Flight Plan

My flight plan....to encourage, mentor, guide those pining for the sky. I'm also here to virtually open the flight deck door for those who want to take a peek at the many aspects of aviation.....enjoy!

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Tuesday, January 18, 2011

P.I.T (Pilot Indoctrination Training) Pilot Profiles

Captain's hat
A F/O's hat does not have the four gold star embroidery.

Five of the new hires were awarded B777 cruise pilot. Five will be cruising on the B767 and the other six....flying right seat in the "jungle jet."

As one B777 guru said to the class during an ad hoc meeting at lunch..."You are starting with the best airplane first."

But then another B777 guru added, "if there is any downturn you will be the first to be bumped off."

Pilot Profiles

Yesterday, I taught weather to Air Canada’s finest new hires.

I rambled on about weather reports (METARS and TAFs), the tropopause, jet streams, turbulence, significant weather charts, icing, volcanic ash and weather websites.

During a few of the breaks I conducted a one on one census.

I wrote their first name only and asked them... their total time, age, whether they had a diploma or degree, jet time, whether bilingual and their last company they flew for.

I was going to compile all their data into a table without names, but I think it’s better just to talk about things as a whole.

Just the facts:

Age: The average age for new hires at Air Canada hovers around 34 to 35. This class was no exception with 33.6 being the average. The youngest was 27 and two of the oldest were 40. I told the forty year olds welcome to the "six month medical club." I don't think they were ready for that. :) Funny.... years ago a candidate was labeled TOO old at 28 for Air Canada.


Everyone of the 16 had post secondary education. Eight had degrees and the other eight…an aviation diploma.

Jet time:

Only 4 out 16 had jet with none of them with heavy time. So 75 percent of the class came from the turboprop world.


Four of the 16 were deemed bilingual (English/French). Sure some of them probably spoke another language, but I didn’t ask.

Total time:

The lowest time pilot snuck under the radar at 3000 hours (Air Canada’s present minimum) whereas one gentleman had a whopping 10,000 hours! The average for the class…just over 4600 hours…translating into a minimum of 5 to 6 years of flying.

Female: The number bouncing around for female pilots has been 4 to 5 percent. Two female pilots sat on the roster yesterday i.e. 12.5 percent. But if I tally up the last three classes…there were 3 out of 36 which is 8 percent! We are on the rise!

Previous flying jobs:

Two to three were from the military, two from Jazz, three from Georgian, two from Central Mountain Air, two from Porter, one from Morning Star (cargo B727) and the rest from smaller companies. A great cross section.

They say it's taking 40 candidates to get a final 10 candidates and by the looks of things we are getting some great people.



Daniel said...

Someday me to ? :D

From the Flight Deck said...

Why not Daniel? Why not. :)

First prize again for first to respond!

getjets said...

Yes, why not..I have 2 granddaughters, 8 yrs and 10 yrs. and because their Maw Maw Julie is ate up with aviation...on our weekend visits, passing MSY(Louis Armstrong, New Orleans),I'll hear... look Maw Maw, here comes one in for a landing and so on!!! Something I don't think they would have noticed otherwise. I certainly have wonderfully high hopes for my girls...so again.. WHY NOT!! Like the women who do become pilots, I say "you go girls"..^j^

Daniel Asuncion said...


I'm wondering about the transition from military pilot to commercial airliner pilot.

The military planes, generally, are smaller and more agile...and of course, there are no passengers.

What challenges can there be during such a transition?

Chris Gardner said...

Nice to see you teaching the new hires at work. Anyways when Idowalk to work about 5:00 am I do see the first flight taking off at the airport and at that time I start huming to the RCAF march pass. I do this for the polits who once flew in the military plus I do this out of habit due to my time in Air Cadets 30 years ago.


Jungle Jet?

ahhh....I get it...Brazil.

WILLO2D said...

Good morning Doug,

Daniel A makes a good point re Mil driver transitioning to the "civvie" way of flying. But, just because a Mil driver is a "Mil driver" don't mean the transition is going to be difficult. CAF has only one "fast jet" operational type - CF-188 Hornet - and two applicable trainers - CT-155 Hawk & CT-156 Harvard II. But then consider the number of multi-engine types: CP-140/140A Aurora/Arcturus, CC-115 Buffalo, CC-177 Globemaster, CC-130/130J Hercules & CC-150 Polaris; and that doesn't include the multi-trainers.

So the question could be, "What background do the Mil drivers have?"

Even that may not hold up. Taking the question the other way, when I was lucky enough to score my RHS rides in the JP5, the instructors came from a wide range of fast jet and multi-engine backgrounds including F-4, Vulcan, C130, Shackleton, and one had the DH Mosquito in his log book.

Good post Doug and good luck to "The 16".

Kind regards / IanH

whywhyzed said...

I think I can comment on Daniel's comment re: the military has no passengers..... have a look at our current fleet of aircraft, including the mighty CC-177 !

The CC-150's are actually ex-Wardair A-310s. Try out the virtual tours!

Courtesy of your trivia dept ;-)

coreydotcom said...

