So yes as Chris announced I just finished upgrade at Hawaiian and I have to admit I’m feeling pretty darn good. I had been a CA at ExpressJet for 6 years so it’s really good to be back in the left seat. There’s an old saying the best part about upgrading is you get to fly with your favorite CA everyday Anyway I figure now that I’m done (didn’t want to jinx anything) I’d give you some overall logistics of the process.
First of course you need the seniority to hold CA which in my case happened in about 4yrs 9mos. Fortunately Hawaiian has been doing well and expanding so there’s been a lot of expansion which explains the relatively short upgrade time. Now there are actually 3 upgrade programs at the airline. Short, Medium and Long. The short course is for current and qualified FO’s on the airplane. They know the plane so it’s simply a matter of moving left and start thinking like a CA. The long is for pilots who never flew the plane so they obviously have to learn it. I had the medium course because I flew the plane and have my Type rating but I’ve been away from it for 2 yrs. The course consisted of 5 days of systems and VPT (Virtual Procedures Trainer, basically a non-moving sim), half day for each. We then had a Procedures Validation and a Knowledge Validation before we could go to sim (Simulators are very expensive to operate and you don’t want to be wasting time). We had 5 sim sessions. Day 1 of sim was nice and easy. We basically just got reacquainted with the airplane but Day 2 was a nightmare! EVERYTHING you could possible lose we did. Total hydraulic failure, total electrical failure, losing engines, you name it we did it. It was exhausting and humbling. Fortunately things relaxed some after and by Day 5 we were both back in the saddle. We then had our Maneuvers Validation and LOE (Line Operational Evaluation) which is basically just a flight with some issue. Me and my sim partner had our Type Ratings so we didn’t require and formal Oral or Checkride. Finally I had 4 days of UOE (Upgrade Operational Experience) which is flying live flights (with passengers) with a Check Airman as your FO. At some point the FAA observes, gives you their blessing, the Check Airman signs you off and you get your stripes.
This is quite literally the culmination of many years of hard work, sacrifice and yes some luck. I’m exactly where I want to be doing what I love to do and consider myself extremely fortunate. This is no time for a commercial but it all started with a dream and ALOT of help from ATP and I will be forever grateful.
Capt Adam Feldman