How are pilots paired in the duty roster?

  1. Pilots choose their co-pilots from a pool (whitelist)? (Pilot has the final say)
  2. Randomly, but taking pilot wishes into consideration? (Airline has the final say)
  3. Ramdomly, without taking anyone's wishes into consideration?

In the case of (2) or (3), can a pilot refuse to fly with certain other pilots (blacklist), thereby having the power to overrule the airline?

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ At airlines with strong unions, what FOs will sometimes do if they are paired off with a Captain From Hell that they feel strongly about, is book off sick for that block. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Dec 23, 2018 at 2:13
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Related question over on skeptics.se $\endgroup$
    – TomMcW
    Commented Dec 25, 2018 at 1:54

1 Answer 1


As with everything it varies from airline to airline, but for the most part it is option 2).

Larger carriers will usually give pilots the option of blacklisting another if they wish, but smaller airlines with only a few dozen pilot combinations might just tell the pilot to suck it up.

The airline will also avoid placing a brand new FO with a brand new captain, aka ‘green on green’ pairings. And on top of this are things like fatigue duty limits, workplace agreements, seniority (bidding), currency and other considerations. Rostering is a very complex exercise.


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