Transcribed Interview #3
Topics: Plane Sizes, Seating, Building Time Process, Seniority, etc.
Clock ticking, Clock Chiming, Dog noises
February 24, 2014
S: Is it a cold front, is it just snow
T: Supposed to be coming around 4:00/4:30
S: Ready for the Interview!
T: Bella are you ready?
S: Can you start off my telling me…. why, uh, different planes are different sizes?
T: different planes are different sizes to uh, compete in different markets, and…for…um…cost.
T: So- different market but, uh, maybe she wants to come up…(he’s talking about the dog)
T: Of course, those reasons are changing too but , from an example Dulles took Los Angeles. You would not- first of all, a smaller, regional jet, it would be impractical to fly-
S: Cause it would cost more money, to fly maybe 100/200 people?
T: No…there’s a lot more people to go that distance, the airplane itself, the smaller airplane might have to even stop and get more fuel. It doesn’t have the range.
T : So
S: Are typically more people flying from…to and from longer distances then shorter distances.
T: Yeah because once they get to the point, in this case, LA, they’re going a lot more other places, then if if you would fly to other places, than if you were to fly to Spartensburg, South Carolina. Does that make sense?
S: m hm
T: Like somebody going to LA, we talked about this before, they could very well be getting of the airplane and going to LA or…a lot of surrounding areas, or, they could be going from one airplane, to another and going anywhere to Asia, or Australia, or any you know…out to the west.
S: (starts to talk over)
T: If you were to fly from Washington into Spartensburg which is a small airport, and actually, that’s another reason, the airport itself, sometimes cannot handle a bigger airplane, uh, there’s just not that many people going back and forth…(something incomprehensible.)
T: And uh, and then of course people or business men, business jets are smaller jets because its just the high executives that fly on business jets and they’re small yet, they’re fast so, they get to go in and out of these smaller airports yet they can travel just as fast as a big airline- they can get from point a to point b in about the same time.
T: Its costly..which is another, as a sidenote: The newer airplanes, just like automobiles, are immensely more efficient.
S: Can you describe more difference between newer airplanes and older ones?
T: They get better fuel mileage, the cost of fuel of very high. If you can reduce fuel cost, you can save millions of dollars.
T: Example, we were just talking about the numbering airplanes, how the Boeing airplanes are numbered and the last Boeing airplane to come out is the 787, that’s the newest airplane, in the market. So all the other airplanes prior to this point with presserureization and air conditioning and heating, they’ve always tapped off the engines, the engines are producing heat and air..
S: all before, all of them do this? Before the 787?
T: Yea. So- when your tapping air and heat off an engine, its not getting as good of gas mileage. So.. uh.. one of the big things about the 787 is, the size of the airplane, and it burns a lot less fuel because they have different air conditioning, heating systems, pressurization systems. That don’t take, so much from the engine. Self contained uh, systems. Also the Weight of an airplane determines, how much fuel it burns. This new boing 787 is the first airplane that 100% composite material, there is no metal, on the skin.
S: What does composite mean? Is it fused stuff?
T: Its like, fiber glass, that kind of stuff. Its actually, they heat and fuse it in a mold and they put sections together. All the airplanes before, some of them have, even the airplane I fly 757, 767, they have some composite material, and some metal, but majority of the airplanes skins are aluminum, metal, so it makes them heavier. But I guess they found a way to stick panels and hopefully they’ll, stay together… (brief laugh)
S: Last time you said there are differences…there are reasons why, is that for the market reasons?
T: Well, unfortunately, yeah. People traveling and the fact of, what I said before small airplanes, a small jet, is not going to be able to fly from Boston to San Francisco, I mean it can fly there but no without a fuel stop.
S: Do you know what…AirBus, Airbuses there are? I have 319, 380.
T: Well there’s an Airbus 300, 319, 320, 321, 330, 340, 350…… and the big 380, that’s a double Decker.
S: Do these following the same manufacturing sequence as, Boeings?
T: Uh, yeah they do, the number sequence is, never, never would of though about that- guess they do, the uh, the A330 is a big twin engine and the A340 is as little smaller four engine and the A380 is a huge two engine.
