I wonder what is a Cruise Captain, albeit I assume they are here to fly the cruise phase.

  • Differences in responsibility / authority with a Captain?
  • From training / certificate standpoint, what is required?
  • When are they seen on board?
  • Is the Cruise Captain the pilot-in-command when they officiate?
  • $\begingroup$ Can you provide some context to the term, perhaps a link to where you saw the term (an article, movie, book etc.). $\endgroup$ – Dave Oct 5 '16 at 1:24
  • $\begingroup$ @Dave: In this ARAIC MD-11F incident report (§2.1): "A total of five persons [...] of which the three were operating crewmembers consisted of a Pilot In Command (PIC), a Co-Pilot who was qualified as PIC (hereinafter called the Second In Command (SIC), and a Cruise Captain as a relief crew [...])". $\endgroup$ – mins Oct 5 '16 at 7:37

According to the discussion here it seems a "cruise captain" is the captain who flies only during the cruise stage of flight. You can find a job listing for a "cruise captain" here but it does not elaborate much on the duties. To act as the pilot in command (at least by FAA regs) they would have to be current, and type certified in the aircraft in question. It seems the term is more a turn of phrase and the regulations are not any different for a cruise captain. On very long haul flights that may require 3 full crews, there will be a crew in the middle section of the flight that never sees takeoff or landing from the cockpit.

The report you have linked in the comments defines cruise captain in the foot note on page 3.

Cruise Captain in this report refers to a pilot certificated as cruise captain by the Malaysian Aviation Authority, and is qualified by the company to act as PIC during cruise only and who was engaged in the operation of the aircraft.

It sounds like "Cruise Captain" in this case is a Malaysian Aviation Authority term (although it may apply elsewhere as well). I am looking for the actual regulation that defines it but have not yet come across them.


On long haul flights that require additional crew members, airlines use various ways to meet the regulatory or contract requirements.

Many airlines add just additional First Officers (co-pilots). For some airlines this is not desirable because there is no Captain in command while the Captain takes his break.

Some airlines will add a second Captain on these long haul flights while a few have created a new position they call "Cruise Captain". This is usually a senior First Officer who has additional training and responsibility to satisfy the need to have a "Captain" on the flight deck for all phases of flight without actually paying for full Captain.

Some airlines have also created a junior position called "Cruise Relief Pilot" who is paid less than a regular First Officer and can only operate during the cruise portion of the flight.

  • $\begingroup$ A pilot which only operates during the cruise portion of the flight is......kinda boring, if I might say. $\endgroup$ – kevin Dec 28 '16 at 19:17

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