Re: Really Long Range Commercial Transport

From: (Robert Dorsett)
Date:         01 Jun 94 14:35:01 
References:   1 2
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In article <airliners.1994.1276@ohare.Chicago.COM> you write:
>I have a cousin who flies B737s for United.  He jumped
>at the chance to go from B747-400 1st Officer to Captain
>on the B737.  Other than the obvious reasons on taking the
>captain spot, what is the likelyhood that a competent
>professional pilot will prefer sitting in either seat
>oversighting the autopilot for 6 to 8 hours?  Granted there will
>be period of activity, but not enough to keep the good ones
>interested.  What happens if you add another 4 to 8 hours
>flying time onto an airframe?  You'll get pilots who are
>collecting their seniority hours to bid other positions.
>Am I dead wrong on this?

Pretty much.  The more senior the pilot is, the more likely he'll get what
he bids for.  You don't get into a 747 if you're not senior: the benefit
is primarily an increase in pay.  Since the 1950s, payscales have been
based largely on the size of the aircraft.

While flying long-distance can be mind-numbingly dull, an extra $25-$50K/year
vs. an entry-level airplane keeps a lot of people motivated.  Pilots, like
everyone else, live at 110% of their means.  So one even sees captains of
smaller airplanes bidding for F/O positions of heavier airplanes.  Not
common, but it happens.

Some of the reasons one might go back:

- An opportunity to be a captain of a smaller airplane, as you note.  In
this case, the pay reductions might not be significant.

- A desire for a more stimulating type of flying.  A 747-400 crew can
make as little as four takeoffs and landings a month.  A Southwest 737
crew can do double that in a day.

- The desire to fly a shiny new airplane, rather than a 20-year-old airplane.

But odds are, sooner or later, they'll migrate back up to the 747 or the 
heaviest airplane in the fleet before they're finished with their career.

Robert Dorsett