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What is your airline's policy on 3 man crews?

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What is your airline's policy on 3 man crews?

Old 06-02-2011, 04:46 AM
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Default What is your airline's policy on 3 man crews?

Just conducting a survey on how you all run your 3 man operation on 8+ int'l. Curious because I've been told AA does it different from everyone else (shocker.)

At AA: there are CA lines, FO lines, and "FB" (relief pilot) lines every month.
If awarded an FB line, you are relief pilot for the whole month. When you are an FB on a typical JFK-Europe trip, you sit in the j/s for takeoff/landing, you always get 1st break, and you won't get a landing unless you ask. I.e. it's an old school system based on seniority - "If you want a landing, bid an FO line."
That said, I always offer if I'm FO, and I've had plenty of pilots offer the landing - but it's not routine.

I understand that at Delta, if you're FB, you sit in the right seat for TO/Landing on the PNF leg, and the FO gets the leg back. I also understand that you guys only have CA and FO lines, and whoever's landing expires earliest is FO for that flight.

Any other airline input is appreciated.
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Old 06-02-2011, 05:35 AM
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At DL, there is usually one rotation (pattern, trip, etc) with a CA and FO, then the extra FO is on another rotation number. On some trips, both rotations are the same. (ie, JFK-BUD-JFK, the rotations are identical) - on other trips, that go through places where we have lots of departures (AMS, CDG, NRT) you can fly in with one crew and out with another.

Who is relief is not defined by rotation - it depends on how people feel, who needs/wants a landing, how rested they are, etc. The way you described for Delta is typical, but not exclusively so. There is no "FB" per se, it's just whichever FO isn't going to be in a control seat for TO and LDG is the relief.

I've seen it where the Captain says he doesn't want either landing, so the FOs split it. I've been on trips (4 man, 12+ hrs) where just the CAs landed. I've seen 4 man trips where I did both landings so I didn't have to go to the sim the next week.
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Old 06-02-2011, 06:28 AM
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At UAL (pre merger) there are Captain lines, and FO lines. The specific trips are designated as flying FO or the bunkie (relief pilots), but there are not specific lines built just for the bunkies.

An FO might end up with all bunkie trips, or a mix, or a pure flying FO line. Just depends on how they bid, and how PBS will solve the monthly awards. And since we fly both domestic and international (there is no separate bid position) one could end up with a mix of international and domestic flying in the same month. We can even mix domestic and international in the same trip. And there can be swapping of bunkies while on a trip, ie IAD-LHR-LHR for the bunkie while the two guys up front do IAD-LHR-LAX-LHR-IAD. The flying guys could have 4 different bunkies on that trip.

As far as getting landings, it seems to be a domicile issue. Some have the attitude of fly what you bid, and others are active in trying to get the bunkie landings (if needed). Seems the latter is more prevalent on the 777/747 since there are fewer landing opportunities. On the 767 it was rare for the flying FO or even the Captain to give up a landing since we have to ability to fly those domestic trips as well. Plenty of landings available on the 757.

Bunkies tend to get the first break, but usually it is the pilot flying that decides which break he/she wants first. Then the pilot not flying. All at the Captain's discretion of course.

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Old 06-02-2011, 07:15 AM
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We're nonsched 121, but we have CA, FO, and IO lines. IO pays a $10/hr. override, and the FO gets the landing, unless there's more than 2 legs, then the IO may get one. CA determines who rests when, sometimes the PF gets to pick, but more often than not the CA gets the middle break, and the junior pilot gets the leftovers.

If the IO is about to dequal, the FO may or may not give up a landing to keep the IO current. I never feel too bad about seeing the guy who gets a pay override go to the sim. If the IO wants landings, they can bid FO.

Last edited by dogismycopilot; 06-02-2011 at 07:17 AM. Reason: added "/hr."
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Old 06-02-2011, 07:21 AM
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Generally at DAL the PF gets mid break. Sometimes the CA takes it if he is PNF but most times not.
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:45 AM
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Originally Posted by acl65pilot View Post
Generally at DAL the PF gets mid break. Sometimes the CA takes it if he is PNF but most times not.
If he's a tool, that is...
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Old 06-02-2011, 07:16 PM
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Thanks for the replies guys...
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Old 06-02-2011, 08:29 PM
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Originally Posted by satchip View Post
If he's a tool, that is...
As a former Delta South who'd flown international over 50% of my career I'm used to the PF getting the choice of breaks. Now, flying with primarily fNWA FOs, you wouldn't believe how hard it is to get the landing FO to take the second break. Even with the emphasis Delta is placing on it I'm finding lots of resistance.

That said, and although I'm still trying to do it the Delta way, I see some advantages to the fNWA system of breaks (and not just because that give me the middle break - although that is a bonus!)

As opposed to someone waking up and coming off break at the tail end of a flight trying to quickly get his SA together, you have two individuals who are fully awake and in the loop for the last few hours doing the approach and landing. You also get longer break times because you don't need to the third break pilot up to the cockpit quite as early.
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:27 AM
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Wilburrrrr - What's the Delta North(ex NW) break system that you're comparing to?

I'd guess 80-90% of the PF's take the second break. Personally I tend to prefer the third break, even as PF.

The whole "the PF needs to be up here for S.A." opinion(ie, PF takes second break), IMO, is an opinion. Eastbound napping, especially at 2130 instead of 2300, is tough for me, so I prefer the later break.
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Old 06-03-2011, 06:51 AM
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^^^^^^^^^^I agree ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^

Who needs 2.5 hours of SA to prepare for the landing? 25 minutes maybe,

Long haul rule #1. Sleep when you are tired. A break while wide awake is useless, except for you backside.
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