Do captains re-train?

Airbus Sticks.

Evening IFC, I have a question which I have always wondered and thought might spark of a bit of discussion…

Do captains retrain when they are promoted to the ‘left seat’ ?

My thoughts are; It will obviously take years to go from FO to Captain, so surely if they are so used to working with the stick on the right and throttle on the left, to suddenly change could be a real issue? especially in a world so focused around muscle memory.

Does anyone have any thoughts?

Hope this makes sense.


i believe the do, not 100% sure though

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What if they just cannot re-ajust? Can they remain in the right seat? is there controls specific to Captains on the right?


there was a massive thing once about captains taking over and sitting in the right hand seat, i think i watched something on air crash investigation about a captain doing it

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@LouDon16 i get where youre coming from cause if i was a captain i would prefer being sat in the right hand seat as im right handed, i would have better control over the aircraft

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I don’t really get the question, but a guy called ‘Captain Joe’ did a video on Captain promotion stuff recently. It may answer your question


It’s no different for any aircraft, not just airbus. You still use a single hand when flying with a yoke too.

Yes captains are ‘trained’ on another course by the company to be a captain. However, It’s not just in regards to flying opposite handed, it’s also much to do with decision making, crew management, communication, teamwork etc.

On a side note, the captain doesn’t ‘have to always’ sit in the left seat. There isn’t an actual regulation that demands it. Theoretically, the captain can sit in the right seat if he wants, however it’s become more of a priveledge, tradition, or a right, for want of a better term


I do believe that most carriers have a transition period of sorts when an F/O is being promoted to the left seat. A good F/O observes the captain’s operations as well as handles their own responsibilities as first officer. The F/O is essentially training to be a captain throughout their career, though depending on availability and performance may or may not make captain quickly. Some regional carriers here in the states are promoting F/O’s to captain fairly quickly, the fastest I’ve seen was after only a few months of employment. This is due to a lot of major carriers hiring up regional captains. After that all captains go through recurrent training every six to nine months, depending on the employers protocols.


I was going to say I suspect it is more of a tradition. I mean nowadays, I couldn’t imagine what a FO would think if they was told in flight briefing they would be in the left seat! ha.

I suspect there is training to be done. Personally I think I would prefer being on the left, right hand on the stick. Maybe for left handed folk its the other way round. who knows!

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I watched this Mischa, Very informative, but didn’t answer the question. He is spot on about the ‘Co-Pilot’ phrase. must be so annoying!

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I have seen this in the UK too. There is an easyJet captain who is in their twenties… Very well done!

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When you move seat you will complete a Command Course, even if you are current on the jet. The command course is more about how you run the aircraft, manage the crew, fuel, ETOPS, diversion and flight planning requirements as a whole and the legal responsibilities of the aircraft commander plus a ‘re-famil’ of the aircraft from the LHS.

In many airlines either of the pilots will ‘run’ the sector so, for those who know their stuff, the move from RHS to LHS is a formality.

As a side note, modern big jets are easy to fly from either seat!


You say:
In many airlines either of the pilots will ‘run’ the sector so, for those who know their stuff, the move from RHS to LHS is a formality.

Can you elaborate on this, when running the sector, what extra responsibilities do they have, And are they in charge, And would they swap seats for that?


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Here is a reading relatively short that you may find interesting but it doesnt clearly state what each of the trainings are for. This link will take you to the Electronic Code of Federal Regulations for US operations.

§ 91.1103 Pilots: Initial, transition, upgrade, requalification, and differences flight training.
Initial Training- Pilots are trained on the various systems of the aircraft such as procedures and other maneuvers for the aircraft.
Transition Training- Includes some of the initial training as seen above.

§ 135.339(d)(e): Initial and Transition Training and Checking
Differences Training- Pilots learn and are trained on the differences between cockpits of the same or similar models of aircraft. For example: Pilots that are qualified in the 757 go through differences training for the 767 because cockpits and systems are similar.

Regardless of Captain or First Officer, there is recurrent training at least once per year.

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Have a read online in regards to PIC (Pilot in Command) and PF (Pilot Flying) and Pilot Monitoring.

Captain is always going to be the Pilot in Command, however the Captain and First Officer generally swap between who’s ‘running’ the sector or AKA who’s the Pilot Flying.

The seating will stay the same. As I’ve said on previous posts, it’s not an actual formal regulation that the captain MUST be in the left seat, but as a tradition, right and priveledge, and for commonality, the captain will always occupy the left seat and be the Pilot in Command. However, he may or may not be the Pilot Flying.

The Pilot in Command always has certain responsibilities, no matter if he’s flying or monitoring. Then, the pilot flying is obvious, controls flight controls, landing etc. pilot monitoring usually does ATC Communications etc. the Pilot Flying and Pilot Monitoring can swap daily, each leg etc. the captain and first officer decide between them. If they didn’t swap between Flying and Monitoring, then first officers could literally sit in the right seat for up to 10 years without ever ‘flying’ the aircraft.

Not sure if this is relavant but medically wise commercial airline pilots must get a physical or checkup every 6 months in order to be a Healthy enough to fly and I believe captains and F/Os re-train once a year in simulators


I wouldn’t think it would be a big problem when you switch sides of the cockpit. The Throttle and joystick don’t move it the same ways and feel the same. I’d also think you’d remember when you remember how much more you’re getting paid and that you’re on the opposite side of the aircraft.

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You’re right to a certain degree. However, the role that each pilot plays in either the left or right seat is completely different. Its not uncommon to have two captains flying a particular route that may be challenging for First Officers. Because there are two captains, they both can’t have final say over a situation. Only the one in the left seat is able to have final say. Again, you are right. Many of the controls, buttons and procedures are the same, but its more of the role that each pilot plays during the operation of the flight.

Captains, like all pilots, go through a simulator check every couple months to practice emergencies to ensure they have the knowledge to deal with unpleasant situations. Here’s what one scenario might involve, courtesy of Dave Wallsworth on twitter:

The pilot in command has the final say, they are usually in the left seat. Training captains often ride in the right seat while a new captain will occupy the left seat. The new captain is in charge while the training captain is there to check the competencies of the pilot and as a very expensive first officer and failsafe.

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There is only ever one aircraft Commander. If he/she gives the sector away to the FO then they will run it as PIC from the RHS. The Captain occupies the LHS unless on controlled rest when a fully qualifies FO will occupy the LHS as PIC for the duration of the Captains break.