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How Does Your Department Assign Trip PIC's?

sleepy

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At our flight department we have three levels of pilot; Co-pilot, Captain and Senior Captain (you automatically become a Senior Captain after being a Captain for 8 years).

In the past, the scheduler would randomly assign the trip pic (when two Captains were flying together) so that by years end everyone ended up with roughly a 50/50 split as pic and sic, except for Co-pilots who are always sic.

A recent change was made, at the request of some Senior Captains, that when a Captain and a Senior Captain fly together, the Senior Captain is always pic. When Senior Captains fly together or Captains fly together the pic role is randomly assigned (except that the Chief Pilot is always pic).

Based on the numbers all but two pilots will be Senior Captains within 4 years. Then 4 to 8 years after that everyone will be a Senior Captain. The problem I have with the policy change is that we will end up with several Captains who will never be the pic of a trip for 4 to 8 years. I wonder how this policy helps advance/develop the careers of the younger pilots, or any pilots we hire in the future? Sure they will eventually be paid as a Captain, they will just never get any of the responsibility that comes with the title.

To me it seems to be an ego-driven policy change. We certainly have Captains who possess more skill, ability and better judgement than some Senior Captains, so it is not a safety issue of making the best/safest pilot the pic.

I am wondering how your departments handle trip assignments? What is your policy? If you have a similar policy what is it based on? Safety? Seniority? Ego?
 
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mxpilot2

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We have (had) the same two captain levels, and only two (of 6) have it. Others are two captains, two managers (CP and DO).

Dispatch tries to split PIC/SIC time evenly, no consideration for "rank". No ego issues in our house, nor seniority in designation of PIC. Whoever is PIC does one set of tasks, SIC the other. Problems are discussed between the two (CRM), and this included when there was dedicated SIC inhouse, as well as when we use contractor. If one disagrees whether a trip should go, it doesn't go. If you can't MEL the item, it gets fixed. If you can, but either of you think you should have it for the leg in question, it gets fixed. Safety issue solved.

We are very unusual (IMHO) in that most all of our operations were black and white. We have and use an MEL to the letter, are IS-BAO certified and do it by the manual.

Experience is a good thing, but decisions in the heat of battle shouldn't come from just one side. Experience can sometimes be just seniority, not necessarily experience. Sometimes that just disguises ego too.
 

AA717driver

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At my previous employer, everyone was a Captain (none of that "Senior Captain" or "International Captain" stuff) and the more senior of the two would be trip captain the first half of the month and vice versa the second half of the month.

Swap seats every leg.

Very fair system, IMO. TC
 

semperfido

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yep, first 15 days of the month the more senior is pic, from 15th of month on, the more junior is pic. very fair. it seems to work quite well. if we have someone that is new, or sic status, then they just wait until the group feels they are worthy. Oh, we have 10 pilots.

i would nip that senior captain crap in the bud most ricky tic.
 
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JJET44

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We do the same thing, CP/Capt/S-Capt. A Capt. becomes a Senior Capt. once he is International qualified.
We split trips evenly like you once did. All our Capts. rather not be PIC probably because they all have been here for around 30 years.
Sounds like you work with a bunch of young control freaks.
 

Kingairrick

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Our department only has 7 people. We swap PIC duties by leg or by day, depending on the length of the trip. With a small department, you have to leave your ego at the door.
I guess I don't understand why there needs to be a "trip pic." What does the trip pic do? Get to decide where to eat? It implies that the trip pic could be in the right seat, while the leg pic is in the left. What then happens to the cross cockpit gradient?
 

ksu_aviator

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As the Chief Pilot I tried using seniority. I tried using every other flight. I even tried flipping a coin. However, it always came out the same. Then again, I am the only pilot. :)
 

semperfido

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As the Chief Pilot I tried using seniority. I tried using every other flight. I even tried flipping a coin. However, it always came out the same. Then again, I am the only pilot. :)

you may have my dream job, one pilot, one KA C90, fly <200 hrs a yr, very few RON, home every weekend , oh and vfr day only and 100k will be fine, but maybe less. :)
 

hawkerflyer

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Our flight department simply alternates PIC assignment for every trip, whether it's a 4 day, multiple leg outing or a 20 minute out and back. Typically we swap seats each day, not every leg, probably has more to do with being too lazy to swap out the headsets. We have CP, Sr. Capt, Capt, and Co-Capt and since none of us are really in need of the PIC time, it all evens out.
 

sleepy

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Our department only has 7 people. We swap PIC duties by leg or by day, depending on the length of the trip. With a small department, you have to leave your ego at the door.
I guess I don't understand why there needs to be a "trip pic." What does the trip pic do? Get to decide where to eat? It implies that the trip pic could be in the right seat, while the leg pic is in the left. What then happens to the cross cockpit gradient?

We have 15 pilots. We are IS-BAO. We usually swap legs flying from the left seat only, but that is the PIC's choice. If you are the trip PIC you are responsible if anything goes wrong, you file the flight plans get WX and deal with the passengers. If you are the trip SIC you make coffee, get ice and papers do the preflight and load bags. The SIC gets the rental car, so you have to spend a lot of time chasing rental car receipts.