S: Okay. Well I have, I have questions for charts I’m putting together…(Shouldn’t have said that?) …I don’t know if you’ll know all these answers, but I’ll ask them anyway (uhh should not have said that either, dazed & confused.) When was the 7×7 Manufactuered?
T: Late 50s
S: And the 737?
T: 1963 or 64.
S: uhm, is the 727 bigger than the 737?
T: Uh okay, the 727..first of all the 737, they are still making 737’s. The 737 that was made in the 60s, mid 60s, I should probably say 64 or 65-
S: Do they still make all of them-
S: I think you said- okay.
T: But here, listen, there are different versions, so when they first came out with the 737 it was the 200 series,then they came
T: And now, they are up to the 737 900.
S: Wow, okay.
T: Its still the same, it looks the same, its bigger, uh and it I think it carries around 145. Not sure because continental has all these airplanes. So the 727 which was made in 1960, 61, 62 something like that, war bigger, than the original 737 200 and 737 300 but eventually 737 like 800 and 900 are a little bigger, as far as passenger, then the 727.
S: What do you mean as far as passengers? (and here I try to answer the question for him) –they might, might have uh, …uh…I don’t know
T: The wingspan on a 727 is still bigger than the wingspan on a 737.
T: The uh, 474 of course, was the late 60’s, and that, boeing put everything on the line. Boeing could have went out of business-
S: (and I go to finish his a sentence…again) –building that airplane?
T: Building that airplane, they, they just put everything out and once again, that, that airplane, has, a lot of different series. That airplane is the biggest airplane, passenger airplane, up until a couple years ago, when the airbus 380 came out.
T: Now I’ve flow the 747 100 and 200 series, with Flying Tigers, now they are up to the 747 400.
S: So- Boeing makes these, manufactures these airplanes and then they sell them to different air, uh different-
T: All over the world.
T: They will sell to anyone who wants to but them.
T: Actually, a lot of these places they lease, they lease them out. Big leasing companies buy them, but that’s probably too much involved.
S: Would you be able to tell me approximately how many passengers there are per 727, 737, 747 or does that different, or does that differentiate too much between the series?
T: Like 747 100 vs. 747 400?
S: No I mean (should have said yes if that was where he wanted to take it) approximate passenger for each model.
T: Of course the 727 carried about, and these are averages, maybe, maybe uh.. I don’t know 150 maybe not that much I can’t remember.
T: And like I said 737 300 which is smaller, carried, about 110. But the bigger versions that they fly nowadays are about 150. I think.
S: Does the 727 not have bigger versions?
T: No the 727 isn’t flying anymore.
T: The 747, I don’t even know how much those carry because the ones I fly were cargo.
S: The 727 and 737 are they passengers and cargo or passengers?
T: The 727 was passengers until it got old and Fed Ex started using them for cargo, and they actually did pretty good. Most of the 737s were just passengers. The 747 is both, can be used as both cargo and passengers, depending on how the company, they company orders a 747 from Boeing as either a passenger, or a cargo.
T: Uhm, the Boeing 757 carries 198, average. The Boeing 767 300 is around 245.
S: So there are series of 767 too.
T: Yeah 200’s & 300’s.
S: Are their series of the 757’s-
T: 200’s & 300’s
S: And they are both passenger planes-
S: No cargo for those?
T: uh there’s a couple 767 cargo, but you don’t see those very much.
T: 787 can be built either way but right now there are only passenger.
S: 787, okay.
T: I’ve never seen a 757 cargo. You can tell a 757 because its real long and slender.
T: on a side note, the cargo airplanes…you’ve been on an airplane before right.
T: And you know the ceiling, your 5 foot 2 right?
T: And the ceiling is about 6 foot, maybe, 6’ 1’’, so a tall tall person, nowadays the ceiling might be 6’ 3’’ or something but you got a real tall person they have to bend over. What I’m getting at is there’s a lot of space above. So a cargo airplane, can utilize allll that space. I have a picture of a 747 cargo and I wish I could find it, its up in the garage…someday… its pretty amazing the first time you look in a cargo airplane.
S: ….they use the whole…
T: Yeah there’s no seats, there’s no nothin’.
S: How much higher is the ceiling?
T: Its another, in the 747 its another, uh 6 feet, I mean its huge.
S: the 777…
T: Both cargo and passenger depending on how the company orders.
