What is your greatest piece of advice

JDean3204

Well-Known Member
Those that have some 121 PIC experience, what is some advice you’d give to someone now upgrading? Something you wish you’d have been more prepared for or someone would have told you before sliding into the left seat?

I bet this will get drifted but a few serious nuggets here and there would be nice :)
 

GypsyPilot

Well-Known Member
Those that have some 121 PIC experience, what is some advice you’d give to someone now upgrading? Something you wish you’d have been more prepared for or someone would have told you before sliding into the left seat?

I bet this will get drifted but a few serious nuggets here and there would be nice :)
Always remember you can set the parking brake to figure out mx/release/rest/weather and whatever other issues. Don’t feel pressured to blast off without clearing up something you’re not sure about.

You WILL make mistakes. Just own up to them, and thank your FOs/dispatcher/rampers when it happens and they help bail you out. You will also catch their mistakes... Be gracious about it, as karma can and will strike back otherwise.

Try to relax and have fun! For whatever reason, one of the management guys came into our upgrade class and made it sound like the FAA was just looking for a reason to violate us. It really made me paranoid going into IOE, until the really cool LCA I was flying with us told me how untrue that is. As long as you’re trying to to the right thing, you’ll be fine. You’re going to be a bit paranoid going into your first few trips anyway, but you’ll soon learn to relax and have fun.

Always be honest with the pax and make sure to communicate. It sucks at first, but you’ll get better at it and most of them will really appreciate it, even when it’s really bad news.

Finally - As things start to unravel around you (ramp issues, company ops meltdowns, etc.), just relax and slow down. I ended up being pretty good at that and it made everyone’s life easier. The more things got screwed up, the more I basically just shrugged my shoulders and said whatever. We’ll be here when you’re ready for us (we’re paid by the minute!).
 
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Derg

Cap, Roci
Staff member
Those that have some 121 PIC experience, what is some advice you’d give to someone now upgrading? Something you wish you’d have been more prepared for or someone would have told you before sliding into the left seat?

I bet this will get drifted but a few serious nuggets here and there would be nice :)
You’re going to be far more responsible for ‘coordination’ rather than actually flying the aircraft.

Learn to build teams quickly and realize that yes, you’re going to have to fall on your sword.

You are the only employee on campus that is paid to slow things down. If you have to slow things down, SLOW THINGS DOWN.

You’re not going to get positive reinforcement when you may a good decision. People expect good decisions. It’s like a chef expecting a ‘thank you’ for not serving buffalo wings with botulism. “Where’s my thanks, man?” :)

There are good dispatchers and there are “not good” dispatchers, but do not be afraid to find the missing information.

The “cool guys” you flew may be terrible captains. The “a-holes” you flew with may have been good captains. Try to be learn what made your favorite captains fun to fly with and consider the boneheads you flew with might have just made an unpopular but correct decisions.

Everyone isn’t going to like you, but they’ll respect a good decision.

Help your copilot grow.

Keep the politics at home. The cockpit is not your bully pulpit because when they’re nodding in agreeance, they’re probably hoping you’d shut the heck up and are just trying to keep the peace.
People want to respect you as captain, but they’re very fast to throw you under the bus if you’re an •.

If you ever say “...because I’m the captain...” you’ve just created a cheering section for your ultimate demise.

Have fun! See the hard days as a challenge.

Most of all, and this is my most important bit of advice: Learn to let sh— go. There are days you’re going to see all the cogs in the big machine turning and it’s going to stress you out on occasion. New leg, new jet, new day, every time. If you keep carrying the last legs frustrations into the next, you’re going to build a culmination of stress that is going to poison every operation, interaction and your perspective. You’ll spend inordinate amounts of time writing FCR’s and ASAPS and, at the end of the day nothing will change except your increasing brewing dissatisfaction. If you’re convinced a procedure should change and if you like creative writing assignments, knock yourself out and report it, but LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY.
 

ozziecat35

4 out of 5 great lakes prefer Michigan.
You’re going to be far more responsible for ‘coordination’ rather than actually flying the aircraft.

Learn to build teams quickly and realize that yes, you’re going to have to fall on your sword.

You are the only employee on campus that is paid to slow things down. If you have to slow things down, SLOW THINGS DOWN.

You’re not going to get positive reinforcement when you may a good decision. People expect good decisions. It’s like a chef expecting a ‘thank you’ for not serving buffalo wings with botulism. “Where’s my thanks, man?” :)

There are good dispatchers and there are “not good” dispatchers, but do not be afraid to find the missing information.

The “cool guys” you flew may be terrible captains. The “a-holes” you flew with may have been good captains. Try to be learn what made your favorite captains fun to fly with and consider the boneheads you flew with might have just made an unpopular but correct decisions.

Everyone isn’t going to like you, but they’ll respect a good decision.

Help your copilot grow.

Keep the politics at home. The cockpit is not your bully pulpit because when they’re nodding in agreeance, they’re probably hoping you’d shut the heck up and are just trying to keep the peace.
People want to respect you as captain, but they’re very fast to throw you under the bus if you’re an •.

