domicile). The committee considers pilot “commuting” to be the period of time and the activity required of pilots from leaving home to arriving at the domicile (airport—in the crew room, dispatch room, or designated location at the airport) and from leaving the domicile to returning back to home. Pilot commuting takes place during off-duty hours. Pilot commuting differs from the commuting of other workers in terms of frequency and variability, distance, transport modes, and time of day.
Most pilots work for four main types of airlines: mainline airlines that predominately operate scheduled service in jet aircraft with more than 90 seats and often provide intercontinental service; regional airlines that predominately operate scheduled service in aircraft, both jet and turboprop, with 90 or fewer seats; cargo airlines that deliver goods all over the world; and charter airlines that provide nonscheduled passenger flights. Flight scheduling, commuting provisions, seniority systems, and length of duty time vary across these segments of the industry.
For most airline pilots, decisions about where to live and when and how to commute are their own to make. Generally, given the nature of flight scheduling, pilots do not commute on a daily basis; in fact, in some cases, they commute only two or three times a month. However, there are no comprehensive data on the frequency of pilot commuting, the lengths of commutes, or such trip characteristics as the transportation modes used in commuting. There are also no systematic data on the timing, duration, or quality of pilots’ sleep before or during their commutes. Furthermore, changes in airports to which the pilots’ report for the start of their duty (their domicile) may alter commuting patterns, but the committee was unable to obtain any systematic information about how frequently individual pilots experience domicile changes or how such changes affect pilot commuting behavior.
The committee’s analysis of home-to-domicile distances, calculated from zip codes of 17,519 mainline pilots and 7,553 regional airline pilots, provided by 15 airlines, showed that roughly one-half have home-to-domicile distances of less than 150 miles. Less than one-fourth have home-to-domicile distances of more than 750 miles. The distributions are similar for mainline and regional pilots even though these two segments of the industry differ. The proportion of pilots who have long coast-to-coast or international home-to-domicile distances is about 2 percent for mainline pilots and 1 percent for regional pilots. The committee also analyzed the home-to-domicile distances of 4,488 airline pilots from four cargo airlines and 631 airline pilots from five charter airlines, but many of those airlines have different basing policies so the data from their pilots are not directly comparable to mainline and regional airlines.
These home-to-domicile distances are only suggestive of commuting patterns for several reasons. First, the pilots’ residence zip codes were for