Wow: Delta’s Very Junior Boeing 767 Captains

Wow: Delta’s Very Junior Boeing 767 Captains

98

In the United States we’re seeing a pilot shortage. The major carriers are on hiring sprees (most pilots are coming from regional airlines and low cost carriers), and this is creating a lack of pilots at those carriers. There has never been a better time to be a qualified pilot at a regional airline with a decent number of hours, as you can now land your dream job at one of the major airlines.

What’s beyond fascinating (at least to me) is some of the aircraft assignments and positions that newly hired pilots are getting.

Delta new hire pilots are getting amazing bids

In the United States, pilots almost exclusively work on a seniority basis. The goal is always to land a job as soon as possible at your “forever” airline, which will ideally be one of the major carriers, since they pay best. You want to do that because your seniority doesn’t transfer between airlines, and your seniority allows you to fly bigger planes and advance to captain (meaning you make more money), and it also gives you more schedule flexibility.

Prior to the pandemic, you’d typically need 20 years seniority to be a wide body captain at Delta, as you’d expect — after all, it’s the captain position on one of the largest jets. When starting, you’d typically be first officer on one of the smaller jets, and then over time work your way up (based on what you value most). Well, that’s not the case anymore.

As noted by Aero Crew News, Delta pilots with as little as 4.5 months seniority are able to bid on the Delta Boeing 757/767 captain position (at Delta, pilots fly both the 757 and 767, given the cockpit similarities). Now, admittedly there are downsides to being the most junior captain on a particular aircraft, as you’ll have the least schedule flexibility, and also least choice of where you’ll be based.

But the pay is amazing. For example, while a first year Delta first officer on any jet is paid $92 per hour, a 757/767 captain is paid $269 per hour. For pilot pay, you can generally add three zeroes to the end of the hourly pay to figure out annual pay (since pilots can fly up to 1,000 hours per year), meaning that amounts to $92K(ish) vs. $269K(ish). That’s a massive difference!

There are Boeing 767 captains with 4.5 months seniority

Congratulations to these pilots!

A few months back I wrote about a new era of young mainline pilots, where we’re now seeing people in their mid-20s in the cockpits the major US carriers, rather than just at regional airlines. That’s really cool to see, if you ask me.

Seeing a 767 captain with such little seniority is equally impressive. It’s wild to think that you could go from being the first officer on a small regional jet, to being the captain on one of Delta’s biggest jets, in a matter of months.

Some people will always say “well that doesn’t seem safe, I’d be worried taking one of those flights.” While I can appreciate that experience is a good thing, the reality is that aviation in the United States is incredibly safe across the board, regardless of whether pilots have 2,000 hours or 20,000 hours.

It’s not just American, Delta, and United that have historically had amazing safety records, but also regional airlines. Look at how much flying regional airlines do, yet we haven’t seen a major fatal regional jet accident in the United States since the Colgan Air crash in 2009 (and I do think some things have been changed for the better since then).

Similarly, in Europe the major carriers hire pilots with fewer hours than what’s needed to be a commercial pilot in the United States, yet carriers across the board have great safety records, ranging from EasyJet to Lufthansa to Ryanair.

Even regional airlines have a great safety record

Bottom line

For qualified, junior pilots, there has never in history been a better time to be looking for your dream job. Not only can you land a job at American, Delta, and United, but due to the fleet changes we’ve seen, there are some amazing bidding opportunities.

Specific to Delta, the airline now reportedly has some Boeing 757/767 captains with just 4.5 months seniority. So yeah, basically new hires are able to bid on being a wide body captain. If the captain on your next transatlantic Delta flight is in their 20s, now you know why…

What do you make of this fascinating time for pilots?

Conversations (98)
The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.
Type your response here.

If you'd like to participate in the discussion, please adhere to our commenting guidelines. Anyone can comment, and your email address will not be published. Register to save your unique username and earn special OMAAT reputation perks!

  1. ConcordeBoy Diamond

    This is [b]great[/b], as the USA in the post Boomer generations has a big problem with senior generations continuing to work (for understandable reasons) thus stunting the economic growth of the next three generations down the rung.

  2. Erick Guest

    There is absolutely nothing a 35 years old person cannot do , that a 60 years old person can. That is ridiculous.

    Plus seniority system is mainly done in the United States . Reason why fas do not give 2 cents about going above and beyond . They just have to go be there when they need to .

