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Some airlines have a Senior First Officer rank. Apart from the title and (presumably) the pay, what makes them different from a regular First Officer?

Do they have any differing duties or responsibilities? And do they need to pass some kind of test, or is the rank just given to them after a certain amount of years service?

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  • $\begingroup$ From Wikipedia: "Often the senior first officer position is used within airlines to mean someone who has passed all the requirements for captain, but there are no empty captain's positions within the company as yet" (a captain may become a senior FO, if there is a decline in the business -- source). A senior FO may opt to remain FO to continue without the additional responsibilities of a captain, and may become a senior FO with more flying experience than a junior captain. $\endgroup$ – mins Jul 10 '16 at 10:45
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    $\begingroup$ @mins an additional issue is that a first officer with a lot of seniority with have a lot of choice about routes and schedule. When that pilot becomes a captain he, or she, will typically be very low seniority, so will have little choice about routes and schedule. Typically, the crews that end of flying on Thanksgiving day, etc are a junior captain, junior FO, and junior flight attendants. $\endgroup$ – Adam Jul 10 '16 at 14:05
  • $\begingroup$ @Adam -- you do have to take "green on green" rules into account $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Jul 10 '16 at 15:08
  • $\begingroup$ @UnrecognizedFallingObject - can you give more detail (or a link) on "green on green" rules? $\endgroup$ – FreeMan Jul 10 '16 at 17:54
  • $\begingroup$ @FreeMan -- "green on green" rules forbid the pairing of a low-time captain with a low-time F/O to make sure there's somebody in the cockpit who isn't fresh out of training. In some companies, this is based on "time in company" instead of total-time, even -- this may apply where specialized flying is taking place. $\endgroup$ – UnrecognizedFallingObject Jul 10 '16 at 19:22

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