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Seat Swapping

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Well-known member
Feb 22, 2002
Hi All,

I was looking for some insight from guys flying 135. Is it common to let the F/O fly from the left seat, or do most guys stick to the right seat? I'm new to the 135 world and haven't been through our indoc class yet to see if the company even allows this. I'm accustomed to flying the seat you hold the position for. What do you guys do?

When I was flying FAR135 ... I would seat swap with the FO.

However ...

Our FOs were type rated, but the decision was left up to each captain ... as it should be.

As the company CP and Check Airman, I used the 'left seat' opportunities offered FOs as an ongoing interview. I made it perfectly clear that I was there to support them as best I could, and to fly as captain.

Flying a corporate jet or TP with two folks up front is a TEAM SPORT.

Now ... an argument could be made that the situation I described is fantasy ... because the FOs know the real 'boss' is in the right seat. No arguments from me ... however ... we have to start training our FOs to be Captain's in some manner. It's been my experience that a supportive CP who refrains from micro-managing leads by example.
The company I did 135/91 for had a seat swapping policy. For the jets you had to have 100 hours in type and a letter in your file from the chief pilot based on recommendations from company captains. Between 50 and 100 hrs. in type you were allowed to fly from the left seat on empty legs as long as the captain wasn't a high minimums capt. It's a great policiy as many older business jets don't have jack squat for instruments on the right side. Passengers just thought it was the way it was done and I never heard one peep from them about it.

It depends on the company. Also the aircraft and the captain. I am a Check Airman and instructor for a Pt135 operator. Our company policy is FO stay in their assigned seats. That doesn't mean we do not let them fly. They fly legs subject to the captain's descrestion. And that would vary from captain to captain. And from FO to FO.

When they are starting to get into range for upgrade, they FO's would start flying in the left seat on empty legs. First with instructor pilots and later with line captains.

What criteria is used for upgrading? Start with flight time and time in type. The insurance requirements are going to be more of a problem than FAR's. Then it comes down to, 'Is this guy Catain material?'. And to judge that I ask myself several questions.

1. Is he knowledgable about the aircraft?

2. Is he knowledgable of the Ops manual, regs and company policy and procedures?

3. When it is his leg, does he make decisions or wait for you to make them? And if he makes decisions, what are the quality of those decisions?

4. When it is my leg, is he ahead of the aircraft or just along for the ride?

5. Does he put in his 2 cents worth even if not asked?

6. When I discuss his performance, does he get defensive about negative items, blow them off or work on them?

7. Does he do the little things that make him stand out? Like walking around the aircraft right after landing, checking the airframe and tires. Or keeping his head on a swivil when taxiing.

Hope that answered your question. Good luck in class.

Thanks alot for your input. Your words have answered my questions and verified what I have been thinking. I'll be able to evaluate this further after we have flown together for a while. Indoc starts tommorrow, so I'll see what the company has to say.
Don't do it.

At a company I used to work for, a senior captain let a new copilot fly left seat in a Falcon 20. The tiller on some of our airplanes was touchy. After he let go of the tiller, the airplane struck a couple of runway lights, but they continued. ATC contacted the FAA. It wasn't good for the new guy, nor the captain. The Captain had to do another checkride with the FAA.
yeah, those type of things have been in the back of my head also. This plane uses rudders to steer, but there many other things that could go wrong that I would want to be in the left seat for. As the old saying goes, go with your most conservative thoughts. That would mean to stay in the left seat. The right side is fairly well equipped, but not as well as the left. That's pretty much the reason I was asking on here what guys do. The more I think about it, the more I don't like the idea of seat swapping. Well again, thanks for the advice!
Left vs. Right

To simply say "don't do it" to letting a guy in the left seat with a tiller needs further detail. We all have to learn sometime. How much total time, jet time, jet PIC, typed or not, trains in left/right seat, etc. Eventually, you have to turn a guy loose if he/she is a competent pilot. This isn't educational TV where you only learn by watching.

I fly with a numb nuts that seems to think it takes some kinda magic to handle the tiller. He has developed an dillusional policy that that only he can fly the boss. Lately, he only lets me fly from the right seat, when he lets me. He's a control freak of sorts. I have been a Capt. on various jets over the past years and pride myself on smooth, accurate flying. (ok, I am venting)

My point is, if a person is typed and training in the left seat and has a reasonable amount of experience, there is nothing wrong with a competent Captain allowing him/her to fly left seat after proving his/her competence.
Seat Swapping?

Hmmm… what’s that some weird sexual fetish I’ve yet to hear about?

I think it completely depends on what kind of company you work for.

If you are a new hire-CFI, with no jet time, you'd typically start in the right seat, only working the checklists and radios. After a couple of weeks you'll start flying deadheads from the right-side. After you become smooth enough for passengers, you'll start flying every other leg with or without passengers. Finally, you'll start swapping seats on dead legs, eventually swapping seats on every leg. By that time you should be ready to upgrade. This whole process should last about 6 months to a year.

On the other hand if you have time in type or equivalent and work for quality operators that type everybody you should be seat swapping fairly soon.

I have to agree with you Tag2, those kinds of people run their own kingdoms and wonder why they have to hire a new co-captains every few months. Not a very good management policy, but thats the industy we live in.

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