  3. David Stock Guest

    No big deal. WW2 had 20 year old pilots flying B17's, B24's and B29's loaded with bombs,
    being shot at, they performed with great Valor and skill. Expect this generation to do the same. Thank God for our youth.

    1. Mike H Guest

      They crashed frequently in WWII. We lost more aircraft in training than in the war.

      https://www.realclearhistory.com/articles/2019/02/12/staggering_statistics_15000_us_airmen_killed_in_training_in_ww_ii_412.html

  4. RinPA Guest

    There is NO substitute for years of experience. As we progress through our piloting career, we see mistakes, we make mistakes, and as professionals, we learn from these events through post flight debriefing. I've been flying for 37 years, 11 years in the military and 26 years with a major airline. I would NOT feel comfortable putting my family on a 757 with a 1 year captain. They lack the perspective of years of experiences.

  5. LAOCA Guest

    The aircraft type keeps changing but the Delta NY base has had a lot of very junior captains for a long time. When exiting your first class, you are almost always assigned reserve at JFK, because no one wants it. The only question is which airplane.

    Many exit out as soon as they can bid a new base. But some, usually the youngest without families that can live in a crash pad and stomach reserve,...

    The aircraft type keeps changing but the Delta NY base has had a lot of very junior captains for a long time. When exiting your first class, you are almost always assigned reserve at JFK, because no one wants it. The only question is which airplane.

    Many exit out as soon as they can bid a new base. But some, usually the youngest without families that can live in a crash pad and stomach reserve, will stick around for a left seat.

    Unless you have family you can live with in NY, having your base there while on reserve can be a truly awful experience. As a first officer it won't be too long until you can hold a line and commute to work. But as a low seniority captain, it will take forever. Higher seniority pilots will jump in a head of you when there is a line to be held, and you there is rarely another base you can switch to. So you are basically stuck. No one with a family will do it, and even those that are young and single get very tired of it.

    To most pilots, it's not the plane. It's the routes and schedules you can hold. There are many senior pilots flying as FOs by choice. Until you have many years in and can pick your own routes as a captain, it may be the best gig in the company.

    One more comment: Delta (and UA) get the pick of the litters for pilots, and are very good at screening/training. I feel safer with an under 30 DL captain flying me, than any LCC where both the pilots have been passed up again and again by the majors.

    1. Mike H Guest

      That’s ridiculous. Junior pilots have earned experience as FOs. Not as wide-body captains.

  6. Goforride Guest

    It's only a matter of time before there's an accident where the final report says "a lack of airmanship skills" was a contributing factor.

    1. Eskimo Guest

      That will NEVER happen, as that would indirectly admit that the regulators screwed up.

  7. Brenda Guest

    Seniority is way more important. I'd rather have a seasoned captain over a person who has minimal flying experience no matter how safe flying is these days. My husband is a very seasoned retired pilot!

  8. Anthony Joseph Guest

    Delta is quickly phasing out both 757 and 767 planes within the next 3-5 years. No experienced pilot will want to bid to fly those planes even from another carrier.nnyes, there are still a lot unemployed A380 pilots but I don't think they will want to fly these planes.
    I agree that experience through hours flown is huge to handle emergencies. Pete Buttagieg, please aggressively step in or else we have disaster in the making for lack of pilot experience.

  9. Ruben Guest

    At my German Cargo-airline due to its own second-officer programme who climbed the ranks fairly quickly during the last boom phase I sometimes fly with captains on the 777 who are 31 or 32 years of age, yet still show a captaincy/airmanship as if they've been on the lefthand seat for years. This used to be quite normal at Norwegian as well.

  10. FlyerDon Guest

    For those of you that are downplaying the value of airline line experience I suggest you pull up the NTSB report on Air Florida flight 90. It crashed departing DCA back in the early 1980’s during a snow and ice event. The accident was due to pilot error and the NTSB emphasized the relative inexperience of the crew. Both had been with the company for less than two years and both were former Air Force...

    For those of you that are downplaying the value of airline line experience I suggest you pull up the NTSB report on Air Florida flight 90. It crashed departing DCA back in the early 1980’s during a snow and ice event. The accident was due to pilot error and the NTSB emphasized the relative inexperience of the crew. Both had been with the company for less than two years and both were former Air Force pilots. It shows the difference between flight hours and flight experience.

    1. Dick Bupkiss Guest

      Most aviation accidents are due to pilot error.

      Experience is not an absolute guarantee against all pilot error (there are very few guarantees in life), but I'd take experience (actual butt-in-the-seat, stick time experience), over any other variable you can name.

