At Trans States, pilots are going to get the experience they need to move on to a major carrier. Our training program is second to none, and we produce pilots that major airlines want to hire. One of the most recent Trans States pilots to move on to the majors was Captain Qualified First Officer (CQFO) Marlon Choyce. Marlon’s ultimate career goal has always been to be an American Airlines pilot, and he achieved that goal after less than two years at Trans States. Marlon credits the Trans States CQFO program with getting him the Pilot in Command time he needed to be hired by American.
The Pilot in Command, or PIC, is the crew member ultimately held responsible for the safety of a flight. The number of hours that a pilot acts in the role of Pilot in Command is called PIC time. The more PIC time that a pilot has, the better their chances of being offered a position with a major carrier. Only a Captain can accumulate PIC time, which is why upgrade time is so important to First Officers.
First Officers facing long upgrade times often find themselves between a rock and a hard place. As First Officers, they’re unable to accumulate the PIC time that they need to move on, but starting over with another airline with a shorter upgrade time means walking away from any accrued seniority.
Two years ago, Marlon found himself in just such a situation. He’d been a First Officer with another regional airline for four years, and was looking at another two to three years before he could upgrade—even though he met the qualifications to fly as a Captain. But with four years of accumulated seniority, he was understandably hesitant to start over with another airline. However, when he heard about the Trans States CQFO program, he realized that starting over could be the right decision for his career.
The CQFO program allows pilots who meet Captain requirements to fly as either a Captain or a First Officer, depending on the airline’s scheduling needs. As a Captain-qualified pilot, Marlon could start earning PIC time at Trans States immediately, which would bring him closer to his goal of flying for American.
Ultimately, Marlon made the decision to leave, and it paid off. At Trans States, he earned PIC time during his very first trip out of training, and went on to earn a total of 135 PIC hours during just over 18 months. “I earned no PIC time at my previous regional,” Marlon recalls. “At Trans States, I earned 135 hours in less than half the total time that I spent at my previous airline.”
While gaining PIC time was the deciding factor in Marlon’s career move, the decision to leave also made sense financially. Even as a first year CQFO, Marlon earned more than he was earning with four years of seniority at his former employer (CQFOs earn $50.82 per flight hour when flying as a First Officer and $64.74 per flight hour when flying as a Captain).
Flying as a Captain also provides leadership experience, which is important to mainline airlines. “Mainlines are looking for pilots who are both qualified and equipped for leadership roles,” he explained. “At Trans States, I was able to perfect my skills and hone knowledge twofold. No matter where I was, I always had to be ready to fly in the left seat.”
To pilots who are preparing for mainline interviews, Marlon offers this piece of advice. “I found that being organized and presenting yourself appropriately in customer service situations resonated with people. As a result, I’ve learned first-hand that the major airlines look for signs of those good habits in their own pilot hire candidates.”
If you’re a pilot in the same situation that Marlon once found himself—Captain-qualified, but unable to upgrade, the Trans States CQFO program will get you the experience you need to advance your career. Marlon is unequivocal in his endorsement of the program, and urges any pilot who finds themselves in such a situation to consider it.
“I would absolutely recommend the CQFO program to anyone.”
To learn more about the Trans States CQFO program, please click here.