Who can fly?

Hi Everyone,

I would like to know if it’s only captains and senior captains that fly commercial planes for major airlines and then for regionals. How long would it usually take to move from FO to captain? And what is taken in to consideration when promoting an FO to captain? Is it about the number of years? Or its about number of hours? What is required before an FO can become a captain?



I am not sure that I understand the first part of your question, but I will try to answer it.

Pilots go from the regionals to the majors and every crew has one Captain and one First Officer. There are some long haul flights that will have additional pilots, but that is the exception.

The move from FO to Captain can be anywhere from two years at the regionals to ten or more at the majors, it all depends on the airline, the economy and the hiring dynamic at the time. An airline that is not growing will only be losing people by attrition, so upgrade will take longer there than at an airline that is growing.

The promotion to Captain is based solely off of seniority as everybody should be qualified and capable of being a Captain. Most the time it is simply a matter of waiting for your number to come up, then passing upgrade training of course.


Thank you Chris… So a first officer can also fly a commercial flight for regionals and majors?

Yes. Believe it or not First Officers are pilots too :slight_smile:



As I said, every crew has at least one Captain and one First Officer, no matter the airline.


How come every time I travel on a major airline… the pilots always say “ this is Captain …” I have never met an FO on any of the trips I have made and I have been to quite a number of countries

Because Captains tend to make the announcements.

I bet you have met a First Officer, half the airline pilots out there are FOs.


Are you under the impression that First Officers don’t fly? If so, that’s not how it works. Generally speaking, the Captain and First Officer take turns flying the plane and handling the radios.



At my airline, the Welcome Aboard announcement is the Captain’s responsibility. However, the manual does not preclude the FO from doing the announcement if the Captain is okay with it.


Because as a general rule the Capt makes the announcements (but not always). Did you ever notice that only 1 flight attendant makes all the cabin announcements? Does that mean the others aren’t flight attendants?

I’m sorry if it’s off topic, but I binged the whole thing after you posted that clip from a training day episode. I really enjoyed it​:grinning: it may not be the best out there but I laughed a lot :grinning: thank you for posting it the other day! :joy:

1 Like

Lol… I get it now. Thanks a lot. I’d be back with more questions