      I like seeing some gray hair when I glance up at the flight deck.

  11. Tim Dunn Diamond

    This article is being discussed on the Delta subforum at Airline Pilot Forums and several actual Delta pilots including one who is low seniority in the 757/767-300ER NYC category have commented which include points which should be considered.
    - Delta categorizes the 757 and 767-300ER as the same pilot group; they received certification decades ago as a common type.
    - Delta operates the world's largest passenger fleet of 757s (118 aircraft between the...

    This article is being discussed on the Delta subforum at Airline Pilot Forums and several actual Delta pilots including one who is low seniority in the 757/767-300ER NYC category have commented which include points which should be considered.
    - Delta categorizes the 757 and 767-300ER as the same pilot group; they received certification decades ago as a common type.
    - Delta operates the world's largest passenger fleet of 757s (118 aircraft between the -200 and -300 models). They currently operate 44 767-300ERs so the chances of actually flying the 767 is less than 1/3 given the fleet numbers.
    - the 767-400 at Delta is in a separate category
    - The majority of Delta 767-300ER flights from NYC are transcon flights, mostly to LAX and SFO.
    - The low seniority widebody captain phenomena only exists in NYC; the 757/767-300ER category exists in several other bases but the seniority for the type is much higher. NYC is low seniority for many airlines.
    - The majority of NYC 757/767-300ER flying is actually on the 757 on other transcons or Florida.
    - It is theoretically possible for a low seniority captain to get a trip to Europe or Africa - where Delta uses the 767-300ER from JFK - if a trip drops into last minute reserve, but actual evidence is that those trips usually go to white slips which go by seniority, meaning the low seniority captains will rarely if ever see a transoceanic trip.

    The Delta pilots note that the reason for these low seniority widebody captains is a combination of Delta still having such a large remaining fleet of 757s and the fact that other widebodies that do much larger percentages of international flying are much more senior even in NYC.

    As has been noted, low seniority at Delta doesn't necessarily mean they have little flying experience.
    The pilots that have weighed in on the topic largely agree that any pilot is properly trained and prepared.

    but the question still remains (from me) as to what number of passengers a plane has to carry before it is a risk to have a low seniority, younger pilot. There are thousands of young regional jet captains and yet no one questions them flying 76 passengers. is the 225 passengers on a 767 too many passengers but 76 is ok?

    1. FlyerDon Guest

      No offense Tim but you need to hire an editor.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Something about message and messenger?

  12. Steve Guest

    I saw a US aircrew arrive at AKL to depart on Friday and I was shocked how old they were!!! 3 co pilots and captain all looked over 70!!! Hosties and their hair were quite scary looking and almost as old!! I’ll never fly that airline.

    1. Never In Doubt Guest

      Since they were a US flight crew, they couldn’t have been over 65, so all this demonstrates is your bad age guessing capability.

  13. RAF man Guest

    Sorry, I'm a retired military pilot. When the chips are down I'll go for experience and a load of flying hours every time. The ratio of flying accidents to experience proves this time and time again

  14. Joe Gunnett Guest

    What an interesting article,I was lucky to be in command of a heavy jet at age 30 in the nineties with a respected carrier,I was in the right place at the right time but it was a rather elite club then and probably consisted of around five or six of us in the world.

  15. KR Guest

    Customers/passengers should be able to choose flights with information about the pilot captain's flight hours before they book. If the airline brand, type of aircraft, and other logistical information is available, shouldn't those who put their lives in the hands of the airline and those guiding these aircraft know all the facts? It should be part of the data available to the public before they board a plane and see someone that worries them and...

    Customers/passengers should be able to choose flights with information about the pilot captain's flight hours before they book. If the airline brand, type of aircraft, and other logistical information is available, shouldn't those who put their lives in the hands of the airline and those guiding these aircraft know all the facts? It should be part of the data available to the public before they board a plane and see someone that worries them and have to fly in fear. Let's face it...We all look in the cockpit to see who's our captain.

  16. David Gallagher Guest

    As a 26,000 plus hr pilot there is a possible short-term resolve. Raise the retirement age and allow pilots who have retired to come back and fly once more. This may give a resolve, however for 5 or so years. But it is a possibility that can work.

    Best regards to all...

    1. Steve Guest

      As a 6,500’ish hour pilot with 5 type ratings and has flown 121, 91, and 135. If you want to raise the retirement age for 121 I’d agree. Only if you went back to the right seat of a regional 121 carrier and pass along your “vast” knowledge. If not retire and GTFO of the way. I was a victim of lay offs in ‘08 because of the 60 to 65 ruling.

