Connect and get the inside scoop on Airline Companies

Welcome to Airline Pilot Forums - Connect and get the inside scoop on Airline Companies

If this is your first visit, be sure to check out the FAQ. Join our community today and start interacting with existing members. Registration is fast, simple and absolutely free.

User Tag List

Post Reply
Thread Tools Search this Thread Display Modes
Old 04-11-2012, 06:38 AM   #1  
Gets Weekends Off
Thread Starter
Joined APC: Dec 2009
Posts: 258
Default CRM problem of co-captains?


I have to write a paper for my aviation safety class on the problems of having co-captains and switching seats for corporate aviation. So far all that I can come up with are the who has final command in an emergency question and the ergonomics of switching seats constantly being a muscle memory problem. I'm going to have trouble stretching those two thoughts to 400 words so I would appreciate any help possible.
porqueno is offline  
Old 04-11-2012, 07:14 AM   #2  
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Jul 2007
Position: 744 CA
Posts: 4,569

400 words isn't a paper....its barely a couple paragraphs.... that said.....

I suspect that "co captain" issues arise on at least two occasions... first, if there is NOT a good working relationship between the two individuals and second....even in non emergency situations...someone needs to take the lead for a specific trip. Certainly input should be brought into play from the other "co captain" but in the end, only one pilots name appears on the flight plan as the PIC. I would think in a true co captaincy type situation "PIC" duties would be swapped on some sort of schedule. In other situations in might simply be a way to get the copilot a better pay scale.... the dynamics of this situation are endless, many good, but with the wrong relationship dynamic it could be very difficult.
HercDriver130 is offline  
Old 04-11-2012, 08:04 AM   #3  
Chief Jeppesen Updater
FlyerJosh's Avatar
Joined APC: Oct 2005
Position: Executive Transport Driver
Posts: 3,047

It all depends on company policy. At my previous employer, we were both typed and we each flew from the left seat. The pilot flying (left seat) was the PIC for that flight- listed as such, and had final authority.

At my current company, we switch seats (everybody is captain qualified), but the senior member of the crew is the final authority, regardless of which seat they occupy.

The reality is that given most circumstances and issues that I've had to face as a member of a two captain crew, we each respect the other's abilities and when a major safety of flight consideration needs to be made, generally the most conservative course of action between the two crew members is chosen.
FlyerJosh is offline  
Old 04-11-2012, 10:16 AM   #4  
Challenge Accepted Five
BoilerUP's Avatar
Joined APC: Sep 2005
Posts: 5,996

Originally Posted by FlyerJosh View Post
It all depends on company policy. At my previous employer, we were both typed and we each flew from the left seat. The pilot flying (left seat) was the PIC for that flight- listed as such, and had final authority.
That's the way we do it, and it works very well for us.

It would not work well for everybody, principally because of crewmember personality and ego.

As Chief Pilot, an argument could be made that I'm "always" responsible for the airplane regardless of the seat I occupy, but IMO the guy in the command seat is the PIC of a given leg and the last thing he needs is a right-seat driver.

If I can't trust the guy to be a PIC with me onboard, how can I trust him to be PIC with the CEO onboard???
BoilerUP is offline  
Old 04-12-2012, 05:33 AM   #5  
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,087

I met a guy at recurrent who was based in Russia on a 2 month on 1 month off schedule. So they had 3 pilots, all co-captain, and they just swapped seats every couple legs. Person in the left seat was PIC.

I think the idea of it works out really well, especially to make a commuting schedule work. Plus this way both pilots are closer in pay.
ImperialxRat is offline  
Old 04-12-2012, 05:36 AM   #6  
On Reserve
Joined APC: Apr 2010
Posts: 23

I came across an excellent podcast by John King where, among other matters, he discussed how he and his wife, Martha, handle PF/PNF duties in their Falcon 10.

Its worth a listen.

Episode 5: John King : Flight Podcast
PLovett is offline  
Old 04-12-2012, 06:01 AM   #7  
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: May 2009
Position: Square root of the variance and average of the variation
Posts: 1,602

I'm the CRM program manager for one of the 142 providers and can give you some additional insight. The biggest issue I see is lack of cross-checking and monitoring when dealing with co-captains. In an airline environment with thousands of pilots, the dynamics are different. If you dislike someone, chances are you'll never have to see them again via creative bidding. You can call "airspeed" all day long and draw attention to standards deviations without a "perception" of being "that guy." In a corporate environment you may have to sit next to the same individual for 20 plus years.

In many situations, co-captains are failing to annunciate indentified errors out of "professional courtesy".I wrote an editorial on this topic in the October 2009 issue of Professional Pilot Magazine. I can send you a PDF of it if you PM me with your email address. In other cases "co-captains" are very active in using inquiry, advocacy, and assertion because there's no stratified cockpit - the perception that one pilot is superior in rank and/or authority.

Even with "co-captains" some companies require a simulator event with 3 right seat landings. That's more a muscle memory issue than constantly flying from the left seat.

You should be able to address the psychology and CRM implications of this issue in 400 words without any trouble. A standard double-spaced page is 250. Most magazine articles are between 1500-2500 words.
Std Deviation is offline  
Old 04-13-2012, 02:32 AM   #8  
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Feb 2007
Posts: 1,087

Std Deviation: You don't think that is a problem associated with corporate/charter in general? The flying with the same guys and not annunciating things out of "professional courtesy"? It seems more of a general problem with 135/91 flying than just a "co-captain" problem. Any interesting point to bring up though between the difference of 121 and 135/91.
ImperialxRat is offline  
Old 04-13-2012, 10:19 AM   #9  
Gets Weekends Off
limelight's Avatar
Joined APC: Feb 2007
Position: C-17 Everything
Posts: 46

In my most recent assignment, we Had "trips" where we had 2-4 qualified and current instructor pilots on the orders. The biggest problem I saw was complacency rising from the feeling that "it's cool, he/she's an IP, he/she's got it all under control".
limelight is offline  
Old 04-14-2012, 05:01 AM   #10  
Gets Weekends Off
Joined APC: Aug 2009
Position: B-757/767 Capt.
Posts: 219

"If I can't trust the guy to be a PIC with me onboard, how can I trust him to be PIC with the CEO onboard???"

I couldn't agree more.

I've always thought that ther term co-captain was an oxymoron created to serve ego. There should only be one captain on each leg. I am in no way suggesting that the other captain or first officer should not be used as a resource and be assertive if necessary but one leader is enough.
In my corporate days (oh how I miss them) I had the pleasure of working with a group, all qualified as captain and we swapped seats each leg and the left seat pilot served as captain. Never a problem.
In my present life, as a check airman I often find myself in the right seat as PIC because the person in the left seat is yet to be qualified. In that case, I am the PIC but I am not the captain. While I am responsible and accountable for the captain, that position along with all duties and decisions has been delegated to the trainee. I am simply acting as a first officer with the authority to intervene. (which almost NEVER happens)
Too many cooks spoil the stew!
cubguy is offline  

Post Reply

Thread Tools Search this Thread
Search this Thread:

Advanced Search
Display Modes

Related Topics
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Captains Sullenberger & Haynes fireman0174 Major 54 02-26-2009 08:59 AM
Experts fret over 777 problem vagabond Technical 4 12-31-2008 04:13 PM
Problem with CASS photo not showing? 8Lpearlchannel Regional 6 09-02-2008 04:35 PM
Street Captains... Excel Regional 4 03-13-2008 09:13 PM
Mesaba Street Captains Too Tall Regional 75 10-31-2007 09:21 PM

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 12:12 AM.