Pilots fly fixed-winged aircrafts and helicopters in order to provide transportation to passengers or cargo. They usually work for airlines and transportation companies. Pilots working for a specific airline are called Airline Pilots, while Pilots that fly charters or private aircrafts are called Commercial Pilots. The latter are hired by private individuals or companies to fly their aircrafts.
Pilots usually fly predetermined routes, as well as routes designed by the airline or company they work for. The length of the journey and the type of cargo will vary depending on the company and the customer’s needs. Flying an aircraft requires much skill, practice, and a certain set of qualifications.
Most aircrafts usually require two Pilots at a time during a flight. One of them is the Captain and will be Pilot in command of the aircraft, the other one is called the Co-Pilot or First Officer and their role is to assist the Captain. The Captain is responsible for the safety of the aircraft, its passengers, and the cargo. The Pilots take turns flying the aircraft to avoid fatigue and safety hazards. While one of the Pilots is operating the controls, the other is in constant communication with ground air traffic control and carries out the necessary paperwork and calculations. Sometimes, depending on the distance of a route or the type of vessel they’re flying, there can be three or more pilots on board to take turns at the controls and carry out other tasks as well.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Pilots are required to complete.
- Working as part of a team with crew members:
- Giving instructions to the crew on board;
- coordinating take-off and landing procedures with crew members; and
- informing the crew of any news regarding the aircraft or the flight.
- Running a check-up of all systems with Flight Engineers prior to flights:
- Ensuring that all systems are working correctly;
- checking passenger and cargo distribution to ensure proper balance of weight;
- calculating fuel consumption based on weight of the aircraft and the distance of the flight; and
- reporting any malfunction to Engineers.
- Piloting aircrafts:
- Starting engines and following take-off procedures;
- using instruments to fly with low visibility;
- operating controls and flying during turbulence;
- steering the aircraft on pre-established routes;
- following flight patterns and routes;
- calculating fuel consumption based on speed and weight of the aircraft;
- monitoring engine operation, fuel consumption, and other systems during flight;
- manoeuvring the aircraft into the best altitude and speed; and
- making in-flight announcements;
- communicating constantly with air traffic control;
- preparing for landing following the applicable procedures; and
- redesigning route and flight pattern when needed.
- Contacting air control towers:
- Requesting takeoff and landing clearances and instructions;
- reporting location and status of the aircraft; and
- communicating with other vessels to coordinate movements.
- Responding to and reporting in-flight emergencies:
- Reporting equipment malfunction;
- notifying air traffic control of emergencies, problems, hazards (e.g. high-jacking, possible explosive devices, or medical emergencies); and
- following the established procedures during these situations.
- Keeping the aircraft’s log updated with all eventualities.
- Briefing the crew about flight details.
- Running a check-up prior to take-off.
- Reporting any malfunctioning systems.
- Requesting take-off and landing clearance with air traffic control.
- Piloting the aircraft.
- Monitoring all systems.
- Making in-flight announcements.
- Filling the log of the aircraft.
- Staying in constant contact with air traffic control and other aircrafts.
- Switching duties with the Co-Pilot to avoid exhaustion.
The average Pilot salary is $74,496 per year or $38 per hour. This is around 2.3 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $52,000 while most experienced workers make up to $104,000. These results are based on 112 salaries extracted from job descriptions.