Back to Squawk list
  • 40

Captains With As Little As 4.5 Months Seniority Are Getting To Fly Delta's Boeing 757/767

Delta Air Lines is opening up the captaincy for its widebody Boeing fleet to less senior pilots as it contends with the ongoing US pilot shortage. As first reported by Aero Crew News, pilots with as little as 4.5 months of seniority can now bid to become captains on a Delta Boeing 757 or Boeing 767, far lower than the industry standard ( More...

Sort type: [Top] [Newest]

bentwing60 17
Read this, fairly accurate for Wiki. per the NTSB final report, which I also include a brief of, and think about the holes in the system that turned these folks loose as an Amazon Prime/Atlas Air approved 767 flight crew. Repetitively Failed writtens, orals,and check rides are omens, not signs of necessary retraining progress. Hopefully DAL is diligent about the backgrounds! That is what counts.
I new that pilot he was the exception not the rule.
James Cox 2
The standards of Delta is world's away from that of Atlas Air on all sorts of levels.
bentwing60 0
" We’re also extremely proud of the fact that we train some of the Air Force’s most elite aircrews, including the pilots and flight engineers of the U.S. President’s Air Force One and the flight crew members assigned to the E-4B National Airborne Operations Center.",,

not exactly small fry in the big pond and they seem to have been around for a while.

Might also beg the question, How many pentagon/USAF wigs own AAWW stock for that to be a seemingly no compete contract since?,

"Under the five-year extension of the agreement, which Atlas Air has held since 2007"

Just sayin' nobody's perfect and when I said "Hopefully DAL is diligent about the backgrounds"
it was what I meant to say.
J B 3
Wikipedia reports these 25 year old warhorses are the oldest WB in Delta's fleet, routes are likely not the best, so apparently bidding by senior pilots isn't happening. As the article notes, seniority at a particular mainline carrier doesn't equate to flying experience - depending on Delta's demographics and training, shouldn't be a safety problem.
Mark Kortum 3
Not just Delta. Less senior guys are also on the 767s at United.
Evan Gallagher 1
I know a few folks who went straight from E-175 at a regional to 757/767 FO at UA. ~30 years old. Super happy for them - crazy how the industry has changed in a relatively short amount of time.
tcnine 2
“seniority at a particular mainline carrier doesn't equate to flying experience”
Maybe, maybe not. There are minimum flight time requirements to get hired, decided by each airline and these have been lowered the past few year. An individual with minimum experience and just 5 months on Delta’s property could be your next captain on a 757/767 flying transoceanic…let that sink in.
This is more telltale of how awful the work rules and scheduling policy at Delta is for relatively junior pilots. Pilots with as little as 2 years seniority don’t want to move to the left seat and become more junior again.
Yep. That’s how bad it is there.
James Simms 1
Or flying a sports charter. However, I would think those are plum assignments, & Delta or any other airline would have minimum requirements for those type flights.
James Simms 1
Or flying a sports charter. However, I would think those are plum assignments, & Delta or any other airline would have minimum requirements for those type flights; especially going into challenging airports
tcnine 0
That’s incorrect. A human is a human and are valued equally, as it should be. No super-pilot needed to fly an athlete, celebrity, etc. The charter trips are open for bid to everyone qualified on the fleet. And while some charter trips are “plum assignments” the majority of them aren’t.
mcalant 8
These are the minimum flight time requirements for Delta:

Minimum of 1,500 hours of total documented flight time.
Minimum of 1,000 hours of fixed wing turbine time (airplane and powered lift combined).
Minimum of 250 hours PIC or SIC as defined in 14 CFR §61.159(a)(5) in an airplane category.
Minimum of 50 hours of multi-engine airplane time.

With the current pilot shortage, you can be pretty sure that they are hiring people at this level of experience...possibly less. 250 hours of PIC time in an airplane that can be SEL? 50 hours of multi-engine fixed wing time!
Do you really want someone hired with this level of experience, and 4-5 months of flying right seat on a 737 being the captain of a 767 with your family on it?

I don't see this as a good thing.
William Medlin 3
Somewhat concerning
Peter Fuller 3
Pairing such an inexperienced captain with an experienced high-time first officer would be prudent, as would having a check pilot in the jump seat, for the new captain’s first few trips. Perhaps Delta does this?
Lee Withers 8
I am not the smartest kid on the block, but it amazes me how many people comment on something they neither know or do do understand.
Tim Dyck 6
That’s what the internet is all about. Some use it to learn things others to display their ignorance.
I started following this site to learn things and over the years I have learned a lot about the people responsible for the aircraft I ride in. Thanks to the people who do actually post that information.
Thomas Clark 2
You hit the nail on it's head, This site is loaded with hang around the fence at the end of the runways!!!
Jawaralal Melvin 1
So, sir or madame, are u the big expert in this area? Smart companies are open to ideas from anyone. And airlines could use feedback from anyone. Customers are the canary in the coal mine when it comes to safety and risk that affects ticket sales. If Delta, with its fine safety record, wishes to put newbies in the captain seat of these planes, I won't be flying in their planes. If you depend fully on the truthfulness of Boeing or the airline, you are taking big risks.
Leander Williams 2
I remember back in the 60s when I entered the workforce there was a term I heard a lot. O.J.T.
On-the-job training. Really it is the only way you can gain the necessary experience on any piece of equipment you are expected to operate. I would expect that any airline with integrity would not put an all-amateur crew in a cockpit. And don't think Delta is unique in this. With the pilot shortage, other airlines probably have the same issue One thing I heard this morning that I could not possibly understand. "There is a shortage of planes." Has anyone seen the thousands of planes in storage?
John Taylor 2
"Some readers may be alarmed about the 4.5-month timeframe, but don't fret - this doesn't refer to how long the pilot has been flying overall, just the amount of time they have spent at Delta."

