How often do you get behind the stick of a small plane these days? If you do, how do you like it and what’s your plane of choice and if you don’t do you miss it?
I have not flown a small airplane in well over a decade. I enjoy my job a lot, but I do not feel the need to bring it home. I fly about ninety hours per month and that is enough for me. Plus, we get so spoiled having nearly every piece of modern equipment and information available to us, that I would really think twice before willingly giving any of that up.
One other thing to think of, if something bad happens while flying a small airplane, bent landing gear, tail strike, ATC violation, etc, a pilot is of course responsible to the FAA and could end up losing their ability to fly professionally. I would say that is the primary reason that most airline pilots do not fly small airplanes.
I hadn’t thought about that last bit. Also, I know nothing about the FAA incident review process if that’s what it’s even called. But, being a professional pilot with so much experience shouldn’t you all be fine to avoid anything that would be your fault? Am I wrong in thinking the FAA is understanding with things that are no fault?
There is no such thing as “no fault” with the FAA, everything is reviewed when something happens. It might not necessarily be the pilot’s fault, but there will be fault found.
I do have a lot of experience, but at this point t is mostly all in jets and in the airline environment. My small airplane time is almost two decades behind me.
Don’t get me wrong, many airline pilots still fly small airplanes, but most of us do not.
So, let’s say there was something that was truly out of the pilot’s control. Something like a broken wheel, but all the maintenance was done on time and to spec and so on and nobody can be found to blame - where’s the responsibility eventually land?
edit: to be clear, the gear is fine on takeoff and then during flight it mysteriously fails. Does the FAA have the ability to bring consequence to the manufacturer even?
Mechanical failures just happen, that is a fact of life and typically nobody is held responsible for it. However, if a crash were to occur due to such, then the FAA would likely get involved.
I am not really sure about the whole FAA process as I have managed to avoid it.
I too haven’t done much GA flying since I became a professional. I took my son up with a friend last year and did some stuff with the Civil Air Patrol a few years back. When I was flying the ScareBus last year I did actually miss flying and took a few glider lessons but didn’t really enjoy that. As for being concerned as a professional it’s not mechanical or bending metal that concerns me as much as violating some airspace or some other regulatory infraction. When flying for the airlines we’re ALWAYS filed IFR (Instrument Flight Rules) even if it’s clear a million out. That means the nice folks at ATC tell me where I can and cannot go, inform me of prohibited airspace, TFRs, etc. Frankly I’m spoiled. Fortunately I’m back to flying the 717 which is a great plain to fly (vs manage) and I often spend entire days handflying which scratches the itch.
That said I do know many pilots who do a lot of GA. Aerobatics, gliders, seaplanes etc. One of our 767 pilots is actually on the US National Soaring Team.
taking fault completely out of the picture… serious accidents in a small plane will probably take you out of commission due to injuries. Potentially permanently.
Seaplanes is where it’s at, in my mind. I’ve wanted a Catalina PBY since I first laid eyes on one in an old videogame. I appreciate the information. I seem to recall you are very experienced, can I ask if it’s choice that you’re flying a medium range jet and not long-haul international? It might be my inexperience showing but those transcontinental / transoceanic flights seem like the glamour jobs.
I was more thinking of something like a minor accident that’s nobody’s fault. Perhaps a bird hits the windshield after touchdown or something similar.
After you’ve flown for a while it becomes less and less about the “cool” factor (at least in my case) and more about quality of life. I flew the A330 to many exotic destinations. I’m glad I “checked the box” and it was a great experience but frankly I was bored out of my mind and living out of a suitcase and flying redeyes (which virtually all international flights are at least one way) kicked my but. I now fly interisland and couldn’t be happier. I sleep in my bed every night and am home for lunch most days. Many of my friends still fly the heavies and love it. I think perhaps if I started when I was younger I might have adapted better but I’m old and tired and would rather relax and do my own thing.
Btw, yes things like mechanicals and bird strikes are no ones fault but how you handle the emergency is all on the pilot. Just watch Sully.
I used to fly international as well and made the decision to return to domestic flying. I am much happier staying in the US, flying during more normal hours and being within easier contact of my friends and family. The size or type of the airplane does not matter to me, it is all about the quality of life.