On planes that have a captain and a first officer, how are flight hours logged and split between the two?

Are the hours split between the Capt and First Officer based on who is physically piloting the plane or are the same amount of hours are assigned to both?

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    $\begingroup$ So you didn't specify what countries regulations that you are asking about, since it is different in different places. The answers so far seem to be focused on the FAA regulations. Is this what you wanted, or are you looking for answers specific to some other country? $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 3 '14 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Honestly I didn't think about this. Mine was a generic question. Would be interesting if someone could elaborate. $\endgroup$ – Fabrizio Mazzoni Apr 3 '14 at 19:00
  • $\begingroup$ Well, there are around 200 countries in the world, and they all have their version of aviation rules. Many of them follow ICAO recommendations, but most of those also have their own twists on the rules. It would be nearly impossible to provide an answer that was true everywhere, so we ask that you tag your question with "faa-regulations", "easa-regulations", etc. as appropriate. If you aren't sure which one, just include the country that you are asking about in your question and someone will add it for you. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 3 '14 at 19:46

Both log time, they just log it as different things. This is similar as a student and instructor logging time, but for different roles. The captain is the pilot-in-command and thus logs 'PIC', the F/O is second-in-command and logs 'SIC'.

The pilot who is tasked with controlling the plane is called 'PF' or "pilot flying", and the other is called 'PNF' or "pilot not flying", or "pilot monitoring". This doesn't affect who's PIC and who's SIC though, and if I understand correctly, it's not generally logged who's actually flying.

  • $\begingroup$ Ok so there is no distinction between who is physically flying the plane. The same amount of time will be awarded to both and differentiated based on the role you have. $\endgroup$ – Fabrizio Mazzoni Apr 3 '14 at 8:09
  • $\begingroup$ Both log time yes, but when applying for a job, the amount of time you have logged as 'PIC' rather than 'SIC' becomes highly relevant, but then you also look at the amount of time on single and multi, and whether turbine or piston as well. When simply talking about how many flight hours someone has, you usually do not worry whether it was PIC or SIC or FI (flight instructor) or whatever. $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 3 '14 at 8:12
  • $\begingroup$ and these days most of the time the autopilot is actually flying $\endgroup$ – ratchet freak Apr 3 '14 at 8:15
  • $\begingroup$ @ratchetfreak; well, but the PF is controlling the autopilot. It depends on how you look at it; in a FBW aircraft the pilot is just asking the computer, pretty please move the control surfaces, even if the autopilot isn't active. $\endgroup$ – falstro Apr 3 '14 at 8:17
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    $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger: This is absolutely true. All of my buddies working for the majors are type rated though (even as FOs), even though some of them paid for the rating themselves. $\endgroup$ – alexsh Apr 3 '14 at 16:45

To expand on the previous answers (and offer a small correction), CFR 14 part 61.65 states that:

(e) Logging pilot-in-command flight time.

(1) A sport, recreational, private, commercial, or airline transport pilot may log pilot in command flight time for flights-

(i) When the pilot is the sole manipulator of the controls of an aircraft for which the pilot is rated, or has sport pilot privileges for that category and class of aircraft, if the aircraft class rating is appropriate;

This has been interpreted by the FAA on several occasions as to mean that an SIC can log the time as a PIC when he is the one flying the aircraft. You can look for 'Legal Interpretation # 92-46' where this very same issue is addressed (they even specifically state that both the PIC and SIC can log PIC time in such cases).

Otherwise, as others have already mentioned, an SIC can log SIC time when he is a PNF and is performing the duties of an SIC (provided the type or operational certificate requires a two person crew).

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    $\begingroup$ You might want to mention that an FO logging PIC might make the logbook look good, but no airline will accept that time in an interview and they will question it. As such, particularly because this Q is about captain / first officer logging time you might want to mention the FAR 1.1 definition of PIC which is the only PIC time an airline cares about (and you will need to be able to separate this out of your logbook for an interview if you have been logging your PF time as PIC) $\endgroup$ – casey Apr 3 '14 at 13:56
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    $\begingroup$ @casey: The airlines can of course, set any requirements for their hires but it is absolutely legal for an appropriately rated pilot to log PIC time while being a sole manipulator of the controls. FAA has also made its opinion clear about the difference between being a PIC and logging PIC time. According to your very narrow interpretation of PIC in the case of an instrument instructor teaching a student only one of them can log PIC. FAA thinks otherwise and CFR 14 61 reaffirms this. $\endgroup$ – alexsh Apr 3 '14 at 16:49
  • $\begingroup$ My narrow interpretation is specific to the very narrow Q concerning CA/FO which implies airline ops. I have not said anything about flight instruction or the sharing of PIC time via sole manip / acting pic that is often used in multi training. The question is specific to CA/FO ops, and that is all my comment addresses. One thing I didn't mention is often the FO lacks a type in the airplane and cannot log PIC anyway. $\endgroup$ – casey Apr 3 '14 at 17:11
  • $\begingroup$ @casey alexsh and you are both right on this one. The airlines do not determine what is legal for a pilot to log, and the SIC can quite legally log PIC time when they are sole manip of the flight controls as long as they are typed. When they go to apply for another airline job, their application will specify what they accept as PIC time, which is usually different than the legal requirements. This doesn't change the fact that they can log PIC time in their logbook though. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Apr 3 '14 at 17:31

This is well covered by the 14 CFR 61.55 aspect of this discussion:

Does a Second In Command have to be landing and instrument current like a Pilot In Command does?

but a basic important detail is that an SIC has to be required for the operation and you have to be qualified to act as such in order for you to log SIC time.


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