Upgrading from a Regional to a Major Airline

I asked a Pilot I know how many hours of PIC (Pilot in Command) time do most U.S Major Airlines require before a Pilot for a Regional Airline can start applying for an interview.

He explained that it used to be required by the Majors for a Pilot to have been a Captain on a Regional Airline with at least 1000 hours of flight time, but that rule no longer applies. He went on explaining that you could be a First Officer the entire time on a Regional for a few years, then Jump to the right seat of a Major. I wanted to see if you agree with this…

If this is true, how many years of flight time as a ‘First Officer’ on a regional do most major Airlines require before you can apply for them?

And finally, is it fair to say that Regional Pilot applicants who have upgraded to Captains are far more likely to be put at the top of the list than First Officers (is it still a good idea to upgrade to a Regional Captain and fly for a couple years for the sake of standing out among other Pilots when applying for a Major?)


While most major airlines do not require 1000 hours of turbine PIC time, it is definitely a preference. The major carriers are in such need of pilots, that they booted the requirement in order to increase the size of the pilot pool.
From what I hear, most pilots that are hired from the right seat of a regional (FO to FO) are either ex-military, or have done some sort of activity aside from regular line flying (ground/sim instruction, recruiting, volunteer work outside of aviation, etc.). These ‘resume builders’ are more likely to help you get to the top of the list.



I will agree with Yarden here. The vast majority of pilots hired at the majors will be regional jet Captains. Th more captain time you can build at the regionals the more competitive you will be for the majors.



One more thing to consider. Right now things are great and due to demand SOME Majors have dropped their PIC requirements. You get hired at a Major with 0 PIC which is definitely nice and you’re getting paid. As long as everything stays great the world is a beautiful place. BUT, if history has taught us anything it’s that the airline industry is cyclic and there are often not so great times (again EVERY Major airline that existed when I was a kid is gone). Let’s say someone throws a wrench in the economy, there’s a war in the Middle East and the price of fuel quadruples bla bla bla. Your airline needs to cut back and furlough and you find yourself on the street with another thousand pilots all of whom are scrambling to get hired. Who do you think has a better shot, the guy with the PIC or the guy without? Not to mention if you decide to go overseas ALL the foreign carriers require PIC.

It’s kind of like insurance. You may not ever need it but when you do you’re really happy you have it :slight_smile: