Are pilots at Airlines typically assigned to fly a single Type in a given month / year or do they get switched routinely between multiple types of aircraft as per scheduling convenience?

i.e. Is it common to, say, fly a B-747 & then return flying a B-777 etc.

How about more extreme changes like switching between Boeings & Airbuses or Turbojet / Turboprop etc.?

I guess that begs the question whether pilots typically are certified & current across multiple Types? How common is this?

I'm looking more for comments about what is operating practice across airlines rather than a hard rule, which I guess does not exist.


2 Answers 2


Airline pilots are typically only certified and current on one type. It is rare for a pilot to be certified and current on multiple types because they must do re-current training and check rides for each type in order to remain current and legal. The extra cost for training and check rides would not make financial sense to an airline trying to be competitive with other airlines.

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    $\begingroup$ But there are various different aircraft with common type ratings, yes? (I'm guessing something like the Airbus A320 series and, as I recall, some of the larger Boeings.) $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 20:15
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    $\begingroup$ @DavidRicherby Yes, some airlines do 777 and 787. I think there is also the 747-400 and the 747-8 ones too. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 21:11
  • $\begingroup$ How long does it typically take to switch from one type to another? e.g. the training, certification, sim time, check rides etc? Are airlines continuously changing the type profile of their pilot body? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 4:34
  • $\begingroup$ @curious_cat It depends on the aircraft. Some need less time because of similarities (Boeing widebodies vs Boeing single-isles). Airlines have groups of pilots that are certified for their own aircraft, so they don't do mass-migrations of pilots to different craft. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 14:11

A pilot at an airline usually flies one type of aircraft at one time, but can hold many type ratings at the same time. There are common type ratings between similar aircraft (Some versions of the 777 and 787 as well as the A320 family). With Airbus planes besides the A380, they require a little less transition time between the types because they are made to be very similar. The A320 has a common type rating as well as the A350 XWB and A330; Boeing has the 767/777 and 787 type ratings from what I hear. You can't have a common type rating between Boeings and Airbuses because they have totally different cockpit and control configurations.

  • $\begingroup$ I guess only drone pilots can fly two planes at one time - I think you mean something slightly different. $\endgroup$
    – MSalters
    Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 21:37
  • $\begingroup$ @MSalters I said they can hold multiple type ratings at the same time, not fly mutiple planes at the same time. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 1, 2016 at 21:43
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting. Thanks. So in the cases of common type ratings does currency on one aircraft e.g. 777 imply automatic currency on the others in the same type rating as well? e.g. Say a pilot holds a Type Rating for a 777 and has been flying those can he be suddenly assigned to a 787 without a check ride etc? $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 4:33
  • $\begingroup$ @curious_cat They have to complete a few requirements to be able to have a common type rating between the 777 and 787, but it is not a huge step. But once they have the type rating, they can fly both. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 14:06
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    $\begingroup$ At my airline only the Chief Pilot is qualified on both the 777 and 787 and there is no provision for a "short course". Dual type rating requirements will vary by country, or airline, so you can not generalize $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 2, 2016 at 14:51

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