and learn (or see what not to do if this is the case)

It has nothing to do with ego, but to do what you are employed to do and nothing else.

On the contrary, i think it's the line cpt who starts to train that might have a big ego.
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Old 6th Oct 2012, 22:52
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I have to agree with saddest aviator. Of course it is part of your job to train. You are a Captain and therefore a manager. Part of those functions are to impart your knowledge and experience to the team of people assigned to you. The most significant part of that team being your co-pilot.

Just as you did (and still do now hopefully,) you start at a point and grow into the type of Captain and manager by the experience you learn out on the line. Trainers are tasked with putting a solid skeleton in place, that is itself strong and reliable. Most of the meat that is placed on that skeleton is acquired out on the line, where the individual will spend 98% of their operational annual existence.

There are few things more professionaly pleasing, than seeing somebody grow into a good solid Captain. The reward for your effort being their success and any small part you played in that.

Saddest Aviator: I don't know what company you work for, but in the one where I work, 70% of F/O's already think they know a lot more than the Cpt before they reach 500 hrs.
Good! I want them to think they know more than me. I want them to question something they see as wrong. Rarely a week goes by in most pilots working lives where they don't omit or forget something, albeit usually something minor. The symptoms you describe are very common in young people. It is a part of that same teaching function, to shape this exuberance and keenness into something more consistant and workable.

I have been a Captain for the last quarter of a century, but I still remember the Captains who took the time, and displayed the necessary patience, to help me to become the Captain that I did. There were a few who
did the job they were employed to do and nothing else,
however they weren't in fact doing that at all, and in any event they are remembered, if for nothing more than cautionary examples of the trade.

If you think you only learn from trainers you are seriously deluding yourself. The advent of modern training philosophies and better awareness of integrated concepts (CRM etc.) mean that the trainers may have a fraction of your own experience, and they would be the first to admit that the bulk of what you learn and experience will occur outside of the formal training environment. Their job is to operate within that formal regime, but your development will occur in the day to day line flying.

It is therefore essential that you train. Often that means little more than allowing the F/O the lattitude to make their own mistakes and correct them. The variation of experience levels, personality, and all the other dynamics means there can be no formula for this. It will change by the day, but the day you stop being involved, and stop trying to assist the other person, is the day you really should give up.

They make you a Captain for a host of reasons, and because you ticked a lot of boxes. They never did it so that you could do "what you were employed to do and nothing else"!
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Old 7th Oct 2012, 05:14
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Agreed Bealzebub

The word I use is mentoring. I'm not a trainer but I have 40 years experience that I can pass on to my colleagues. Luckily my employer takes command development very seriously and the majority of copilots are keen to improve - they are Captains for the future from day one.

I see this as part of my role and would be sorry to hear of others less inclined to help their fellow pilots.
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Old 7th Oct 2012, 08:48
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Command is not something that comes overnight.............

It is a never ending process of learning and developing. The First day someone steps into that Industry learning starts. Mentoring from the old and bold makes it what it takes to be ready for the Command.

Nursing is not the same level of exchanging exprience and make people think outside the box to be ready when the meat on the skeleton needs the meat as muscles for the brain who commands it.

I am glad that I went thru a abnormal career path in the past. That teached me more then every Aero-school has in the booklet. Today I am still in contact with some of my former mentors, most of them happy retired by now and I am also looking forward to leave in ten years from now. Hopefully been a good example from time to time for the future guys who I had the pleasure to share some time in and out of the Cockpit.
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Old 7th Oct 2012, 09:16
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We know much better in Cathay Pacific Airways here in Hong Kong!
We employ you on a base in, say, London for 12 years giving you 24 simulator sessions during that time. Then, as your Command comes up, we give you a face to face grilling in the Fleet office. Then we give you about 60 sectors of Command training and checking in Hong Kong having taken away your base and forced you to move to Hong Kong. You go to the bottom of the seniority list (ie you're the most junior Captain) and spend the next 10 years - or more- trying to get back on your base.
Oh and probably do all the above on a new type (ie Boeing to Airbus). Works like a charm and has done for years!
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Old 7th Oct 2012, 10:47
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in a word (+/-)

monkey see....monkey do!

the clever monkey looks carefully and "sees"

Last edited by stator vane; 7th Oct 2012 at 10:49.
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 08:41
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Having seen the latest posts i'm concluding that the more youthful of us dont seem to agree with my assertion. However us of a more mature persuasion have like minds! The thought is that either new attitudes are being taught, or more worryingly complacency in the training process is allowing attitudes to creep in through the back door. Mentoring is the word for it it should be discussed during command training and given a high priority
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 11:38
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Command seems to be about being in the right place at the right time and very little else.

In 18 years and several airlines, only my current one seems to give any thought to preparing FO's for the left seat and that is done by making the operating sector the responsibility of the operating pilot subject to veto from the skipper if you do anything daft. And that works both ways too. This means that a command course can concentrate on command rather than things that you should have been doing for years in the normal course of things.

Previous airlines have either recruited direct into the LHS (cheaper), promoted only those with prior LHS experience (less training risk) or preferred ex military heroes regardless ( Training staff predominately ex military).

Despite a good system of mentoring, still dependent on right place right time which is a bit of a bugger when time is running out and all the captains are younger.

The only real answer is to get into an expanding company with a retirement bulge on the horizon.
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 12:08
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In 18 years and several airlines, only my current one seems to give any thought to preparing FO's for the left seat and that is done by making the operating sector the responsibility of the operating pilot subject to veto from the skipper if you do anything daft.
Sure the skipper will veto when anything daft happens...

But is rejecting a visual approach on a cavok day and instead asking for a 25nm final daft? Extending flaps at 30nm out? Pulling speedbrake when already below profile?

None of these things endanger the aircraft or its occupants.

The problem with the really inexperienced guys is that they often leave a very big margin for error which makes the operation inefficient. Which leads to problems when they do end up hot amd high. This goes pretty much unchallenged and the next thing around the corner is command.

Leaving the entire operation to the other guy is not the same as mentoring... but how far should a normal line captain push?

Last edited by 737Jock; 8th Oct 2012 at 12:09.
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Old 8th Oct 2012, 18:40
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I am with 737 Jock on this... As a captain, I feel entitled to interfere not only when safety, but also when the efficiency of the operation is compromised. Sadly, I have found some F/O's seem to be annoyed, especially cadets, who tend to add a safety margin over a safety margin... and then another one "just in case", without really being able to explain why...

While I understand that someone with low experience tends to be cautious, I am surprised by attitude of some of those guys, who think they can do whatever they want "'coz it's their sector" and don't want to take any critique/advice etc...

Last edited by Stuck_in_an_ATR; 8th Oct 2012 at 18:59.
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