S: And do you, approximately, how many are on 777 and 787-
T: (Lets out breath) uh, I’m guessing about 270, for the uh..
S: (without letting him finish his thought) Do know which ones, sorry, for which one?
T: Triple 7. The 787 is about 160. I don’t know..
S: Would you say the 747 has over 300 people on it?
T: Yea it’s a big airplane.
S: Okay, and the 777 & 787 uhm, do they series?
T: uh, triple 7 I think, have 2 series, and the 787 will, but it doesn’t right now because it’s a new airplane. The triple 7 series…. They make a long haul triple 7 that will go from New York to Japan.
S: With, bigger…fuel compartments?
T: Bigger fuel, uh, basically..
S: What I was gonna do was have one of these charts with all…welll, hm. Uh, the Boeing, all the Boeing planes, and (how is this culturally related…?) uhm, passengers, and I might have, instead of putting the numbers, I might have…uhm, it has, if it can seat 150…or more than 150. (clearly lost) (should/should not mention “Charts”?)
T: Yea, because you know all those numbers are averages.
T: And some airlines have more and some airlines has less.
T: because of the way they space their seats., like United has three classes inside an airplane, they have, inside the airplane, they have a first, a business class, and economy. Some airlines just have buiness and economy.
S: Why…. The, separation?
T: Because in economy, there is, I should say, in first class, the seats actually, they take up a lot more space because the seats actually go down into a horizontal position where people can sleep.
T: business class they’re wide seats but they look like a regular airplane where they don’t turn or anything, the seats are nice and comfortable and they almost go down horizaontal but they don’t.
T: And then you got economy-
S: Why is it called “Economy”
T: Probably because Buiness class and first class people, they’re paying, they’re payin’ a lot more.
T: Economy classes, you get a seat, you sit down, and you enjoy the ride. So they’re spaced- economy seats are spaced much closer together.
S: Okay- much closer seats.
T: So if an airline takes out its first class, and it just has buiness, and then economy, tey have a lot more seats on the airplane. They have a lot more seats on the airplane- do you understand what I’m saying?
S: mhm yeah-
T: The seat figures I’m giving you-
S: It almost all- it depends on the airline-
T: It depends on the airlines, and those are kinda just, the averages.
S: Are uhm, I guess, uhm Airbuses and Boeings, similar airplanes? Do they have major differences?
S: Have you flown an Airbus before?
T: I’ve never flown an airbus.
T: There, there is one major difference between an Airbus and a Boeing, well first of all, the similarities, are, I mean, there all similar except thing. There’s one distinctive thing about an Airbus that Boeing does not have and there is one distinctive thing about a Boeing that an Airbus does not have. The engineers at Airbus decided, and its, in the cockpit is the difference. They have minor difference all over the airplane but the major difference is, a Boeing airplane when I sit in the cockpit, there is a control column that comes out of the floor, I can move it back and forth, that’s how the airplane goes up and down, its called a yoke, that I turn the yoke to the right or to the left and the airplane turns right or left, right, that’s how you see all the airplanes, all the small private airplanes have that kind of set up, its call a control, that’s the yoke.
S: That’s, in the Boeing-
T: Boeing, yeah
S: That controls it, controls direction?
T: Direction, yeah, in the air, up, down, left, right, in most simplest terms.
T: The airbus, does not have that. A pilot, in the cockpit, of an airbus, is controlling the airplane, with, his wrist. It is called a joystick. Like a military airplane has.
T: So there is nothing in front of the guys knees, where is in a Boeing, the control column is in front of my knees, right?
T: In an Airbus, the captain steers the airplane with the airplane with his left hand, the First Officer steers the airplane with his right, hand. Only. So. Its like a joystick, in a game, you move back it goes up, you move the joystick, forward the airplane goes down, you move the joystick to the left the airplane goes left. And that, that is a major difference in A Boeing and an Airbus.
S: Is that on all of the planes?
T: Its on all the Airbuses.
S: the yoke is that on all the plane? Even though, the, real big ones.
T: On a Boeing planes, the control column, the yoke, is on all Boeing Airplanes.
S: Okay. How is the cockpit set up? (quickly) Can you explain what the cockpit is first?