  17. David Guest

    I’m 56, been flying military aircraft for the past 30 years with over 5000 hours of flying everything from helicopters to props to jets. I was just hired as a newly minted First Officer on a wide body jet. I have a whopping 5 months of airline experience. I can definitively say, you don’t want me as a a Captain, yet. I heavily rely on the 20-30+ years of experience sitting in the left seat....

    I’m 56, been flying military aircraft for the past 30 years with over 5000 hours of flying everything from helicopters to props to jets. I was just hired as a newly minted First Officer on a wide body jet. I have a whopping 5 months of airline experience. I can definitively say, you don’t want me as a a Captain, yet. I heavily rely on the 20-30+ years of experience sitting in the left seat. I’m happy for the hiring spree and thankful I was in a position to accept such a great responsibility. Unfortunately I can already predict there will be an accident with one of these very inexperienced pilots. The FAA will come out with some arcane all encompassing rule to prevent those with a fair amount of experience advancing. I’d caution the new guys to be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      tell us the statistic possibility of a brand new airline first officer with decades of flying experience being paired with a brand new captain.
      And do you not think that the brand new captain also might have a great deal of aviation experience, even if not at that particularly airline?

      You do recall there is a similar discussion going on right now regarding the American crew - which had 3 pilots in the cockpit...

      tell us the statistic possibility of a brand new airline first officer with decades of flying experience being paired with a brand new captain.
      And do you not think that the brand new captain also might have a great deal of aviation experience, even if not at that particularly airline?

      You do recall there is a similar discussion going on right now regarding the American crew - which had 3 pilots in the cockpit of a 2 pilot aircraft with a new first officer but what had to be a very experienced captain and an unknown level of experience in the pilot on the jumpseat - and the captain had to have been the one that physically turned the aircraft onto the wrong taxiway?

      Should we prohibit any newbies in any position even if they aren't the ones that make mistakes because they don't have the experience when the whole purpose of having a crew of 2 or more is to have people backing each other up?

      If the name of the game is solely experience, we can automate the cockpit and put one, but only one, very experienced pilot in there so there is no possibility of any error due to a lack of experience -until someone with alot of experience makes a mistake, since we know that NEVER HAPPENS.

      Is that the solution?

    2. Fred Guest

      Unfortunately I'm betting there was not a sterile cockpit on the American flight.....

    3. DeltapilotAtl Guest

      Delta fired a guy for bidding on capt. Bid with 6 month seniority. Reason was he lacked judgment. Now if anyone takes a capt. Then good luck having a job at delta. Also to add your captain won't be in his 20s he will be in his 30s or 40s with years of experience on the 767.

  18. Mary Guest

    This is very scary. In all jobs experience matters. One of my many takeaways from Air Crash Investigation is that if anything goes wrong I want a very experienced pilot preferably with military training.

  19. Jason Guest

    I love all these non pilots commenting. I fly with these kids. Some good some bad. Some I’ve said ah you’re going back to training.

    Experience doesn’t matter you say. Wrong. How about thunderstorms? Ice? Rain. Winds blowing to 60 @ JFK. Keep telling me experience doesn’t matter.

    At my airline the average new hire only going back to 2015 had over 8000 hours with 3000 flown as a Captain somewhere else. College...

    I love all these non pilots commenting. I fly with these kids. Some good some bad. Some I’ve said ah you’re going back to training.

    Experience doesn’t matter you say. Wrong. How about thunderstorms? Ice? Rain. Winds blowing to 60 @ JFK. Keep telling me experience doesn’t matter.

    At my airline the average new hire only going back to 2015 had over 8000 hours with 3000 flown as a Captain somewhere else. College degree mandatory.

    If you had a DUI you could pretty much not even apply to the big 3. You were not going to get hired. Fast forward to 2023. No degree. DUI’s arrests and very little flying experience is getting hired across the board.

    It’s downright scary what’s happening with the hiring.

  20. arrowspace90 Guest

    When I had been at one of the majors for 20 years, I couldn't hold the most junior captain seat on the most junior airplane at the most junior base.
    It would have been great to fly as a captain while still somewhat young. That was not happening for people hired in 1990.
    It's all about some luck when it comes to advancing. If you're a young black female today, your ticket is punched.

    1. Glacialfury Guest

      What does being a young black female have to do with anything in this article? Legit question.