Nice post - it was cool to get an insider look like that!

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Chris. The Air Cadets certainly launched many pilot's careers. But it's becoming a less and less a road travelled.
Many assume most airline pilots are ex-military. Not so...especially here in Canada.

From the Flight Deck said...

Getjets. All you have to do is steer your granddaughters in the right direction...plus get them reading aviation blogs....like mine! :)

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Yeah, I guess I should have explained that one. :)

From the Flight Deck said...

IanH. You are a wealth of knowledge! Please tell me you googled all this info on the Canadian military. Even I would be hard pressed to come up with all those aircraft. :)

I believe both the military pilots had Aurora time, which is great multi crew discipline.

Thanks Ian.


getjets said...


Chris Gardner said...

It was through cadets That I got my interest in photography and it where my older brother got his pilot wings (glider & power) and what he did do but joined the navy go figure. Anyways he recienty retired from the service and now working as a civilian.

From the Flight Deck said...

Daniel. Excellent questions.

And yes, years ago, the military pilot did not make for a good airline pilot....sometimes.

They tended to be a one man band and when they went captain you had to do it their way or else!
Again, many proved to be excellent airline candidates.

I remember hearing some of the stories that referenced the old WWII pilots.
There were many. And they were good. :)

But nowadays CRM (Crew Resource Management) is everywhere, including the military.

Hollywood does a great job putting the military pilot high on the pedestal. From my experience most are fantastic pilots but some are...well......

There is also an assumption out there, a military pilot has oodles of flight time... not so.
But they do come with expertise only the military could offer.

Find me a pilot that's flown up North or in uncontrolled airspace doing non precision approachesin IFR conditions...you can't out match them...even if they are Chuck Yeager. :)

I see IanH and Whywhyzed offered a great take on things as well. :)


From the Flight Deck said...

Whywhyzed. Thanks for the link and what a link it is! The virtual tours are amazing.
The website took a lot of time and money...but it's professional! I won't even think where the money came from to develop it. :)

Again, great link!


From the Flight Deck said...

Coreydotcom. I always get lots of behind the scenes email asking particulars like this so I thought I'd put it out there.

Thanks for the comment.

Captain Doug

WILLO2D said...

Yahoo is MY friend Doug - but I knew most of the info already. I just had to check my library copy of Flight International's "World Air Forces Directory" for some of the Canadian specific designations, e.g., CF-188 rather than F-18.

Ref to the "Aurora", have you Canadians got any going spare? With the early retirement of Nimrod MR2 last year and the scrapping of the replacement MRA4 in last year's defence cuts - apologies, defence Review - the RAF finds itself somewhat short in the Maritime Patrol and Recce capability stakes; somewhat embarrassing for an island nation. Ranting again - more apologies.

Something I meant to put in my last comment also, if an experienced commercial jet pilot was to do an appropriate ground school session, say a day, plus two or three hours of sim time, in most cases they would have no problems in taking the front seat of a Hawk/Hornet for a 90min general handling sortie with a squadron pilot acting as "safety pilot" in the back seat. We had two former C-130 pilots on my Buccaneer squadron who were top notch. It really can work both ways. But I concur with your opinion regarding some single seat fast jet drivers... there are one or two I wouldn't let drive the "waste sucker truck"!!

Cheers / IanH

Aviatrix said...

Thanks for that. I was curious who got the jobs, and you're right not to tabulate them: too specific.

From the Flight Deck said...

Aviatrix. I suspect many future candidates will be reading this post. Seems like AC is sticking to their guns as to what they after. At least there is consistency.


Jason said...

Great info, definitly some facts I was wondering about. Did anyone come off of king airs, or was it mostly 1900's and larger? Also you wouldnt happen to know how many of them were captains at their jobs prior to getting hired by AC?

From the Flight Deck said...

Jason. One guy came from a Metro (Merlin). Sorry, I didn't ask them whether or not they were left seat. I didn't want to push my luck with all the questions. :)

Daniel Asuncion said...

Thoughtful answers to my question!

Each student brings a skill set unique to them. And Air Canada is all the richer for it.

I remember hearing something about the medical school here in Halifax. All of the students accepted had taken the required science prerequisite courses. Many had Biology degrees, but there was at least one person with a Music degree...

Cedarglen said...

Capt. Doug. Thanks for the brief profiles of the new drivers at AC. Sounds like and interesting and well qualified group of boys and girls. I wish them well. They will certainly know their weather!


Hello Captain Doug!

All this Captain, F/O cruise talk has me curious.....

What is the history behind the Captain being positioned in the left seat? It seems all airliners are structured this way. Is there a reason?

Being that there is a side stick in an Airbus rather than a control column, what do you find easier to fly, or more comfortable? I find it comfortable to drive a 6 speed car in the left hand drive config, where I may have a tough time if I were to borrow IanH's car! :) I'm sure that most pinning for a Captain's position would say LEFT SEAT, but now that you are there you can be honest :)

Thanks as always Captain,

CAT III Approach

whywhyzed said...

I have a question about the new hires you mentioned.

