What is the ratio of hand-flying to autopilot for a typical commercial pilot working for a large airline (British Airways, Virgin, EasyJet etc.) and how many hours a year might a typical captain rack up for hand-flying (on the job)?
This question came to mind after reading an ex-pilots rant here on Quora. Here is an excerpt:
Back in my day (yawn, boring old f . . . fellow alert) we spent years as a co-pilot before getting a command. Now it seems, 4,000 hours is all that’s needed, often a lot less. It wouldn’t be so bad if the pilot in question actually flew the darn machine, but for much of the time they are required to use the autopilot. Just no fun.
So, maybe five years from flying tiddlers at flying school to stepping into the left seat and nervously taxiing out for that first takeoff. Ahhh, not enough to be a good cyclist, let alone be in charge of a machine that gobbles EDIT a tonne of air a SECOND into each engine during the cruise and gulps fuel by the tonne.
Other skills? The sky may look empty, but you are very much NOT alone. I’ve had nights when I couldn’t get a word in edgeways and had to ‘hold’ in some arbitrary place until I could carry on to the landing just because of not being able to liaise with ATC. Trying.
Another skill? buying enough go-juice to get to where you’re going - with a very specific bit to spare. OKAY, HERE’S A TOUGH ONE.
You have low hours. A bullying boss. Carrying fuel costs money so you want minimum - or so they tell you. NO! The skill of telling bullies where to shove their low fuel suggestions is an important one - if you don’t want tea and bikkies with you boss followed by you tax and insurance forms. I’m having the fuel I want, and here’s why! You can say that when you’ve got a bit of experience under your belt.