    2. Son's Mommy Guest

      Affirmative Action is still helpful in some industries; that my guess as what the person was saying. I don't know how the airlines hire. However, if that is a true statement that more black females have an opportunity to be an airline pilot- I am all for it!

  21. Mark Guest

    From European point of view, safety record is so good simply because you will NEVER see a commander without at least 4000 flying hours and at least 2500 hours in commercial jet like A320 or B737. That experience is like a minimum to promote a first officer into 4th stripe. And regarding wide body jet, double those figures. If a guy can achieve that in his 20s or early 30s, so be it.
    Less than the above should raise a brow.

  22. DS Guest

    Sounds like a good argument to raise the retirement age. Who would you rather have as a captain, a 65 year old with 35 years seniority/experience or someone with 6 months seniority.

    1. Mark Guest

      In a modern jet age is irrelevant. It's all about CRM, training, decision making and time and resources management. Older guys often are stuck in what i call dinosaur mentality "Me the captain, me the king". So no, definitely, age does not play any significant role in modern jet airliner. But experience does, no doubt.

    2. Markk Guest

      In a modern jet age is irrelevant. It's all about CRM, training, decision making and time and resources management. Older guys often are stuck in what i call dinosaur mentality "Me the captain, me the king". So no, definitely, age does not play any significant role in modern jet airliner. But experience does, no doubt.

    3. DF Guest

      Which is exactly how the ASIANA accident happened. Experience is critical

  23. Omar Guest

    Why would it be cool to see inexperienced pilots captain the largest aircraft? Seems like a perverse statement to me.

    Due to labor shortages we're seeing inexperienced staff across many different fields and the results are not promising.

    1. PaulH Guest

      The title of the article is misleading. To get hired at a major carrier you will pass a thorough screening and interview process. Even if you are 25 years old, the interviewers know that you may be a Captain for that airline in less than a year, so you will definitely need the flight experience to make the cut. You will not be "inexperienced". There are some very impressive individuals in their 20s who would...

      The title of the article is misleading. To get hired at a major carrier you will pass a thorough screening and interview process. Even if you are 25 years old, the interviewers know that you may be a Captain for that airline in less than a year, so you will definitely need the flight experience to make the cut. You will not be "inexperienced". There are some very impressive individuals in their 20s who would make great captains, and there are lots of pilots in their 50s with 30 years of "flying" that would not pass that interview.

    2. Mike H Guest

      They’re hiring anyone they can get their hands on. JetBlue just hired a convicted felon on 30 years probation.

  24. EY Guest

    Is this the same blogger writing the article about the JFK accident?

  25. Stuart Guest

    Well, in the case of the Amazon 767 that crashed in Houston it goes against all that’s said in this post as to who should be in control of a wide body aircraft. A 20 something ex regional pilot flew a perfectly good 767 straight into the ground. Nope, they are rushing these pilots to quickly. And missing as well the fact that some (like this pilot) should never have come close to a larger aircraft EVER given past history.

    1. Clown Master Guest

      The captain was 60 and the FO was 44 on the Atlas 3591 crash. The FO had been fired by 4 airlines, but because of stylish hiring practices he kept getting jobs.

  26. Joe Guest

    @Lucky...
    " the reality is that aviation in the United States is incredibly safe across the board, regardless of whether pilots have 2,000 hours or 20,000 hours."

    that is a crazy statement. Let's break that down...

    The first 1500 hours... fly single engine Cessna's + a few hundred hours in a small twin engine.
    Then 500 hours flying jets... aka 1/2 a year.

    And you think they are as good as someone with...

    @Lucky...
    " the reality is that aviation in the United States is incredibly safe across the board, regardless of whether pilots have 2,000 hours or 20,000 hours."

    that is a crazy statement. Let's break that down...

    The first 1500 hours... fly single engine Cessna's + a few hundred hours in a small twin engine.
    Then 500 hours flying jets... aka 1/2 a year.

    And you think they are as good as someone with 10,000+ more hours flying jets?

    NO. WAY.

    Too many storms they have not experienced.
    Too many quirky airport procedures.
    Too many things that only experience teaches you.

    signed
    - an experienced pilot who knows he doesn't have enough experience to captain a wide body!

    1. YK Guest

      As a GA single-pilot jet pilot, I could not agree more than this. Safety increases with experience and someone with 2K hours just has not seen as much as 10K hours. That being said, I would argue that safety does not scale linearly with hours above a certain point. On long haul flights, not much experience is being gained in cruise on a 10 hour flight. That might mean that these young captains end up...