If you ever say “...because I’m the captain...” you’ve just created a cheering section for your ultimate demise.

Have fun! See the hard days as a challenge.

Most of all, and this is my most important bit of advice: Learn to let sh— go. There are days you’re going to see all the cogs in the big machine turning and it’s going to stress you out on occasion. New leg, new jet, new day, every time. If you keep carrying the last legs frustrations into the next, you’re going to build a culmination of stress that is going to poison every operation, interaction and your perspective. You’ll spend inordinate amounts of time writing FCR’s and ASAPS and, at the end of the day nothing will change except your increasing brewing dissatisfaction. If you’re convinced a procedure should change and if you like creative writing assignments, knock yourself out and report it, but LET IT GO IMMEDIATELY.
Can we sticky this?
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
If your FO disagrees with you, and you can't locate why they're wrong in a book, listen to them, because your FO is likely seeing something you're not. Taking the time to figure out what they're seeing and you're not will save your bacon.

I told guys during my initial brief that if there was a mistake you could make, I've made it, and if they see me doing something creative I'm likely just screwing something up, and to say something. 5 minutes after that brief, we got distracted by something and I tried to push back without running the before start/receiving/whatever your airline calls it checklist. The best part is I was teaching FO IOE, and thankfully the guy in the right seat was also going through AC training in the C-5.

You will make mistakes. If you enable everyone around you to call you out on those mistakes, you'll be fine. If you isolate those people, they'll be happy to watch you hang.

Edit: I should add, my own personal rule is that the most conservative answer wins. I want to shoot through a hole in a line and the FO sees blue sky and wants to go upwind? We're going upwind. I think the MEL is done wrong and everyone else is convinced it's right? Brake stays set until someone can explain to me like I'm a 5 year old how stupid I am. It can slow down the operation, but your job is to he safe, not fast.
 

JordanD

Honorary Member
I'm pretty bad at taking my own advice and I'm only a few hundred hours into it, so take it for what it's worth compared to the advice of some of the people that have been doing it a lot longer, although it's mostly the same. Slooooow down. I catch myself getting caught up and going at a pace maybe faster than necessary sometimes, partially because I'm comfortable with the operation. My new FOs, maybe not. If I catch myself I tell them "hey man, if you feel like I'm rushing you on anything let me know." Like Derg said, realized what is and isn't a big deal, and you'll find most of it won't matter after the trip is over. I've had some situations where I was freaking out thinking the feds were going to come after my ass, when after a couple weeks the ASAP committee was like "cool, thanks for letting us know, no further action."
Realize you can't please everyone. Someone, somewhere back there, is probably going to be upset with any decision you make. I've had people be super chill about delays/a cancellation when I explained "well, the visibility is half of what we need to depart... in short, we can't see the runway." On the other hand I've had people get angry at us for arriving too early.
And in my experience, dealing with FAs is one of the toughest parts of being in charge that nobody really tells you. "Hey... you guys need to tell me when stuff is missing or broken.." Next leg: "Ok, we're ready to taxi! Oh by the way _ is broken back there." Or having to politely explain that 8,000 feet in the hold bugging out at bingo fuel to an unplanned alternate is not the time to call the captain and say that people in the back are worried about their connections.
 

msmspilot

Well-Known Member
The phrase "the parking brake is parked" has magical powers in getting people motivated to get the operation up to spec.

Not to be used in an "I'm the captain..." way, but to be used in an "I know this will delay us, but the operation is not yet safe/legal, and we're going to make it safe and legal before we go" way.
 

jtrain609

I'm a carnal, organic anagram.
I'm pretty bad at taking my own advice and I'm only a few hundred hours into it, so take it for what it's worth compared to the advice of some of the people that have been doing it a lot longer, although it's mostly the same. Slooooow down. I catch myself getting caught up and going at a pace maybe faster than necessary sometimes, partially because I'm comfortable with the operation. My new FOs, maybe not. If I catch myself I tell them "hey man, if you feel like I'm rushing you on anything let me know." Like Derg said, realized what is and isn't a big deal, and you'll find most of it won't matter after the trip is over. I've had some situations where I was freaking out thinking the feds were going to come after my ass, when after a couple weeks the ASAP committee was like "cool, thanks for letting us know, no further action."
Realize you can't please everyone. Someone, somewhere back there, is probably going to be upset with any decision you make. I've had people be super chill about delays/a cancellation when I explained "well, the visibility is half of what we need to depart... in short, we can't see the runway." On the other hand I've had people get angry at us for arriving too early.
And in my experience, dealing with FAs is one of the toughest parts of being in charge that nobody really tells you. "Hey... you guys need to tell me when stuff is missing or broken.." Next leg: "Ok, we're ready to taxi! Oh by the way _ is broken back there." Or having to politely explain that 8,000 feet in the hold bugging out at bingo fuel to an unplanned alternate is not the time to call the captain and say that people in the back are worried about their connections.
I know working with flight attendants at regionals can be a pain since it's their first time doing the job, and many of them are pretty young, but...

Back up your flight attendants.

