CRJ200 Airline Pilot

The personal experiences, thoughts of an CRJ captain


Yearly Line Checks at Airlines

Posted by Jeffrey on September 25, 2008

CRJ200 Sunset

CRJ200 Sunset

I had a line check last night from ORD to CLE. And then my first officer had a “random” line check from CLE to DEN.

If you aren’t familiar with the process, airline captains, flying under commercial Part 121 regulations, have to have a line check either from a company check airman or an FAA Inspector once a year. It’s purpose is to “check” that you are flying according to company Standard Operating Procedures (SOP) and that basically you aren’t a total moron.

Now I like to fly SOP with a dash of common sense. I figure I get my paycheck from a company and they are basically paying to fly “their way.” I’m not one to buck the system because basically the “system” at SkyWest is a pretty good system. They have spent a lot of time and energy developing their Flight Operations Manual (FOM) and their SOP and I believe, humbly speaking, that it is safe and efficient. There are times where a checklist or procedure may be long winded or extraneous but it is easy to overlook it because they do so many things right.

Anyway, the line check was no big deal. I didn’t break any rules, that I know of. The check airman was cordial and pleasant, whereas some check airman seem like they have an axe to grind and make your life miserable for the duration of the trip. Now I respect the check airman for the job they have to perform but when you get a check airman that thinks he is the airline flying savior, well I think that check airman needs to have a reality check. There are check airman in our company that belittle captains and first officers for the tiniest infractions. Hello! Get real! Even if they do something non-SOP, is it really necessary to jump down their throats. I don’t think so. There are alternatives. Go back an read a book on communication and human interpersonal skills. In fact, that should be a requirement when becoming a check airman, I think.

Now a line check, like I said early, is a way of “checking” to make sure captains are doing what they are suppose to be doing but here is one of the problems. Bad captains basically now they are bad captains. They purposely fly they way “they” want to…when they are not being line checked. Then…one day they get a line check and surprise! they are the best SOP captains in the system. This is very frustrating for first officers because the captain could essentially be unsafe, but a line check isn’t necessarily going to reveal it.

Anyway, for those of you who are going to fly for the airlines, do yourself and those that fly with you a favor, fly the way your company wants you to fly and not how you did it at your other company or while you were a flight instructor. You have a responsibility to your company, your crew, and yourself to aspire to fly the way the company wants you to fly.

Till next time…and don’t forget to bookmark my blog or get email updates. The link is in the top left corner.


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