T: Well its where the pilots sit and fly the airplane, drink coffee. (drinks coffee.) Yell at the flight attendants. In a generalization, I don’t know how deep you want to get into this. I’m talking about a two person cockpit, you remember how I mention the 727 was three person, the captain-
S: The 727-
T: The old airplanes, had a flight engineer, so you had a captain, first officer, then in the side, a flight engineer. Those flights are gone, they are gone. Now its two person, captain and first officer.
T: Remember the reason why is, the technology.
S: They don’t need them anymore-
T: They don’t need them anymore, because a lot of systems are automated, the systems will, uh, push a couple buttons and the air conditioning and heating will do, everything, uh, automatically, and you really don’t have to touch anything, unless something goes wrong. So, in a Boeing, most, most airplanes, in a cockpit, you know Captain on the left side, as your looking out the window, Captain’s on your left, First officer’s on your right. Usually when you walk right in the door, on the back panel, on the right are your circuit breakers. For all the electrics.
T: So if you are sitting in your seats, left seat, right seat, looking out the window, in front of you, usually the Captain or, the First Officer has the same instruments as the Captain. So I don’t know, do you want me to- list them all, or list some.
S: What where you listing—yes.
T: You want to list, all the uh….
T: Instruments do yah?
T: I mean, those have changed too but,
T: Like, like in a Boeing 767 in front of us, both Captain and First Officer, right in front of us you have a big, screen, and it’s a map, it’s a route, of the airplane.
S: That’s what you watch when, its up in the sky-
T: Yeah, also in the front you have an Attitude Indicator that shows you..where the airplane is in position of the horizen. You have Air Speed Indicator, Vertical Speed Indicator, uh, lets see attitude…
S: Attitude- its called attitude?
T: Attitude Direction Indicator.
T: The route, the big screen that shows your route its showing a lot of information.
S: Are those relatively new?
T: Since the mid 80’s.
T: the airplanes coming out now have nothing but screens, they’re called Flat Panel Cockpits.
T: This is, you know, the cockpit layout I’m talking about is very generalized; I know this isn’t all the instruments. In the center- between the Captain and First Officer you have your, Thrust Levers. If you have to engines you got two thrust levers if you got four engines you have four thrust levels.
S: To speed? Where speed comes from?
T: Engine, yeah, thrust on the engine.
T: You got all your communication, radios, between first officer and captain, on the, its called Pedestal. That’s where you change your frequencies, uh, have an instrument called, Transponder. That shows ATC who you are. Uh you have your radar control. Uh on the top of the pedestal on the airplane I fly, and there is two of them, uh, your computer management, box. Where you that’s where you program the airplanes computer for the route and uh, fuel, and the winds, …….in the center front panel, between captain and first officer you have all your engine instruments, usually, on the 767 you do. So if you have two engines you have two sets if you have four engines you have four sets. Oil pressure, oil temperature, a lot of different engine instruments.
S: Are there left and right panels too? Top panels? …I know there’s a lot of stuff in the cockpit, a lot of stuff. (wasn’t really supposed to know that)
T: Yeah I’m kind of workin’ on the way up, like right now im in the front between the Captain and First officer, the engines, but if you come up to what they call the “glare shield” that’s where you, that’s your autopilot stuff, and uh, …………input altitudes and, and radials for your navigation. You have your windows and if you keep on moving up to the overhead.. This is basically where, what was the flight engineer was looking at, now, we’re looking at, the overhead and most of the time it’s automatic, after you start the engine. So, you have, your hydraulics systems, you have your air conditioning system, your heating system, your pressurization system, all those controls are on your overhead. So they aren’t in your line of sight but you have to look up to- so you know, first, start the engines and, I make sure all the hydraulics, are uh, where they should be, all the switches and the first officer makes sure all the heating and air conditions, the pressurization is all set up and then we really don’t have to do anything up there and if something goes wrong there’s something in front of us, a red light, something on our screen that tells us there’s something wrong.
S: Ok… so there’s no button for “go” ?
T: What do you mean…
S: there no you press go and it goes.
S: When you get to the cock pit what’s the first thing you do when your in there?
T: well there’s a lot, it depends uh, uh first thing you make sure uh, el- its called power, power dock, make sure you have power to the airplane.
S: Okay, so basically go in sit down and turn everything on?