At the last job, I had multiple situations where Inflight management was calling the flight attendants to chew them out about delays I had caused. I ended up walking back into the galley, taking the phone from the FA, and then informing Inflight management that I was the cause of the delay, and that they could read my delay report.

Those kids were 21 years old and being chewed out about things they had no control over.

So with that, maybe it's easiest to say this; command is the privilege of serving those who support you. That means supporting the people who support YOU. When things go right, they get the praise. When things go wrong, even if you didn't cause it, you take the heat.
 

word302

Well-Known Member
You need to understand the rules better than you ever have, because nobody else cares if you get violated. Dispatch is short-staffed just like pilots. They will miss things and it's your job to catch it. When I was still green I got called to do a short leg BOI to SEA. Happened to have the gumption to check the METAR and it was below my mins. Made the call. "Oh yeah, you should definitely not depart". Thanks, that's why I called you.
 

launchpad

Well-Known Member
Take the time to try and do everything right the first time. Every time. It's a goal that will never be met, but you'll set yourself up to find and correct your mistakes better than if you're not trying.

Use the knowledge and experience of your crews. They have likely been doing their job far longer than you'd expect and might have a few tricks up their sleeve to make your life easier.

Take care of your crew. Hungry, hot and sad are not good things to deal with. Make it so everyone is comfortable and well prepared to do their job.

Watch and learn. Things happen at their own pace, and likely won't speed up no matter how much Captain stuff you're doing to make it go faster.

Your sole job now is to say no when you don't think a safe flight can be accomplished. Everything else is fluff. Keep the big picture in your head and pay attention to the details.

Make sure you buy a round or 2 every once in a while.
 

Autothrust Blue

"I’d make a suggestion but you won’t listen”
Mark Twain once wrote something like this:

It is said that the Cunard people would not have taken Noah himself on as a Captain without first working him up through the lower grades; it took them two decades to manufacture a Captain, but when they have finally manufactured one, they have full confidence in him. The only order they ever give their Captains is thus:

"Your ship is loaded. Take her. Take her out safe, bring her back safe. Follow your own road, and the schedule matters not. Work at a safe pace but no faster. Safety is all that is required."

Anyway, I read that in a book about Titanic, Carpathia and California, and their captains, and the differences between the White Star, Cunard and Leyland Lines that operated those ships, respectively. I found it very applicable to this job.

There are going to be days where safety is all that you can assure and the entire operation is basically careening towards stupidity; your job is to stop that. It may not make you popular with your employer or with your flight attendants or passengers or ACS or whoever, but it's your ass if it goes sideways, so listen to that little voice that says "hey, this might be a thing," and don't depart if you are wondering about something. Get it explained to your satisfaction.

Specific fee-for-departure advice (because what a lovely model that is):

There is ABSOLUTELY no point in launching to a destination at which you are not convinced that a safe approach and landing may take place. Sure, you might be legal to dispatch to the airport, but if you're looking at a 30-knot crosswind on the one open CAT II runway that is 3/3/3 at RVR 1300, and the snow is still falling, maybe call up and get a better plan. (This is a true story, and I watched a bunch of other snafu buckets diverting while I sat on the ground in BNA, obstinately refusing to launch because I disagreed with the dispatch release...anyway.)

@Derg is right about brewing dissatisfaction. File your FCR/ASAP/whatever, take a crap and forget about it.
 

DE727UPS

Well-Known Member
Make sure your F/O is comfortable with important decisions. Don't be the guy who "rules the cockpit". There is a time and place where the Capt needs to make a quick, time critical, we are going to THIS, call. But that's more of a dire emergency kind of thing.

I had pre-departure situation recently where I felt the fuel load was okay, weather and all things considered, and bounced it off the F/O. He did not agree and made his case for more gas. I've got some set minimum numbers I want to see for landing fuel that varies with weather, alternates, day or night, number of other runways, MEL's, ect. I feel it's fairly conservative and have never had an F/O take issue. I re-evaluated my thought process and again came to the conclusion that we'd be okay. Then I told him I don't go unless the F/O is as comfortable as the Capt. I listened to his views and, even though I felt it was a tad over conservative, I honored his experience level and input. We got more gas and it was no big deal.
 

statusseeker1

Well-Known Member
At my regional we would always stop the plane while taxiing if a passenger got up. It got me thinking- why the heck do I have to stop the airplane and who started this ridiculous practice? Can anyone hear site a regulation for me? I fly boxes now so I don't really care, but my advice for a new captain is probably don't stop taxiing just because someone got up to go to the bathroom. The FAs would always call up in a panic!
 

Jordan93

Well-Known Member
At my regional we would always stop the plane while taxiing if a passenger got up. It got me thinking- why the heck do I have to stop the airplane and who started this ridiculous practice? Can anyone hear site a regulation for me? I fly boxes now so I don't really care, but my advice for a new captain is probably don't stop taxiing just because someone got up to go to the bathroom. The FAs would always call up in a panic!
All passengers need to be seated with their seatbelts fastened for taxi, takeoff, and landing. That’s a Part 91 rule and I’m sure it’s in Part 121

Edit. The exact reg is 121.311
 
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