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Commercial Airline Pilot Roster

Monday morning – the start of the week, when most of you hurry to work, as a busy week is ahead, and day by day you are just following this busy calendar till Friday. Then a wonderful start of the weekend begins when you are going to spend it with your friends and family. Also, you are not going almost always miss birthdays, weddings, family occasions, seasons holidays just because of your work schedule. Which is pretty nice, right? But, from this point let’s forget this nice schedule and start all over again when it comes to the pilot’s duty calendar/roster, because this is a completely different story, trust me. So, in this article, I’m going to uncover this roster and give you a full image of the pilot’s duty calendar.

Where are you going to fly this month?

Let’s start with most asked questions to pilots about this “lifestyle” roster which are *when you know where you are going to fly, the date of your flight, how many days is your vacation per year or month, what is a stand-by duty, etc*. First of all, we have to know that each roster is different, as every authority has different rules which are varied between FAA, ICAO, and EASA. Second, the scheduling also varies depending on whether you’re flying for an airline or a charter company or operating long-haul or short-haul flights. If we are talking about big international airlines’ rosters then here we should know that they also have their rules and regulations but usually, they publish the duty calendar for the upcoming month at the end of each month (between 20th and 25th of each month) and what is most exciting that they give the pilots the opportunity to choose some of their preferred destinations, days off, etc, like, to schedule their whole month beforehand. But they also don’t guarantee that you will get it that month as of the prioritiesOk, what is the priority then? Well, each month the airlines divide the pilots into groups, and one of these groups becomes a priority this month, the rest to upcoming months. So if you are in a priority group of that month, most probably you will get what you requested. When it comes to flying hours then this also depends on the specific month, one month you can fly a maximum of 100 hours in 28 days but at the same time, you are under the rules of accumulated hours of every 12 months. How about the days off and vacations? Most commonly you will be having average 8-10 days off a month and 30-42 days annual leave based on seniority (this depends on each airline’s policies and regulations). So you have a good chance to travel to see your family if they’re living in another country or just take a better rest after your duties. 

Do you have stand-by days?!

YES! And this the toughest part of the roster, because you can be called any time to operate a flight, which means you have to be prepared, your uniform must be ready and you can’t schedule almost anything, you have to be at home or nearby the airport and waiting to be called. 

As you already see, again, each roster is different. With long haul rosters, you usually spend more time away from your base than for example a short-haul pilot who basically operates flights from base to destination and again to base on the same day, but you usually get more days off. One month you can fly to many destinations, and one month only a few. But the most exciting part of this roster is that you always know you are going to get inside of the cockpit and seize the skies again. 

Until next time, as always, “We Speak Aviation.”


  • Einaz Khairun Hafinaz
    Posted June 2, 2020 at 4:26 am

    Interesting topic

  • Esther Ike
    Posted July 16, 2020 at 9:32 pm

    What an interesting but tactical job.
    Well done Captain!

  • Sahil
    Posted July 27, 2020 at 10:21 am

    Interesting topic. Really like your articles. Can you choose you destjnation or can go give suggest on where you want to fly or do the airline choose? Love your videos and these articles. Great inspiration

  • Sahil
    Posted July 31, 2020 at 10:02 pm

    Interesting topic to read about. Your topics are always so interestjng and pleasant to read about. You are great inspiration to us young pilot.

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