Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Seven Days

The FAA has lots of rules for flight crews at 121 carriers. Making sure I don't violate myself or get violated is a constant battle. There is a really good book I bought while a CFI that I thumb through every now and then. The book is titled Everything Explained for the Professional Pilot. The book isn't cheap, but it is more than worth the money. I read the book cover to cover when I was a CFI. There were even times I referenced the book when designing lesson plans for my students. I love this book.

One rule for flight crews is that we can not be on duty 7 days in a row. Tomorrow is my day 6. For this month I was assigned the afternoon ready reserve (airport standby) line. On the assigned days of ready reserve I sign into a company computer terminal by 2PM and call crew scheduling at 10PM to get released. Between those times I am supposed to be somewhere on airport property waiting for my phone to ring. Sounds fun eh? It's not.

For most of the month I was assigned 4 days on and three days off. This month started on March 2nd. Last month I had morning ready reserve. Last month ended on March 1st. I worked morning ready reserve on February 28th and March 1st. Take those 2 days and the first 4 days of this month and you get 6 days in a row of duty.

My line had me working ready reserve for the first 3 days of each 4 day stint followed by a regular reserve day on the last day. The reason I don't have ready reserve on the last day is due to most afternoon/evening flights are to the overnight. It would not make sense to have me fly to an overnight if I am off the following day. The contract has wording reflecting this scenario. The only way I could be assigned ready reserve on the last day is if there are no other First Officers in my status who are good for (i.e. have the next day as a reserve day) an overnight. What are the odds right? Ha. This scenario has played out for me. Tomorrow I was assigned afternoon ready reserve again. Things could get interesting.

If I am assigned a flight tomorrow night that goes to an overnight I will be "stuck" at the overnight for a few days. Why?

Well I am supposed to have Friday and Saturday off. I am illegal to work Friday due to a 7 day conflict. The company can not have me perform any work related functions on that day. Deadheading is considered duty thus I can not deadhead home Friday. Thus if I am sent to an overnight tomorrow night the earliest I can come back home is Saturday.

Since I was supposed to have Saturday off, once I return from my deadhead I can request 2 additional days off this month. On Sunday I start another 5 days of ready reserve. Why 5 and not 4? Well I moved my days around this month so I can go on vacation with my wife and not use real vacation days. If I deadhead home on Saturday this will turn into a 6 day duty stint. If something odd happens on day 6 I could again be put into a 7 day conflict.

The company computers normally catch 7 day conflicts, but it is truly up to the pilot to make sure they are legal. Back when I had a line I used Airplane Pilot Daily Logbook to help me stay legal. Being on reserve it's not much use to me. Speaking of Airplane Pilot Daily Logbook I also use another product called Logbook Pro. I will go into that nifty piece of software tomorrow.


  1. What!?! Airlines consider deadheading home, actual duty time?!? They would rather pay for an extra hotel room, then let you hop on a plane home! Wow that sucks... Hopefully they dont nail you for an overnight trip...

  2. Actually having a deadhead be counted as Duty time protects the pilot. By having it as Duty time the airline can't state that the 7 hours I spent in the back of a plane deadheading from Omaha to Boston was my day off. One good thing about sitting ready reserve today is I can meet my wife who is flying back into town from Washington.


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