The following factors should be considered when deciding the number of pilots required for a company’s operation:
- Number of aircraft operated
- Company flight time and rest considerations
- Aircraft hours per year
- Number of concurrent trips
- Number of trips that keep the pilot flying for a number of consecutive days
- Number of trips overnight (RONs)
- Number of night flights
- Number of trips with augmented crew
- Number of trips where flight crew are prepositioned
- Vacation policy
- Training policy
Consideration also should be given to whether the aviation department manager or chief pilot will fly on a part-time, scheduled, or as-needed basis, or not at all.
Some companies use 1.5 crew (three pilots) per aircraft as a rule of thumb to estimate the number of pilots required. Other methods use more detailed approaches. Two examples are found in Figures 1.5 and 1.6. Regardless of the method, the unique aspects of a company’s operations, location and personnel must be accommodated. It is essential to customize pilot requirements.
Many times, especially during international operations, a third flight crew member is used to augment the flight crew. Another option is to preposition flight crew at an intermediate stop. This crew change allows a fully rested crew to continue a long-range flight. Consideration should be given to the number of times a third flight crew member is used or two flight crew members are prepositioned to meet an aircraft during a long-range trip. This may affect the total number of pilots required.