Here's a great question from follower whywhyzed regarding staying current.
At AC is there a minimum number of takeoffs and landings you guys have to do in a month? A guy I know is a long-haul pilot at AC and there are some months where he only does 2 trips (eg YYZ-HKG-YYZ x 2 = approx 66hrs) and since the Capt and F/O take turns on the legs, this means he gets to land the plane twice in a month. In other words ...."we hardly ever get to land this thing".... I was thinking since practice makes perfect, how does this make any sense from a safety point of view? Compare that to the domestic 'shuttle' flying some do where you might do several landings just in one day.
Staying current on the long haul fleet is a work out. Here's the gospel according to our FOM (Flight Operations Manual)
The Fleet Manager, at his discretion, will authorize a pilot to operate a flight, provided the pilot has completed one of the following:
• 3 takeoffs and landings and 1 sector within the previous 90
• 5 sectors, within the previous 90 days; or
Note: Sectors flown by a Captain or First Officer assigned to a
flight as an Operational Relief Pilot or augment pilot do not
count towards the sector requirements stated
• Provided recency had not lapsed when completed, the completion of recurrent/CQ training (i.e. MT/LOFY, MTV/LOE or IPF/PPC) within the previous 90 days
In a nut shell, one has to log three take off and landings each 90 days (three months). Easier said than done. That's one of the discussions the long haul crews talk about when they first meet for the flight. Who needs a "take off and landing?" Sometimes a pilot is reluctant to give up his chance to fly the airplane, because after all, it's what we signed up for.
Things got really complicated when Transport Canada mandated in order to stay qualified on the A340 we also had to fly the A330 within 90 days. But for the YVR (Vancouver) based pilots who saw only the A340 it was a logistic nightmare. One chief pilot mentioned they had at any given time, 40 to 50 pilots on the verge of losing competency.
All Air Canada pilots log into system which tracks take off and landings. It's watched very closely on the long haul. On the domestic side, it's a moot point. In fact, I've been a little lazy logging my take off and landings. Usually the F/O does it for both him and I.
Another problem is the ultra long haul flights (YYZ-HKG, YVR-SYD, YYZ-Shanhai) requires four pilots (One captain, two first officers (F/O1 flies and F/O2 is the augment F/O) and one Cruise (relief) pilot). I have a friend, because of seniority, can only hold Hong Kong flights as the augment F/O. I.E he has to hope for European flying in order to stay current or convince the other F/O to give up a leg.
What happens if it looks like you will turn into a pumpkin? A ride (flight test) will reset the clocks. Sometimes a pilot has to displace another pilot so they can do their flying. If that fails, then it's into the simulator for three take off and landings. Who would of thought staying current would be so technical? I even heard of rumours whereby the pilot did not physically fly the flight but was part of the crew and logged the take off and landing. Just rumours.