First plane at a regional?


New Member
When I you first get hired at a Regional...what airplane will you most likely be assigned as FO on? I know on Doug's info page he talks about getting in a B1900 first thing.

Is this still the case at most regionals? I'm just sorta wondering what my first "real" plane will be. Don't get me wrong...I love the 1900D. Seriously. I think they look awesome! I'd be happy to stay on one for my entire time at a regional...except for that darned jet PIC time that would be wise to rack up.

I know I'm on a posting frenzy tonight...but hey...I'm bored as CRAP here. What better to do than bum around the jetcareers forums?
I think it just all depends on which regional you land a job with. Comair has mostly CRJs. At ACA I think you start off on the Jetstream 41s. Chicago express has SAAb 340's, Skywest has EMB 120. COEX has ERJ's. so there is no one plane that everyone will fly at their first airline job.

Hmmm.....Well, I would definetly consider a Beech 1900 or an ATR a "real airplane." In fact, I'm sure you'd find that much of the flying done in these aircraft is more "difficult" than that done in an RJ.

Read some of Doug's posts about how he was handflying approaches in the midwest during the winter in the 1900, no autopilot...just a flight director I think...

Anyways, remember all the turboprops still fall under "turbine" time, so don't be turned off to the fact that they just have big blades out front instead of a small fan in a cowl.

I think the benefit of being in an RJ is that they typically have better pay within a regional. Dave the Flyer flys a Jetstream but I think he has said that the RJ guys get paid a little better.
Actually Comair is pure RJ, and most of the other 'regionals' want to head that direction as well.

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Actually, the industry is further sub-dividing into "Jet Regionals" like Comair, ASA, Pinnacle, etc. who are retiring all their turboprops, and "prop-regionals" who continue to fly the Beech 1900, Saab 340, Dash-8 etc. Don't think that the future of regional airlines is all jet - there are plenty of markets and airports that a jet is too big (capacity-wise) or requires too much runway.

Case in point - Continental Express is becoming an all jet fleet (ERJ), but Commutair (all B-1900s) is moving into Cleveland to serve the smaller markets that don't justify a jet.

Actually I like the looks of the B1900 more-so than the RJ. So I do consider them "real" planes.

Don't ask me why...I just think prop passenger planes are nifty.

So at one of these "prop-regionals"...would the senior captain on the highest-level prop get paid something close to what a senior RJ captain would make?
So at one of these "prop-regionals"...would the senior captain on the highest-level prop get paid something close to what a senior RJ captain would make?

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Without looking it up, I'd have to
So at one of these "prop-regionals"...would the senior captain on the highest-level prop get paid something close to what a senior RJ captain would make?

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Nope. Pay is based largely on speed and passenger capacity. For the same year of service at my company, a second year CRJ FO makes almost as much as a second year J41 captain. CRJ captains make the most money.

Also, a new hire might go directly to the CRJ or to the Do 328 Jet. It just depends on the needs of the company at the time that they go to class.
Hi Matt,

I work for a regional airline that operates in the western U.S. Here's how it works at our company:

As a new-hire FO, you are assigned an aircraft type and a base. The company will essentially "put you where they need you". This is pretty common in the airline industry, at least at the regional level.

This is where it gets complicated: Our FO pay is based on seniority (i.e., "what equipment you COULD hold"), not on what aircraft type you're actually assigned to. We have separate FO pay scales for the jet and the turboprop, with your seniority determining which scale you fall under. A very senior turboprop FO will be on the "jet FO" pay scale, while a junior CRJ FO guy will get turboprop pay. It's kind of a strange system, the result of a compromise reached during our latest contract negotiations.

If you take the first available upgrade, then you will become a captain in our smallest turboprop, the 37-seat Dash 8. You can bid on larger equipment as your seniority increases. The jet is very senior: you would need about 10 years with the company to hold a RESERVE line in it (as a captain).

