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.
- Excellent interpersonal and communication skills:
- Being in constant communication with ground control, crew, and passengers.
- Good team-working and leadership skills:
- Being able to work as part of a team with the crew;
- coordinating and assigning tasks; and
- working alongside a Co-Pilot.
- Outstanding stress-management and decision making skills:
- Assessing and handling emergency situations in a timely manner;
- making quick and effective decisions; and
- remaining calm and focused in moments of high stress.
- Excellent physical condition and stamina:
- Being capable of flying an aircraft through long routes;
- possessing excellent vision and hearing; and
- not suffering from any cardiac condition.
- Excellent mathematical and physics skills:
- Being able to calculate and design flight routes and fuel consumption plans.
- Good understanding of Mechanical and Flight Engineering:
- Being capable of running system inspections;
- being able to fix minor problems when needed; and
- understanding basic and complex concepts of airplane systems.
- High levels of self-confidence, commitment, and discipline.
In order to become a Pilot, candidates need to go through a specialized training course. To attend these courses, they are required to have completed secondary education and, in some cases, to have obtained a college or university diploma.
Training for this job is long and highly competitive. Courses and training in flying or aviation academies vary from one academy to the other, but the average length of the training is six months to a year. Pilots measure their experience in hours of flight (HOF). Some companies and airlines require applicants to have a certain number of HOF in order to be eligible to fly certain types of aircrafts.
Most companies have very high standards in their selection process. Besides having completed a training course at a flight or aviation academy, Pilot applicants must get the necessary licences in order to be hired by an airline. The grand majority of aviation academies and schools will facilitate this paperwork and issue the necessary licences for the intended type of aircraft under the sanctioning of Transport of Canada's aviation branch. 
Pilots are also required to possess certain physical attributes. During the enrolment process at most aviation academies and schools, there will be a physical examination focusing on vision and cardiac conditions that all applicants must pass in order to receive training.