T: Uh, you….if , if you have power to the airplane then you start doing safety checks, mai=king sure things are in the right position, you are basically doing safety checks, and then you program your computers for the route, and Then you do a before start check, so everything is set up, and then, you start powering, and then you start the engines. Does that make sense?
S: M hm.
S: A lot of safety checks.
T: Yep, make sure things are working properly, make sure things are in position, that there not going to hurt anybody, or in the proper position before you actually start an Engine or put power to a hydraulic system.
T: You know there’s still people, walking around when you are starting the engines and stuff.
S: ah oh I mean, I’m thinking about the passengers, but I’m forgetting that, people underneath the plane.
T: A lot of stuff going on outside the plane.
S: That’s the tug crew out there, right?
T: And- and the baggage guys, are still out there and uh, yeah.
S: Okay. Thank you, that was a, that was a lot of information.
S: Uhm, let me see. Talked about, is uh, would you consider a corporate airplane, a type of airline?
T: No. Consider an airplane…
S: (interruptions) That would fall under charter, right?
T: Ah, corporate would be in its own classification, but not an airline.
S: But not an airline.
T: No, something, considered an airline, would be on a regularly scheduled, ….like United flys to Denver 4, or 5 or 6 times a day, that’s an airline. Something that, an airline that is a corporation, well I shouldn’t say corporation, an airline is a company, that flies airplanes on a scheduled basis.
S: Okay, and I remember you saying there’s no real schedule for corporate, I mean its up to the corporation.
T: Whenever the CEO wants to go and even at 9:30 tomorrow morning…there are some corporations that have scheduled flights, most of the time its on call. That’s the key, its on call.
S: How can I say this in a broader way, because, I, have kinds of airlines (is that even a domain) as Major, Commuter, Regional, Charter… but I mean, those are necessarily kinds of airlines…because, I mean, kind of airline would be United, Flying Tigers, or Delta.
T: Well like A United, Delta, American, those are considered major airlines.
S: Are there any other major airlines, besides those three…
T: Yeah (laughs…there must be a lot out there…)
S: I mean I guess theres a lot, that was sort of another question, are you, I’m thinking of, Air France, um, that’s another airline.
T: Yeah, its just in another country.
S: So these, United, Delta, American, these are, they are based from America.
T: Everybody’s been merging in the last 10-15 years.
S: what do you mean by merging.
T: well, United and Continental, Delta and Northwest- is now Delta. United and Continental is now United. Delta Northwest is now Delta. American and America-west is now American.
S: Are they merging to save money?
T: yeah, they are merging to stay alive.
S: Are less people flying now?
T: Well…just as… just as, I think they are trying to compete with foreign airlines. Uh, so there’s only a few major airlines anymore.
S: What makes a foreign airline hard to compete with?
T: A lot of times foreign airlines are subsidized by the government. By their own governments.
S: What does subsidized mean.
T: That uh, they help pay for stuff. A United States airline, is, not subsidized by anybody. You have to make your money or go out of business.
S: Oh okay I see, so the government provides some funds for these airlines.
T: Yeah off the top of my head there’s, you know, a classification major airline, there’s a specific, they carry so many people, blah blah blah, I don’t know what that figure is.
S: Okay so they have certain, guidelines I guess, that make them regional, or commuter?
T: Its more of the the………
S: What’s the difference between a region and a commuter? Are they almost the same thing?
T: They’re almost the same thing, nowadays.
T: There blended together, nowadays, there used to be a separate, those, those definitions are just kind of merged.
T: Another definition of a regional airline is that it feeds, a major airline.
T: So a regional airline would be a United Express that flies out of Spartensburg, South Carolina, and flies people to Dulles to get on a big airplane, on the spoke at the Hub, you know what we talked about spoke and hub, regional airline would bring people in to the hubs, and then the people would fly on a major airline.
S: Commuters used to be more of…small place to a small place.
T: Or they would also feed…
S: into the Hub.
T: But they were really, like, Pocono, the commuter I flew for, in the early 80’s. I mean we would fly, the longest flight we would fly would be from New York to Baltimore or Washington. So, that’s why, the regional carrier would be from New York to Atlanta, or New York to Cleveland, you know, not that far.
S: A little further?
T: A littler further but- then a major, would be New York to Chicago or New York to Lost Angeles. Those, those definitions are kinda blurred, nowadays.