      As a GA single-pilot jet pilot, I could not agree more than this. Safety increases with experience and someone with 2K hours just has not seen as much as 10K hours. That being said, I would argue that safety does not scale linearly with hours above a certain point. On long haul flights, not much experience is being gained in cruise on a 10 hour flight. That might mean that these young captains end up being less safe at 10K hours given that their overall number of instrument departures and approaches is lower that it would have been for the last generation of pilots.

  27. Andreas Lubitz Guest

    You could put a 12 y/o in there and it wouldn't matter. Modern jets basically fly themselves.

    1. YK Guest

      You should go fly a sim in low vis with snow and you will realize that your statement is absurd.

    2. Vanessa Guest

      SMH. That’s a lie.

  28. Arthur Kite Guest

    I fly about 50 times a year on all three majors based on cheapest direct routes and have been doing so for about 10 years. Therefore, I have significant experience with all three. I have noticed that Delta, without exception, has the ROUGHEST take-offs and landings of any of the big 3. Their planes take a beating (along with the passengers). American seems to have the smoothest. Could the age and experience of the pilots be a factor? Appears so.

    1. FlyerDon Guest

      There was a time when Delta seemed to have a preference for former Marine pilots. The joke was many were still making carrier landings.

  29. Smokerr Guest

    Don't buy the automation making it easy. Far to many crashes are a result of pilots not being trained in nor understanding the automation and the various modes. The US and EU have moved to address this but as we saw with AF447 and the max CRASHES, automation can kill you if you don't understand it.

  30. Brianair Guest

    No wonder Delta's 767s climb out so steeply when taking off.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      no, it is because Delta has the most powerful engine offered on its 767-300ERs

  31. A350Hamburglar Guest

    it's simple. no one wants to fly the HORRIBLE domestic rotations. it will all equalize

  32. Rudy E Guest

    You won’t be seeing any 4.5 month seniority captains…..period!!!
    They must go through training and there’s quite the waitlist….. something on the order of 6 months + …………then they need to be slotted into the sims.
    At best it’s at least a year + and some lousy flying schedules ..

    1. David Guest

      False Rudy. We have several 5 month captains at the major airline I fly at.

  33. Amy Guest

    How many of US airlines now require a college degree? How many flight hours does it take to get a job as a pilot?

    1. John Bradford Guest

      My father is a retired airline pilot who started in 1960 and retired in 1992. He knows everything there is to know about aviation. He has flown everything professionally from a DC3 to a 747 (but mostly on a DC 9)

      He never went to college. That requirement came afterwards. The airline didn’t care what the college degree was in, as long as you graduated college. Personally, I think it’s a stupid requirement if the person is otherwise qualified for the job.

  34. Julie Guest

    And in a few years, the Majors will be fully staffed, these young pilots will be working for 40 years.

  35. Warren Trout Guest

    22 years at a major US airline and I never got close to widebody captain. Timing is everything.

  36. DCAWABN Guest

    Question to any active commercial US3 pilots out there:

    As a former non-aviation servicemember with lots of classmates who were back-seaters (RIOs and NFOs), are they afforded the same considerations for flight training and hours as front-seaters when it comes to hiring and experience necessary? You know, since they weren’t actually “flying” while they were in uniform?

    1. Mark D Guest

      No. Why would they be if they didn't have military flight training and weren't flying?

    2. Eskimo Guest

      I would think no. They aren't qualified pilots, nor they have the same flight trainings.

      Unless the government is secretly doing SIGINT or dropping some ordinance from commercial aircraft.

      What's more interesting are the drone operators. Technically, they are pilots.

  37. Robert Member

    Looks like the pilots are older than the planes themselves. Last DL 767 flight I was on, the plane was ~34 years old.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      Delta still hires a lot of ex military pilots so low seniority doesn’t necessarily mean young and inexperienced
      The fact that Delta can keep 30 year old planes operating that other airlines ground says volumes about the quality of Delta’s maintenance

  38. Dick Bupkiss Guest

    A real step up from that last job as the night shift manager at McDonalds, eh?

    Don't worry, planes are pretty much automated now, a lot like a video game, and the only experience the pilot needs is pushing buttons. What could possibly go wrong?

    I miss the good old days when airports had vending machines near the gates that sold last-minute life insurance policies. Bring those back, please!!!

