Phase 6: Transoceanic Operating Experience

If you fly a domestic aircraft, you will only have OEs (refer to my last blog post for info on the OE). If you are hired into an aircraft that flies internationally, you will also have 1 or 2 TOE (Transoceanic Operating Experience) trips. My first TOE (back in 2017) was to Paris, France, which was incredible! My second TOE trip was to Seoul, Korea.

This was the view from my hotel room in Paris. Amazing!

My trip was on May Day in 2017, so most businesses were closed for the holiday . I was one of the few people actually at the Eiffel tower, which was incredible.

The second trip felt much less stressful than the first; partly because I'd already flown internationally and things were beginning to come together, but also because flying over the Pacific ocean is much easier than flying over the Atlantic ocean because there are less rules.

At the airline I currently fly for, they had some great study material to read through before I ever began my TOE trips. This was incredibly helpful because there was a lot to learn and know when flying internationally. So if you get hired onto an international fleet, make sure you study as much as possible before you start that first international flight.

On both of my TOEs, I had really great captains that walked me through everything beforehand, and great relief pilots that were super familiar with the operations. As a side note, a relief pilot is the third extra pilot required on longer flights; they are in the flight deck for takeoff and landing, and for the final 2/3rds of the flight; they are there to give the captain and first officer relief from flight deck duties so rest breaks can happen. If the flights are over 12 hours (I think that's the magic number still? but correct me if I am wrong), there will be a relief captain AND first officer, so it will be a 4-pilot crew.

Because my first two international flights were for my TOE/training flights, I was the flying pilot, which was great in terms of rest breaks. The flying pilot usually gets the best rest break- the second break in this case. This is the best break because it is usually a few hours into the flight so a nap can happen- as in my body/brain are ready for a nap- and most of the passengers are asleep by this point so it is quiet in the cabin. I was in the flight deck with the checkairman (captain) for the first few hours, on my break for the next few hours, and then back in the flight deck with the other first officer for the last few hours.

On my 2nd TOE, the rest area on that 767 for the pilots was a first class lay flat seat with a curtain to give us some privacy. The curtain was stowed during taxi/takeoff/landing, and then each of us pulled it around the chair when we were on our rest breaks. The overhead bin above the seat had blankets and pillows in it, which we locked on our preflight inspection so passengers wouldn't take them while they were boarding. It was not a bad set up at all. On my break, I enjoyed a movie for a few minutes and then indulged in a nice nap at 37,000'.