Is it the luck of the draw, or would the Candidates with the highest time get the F/O positions and the ones with the lowest time get Cruise positions?

WILLO2D said...

Cat III Ap - re. driving my car, why do you believe you would have trouble driving it? OK, it's RHD, but it's also got an electronic auto. gearbox, just stick it in "D" and apply pressure to the "go" or "don't go" pedals as required. I admit that it also has detents for 1st and 2nd, and an overdrive button (3rd?) on the shift lever, and I often use some or all of those options, especially in the rather interesting wx conditions we've had in the UK recently, and when going up and down dale on some of our countryside back-roads. It feels very strange driving Mrs Willo's 5 speed stick shift!! Or is it driving a car with an auto vs. manual transmission, or LHD vs. RHD, that you are alluding to?

As to left side stick vs. right side stick, I am profoundly right handed at most things, but after less than 2 minutes in the LHS - left side stick - in a 330 sim, I was really comfortable. No problems with putting the "mains" right in the middle of the TDZ and on the centre-line - the bumps of the "simulated" nose wheel bouncing over the "simulated" centre-line lights where clearly in evidence. I guess it felt "right" because my right hand was happy doing the other stuff of moving the noise levers, etc!

As to which seat I would be happiest in? Any - but it won't happen, except as SLF.

Cheers again / IanH



Yes it was more of a comparison to right hand drive, manual transmission. I'm sure I could do it after a while but I'd certainly lack the feel for it at first!
Thanks for the comment.....SLF?

CAT III Approach

WILLO2D said...

Cat III - OK, understood. BTW, I had a LHD manual in Sweden - no problems.

SLF = Self Loading Freight (the passengers ;))

Apologies for "borrowing" your blog, Doug, but I'm sure you know how these things seem to digress every now and again...;)


From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Someone beat you to it as far as the captain in the left seat. In fact, it will be in enRoute's February edition. :)

Now that I have 15 years of Airbus, I will say the joystick is easier to fly. Because there is no control column we can have a tray table instead.
Great for flight planning and eating.

As far as left seat/right seat, it takes a little getting used to. I too think that's a question coming up in enRoute. :)

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...


For the most important number they will have in their career...a seniority number..it's pulled out of a hat. Yes, out of a hat.
Years ago, seniority was predicated on marks, but now it is luck of the draw.

Then they submit their requests on a Christmas wish list. The senior guy gets his first pick and so on and so on. It's not predicated on merit.

Captain Doug

From the Flight Deck said...

IanH. Not a problem in borrowing my blog. It's always good to hear your take.

And CAT III Approaches's as well. :)



Looking forward to the next EnRoute issue as always Captain!

Thanks for clairifying IanH! I've never actually tried an RHD, but I don't have a problem with my ski boat :)

Even though you may get to fly the big bus( 777 ) , would the F/O positions in the jungle get you the better experience?

....one more.....:P

If you are a cruise pilot, do you get credited for the amount of hours on the deck, even though some of the time, you are not technically flying??

.....I lied.....

What aircraft would you most like to fly Captain? Is there a Ferrari of aircraft that most pilots would love to try....like an A380??

Done :)

Thanks again,

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. Just a little confused on your first question...big bus? 777? Do you mean cruise pilot on the B777 versus F/O on the Embraer (Jungle jet)? You do gain lots of hands on experience as F/O, but you don't gain any overseas experience.
So there are pros and cons to each. But whenever there are promotions it's all about seniority....not what you've flown.

Yes, as a cruise pilot you get the same credit as the F/O and captain. Some airlines wanted to reduce this credit when the pilots were in the bunk. That went down like a lead balloon. :)

So on a Hong Kong flight which is about 15 hours. The guys will usually take two 3 to 3.5 hour breaks. Meaning they are sawing logs for six to seven hours but still wracking up the time. It's just the way it is.
Think what a fireman does. Do you think they get less pay while sleeping at the firehall? :)

Sure the A380 would be on any pilot's wish list. The bigger the better. But I still haven't gotten over my affair with the A330. It's was a big sports car.

I am gong to have charging for all your questions. :) LOL

Captain Doug


LOL....thanks Doug! I'll take the hint and tone it down a bit.....

That's why I shouldn't post early, or when tired....when I said "bus" I meant the Boeing....sorry.

If you use your firehall analogy...which I agree with 100%, then shouldn't the clock start in flight planning when you're printing off your charts, planning routes, looking at weather etc?? You're not flying, but you're certainly plannning ahead for it from that start point

Thanks again.....

a toned down

CAT III Approach

From the Flight Deck said...

CAT III Approach. No worries. We have two times (duty time and flight time).

We get paid for flight time, but duty time starts ticking 1:15 minutes prior to departure. It ends 15 minutes after the parking brake is set on the other
side. It's a complicated world out there. :)

Captain Doug

Chris said...

Thanks for the info! Two of our pilots just got the call (B1900 CPTs). Needless to say they're both excited.

From the Flight Deck said...

Hi Chris. That's great news! I was suppose to teach twice in February but I can't make either.
I'm upset I'll be missing the new hires.

Captain Doug