    1. Mark D Guest

      This shows that you don't know much about aviation. Particularly since a 767 is 30-40 years old, but even a 787 requires a highly skilled pilot.

    2. Tim Dunn Diamond

      the other person should head on over to the JFK incursion articles....
      it is precisely because of skilled people in the JFK tower and DL's cockpit that the mistakes of an AA crew flying an airplane that is more automated than the DL 737 avoided an accident.
      It is incidents like that which remind us how much well-trained humans are worth it when they are needed.... you pay a whole lot for all...

      the other person should head on over to the JFK incursion articles....
      it is precisely because of skilled people in the JFK tower and DL's cockpit that the mistakes of an AA crew flying an airplane that is more automated than the DL 737 avoided an accident.
      It is incidents like that which remind us how much well-trained humans are worth it when they are needed.... you pay a whole lot for all of the mundane tasks that could be automated but it is the "off-script" events that make or break the aviation system.

    3. Miles Ahead Guest

      Amen. These people's faith in "automation" clearly shows they nothing about what they write.
      But they have an opinion! Lol

    4. Warren Trout Guest

      Not even close to being true

  39. Amy Guest

    As a passenger this makes me very anxious. The captain is ultimately responsible for many souls on his/ her aircraft.

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      and yet you haven't seemed to worry about safety at other airlines. You do realize that JBLU has long been the go-to airline for low-time pilots from Embry Riddle and other university flight academies?
      If young captains were unsafe at regional airlines - where they are coming from, don't you expect we would see plenty of crashes on regional airlines, esp. since they operate in some of the toughest airspace in the world -...

      and yet you haven't seemed to worry about safety at other airlines. You do realize that JBLU has long been the go-to airline for low-time pilots from Embry Riddle and other university flight academies?
      If young captains were unsafe at regional airlines - where they are coming from, don't you expect we would see plenty of crashes on regional airlines, esp. since they operate in some of the toughest airspace in the world - NYC, Chicago, and the west coast?

      The FAA and every US airline has very strict hiring and training standards.
      You should probably be more concerned about the mechanic working on your car or the contractor your electric company uses to service the lines coming into your house.

    2. Mark D Guest

      Any pilot hired by a U.S. major airline has many thousands of hours of experience at previous airlines. A major airline job is the last stop in your career. All these pilots are highly experienced

    3. Amy Guest

      Didn’t many airlines drop the college degree requirement? I thought I read about this somewhere. As far as military pilots I also read that there aren’t that many of them anymore due to drones and general reduction of military

  40. pstm91 Diamond

    Was at a bar with a few friends watching the World Cup back in November. The first game ended and the second game was a Senegal game. We were talking about Senegal, Dakar, etc and at that moment one of the guys in the group goes "OH SH*T!!" and hops on his phone. This was a friend of a friend, so I didn't really know him. Turns out he's a (31 y/o) Delta first officer...

    Was at a bar with a few friends watching the World Cup back in November. The first game ended and the second game was a Senegal game. We were talking about Senegal, Dakar, etc and at that moment one of the guys in the group goes "OH SH*T!!" and hops on his phone. This was a friend of a friend, so I didn't really know him. Turns out he's a (31 y/o) Delta first officer and his bidding window had started like 15 minutes earlier. He used to the fly their Dakar route and hearing "Dakar" made him think about it. Too funny.

  41. John Guest

    Ben,

    You should check out Swayne Martin on YouTube. He’s a mid 20s United 767 pilot. His YouTube channel documents his career starting with inter island commuters to regionals to long haul wide bodies.

    https://youtube.com/@SwayneMartinPilot

    1. Mark D Guest

      Unfortunately that guy is the butt of a lot of jokes among airline pilots. He's pretty full of himself. I'd hate to be one of his First Officers in 20 years.

    2. John Guest

      Scares the C R A P out of me!

  42. T- Guest

    This seems ridiculous. Why let the big 3 put people’s lives in danger?
    If more people knew that the captain of their airplane was promoted with only 4.5 month’s experience in the right seat, they’d be a little (or a lot) nervous. NOTHING can substitute for the hours of experience a pilot has on a particular aircraft. With this news, I wonder how much experience/hours the first officer has to have. Some of these guys have only been driving a car for a few years.

    1. Brian H Guest

      How is your life in danger? Do you know How much training these guys have? It's either go this route or don't have any pilots. But trust me they're well trained.

    2. JS Guest

      This is so outstanding. Their competence, hard work and desire to be a part of something bright and exciting; is emulable.
      Godspeed to each one of them !