I've heard of a few FO's that passed up on their opportunity to upgrade, and were eventually able to upgrade directly into one of our larger aircraft types (due to their seniority). This is quite unusual, however - only if you "like" being an FO for ten or twelve years.

Captain pay is based on seniority and equipment type flown.

As for turboprops, you can expect to see them around for a while. There's many smaller communities that wouldn't have ANY air service at all if it weren't for the Beech 1900's, Dash 8's, and Brasilias of the airline world.

We also operate into many high-altitude airports, most of which have obstructions and/or unusual operating requirements. In the summer, density altitude is often a consideration. Winter brings another set of problems, notably icing conditions and contaminated runways. Under some of these conditions, the RJ would be EXTREMELY weight-restricted, much more so than our turboprops. (So, fill up them Dashes and Brasilias - we're off to Sun Valley for some skiing!).

So you're saying that (even though its unlikely), you could be assigned to an RJ as a new hire?

Call me crazy but I'd be happy flying the 1900 on a jet payscale!

Props just seem more exciting.

Then again...I've never flown a jet...or even a multi-engine aircraft for that matter. All I know for sure is that I rode on a 1900 one row back, with the cockpit door open and it seemed like a blast!

Man...I can't wait till I get to a regional. Now for that pesky Private liscense.
As strange as it sounds, I don't really care if I fly the RJ or one of our turboprops. All of our aircraft are very well equipped, with all kind of advanced avionics and navigation gear. The cockpit of the airplane I fly is "all glass", with dual FMS units, EGPWS, and a "heads-up" guidance system that allows us to do Cat III approaches. I suspect that our "little turboprop" is actually better equipped than a lot of the older wide-body airliners.

The thing that fascinates me about flying is the art of flying itself: The maneuvers, the procedures, dealing with the weather and ATC, the interaction with other crew members and company employees, making the "right" decisions.

I've never flown the Beech 1900, but I suspect it's a nice-flying aircraft (after all, it's a Beechcraft!). Guys/Gals that fly these aircraft tend to do a LOT of legs, typically down in the weather - lots of instrument flying and approaches. It's hard work, but will keep you sharp on instruments. No, it's not a jet - but it's still "turbine time" for your logbook.

Finally, you should also keep in mind that WHEN YOU UPGRADE, it will probably be in the "smallest" aircraft type your company operates. If you fly this type of aircraft as an FO, it can improve your odds of a sucessful upgrade. I've seen jet FO's struggle when it came time to upgrade into our "baby" turboprops.


Do you mind if we ask who you work for?

From reading the posts I get the impression that perhaps one would be better off to go with a smaller turbo-prop company, such as commutair, than a regional jet operator if intending to move on to a company with larger equipment.

Quicker upgrade to captain means you could build the PIC turbine time faster than with a company flying regional jets.

Is that a safe assumption?

Your logic is pretty much correct - if you're in a hurry to build PIC turbine time, you'd be better off at company where you can upgrade quickly. In the late 90's, several of the regionals (such as ASA) got the reputation of having quick upgrades. There's also a few "Part 135" freight companies that operate turbine equipment. I've heard of a few guys / gals that went directly from Part 135 freight to a MAJOR (it's unusual, but not impossible).

Unfortunately, a lot has changed in the last two years. There's very little movement anywhere. I expect Southwest, Alaska, Jet Blue, UPS, and FedEx to hire a few pilots. I don't expect to see much hiring at the major level for four to five years (possibly longer). There's also thousands of very well qualified pilots, now furloughed, out there pounding the streets for jobs.

So, in addition to the "quick upgrade" factor, you might want to consider the "quality of life" issue. If you're lucky enough to have a choice of jobs, go to work for a company that values your work and treats you fairly. You might be there for a while.

Because of my age and the current economy, there's a good chance that I won't ever make it to the majors. I suspect that there's a lot of people in the same boat - increasingly, I think you'll see pilots making a career out of the regionals. I feel fortunate to be working at a great company. My co-workers are the best, we fly some nice equipment, and the company has a solid balance sheet.