This was what I was wondering. Just because they may be new at Delta doesn't mean they only have 4.5 months flying experience.
Randall Bursk 3
Experience isn’t a requirement for aviation, function of timing. After WWII, pilots hired by airlines with 500 hours, high school education, early 20’s. 1979, I started interviewing with airlines. Supply of available pilots for few open positions. Resume college degree, 5,000 total hours, turbine time, PIC preferred. After Initial training, totally qualified. Lufthansa as other airlines, prefer pilots with 500TT, Delta’s policy as other airlines. To hire pilots that they can teach from beginning in their procedures. Not to mention that US is different than rest of world in senior aircraft and pay. US, senior aircraft are international, heavy’s, more pay. European airlines, junior flying and pay is on international routes. Senior pilots prefer quality of life, therefore higher pay on smaller aircraft. Airlines offer charm school for new captains, how to handle non aviation problems. All that’s important, be happy for the men and women that have the chance to make captain early. Dedication and love of flying, they give 100% everyday. Follow-up on my career. Timing always both good and bad over a career. 5 years to make captain at USAIR when hired 1986. After number of events beyond our control, 18 years to be a reserve captain, lot longer to have a line and quality of life. Never make captain on senior aircraft. I do it all again. Good flights, have fun.
Mika Bjork 1
Might be related to the potato chip shortage,
Jerry Lawson 1
Randall Bursk 1
Lot of what pilots and crew do is based on personal choices. Seniority is excellent. Some pilots decide to live out of base. Chase type ratings, pay. Others, decide on international, versus domestic. Can’t blame the airlines for the choices made. I flew the B757/767 for 23 years, mostly international. Team Charters, they went senior. See the same faces. Scheduling was friendly and professional. Just as training is. 5,000 pilots, happy environment.
jpedigo 1
I am not sure why this is a big deal really, does it really matter whether the new guy is in charge of an MD88 or a B767. People are killed either way if they screw up badly. In addition to making the final decision on weather and aircraft mechanical acceptability, one of the more challenging aspects of being in the left seat is having to deal with all of the inevitable daily personal drama between gate agents/flight attendants/ramp workers or crazy passengers, That said, I would advise someone against an immediate upgrade as you get a lot more experience flying 5 legs a day into a variety of airfields and terrain vs maybe 1 landing a week or Month on international. However it will be interesting to see how many junior pilots want to be on reserve for most of their entire career.
Gary Stemen 1
That what happens when they try to regroup due to the downsizing caused by a pandemic....
Brian Chandler 2
It's not really pandemic related. They furloughed them, and they've all come back (if they wanted to), we've just exceeded the needs prepandemic.
John Taylor 2
It's pandemic related in that a lot of pilots (and other flight crew) were drummed out for not getting the shot. Granted, in the grand scheme of things, the number wasn't that large but was large enough to have possibly helped alleviate a part of the shortage.
Randall Bursk 2
Lot of pilots took early retirement offer. Quite nice. Shot was not a problem. Good flights.
Silent Bob 0
This article is almost completely worthless when it comes to what is happening at Delta, and other airlines for that matter.

First of all Delta is not "lowering seniority" for anyone. Pilots have always bid on aircraft/seat and that hasn't changed. What is being left out of the article is these Captain openings are in "undesirable" locations (NYC for example with Delta, and places like SFO for United). The reason they're undesirable is of course cost of living, plus typically a dearth of commuters, and newbies will most likely be on reserve, in some cases for years. While being a Captain is always nice, one can have a better schedule, live in or closer to their base, and in most cases make more money as a more senior FO in a widebody vs reserve Captain on a narrowbody.

In case you're wondering how airlines staff these positions if they don't get enough bidders: the exact process differs according to pilot contracts but there will be some form of displacement or "flush" bid where the most junior Captains will be forced into them and that can cause cascading displacements across fleets and bases until everyone is in the position they can hold.

Lastly I'm fairly certain, but not 100% that per Delta's pilot contract you cannot attend upgrade training until you've been on property for at least 1 year. So even if someone is "awarded" a Captain position at 4 or 5 months it will be well over a year by the time they actually occupy the seat. Which is still pretty short in the grand scheme of things.
Jeffrey Hennecke 0
That’s why I gave up flying
tsberry901 0
I hope we don't see more and more of these errors as the flight crew member new hires get younger and more inexperienced.
Abe Wagschal -4
this can cause real danger in event of an emergency
Abe Wagschal -6
this can cause real danger in event of emergency


Don't have an account? Register now (free) for customized features, flight alerts, and more!
Did you know that FlightAware flight tracking is supported by advertising?
You can help us keep FlightAware free by allowing ads from We work hard to keep our advertising relevant and unobtrusive to create a great experience. It's quick and easy to whitelist ads on FlightAware or please consider our premium accounts.