Dear Captain Lim,
Thank you for your website. I hope it continues to flourish. I am 17 and your site is going to help me with my pilot career in the future. Please continue to do what you are doing.
I have one question. I am a committed Christian and I want to know if it is possible, when I am a full-time airline pilot, not to work on a Sunday?
Please email me if you have the time.
If you aspire to be a full-time airline pilot and not work on a Sunday, I am afraid your dream may not come true.
Why? Well, very few airlines can slot you into any realistic roster and be fair to all. Now, let me explain a little on how the schedule of an airline works.
What roster to expect would normally depend on the fleet that you (when you become a pilot) are flying on. Basically, it varies to an extent on the International flights with larger aircraft (Boeing 777s, 747s, Airbus A340s, etc) with those on the shorter regional routes with smaller planes (Boeing 737s, Airbus A320s, etc)
With the regional fleet, you may get about 10 days off if you are very junior in the company - or about 5 days of flying in a week in your roster. However, when you are eventually promoted to the International fleet, you can be away for a longer period in a stretch - that means, flying through a Sunday! (As an airline pilot, I have been accustomed to flying on Sundays and public holidays so much so that there are times when I have lost touch of the days until I am reminded that it was a holiday). Anyway, choosing your best schedule or what is known as *bidding* for your ideal flight pattern is possible, but not on a long-term basis.
There are many variables that a pilot can enter into the company computer system each month - for example, requesting for the best flight on a particular day or a few days *off* on a friend*s wedding date, etc. The airline then try and juggle each pilot*s desires based on his seniority and other personal data. The final roster will reflect as close as the computer can make it. The computer will intelligently spread the flying fairly among the pilots in terms of work, allowances, good destinations; it also eliminates pilots flying with the same crew for a period of time, off on every public holidays or Sundays, etc.
So, although it is possible to fly only on the weekdays, the airline is unlikely to cater to your preference for the rest of your flying career (unless you own the company!:-)) Yes, you may get to fly on certain weekdays and have Sundays off - but that is probably possible only on one Sunday per month, but never, never on every Sundays!
Hope this answers your question.