One of the most asked questions from both those aspiring to be pilots as well as people just interested in aviation is: Do airline pilots always fly the same airplane?
No, although pilots do usually fly the aircraft model(s) they are trained for, they do not always fly the same actual airplane.
Let’s take a look below at some of the reasons why this is.
The airplanes that airlines use are very, very expensive. It’s not uncommon for one of these aircraft to cost upwards of $400 million dollars. It would be incredibly expensive to give each pilot their own plane. It’s much more cost effective to have the amount of aircraft you need to meet the needs of passengers and rotate pilots from one plane to another as needed.
One thing to keep in mind is that efficiency is very important to an airline. They have a limited amount of aircraft (and staff) and need to use those assets to fill a lot of flights every day. It wouldn’t make sense to have all these airplanes sitting around unused taking up space and limiting flights for other pilots that are working.
Another reason it would not make sense for a pilot to always fly the same aircraft is the logistics behind flight schedules and pilot schedules. It’s not uncommon for a pilot to be off for several days in a row. Sometimes even taking a return flight back to their originating airport days after landing there.
It wouldn’t make much sense to leave a specific airplane sitting on the tarmac going unused for days at a time when another pilot could be using it.
Airline Pilots Have Airplane Specific Training
It’s also worth noting that although pilots don’t always fly the same plane, they only fly the ones they have the very specific training for. These are very complex machines that require many hours of flight training to use. Pilots usually specialize in the type of aircraft they fly.
There is no way an airline would just rotate pilots around without them having the specific training and knowledge to safely fly those planes.
For many logistical and efficiency reasons, it wouldn’t make sense to have pilots always use a specific assigned plane. Instead, airlines try to be as efficient as possible with the aircraft they have which means pilots use whatever airplane is available and makes the most sense for their next flight. in fact, it’s not uncommon for a pilot to finish a flight and be immediately replaced by another pilot on the same airplane.
This keeps costs down, prevents delays, and helps get passengers where they need to go more efficiently.