    3. Leon DLV Guest

      The average age of a new Captain on a mainline North American airline is fairly high due to promotion based on strict seniority lists.
      But I have seen many widebody, including B747, Captains in European and Asian airlines who are in their early 30s. They usually need around 5000 total hours to become a Captain

    4. Mark D Guest

      Nobody is hired by a U.S. major airline without many thousands of hours of experience at previous airlines. Just because they are new at Delta, doesn't mean they are new pilots

    5. Samo Guest

      4,5 months of seniority doesn't mean that the pilot has only been flying for 4,5 months. It means they have been flying that long for *that carrier*. Of course no one becomes a 767 captain after flying for less than a few years.

    6. Mike H Guest

      Yes they do. They’re in their 20s. Very little experience and probably mostly in small regional aircraft,

  43. Pete Guest

    There's also been a lot of talk about allowing drivers as young as 18 to get commercial drivers licenses and pilot 80k-lb. tractor-trailer combinations, due to a driver shortage.

    I am in charge of a professional product planning team for a automotive manufacturer; if there's anything that I've learned, it's that demographics are a shallow measure for making any judgements on personal value and attitude. I would agree that experience is a valid concern,...

    There's also been a lot of talk about allowing drivers as young as 18 to get commercial drivers licenses and pilot 80k-lb. tractor-trailer combinations, due to a driver shortage.

    I am in charge of a professional product planning team for a automotive manufacturer; if there's anything that I've learned, it's that demographics are a shallow measure for making any judgements on personal value and attitude. I would agree that experience is a valid concern, but some of the most calm, even-handed people I have observed are younger than the stereotype, and vice-versa.

    I actually know one such 20-something regional first officer who's been around airline flight crews his whole life and he's a real-world example of this.

  44. Tim Dunn Diamond

    Low seniority widebody captains is one of the best selling points for choosing Delta for a pilot career. United has some low seniority widebody captains as well and they also have widebody captain seats that they cannot fill on bids.
    No, it is not likely a person can go from first officer at a regional airline to captain at Delta. The big boys aren't hiring a whole lot of RJ first officers that have no time as a captain.

  45. rich62az New Member

    Hopefully this doesn't lead to accidents. As someone older, I can look back and see how careless I could be when younger. Experience counts for a lot whether flying or driving or just dealing with life. My youthful impatience, etc. is now gone and I've had a lot less mishaps in life over the last decade as I'm nearing retirement.

    1. Mark D Guest

      Nobody is hired by a U.S. major airline without many thousands of hours of experience at previous airlines. Just because they are new at Delta, doesn't mean they are new pilots

    2. Stephen Kinser Guest

      The young have good health, eyesight, reaction time, hearing, and learn new skills quickly. Older pilots can be 'stuck' in their ways, don't pick up on new technology as quickly as younger ones, and act like no one will ever be as good as them. The worst airline incidents in the history of aviation were under the control of the most glorified, most experienced pilots in the world.

    3. Trevor Guest

      You must be one of the younger pilots!

    4. David Guest

      False. At my airline we fly wide bodies internationally and we’ve hire at least a dozen 1500 hour pilots.

Featured Comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

The comments on this page have not been provided, reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any advertiser, and it is not an advertiser's responsibility to ensure posts and/or questions are answered.

pstm91 Diamond

Was at a bar with a few friends watching the World Cup back in November. The first game ended and the second game was a Senegal game. We were talking about Senegal, Dakar, etc and at that moment one of the guys in the group goes "OH SH*T!!" and hops on his phone. This was a friend of a friend, so I didn't really know him. Turns out he's a (31 y/o) Delta first officer and his bidding window had started like 15 minutes earlier. He used to the fly their Dakar route and hearing "Dakar" made him think about it. Too funny.

2
Warren Trout Guest

22 years at a major US airline and I never got close to widebody captain. Timing is everything.

1
Tim Dunn Diamond

the other person should head on over to the JFK incursion articles.... it is precisely because of skilled people in the JFK tower and DL's cockpit that the mistakes of an AA crew flying an airplane that is more automated than the DL 737 avoided an accident. It is incidents like that which remind us how much well-trained humans are worth it when they are needed.... you pay a whole lot for all of the mundane tasks that could be automated but it is the "off-script" events that make or break the aviation system.

1
Meet Ben Schlappig, OMAAT Founder
4,988,713 Miles Traveled

29,627,500 Words Written

32,815 Posts Published