Q: What does a chief pilot do? What is the career path to become a chief pilot?
A: A chief pilot is generally the manager or leader of the pilot group at an airline or pilot base. United has pilot bases in Chicago, Denver, Guam, Houston, Los Angeles, Newark,
San Francisco, and Washington-Dulles, where our chief pilots act as liaisons between our pilots and company management, as well as the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). As the chief pilot in Los Angeles, I support the needs of about 1,000 United pilots who are based at Los Angeles International Airport.
The career path for a chief pilot can vary, but it usually starts with being an airline captain and gaining many years of operational flying experience. After building flight time, some captains may transition to the role of line-check airman (LCA) and train other United pilots. Leadership experiences, such as being a military officer, or previous flight operations management experience are usually required as well. The chief pilots at United typically have at least 20 years of operational airline experience, as well as LCA or management experience, before they begin their role overseeing a pilot base.
It also helps to have a well-rounded personality with good interpersonal skills, since, in addition to working with pilots, we coordinate with various employee groups, such as flight attendants, customer service agents, and other airport personnel, in order to ensure smooth flight operations for our passengers.
You can write to United’s chief pilots by addressing firstname.lastname@example.org.