Good Captain / Bad Captain Revisited
I was only in the right seat at NewCo for around four months and 300 hours before upgrading. Most of the Captains I was flying with had been Captains before but were new to the Junglebus. As with Horizon, the majority were very good. The one or two I'd consider "bad" weren't even incompetent; they were technically skilled, but had what you might call a deficient personality. Overall I'd say NewCo Captains are less "quirky" than Horizon Captains, likely a function of having less time in the airplane or at the company. They're also somewhat more likely to be up for going out on the overnight, although NewCo isn't a party airline by any stretch of the imagination.
Having been in the left seat for about 300 hours, I can say that it's a quite different experience than I thought it'd be when I was an FO. I still think my definition of what constitutes a good Captain was pretty accurate. Since upgrading, I've consciously tried to model myself on it. That's not to say I've entirely succeeded; I'm aware that with 300 hours I'm still a "baby captain" and have a lot to learn. But I am making the effort.
Good Captain knows what he's doing. He knows and follows standardized procedures, and has a good grasp on aviation knowledge that gives me confidence in his decisions.Despite my past griping about over-standardization at Horizon, I do know the book well and follow it closely. My weakest area here is probably systems knowledge; I didn't think NewCo's training was very effective in this area so I've been doing some "remedial training" on my own. I'll likely do a series of systems posts in the future, because the best way to learn something is to teach it.
Good Captain seeks/accepts input when he's making a decision, but doesn't pass the buck on to me. I'm not the captain, dude, you are, so don't keep shrugging and saying "whatever you want to do."I do have a tendency to think things through silently and come to a decision quickly, sometimes without saying a word; it drives my wife nuts. I've noticed it happening at times in the cockpit, and I've made a conscious effort to seek input from my FOs and include them in the decision-making process. Pawning off decisions on them isn't a problem, though.
Good Captain keeps an eye on the big picture. He does this by making me handle the grunt work, rather than doing everything himself only to mess up something important.This is honestly my weakest area. I'm way too tempted to do things myself, especially where the FMS is concerned. I'll see my FO get a little bogged down on confused on how to enter something, and I'm immediately heads down over the gizmos, doing it myself or showing him how. Lately I've really tried to back off and let my FOs muddle through it a bit and figure things out for themselves unless they get stuck or ask for help. Doing it for them does no favors, and even teaching them how to do it won't make them remember it as well as figuring out themselves. Besides, having two heads inside the cockpit fixated on the idiot box is pretty dumb.
Good Captain lets me know when I screw up and gives me hints from the wealth of his captainly experience. This doesn't mean he needs to lord his Holy Captainness over me & nag over everything I do.There's really nothing more frustrating than flying with a nag. I flew with one at NewCo shortly before I upgraded; thank God it was a short three day trip. I'm flying with new FOs who are generally very receptive to hints, tricks, and tips... but I'm very careful to distinguish between enforcing the book - which I expect FOs to follow - and teaching technique, which I make clear they can take or leave. Also, since my "Lost in Memphis" experience, I've been more careful about debriefing issues after the flight at the gate rather than while there's still work to be done.
Good Captain is a generally cool guy who can make good conversation on a long leg or over a beer at the layover. He's got a sense of humor about things, but gets dead serious when he needs to be.I can't really address these; you'd have to ask my crewmembers. I'd like to think I'm a nice guy who has a sense of humor and cares for my coworkers, but nearly everybody thinks that about themselves and it's clearly not the case much of the time. I generally get along with my crews fine and we usually find something fun to do on the layovers. There are a few notorious flight attendants I'm not looking forward to flying with. One of them is on my trip next week. My general philosophy in dealing with such people is to treat them as being much smarter, nicer, prettier, and more experienced and knowledgeable than they actually are, so they feel less of a need to assert it through defiant behavior and it's less of a threat when I need to assert my authority. We'll see how the charm offensive goes; some people simply aren't happy until all those around them are miserable. Fortunately the cockpit door is locked for a large portion of my work day, and my FO this month is a good guy.
Good Captain cares about his crew and takes care of them. He helps them out when he can. He'll grace them with his presence at dinner if the crew is so inclined, and might even buy them a few drinks.