S: Okay. Uhm… I was just wonder passengers, cause technically passengers are your cargo but they’re not that’s a different definition…
T: Yeah, cargo is packages.
S: Is it- okay, cargo are packages. Is there anything else that could fit in that definition?
T: Uh, cargo could be, anything other than people. It could be mail, it could be, yeah anything other than people, it could be uh, fruit, vegetables, flowers, it could be a car.
T: If somebody’s willing to put it in a box, and willing to pay for it, and its not going to blow the airplane up.
S: And then that’s considered cargo?
T: That’s considered cargo.
S: Okay I wanted to see if I got this right. Um back to building time, you can go military way or civilian way, military 6-8 years in the military and…what do they do…they just go fly? Do whatever they tell you to do?
T: While your in the military or when you get out?
S: Uhm…. I don’t really know, I guess I was thinking that you, the military way they, teach you how to fly and you’d be learning how to fly for 8 years and then you continued on in the military fly for, whatever you were doing. But I guess after your 6-8 years you can leave the military, or continue flying?
T: Uh, you can leave yeah, you can leave, again, I’m not sure exact time, I think its 6 years. Its either 6 or 8 and if you wanted to you could leave
S:… and fly for uh, commercial airline?
T: If they hire yah. I mean, when you sign up fro the military and you are actually able to pass tests and you get your airman’s wing’s in the military. Uh (Tests?) so they, basically taught you have to fly, that’s why you have to stay in the military until your commitment is over. So I think the commitment is 6 or 8 years, it might even be 10, I’m not sure.
T: So when you come out of the military you don’t have as much flying time as a civilian but you do have some, the flying time that you have is in equipment, that no civilian would be able to have.
S: What do you mean equipment?
T: Uh, civilians cannot fly an F18. Top of the line equipment, top of the line airplane. The military’s not going to allow unless you can fly an airplane, going to let you get into an F18 or F20, whatever they are up to nowadays. I think its F21 Tiger shark.
S: But the military route there is no college, its all included? All that education?
T: Yeah, those guys…I think end up going to college…
S: ….and then going into the military….?
T: There’s multiple way of doin’ it but uh,
S: So if they really wanted to they could go to college, and then go to the military.
T: Or like Brendan’s doing. He’s in college right now but-
T: ROTC- there’s just a lot of ways to do it. So he’ll come out and graduate at college as an officer, a lieutenant, and then serve in the military.
S: What ‘s he going for?
T: I don’t know, I’ll have to ask Ann I forget.
S: As a civilian, your taking the civilian route and you go to college: You come out with a four year degree, bachelor or science, flight instructor certificate, commercial pilots license. Am I missing something?
T: Instrument Rating
S: Instrument Rating. Okay. And um, I know that you said, you started off as a passenger on a charter and you moved to the captain of the charter, does that work the same way for the commuter (could have stopped there) or do you go from captain charter to captain commuter.
T: uh, no, start out as first officer in the commuter.
S: would that be the way to say it for charter too? First officer?
T: uh..yeah, it would be..the difference between the charter and the commuter, and I guess that’s why I didn’t say first officer. The charter, some of those airplanes are small enough where you only need one pilot. So that’s why I was saying you were kind of riding around. But when you get ot the size of a commuter, then the airplane is what they called certified that, a minimum of two pilots. First officer and Captain.
S: Does this work the same way for Cargo, first officer…and…
T: Yeah. That’s just the way the United States, that’s they way things are set up. When you get hired by an airline, you’re on the bottom of the list. Seniorty Type advancement. Date of Hire. Number of people after you.
S: So if there were a lot of people after you, what would happen?
T: Are we talking about, going from first officer to captain?
T: Okay, an example would be, …put it, this is an example, an airline has 10 airplanes, ok, I’m going to keep the numbers simple, an airline has 10 airplanes. You need 50 Captains, an airline has 10 airplanes…. Let’s say you need 30 Captains and 50 first officers. You always need more First Officers. 50 captains, 30 first officers. (He is so confusing me right now.) So you need 80 pilots, to fly your 10 airplanes. Right. You following me.?
T: So, you have, 30 Captain, 50 first officers, 80 pilots. The Captain, number one Captain retires. It leaves one opening. So the most senior first officer gets to move over to the Captain’s seat.
