Written by Doug Taylor   

These are answers to questions that I couldn't answer with any amount of reliability. I forwarded them to other people that I know have personal experience with the topic.

Orthodox Religion and the airlines

"I am very into becoming a pilot but before I pursue a career I just need to know one thing. I am a very religious person and every saturday I keep the sabbath.

All I need to know is if there is any way possible to pursue an airline career while not flying on saturday. I would like to fly a jet aircraft for a major airline (ex. A320) but dont know if that would be possible. It would help me alot if you would know if a regional airline would let me.

Thanks very much for your help."

Doug Taylor of jetcareers.com forwarded your email question to me. You are not the first traditional Jew to ask us the question, is it possible to respect the Sabboth and still be an airline pilot? I would have to say no. Everyone has a special day on which they would rather not fly such as the religious Christians, Sunday, or Christmas day, etc. The schedules are done a month in advance and based on the needs of the airline and the pilots wishes, based on seniority. (the senior pilots get more of what they want than the junior ones.) You can get alot of Fri. evenings and Saturday's off, but not all of them. And if you have a mechanical or get weathered in, your trip could spill into Shabbos even though you originally had it scheduled off.

The only thing I can think of for you would be to fly a corporate jet that is owned by a Jewish CEO, that won't want to travel on Shabbos. I would be surprised if there was a job out there like that, because even if the boss is not flying, the plane may be used or leased by someone else. As far as airlines go, the only airline that is shomer shabbos is, of course, EL AL, but they only hire IDF pilots, as far as I know.

I am a pilot for a major airline and usually fly at least half of the weekends. When I am junior on an airplane (new to the model) I have to take vacation time for Passover, Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur. When I have more seniority on an airplane I can simply bid my monthly schedule so as to have the Passover Sedars, Rosh Hashanna and Yom Kippur off.

I received my flight training in the US Navy. We had to be ready to fly on any given day, any given time. Once, our ship was in twenty four operations and each of our squadron pilots had to fly two, three hour missions a day throughout. These operations feel over Yom Kippur. Luckily, I was the squadron schedule writter at the time so I flew myself three times the day before and three times the day after. Being a Jew in the Navy wasn't bad. I was the Jewish layleader and woefully unqualified! Each Friday the ships bakery would make us a challah, about three feet long! They said it was the smallest bread they could make. We had some great Sedar's at Sea.

I wish you alot of luck in your search. Remember, religion is more important than flying. I have raised my own children to be more traditional than I am. I believe it will serve them well, as I believe it will you.

Ed S.
Major Airline Captain


What matters more, experience or flight time?

"How closely do major airlines value prior part-121 and part-135 scheduled experience? Or was it just about the time in the logbook?"

Great question! total time is meaningless if not evaluated against background. Typical argument went something like this:

Three pilots applying for a job:

A) has 1350 Total Hours, all multi engine jet, 1150 as PIC
B) has 4500 hours Total Time, 3000 Hours Multi engine, with slightly less than 700 hours as PIC
C) has 7500 hours Total time, with 2500 Multi Engine, and 5000 hours PIC.

Now lets look at the applicants with further amplification:

A) was single seat USAF/USN/USMC Fighter Pilot. Subtract 200 Hours for pilot training the rest is all by him/her self. At an average of three hundred hours a year, that is almost four years of experience in high performance aircraft, in world wide service, all weather types with at least 30% a given of solid night, no moon flying. Oh by the way, takeoffs equals landings columns. Typically was a Flight Leader, and could have been an Instructor and or an Evaluator(APD).

Analysis - Strong Candidate Invite for Interview

B) Was civilian trained either post degree or in conjunction with a flight program at an aviation department equipped college. Solid basic aviation training foundation, and a Freight or Corporate accepted the individual with low time to fly in all types of weather. Gradual build up of multiengine recip time, enough to either upgrade at the Freight/Corporate job or enough to qualify for the Regionals. A couple of years at the Regionals flying multiengine turbo-props or even RJ's. Last 12 - 18 months flying as Captain either in Turbos or RJ's.

Analysis - Strong Candidate Invite for interview. Additional note: Strength is not only in flight time but quality of time. This individual has been flying a flight schedule for freight, corporate, and a regional. Has great weather/night experience and crew/pax experience.

C) Was civilian trained. Was trained but chose for whatever reason to take flight time building employment. A lot of power line,banner towing, and general nonscheduled flying. A lot of day VFR basic student CFI time. Most of the Multiengine time is moving a wide variety of aircraft across country for various "customers". The 5000 Hrs PIC is almost all in non-crew aircraft. Quality of weather and night time hard to distinguish. Maybe even occasional time in jets, but less than 100 hours of any one type aircraft, same for turboprops.

Analysis - Weak candidate, reject, not competitive with the average applicant.

So short answer to your question is yes, we looked hard at the backgrounds. Oh, we knew most of the 121 Carrier's cold and could find out about the type flying of the 135's fairly easy.

Name Withheld
Former Manager of Pilot Section for a Major Airline

I Had a DUI...

"One problem, I had a DUI in October of 2003. I fully realize
this puts me at nearly insurmountable odds of landing an airline job, but I just refuse to believe that one very poor decision from which I completely and totally learned my lesson can destroy a lifelong dream.

Any advice on things I could do to increase my chances at this point? Of course the clean driving record, etc... but would letters of recommendation and statements from substance abuse counselors, etc have any positive impact?"

Another million dollar question! There is a lot that goes into this question.

First, the time frame for consideration is too close (2003). That is, if this happened while the person is in the hunt, I'd say he/she is too high risk. The company doesn't know if this is the begining of a much larger problem and only time will tell.

24 to 36 months of a spotless record will help. Also how old is this person? A youthful mental lapse or an older person who should know better. If older, this person could be a bigger problem down the road, again a lot of risk.

Has the individual followed up with the FAA, how about the physical? Is this person currently employed as a pilot? How is their current employer handling the situation?

Bottom line is that it is not the kiss of death, yet! He/She can come back and be a strong viable candidate, happens all the time for the serious pilot!

Name Withheld
Former Manager of Pilot Section for a Major Airline