I Just Got Hired by an Airline! Now what?

No matter what kind of equipment you have been flying or how you flew it before you were hired, your new airline will expect you to learn their flight procedures and adhere to them. As soon as you are hired, your airline will send you a box of manuals and expect you to know the material when you show up for ground school. This package will contain, among other things, a POH (Pilots Operating Handbook). The POH will describe every maneuver that you will be learning, and exactly how to do it, so that is a good place to start.

The POH will also contain the profiles and procedures that the airline uses to Standardize their pilots. The goal of the training department will be to make sure that you can fly safely, and that you become interchangeable with other First Officers. Instructors at your new airline will accomplish this by training you to become Standardized. The concept is that cockpit behavior and actions will be the same in every flight, no matter which pilots are at the controls, to prevent confusion and allow for the pilots to be coordinated in their actions. The way this is accomplished is to have a “script” for a maneuver, a normal take-off for example, where each action that a pilot takes and each call-out a pilot makes is the same on every flight.

When you first arrive at the Training Center you will begin with Initial Training, which takes about ten weeks. It begins with Indoc (indoctrination) Training, which lasts about a week or so, and it will be focused on general company-specific subjects. These subjects will include company policies and company-specific procedures; the basic knowledge that you will need to survive on a day to day basis with your new company.

You will spend the next two weeks on aircraft systems specific to the equipment you’ll operate. You will learn about such systems as your aircraft’s Engines, the Electrical system, the Fuel system, Hydraulics, Pressurization, etc. After the systems section, you’ll be paired with a training partner and have two or more weeks of simulator training. In the simulator, you’ll learn how to operate the aircraft as a standardized crew using good Crew Resource Management (CRM), as well as experience emergencies and learn how to handle them. You’ll focus particularly on crew coordination and successfully operating your simulated airliner from engine-start and pushback to arrival at the destination Gate. Then it is on to check-rides and evaluations.

Once the pre-checks, oral examinations and final check-rides are over, you will have completed Initial Training, good job. Not so fast though, you aren’t done yet. Next you’ll fly with an experienced Captain and Instructor called an IOE Check Airman to get Initial Operating Experience. This experience, which includes at least 25 hours of flight time during actual revenue flights with passengers, will teach you to use your new technical skills to deal with the daily requirements of your new job.

After initial operating experience (IOE), you face your last challenge which is called a Line Check , this is the “Final Exam” evaluation done during the last leg of IOE and and it is the culmination of your training. After you pass the Line Check, you are released from the training department to operate scheduled flights as a crew member. Congratulations! Fly safely and enjoy the payoff for all of your hard work.