In kinda reverse of Did Flight Engineers progress to be pilots?

In three-crew cockpit can a person qualified as pilot work in the position of flight engineer? Does a flight enginner have different qualifications that are not covered by an ATPL, thus rendering a pilot unqualified for the position?

  • $\begingroup$ If the FE has been incapacitated, someone in the cockpit will be taking over the responsibility! $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Jun 10, 2016 at 15:28

1 Answer 1


The pilot cannot just sit down in the flight engineer station. First there is a different FAA flight engineer certificate that the pilot needs to obtain. Secondly, the pilot would need to go through the airline's training program for that station.

Granted, a pilot who has flown that airplane before should quickly get those done.

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ FWIW, airlines that (still) have FE position tend to start out newhires in that position and then promote them as they gain seniority. So any pilot sitting up front, will have most likely put in the time to qualify as an FE at some point and it would be more a matter of getting them recurrent than re-certified altogether. $\endgroup$
    – habu
    Jun 9, 2016 at 5:54
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @habu, this is true but not everywhere. In the Eastern Bloc, FE (or navigator for that matter) was considered like a rather different occupation, and they progressed by moving to larger more complex aircraft rather than to the pilot's seat. (Though the latter was, of course, possible with proper re-training). $\endgroup$
    – Zeus
    Jun 10, 2016 at 4:33

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