Right now we have 8 Sr. Capts, 6 Captains and 1 Co-pilot. In 4 years we will have 11 Sr. Capts, 2 Capts and 1 Co-pilot. In 7 years we will have 14 Sr. Captains and 1 Capt or Co-pilot. It just seems silly to me. In a few years, when everyone is a Sr. Captain, how will these guys feel special? Will we have to create a new Super Senior Captain position for them so they don't ever have to make coffee or get the rental car?

I guess it doesn't really matter because it pays the same whether you are PIC or SIC (plus you can't be blamed for anything that goes wrong), but I just don't know of any large department that does stuff like this. This is why I asked the original question.
 
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semperfido

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I guess it doesn't really matter because it pays the same whether you are PIC or SIC (plus you can't be blamed for anything that goes wrong),


not a bad thing, enjoy it while it lasts. fewer gray hairs and less Prilosec :)




but I just don't know of any large department that does stuff like this. This is why I asked the original question.

Last company I was with was sort of like you described. I like the more progressive democratic way we do it now. old farts don't like change-now that i are one, i see why. :)
 

sleepy

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not a bad thing, enjoy it while it lasts. fewer gray hairs and less Prilosec :)






Last company I was with was sort of like you described. I like the more progressive democratic way we do it now. old farts don't like change-now that i are one, i see why. :)

The policy really doesn't effect me. I just think it is silly and hurts pilot development. I don't want to be the PIC all of the time, it is nice to get a break from the stress. I also would not want to be an SIC for 8 years (if I was a junior guy). I would go somewhere else.
 

Kingairrick

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So if a passenger calls you with a time change or something when you're not the "trip pic," do you ask him to call the "trip pic" and hang up? At our company, the guys and gals in the back just call whomever's phone number is easier to find. Whomever gets the call deals with it. I've not seen anyone's feelings get hurt when they are senior to the person who got the call...
I'm not criticizing, just sort of seeing a lot of potential for weirdness over stuff that I don't see mattering that much.
 

PlaneStupid

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Sounds like an Ego thing. Very irresponsible of the chief pilot to not challenge the new captains with more difficult international trips. How else do you learn? One fine point. In todays operations if something goes wrong it is both crewmembers fault. I don't think the idea of it was the PIC's fault will fly if the customer is not happy.
 

K.V.

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Speaking of egos, I've never understood why somebody working in a single pilot/single aircraft operation, feels the need to refer to themselves as the "Chief Pilot". When there's no other pilots, who are you the chief of?
 

AA717driver

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Sounds like an Ego thing. Very irresponsible of the chief pilot to not challenge the new captains with more difficult international trips. How else do you learn? One fine point. In todays operations if something goes wrong it is both crewmembers fault. I don't think the idea of it was the PIC's fault will fly if the customer is not happy.

Not at my former company. Something goes wrong and the CP and senior guy on the trip get the 'feces car wash'. AND it reverberates and implicates for months.

You DON'T want to have to answer the question: "Why was he captain on that trip if he wasn't ready?"

My first Int'l. trip as CA went badly. We made an unnecessary fuel stop because of a bum flight plan from AR and I didn't catch it. Neither did the very senior other two guys. I got a lecture and they got chewed out. My second Int'l. trip went flawlessly (thanks to the other two guys, one a prominent member here and frequent poster ;), who all worked together to eliminate problems).

So, no, you don't want to throw someone in the water to see if he floats or not--it could mean your job.

TC
 

Shamus

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If your there for 8 years to become "senior pilot" It's probably a really good job. Don't get dicked up in company politics, just be happy to have a job. A good job that.
 

PlaneStupid

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AA717 I would guess that where you worked you didn't have a very stringent PIC checkout program. If a guy is qualified as a captain then he/she should certainly be qualified to act as PIC. I wouldn't "throw" a new captain on a trip to La Paz as his first International trip, but certainly there are other destinations to increase his/her experience level.
 
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ILOVEBEER

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I wouldn't "throw" a new captain on a trip to La Paz as his first International trip, but certainly there are other destinations to increase his/her experience level.

La Paz? Really? With the exception of Canada, I don't think there could be an easier international trip than La Paz.
 

AA717driver

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AA717 I would guess that where you worked you didn't have a very stringent PIC checkout program. If a guy is qualified as a captain then he/she should certainly be qualified to act as PIC. I wouldn't "throw" a new captain on a trip to La Paz as his first International trip, but certainly there are other destinations to increase his/her experience level.

No, there wasn't a very formal checkout program. They hire very high time people with international experience and don't let them be trip captain until they're comfortable with the operation and have flown as trip captain on domestic.

I got into trouble because the senior guy on the trip didn't do squat, didn't care and if he had the choice of giving you the right answer or the answer that would get you in trouble, he'd screw you every time. AND, I still had the 'deer in the headlights' going on. But I didn't make the same mistake twice. Oh well...

TC
 
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