S: Okay, but he wouldn’t become a captain before then.
T: hu uh.
S: Say he has more… I guess he wouldn’t have more flying hours…
T: This is why, this is why I’m telling you this. Its all based off of, date of hire seniority, and whether or not a guy has more hours or not after he gets hired doesn’t mean anything.
T: So, everything moves. That’s why I was trying to keep it simple here. The senior captain in this hypothetical airline retires, now all the captain’s move up, so now number two captain is now number one. Everyone moves up. And it opens up a captain space. The senior first officer jumps over to the Captain. Now all the first officers move up, one, and that opens up on the very bottom, and open space, and the airline now, hires somebody to fill that position. So he gets hired. Now the same sequence.
S: He’s going to have to wait awhile.
T: If there’s a lot of retires in a year, he moves up quick. If the airline has 10 airplanes but buy 20 more, everybody’s moving up quickly. That’s what happened to me. I got hired at United Airlines in January ’89, by the next year at the same time I had 1200 pilots behind me.
S: Wow but the, the company was growing-
T: The company grew, they were adding airplanes. I didn’t necessarily move, up, necessarily but I had a lot more ————— (mumble) And its all based on the seniority, if that makes sense.
T: I was trying to tell Dr. Shu that. He was shaking his head. He was understanding what- but he, he was saying you mean, it has nothing to do with performance. I said, unfortunately, Dr. Shu, once you get hired in the airline, and you are able to pass your checkrides (Question!!) you do not move up with performance.
S: Well, I, I guess a lot of people would say, well this guy has so many more hours obviously he would be- but it doesn’t work like that-
T: No, once your hired you’re placed into your Seniority, your date of hire, and then everything else just goes from there. Which is unusual with a lot of other jobs, and that ‘s the reason why, Uncle Matt, he’s an example, but any airline or a pilot, if an airline goes out of business and a pilot needs to look fro a job, and he gets hired by another airline, where are you gonna go? Your going all the way down to the bottom, of the new airline.
S: Alright I have one other question. I remember you saying you started at United on a 737-
T: 727. Engineer.
S: -and when, then when you talking about moving, to bigger airplanes, within the airline, uhm, your talking about 747, 777.
T: Well again- that depends on the airline that your flying for- and that’s one of the nice things to be flying for United. Because, there’s a possibility of many choices, United flies, 737’s, 747’s, 75’s, 767’s, & 777’s and now 787’s. Continential pilots. Of course but it also depends on what we just talked about, you have to be in a seniority range to be able to hold certain airplanes. Like, I’m, right, and it also depends, this might be getting too deep, on personal preferences too.
T: Uh… when I became a captain on a 737, I stayed there., for a long time. I could have moved up to a 767 but I wanted my seniority, I wanted to be very senior on the 737, I’d have more choices, days off and stuff.
T: Like right in middle of, the Boeing 767. Uh, probably next year at this time I might be able to get on the 777, because, uh, we have a couple hundred pilots retiring every year. What was the original question, I think that’s –
S: Yeah…it, I was wondering basically where you go from there, when you said you get to move into bigger planes throughout the airline- after commercial. Once you get to commercial, if that’s where you want to be, your basically working on your seniority right?
T: Well your not even really working on it, your just going with the flow. The 747 is usually the most senior pilots because that is biggest airplane and and the biggest paycheck. Although, its gotta be, you know, flying to HI and I’ve been there, It’s hard on your body, doing that. (explain hard on your body? What happens? )
S: Besides being hard on your body is it more difficult to fly a plane… that size?
T: Well, no I’ve actually, flown a 747 its not anymore difficult. Its just uh, its just in United States for some reason the bigger the airplane, always went to the most senior. Cause you get the most money for flying the airplane. I don’t know if I’d ever be able to fly a 747, well see. Because of seniority. I mean your asking what airplanes-
S: Everytime you switch airplanes does that mean you have to start from the bottom and work up to that plane’s seniority.
T: No, when you are able to switch an airplane. It depends again on-
S: Your date of hire is compared to the pilots on this plane, then- and your ranked again, or do you always stay in the same rank.
