How does an airline select Captains for a new but different airplanes (ie, Boeing vs Airbus) that they just added to their fleet?

As an example, Delta has purchased many new Airbus A220. Since it is a new airplane and no one has any experience with it, do the pilots train the same for this new airplane and then based on their seniority one becomes Captain and the other a FO...or...they train for their respective position from the start?


Qualification for being a pilot-in-command in mutli-crew aircraft (i.e. captain) is independent of type rating (i.e. qualification to fly specific aircraft type). And similarly with the multi-crew rating required to fly a multi-crew aircraft at all (i.e. as F/O).

Therefore the airline selects some pilots and sends them to appropriate training to get the type rating. And those who were captains before can be captains on the new type too.

Since much of the experience applies to any aircraft, usually they'll select the more experienced captains from other types to become captains on the new type.

If the type is widely used elsewhere, the airline will also try to hire pilots from elsewhere who already have appropriate ratings, but obviously there is not much opportunity for that in a new type like A220 (formerly known as CSeries).

  • $\begingroup$ Just a minor point, it's not a guarantee that a captain on one type can be a captain on another right away - e.g an A320 captain might not have seniority over a 747 FO $\endgroup$ – Ben Dec 25 '18 at 22:33
  • $\begingroup$ @Ben, but he would still be qualified to be a captain, wouldn't he? Of course when the airline has more pilots qualified as captains than it needs for the scheduled flights, it will not roster the less experienced ones as captains, but the question is what happens when they don't have them. $\endgroup$ – Jan Hudec Dec 25 '18 at 22:44
  • $\begingroup$ I wanted to ask the very same question. So far this is the only answer, why is the downvote? Is it not true? Based on some common sense I would have guessed the same thing. It would be just impossible to operate new types (new type for an airline, not necesseraly a brand new type for everyone) because there would not be sufficient captain "supply" if Jan Hudec's answer was not true. $\endgroup$ – Bela Vizer Dec 27 '18 at 16:50

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.