Can a Fighter Pilot Fly a Commercial Airplane?


Yes, but not well. Any of you heard of China Airlines?

Can a fighter pilot fly a commercial airplane

China Airlines used to recruit ex Republic of China Air Force pilots back in the 90’s. Emphasis on “used”. Eight China Airlines aircraft have crashed in the last 30 years causing 755 deaths making it one of the most dangerous airlines in the world. I admit their safety record is much better after they started training their own pilots.

There are two major problems with Air Force pilots that I can think of now which contributed to the 8 crashes.

  1. Fighter Pilot subcultureFighter pilots typically aren’t the most careful and modest of people, in fact they are risk takers. Which is alright in your nifty little fighter jet but not alright at the helm of a lumbering Boeing 747 with more than 400 hapless passengers’ fate in your hand.

    Q: How do you know there’s a fighter pilot at your party?
    A: He’ll tell you.

  2. Their fighter pilot subconsciousEven though they are technically China Airlines pilots now, they were first trained to fly on fighter jets. And they don’t forget it. In fact it’s almost engraved into their genes memory like muscle memory, those fighter jet instincts.

Heard of China Airlines Flight 676?

A fighter jet can do this

Can a fighter pilot fly a commercial airplane

Can a fighter pilot fly a commercial airplane

So when Mr. 康龍麟 (Mr. Kang), who was once a Officer in the ROC airforce and flew both F-104s and F-16s, was landing at Taoyuan airport in 1998 tried to abort his first landing attempt, he tried doing the same thing that the second picture shows. Well, not the entire flip on back part but the pull up part. Sadly to his dismay and also the other 200 people on board, the Airbus A300 wasn’t able to deal with a 40 degree pull up and stalled. The plane crashed and all 197 people on board, including 7 on the ground died.

So can a fighter pilot fly a commercial airplane? Yes, but not that well.