As an airline pilot, you’ll fly passengers or cargo on long or short-haul flights for leisure, business or commercial purposes. The aircraft is typically operated by two pilots; one will be the captain who is the pilot in command, while the other will be the supporting first officer. Pilots usually take turns to fly the plane to avoid fatigue, with one operating the controls, while the other speaks to air traffic control and completes the paperwork.
Pilot training is expensive and highly competitive, but with the demand for pilots set to increase you could enjoy a career full of responsibility while travelling the world. As a qualified pilot you’ll need to:
- make sure all information on the route, weather, passengers and aircraft is received.
- use that information to create a flight plan, which details the altitude for the flight, route to be taken and amount of fuel required.
- ensure the fuel levels balance safety with economy and supervise the loading and fueling of the aircraft.
- make sure all safety systems are working properly.
- brief the cabin crew before the flight and maintain regular contact throughout the flight.
- carry out pre-flight checks on the navigation and operating systems.
- communicate with air traffic control before take-off and during flight and landing.
- ensure noise regulations are followed during take-off and landing.
- understand and interpret data from instruments and controls.
- make regular checks on the aircraft’s technical performance and position, on weather conditions and air traffic during flight.
- communicate with passengers using the public address system.
- react quickly and appropriately to environmental changes and emergencies.
- update the aircraft logbook and write a report at the end of the flight noting any incidents or problems with the aircraft.
Typical salaries range from £25,000 for new pilots, up to as much as £150,000 for experienced pilots. Some airline operators will offer training schemes and loan training costs to applicants on the return of a period of fixed employment, others will expect candidates to ‘buy in’ to training at a cost of £100,000 to £150,000.