|Trip and Duty Rigs 101|
by Cindy Driscoll
What is a trip rig? What is a duty rig? If you are a pilot working at a carrier without "rigs," transitioning to a major carrier will be your first introduction to an initially confusing topic.
Many airline contracts are devoid of trip and duty rigs, so a pilot is only paid for block time. This article will present the basics of what trip and duty rigs are, and how they can enhance pilot compensation.
A trip rig is pay credit based on time away from base. This means that from the time you report for duty until the time you are released from duty in domicile equals a quantity of time.
Letís look at a 1:3.5 trip rig. This means that for every 3.5 hours that you spend away from domicile (ie, on a trip), you are paid one hour at your specified hourly rate. Here is an example as to how this is calculated. Dave reports for duty in his ANC domicile at 1500Z (zulu time) on Monday. He flies to SLC and arrives at 1900Z. He has a 30 minute debrief, so he is released from duty at 1930Z. He has an SLC layover and flies back to ANC the next day, arriving at 2000Z, with a release time of 2030Z. He was away from domicile for a total of 29:30 hours. In order to find out what a trip rig would pay on this, you would take 29.5 and divide it by 3.5. The result is 8:42. If you were paid for this trip using a trip rig, this is the amount times your hourly rate that you would receive.
A duty rig is pay credit based on the amount of time that you spend on duty. Letís
look at another example. Harley reports for his trip in ANC at 1900Z, and departs
at 2000Z for YWG. He arrives at 0030Z in YWG and departs for ORD at 0200Z,
arriving at 0330Z, with a release time of 0400Z. His total duty can be found by
subtracting his release time from his report time for the duty period. This
equals 8 hours. If the duty rig that his contract offers is 1:1.5, this means
that for every 1.5 hours that Harley spends on duty, he is paid for 1 hour
times his current hourly rate of compensation. In this case, we would divide 9
by 1.5. Harley would receive 6 hours times his hourly rate of pay for this trip
using a duty rig computation.
The importance of knowing the difference between these two lies in the ability to verify that your compensation is correct. Normally, unless you are subject to excessive duty days, a trip rig will trump a duty rig once a trip has exceeded 4 days in length.
Letís look at how this occurs.
If Travis is scheduled for an 8 day
international trip, it would be fair to assume that he will be paid on a trip
rig for this assignment, but letís look at how that would work. He reports for
his assignment on Thursday at 1200Z. His first duty day consists of a
commercial deadhead from ONT to ANC and is 9 hours in length. He then has an 18
hour layover, followed by a report on Friday night at 0400Z to fly from
ANC-ORD, for a duty day of 8 hours. He has a 57 hour layover and reports on
Monday at 2100Z for a departure to ANC. This duty day is 9 hours in length. He
has a 13 hour layover and reports on Tuesday at 1900Z for a departure to ORD.
This duty day is 8 hours in length. He has a 13 hour layover and reports for a
departure to ANC at 1600Z on Wednesday. This duty day is 9 hours in length. He
has a 12 hour layover and reports for a commercial deadhead to ONT at 1300Z on
Thursday. This duty day is 8 hours in length, arriving in ONT at 2100Z on
Thursday. His duty day lengths were: 9, 8, 9, 8, 9, and 8. If we used our duty
rig above of 1:1.5, this trip would pay 34 hours. If we applied a trip rig to
it, we will come up with a total time away from base of 177 hours. Using the
trip rig mentioned above of 1:3.5, we come up with a compensation figure of
50:34. The trip rig pays considerably more than the duty rig, due to the long
layover in ORD for the weekend and the relatively moderate duty days in the
A trip rig becomes important when you have lengthy layovers. Those of us who endured the days at the commuter with no trip or duty rigs remember that we were only paid when the engines were running, ie block to block. Having a long layover in some posh hotel in FSM meant you were only receiving per diem.
A trip rig prevents the lack of pay on long layovers and pays you from the time you report for duty in your domicile until the time you are released back in domicile.