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Transition from CFI to regional jet

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Well-known member
Dec 1, 2001
As the regional airlines transition from the turboprops to the all jet fleets, the new hires are being sent right into the jet. I know that most pilots have worked there way from flight instruction to cargo to regional flying the turboprops then finally to the jets.

The question that I have is how are the people doing in these NH classes that have gone straight from flight instruction to a regional jet? COMAIR and COex (when they were hiring) were putting flight instructors into the jets. How tough was that transition? Was there a big washout rate? If there was.....what was the hardest thing about the transition that caused the washout?
My son was in about the same position as you are. I do not know if you have a college degree, but he does have the aviation degree and went to instructing for a year right out of college. With recommendations from two former instructors, he landed a FO job in the RJ having only a few hours more than you. The amount of material he had to learn seemed overwhelming, but he did fine and loves the job. The college prep served him well. I don't know the washout rate, but if you are intelligent, there should not be a problem. I hope this helps.
ACA hires Embryo-Riddle interns with 600 hours TT into the CRJ and FRJ. It's not impossible, but it is tough. Expect to be fire-hosed with information, not just systems but Indoc stuff as well (basically non-systems like FOM, Ops-Specs ...)

I would suggest the following to anyone with low time going into the right seat of an RJ:

Get as much done as possible before you start class:

1) Buy a copy of the 121 FARs and review those regs.
2) Do some research on high altitude/high speed aerodynamics.
The "Turbine Pilot's Flight Manual" is a good start.
3) See if you can get RJ systems overview off the Internet.
4) See if the company will send you manuals in advance.

I was always a week behind in both my new-hire and upgrade classes (studying subjects even AFTER the test.)

Do not get discouraged with your first few sim sessions. You will be humbled. As with any 121 carrier, the trick is getting the calls right, you must have the mindset of a trained monkey.

Oh yeah, its all attitude and flying by the numbers in jets. Love your Flight Director ... be one with your Glass ...
Although the Lear situation that I am in now doesn't directly correlate to the RJ (I'm 135 and they are 121) I can tell you the proper preparation is key. The Turbine Pilot's Flight Manual is a good start, along with Linda Pendelton's Flying Jets. I also used the Jeppeson Powerplant text, and everything else I could find on turbine engines. My Aerostar flying helped, too, since it flies somewhat like a jet.

Flight directors are a product of divine inspiration. Compared to an approach using raw data, it's amazing.

If you can find the callouts used by the airline in question, that's a plus, too.
Sorry, Pilotdad; I know you're proud of your son (and his degree), but that degree has very little to do with success at a regional. It has much more to do with attitude, aptitude, preparation, discipline and experience.

The problem with low-time pilots coming from a "bridge" or "transition" program is that, while they can fly the profiles and make the call-outs, they really don't have the experience yet to be a fully contributing crew member, and this deficiency becomes even more apparent when it comes time for them to upgrade.

As a former 135 jet Captain and a present 121 B717 F/O, I can tell you that if I could go to a newhire class and select a pilot to fly with, I would choose a 2000 hr former freight dog with no college over a 1200tt Riddle grad without question, and so would 99% of the captains out there.

Not to say that these programs aren't turning out guys that make it through training, but when the chips are down, I will take the guy with real-world experience over classroom experience, any and every day.
I'm a captain at a 121 regional and I agree, flying around the pattern for a thousand hours being scared to death by students does not make up for experience flying to "mins" on raw data. It can be done obviously, but try to tell the prospective airline guy, to be humble because he really has alot to learn. In some cases the pilot instructed for awhile, then goes into the right seat of something, a year later upgrades and all of a sudden you have a captian that has never been in a cloud without an autopilot and probably has never faced any kind of adverse situation inwhich he or she is now totally responsible. It doesnt take much of an imagination to see what could happen here.
I made the transition you're talking about. At 850 hours I got a job flying an RJ. At that time the biggest plane I'd flown was a Seneca I (100 hrs). The answer to your question is yes it is difficult. There is NO book you can read, to amount of studying, or memorizing that helps you learn what a 45,000 lb. jet feels like. NO, my masters degree DIDNT help either. It just took time to get the feel of the sim, and the actual aircraft.

Luckily the company I worked for had a train to proficiency policy (within reason), and the couple extra aircraft sessions it took me were no big deal.

Yes, a freight job would prepare you well for a future job at the regionals/majors. However, when I was offered a job in the RJ I didn't say "no thanks I think I'll go fly freight."

Good luck!!
All right, I'll give it a shot.

I was a flight instructor at a Florida licence factory when a bunch of us had the opportunity to start as FEs on a 727. The largest plane I had flown up until that point had been a Seminole. I had about 650 hours total time.

In ground school the information came at you fast and furious. The studying was relentless, the systems were intricate and complex, and what the h*ll are ops specs??? It was about the most fun I'd ever had. We formed study groups, made flash cards, quizzed each other on the drive to class, and banged out some d*mn fine scores on the dreaded "systems test".

But here's the difference. Learning to be an FE is one thing. Basically if you can memorize a few patterns, read from a book, and keep good notes (a healthy dose of common sense is also a must), you can be an FE. But I pitied the poor fool who had to try to figure out the plane from the right seat. We hired quite a few guys direct to FO and the Captains were forced to do a lot of babysitting. I saw a few guys who were so fixated on flying an ILS that they blocked out every other sight and sound. (Like the gear warning horn, Captain reminding him about flaps, red lights indicating gear unsafe, tower asking to slow to approach speed). Some people can do it, some cannot.

As for me, I'm ever so grateful that I was able to watch from the back seat for two years before I ever had to fly it. Just knowing where the switches and gauges are is a big advantage. Too bad I didn't make it to the left seat before the company's demise.


Oh well, dem is the breaks. But I feel pretty confident in my ability to take on the next groundschool and the next aircraft.

Boy, do I need a job.

All I meant from the college serving him well was that it was great preparation for the amount of material he had to learn for class. It was not in reference to any flight skills. However, yes I am proud of him and it seemes most of the captains he has flown with think he is doing a super job. Without going into specifics, he has even gotten a couple of captains out of some jams so I think he will do fine. I would probably agree with you that a freighter with over 2000 hours would end up head and shoulders above a newbie from college in experience.
Pilots fail out of training for many reasons. Some cannot drink fast enough from the fire hose, a few start out real strong out of the gate and then realize too late that training is not a sprint but a marathon, while others freak out near the end and implode under the pressure.

Does a degree help? Depends. Its not so much the material that you paid so dearly for that went out one ear and out the other that was the benefit. What matters to the recruiter and interviewer is the effort and dedication you put in attaing that degree. A good GPA (3.0) helps.

I flew G-Is and Lear 35s 135 and 91 for 2.5 years (and almost 1900 hours) after graduating ERAU before going to a regional with nearly 3600 hours. My flying experience will help in the sim, and my degrees will help in the classroom; but most of all, its your attitude that will make or break you. Everybody in the class is part of a team and we all pool our experiences and resources to get each other through training. Good luck!


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