T: First of all, your not even going to get on the air plane, unless its in your date of hire, area. Like, somebody starts flying a 737 right now, a continental pilot, they could not fly, a 767. Because their date of hire….is not close to mine. Does that make sense? Or let me put it another way. This is just throwing out a simple figure here, let’s say that the 767 to be able to fly a 767 for United you have to be hired between the dates of January 19, 1988, no I shouldn’t say that, to be able to fly a 767 at United Airlines, you have to have been hired, at United , January 1992 or earlier. So if you were hired in 1993 you could not even hold a 767 Captain pit/bid. Does that make sense?
S: Yeah…why is that again?
T: Because its all based on Seniority. So your question of, what airplane do I get to fly, I am flying the biggest airplane that my seniority allows right now. So, you know I mentioned about the 777 maybe next year- right now that date, for pilots to get on that airplane, if there’s an opening, would be, lets see….. maybe, January of ’88 so I’m January of ’89 I still can’t get on that airplane. Now there’s going to be more retires and those dates are going to move up.
S: Okay those dates don’t move up with time, they move up with how many people are hired/hiring/retiring
T: Its all the seniority. Since United’s not really growing, it’s the amount of retirees. Yeah. So, that date, when it becomes 189, I could get on that airplane. I would be on the bottom of the Captain’s list though, do I want to do that? No. That’s the other choice that you make. Some people, some people want to jump on that. Because its more more, but their lifestyle uh- their lifestyle-
S: Is going to change?
T: Your going to be on reserve and blah, blah, bhlah, some people, that doesn’t bother them. Lets say the 737 because January of 1992 or earlier. That means that everybody’s moving up, so its just what happens. And I finally get the bid. When I wait, and then I eventually get the bid on a triple 7 I won’t go on the bottom of it- I’ll go where my seniority put me. Did I lose yah or-
S: No- uh, what were you going for?
T: Captain of triple 7- you had ask do I go on the bottom of the next airplane.
S: Right, I guess from there it gets a little more specific. Because-
T: Because I would go to the bottom-
S: -only if there is not one hired-after you
T: After me, closest to the date that, it opens.
T: I personally wait, and I’ll have people below me, get on the triple 7, okay, because they want to get on the airplane as soon as they can. And then you have people like me, waiting-
S: And then you’ll jump in the middle.
T: I’ll jump in.
T: And those guys know that that’s gonna happen they’re- its called, Out of Sequence. Is what they are. Like I was number 1 captain on the 737, you know in the softball days, and stuff, I had complete control over my schedule, everybody would look at me and be saying “Okay Tim when are you gettin’ the hell off the airplane”
Because when I became a captain on the 767 I basically jumped right in the middle of the list because I was so senior- so I hope that makes sense-
S: Yeah it does- it sounds a little, frustrating..but it makes sense
T: Its all based on date of hire, once your into the airline, and how many retirements or if the airline is expanding and getting more airplanes. There’s a certain, and that backs up to the example, my ten airline, airplane example, its United has so many airplanes. There is a point, in the seniority, junior captain and senior first officer. There is a date. I don’t know where that is right now.
S: I don’t really understand that.
T: There is as with all airlines, since its date of hire, and an airline has so many airplanes that means they need so many captain’s and so many first officers. So… there’s a person who has a date of hire number who is the junior most captain and then the person below him is the senior most first officer. It goes back to the example of 10 airplanes 50 pilots the senior most guy retires, everybody’s moving up and in that sequence there is one guy who is the junior most captain and senior most first officer and they flip. Now he might not chose to be the most junior captain, he could chose to stay in his senior first officer position for awhile.
T: Or if your like some of these first officer women.
S: Are there women pilots? I’ve never see one before.
T: Some of them can actually fly.
T: I’m just joking.
S: Yeah, I thought that was a male dominated thing.
T: No, I have flown with a lot of good female pilots. And you don’t have to be big and burly to be a good pilot.
S: That’s kind of a stereotype I guess, when people think of pilots.
T: Especially with an airbus.
S: You think of the size of the plane, and, and what your driving it with.
T: And that has also changed too. Years ago, you actually needed quite a bit of physical strength, if certain things went wrong. Those, those days are gone too so.
T: Bella could fly it.
S: Bella would make a funny…captain…on an airplane. Do you have any questions for me?
T: Are you done with the questions?
S: Yeah that’s all for today.
T: awhh really?