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Airline Pilot


How to become an Airplane Pilot
Airplane Pilot Job Duties
Sills and Qualities to become a Pilot
Airplane Pilot Salaries
Influential Professionals in this Field
Leading Organizations in this Field
Top Cities for Airplane Pilot Jobs
Other Careers of Interest

How to become an Airplane Pilot

A commercial pilot's license with an instrument rating issued by the FAA is required for anyone paid to transport cargo or passengers. In order to qualify for a license, pilots must have a minimum of 250 hours of flight experience. There are currently 600 civilian flying schools approved by the FAA. Most airlines require a minimum of two years of college, but most prefer to hire individuals with four year degrees. Newly hired pilots typically undergo a week of classes on company procedures and policies, three to six weeks of ground school and simulator training, and 25 hours of initial operating experience, including a check-ride with an FAA inspector.

What doe an Airplane Pilot do?

Most airplane pilots work for airlines, but 20% are commercial pilots, dusting crops, monitoring traffic, testing aircraft, and a variety of other tasks. Before take-off, flights are carefully planned and the aircraft is checked. Pilots must also check to make sure cargo has been loaded correctly and confer with other aviation officials regarding the route, altitude, and speed that will be most efficient and economical. Take-off and landing are the most difficult parts of each flight, and require close coordination between pilot and co-pilot. One pilot will focus on the runway while the other scans the instrument panel to know when take-off speed has been achieved. Take-off speed varies for each flight and is calculated based on the airport's altitude, outside temperature, weight of the aircraft, and speed and direction of the wind. Unless the weather is bad, the duration of the flight between take-off and landing is routine, with the pilot using autopilot and the flight management computer to guide the plane along the pre-planned route. During this time, the instrument panel is scanned regularly and altitude is changed if the ride is rough or the pilot is seeking a stronger tailwind or weaker headwind. If visibility is poor, pilots must use their instruments exclusively.

Once on the ground, pilots must file a report of the flight. Other non-flying duties will depend on the employment setting. Airline pilots usually have fewer non-flying duties than other pilots because airlines have a large support staff.

What skills or qualities are needed to become a Pilot?

Pilots must be mentally stable and physically fit with good vision and hearing. Those in this field must have excellent communication skills, as most aviation accidents result from inadequate communication. Airline pilots are not alone in the cockpit, and therefore must be able to work as a team leader, fostering cooperation. Successful pilots stay calm and level headed in a crisis, and are able to take quick, decisive action. Many pilots are also analytical and self motivated individuals.

How much do Airplane Pilots make?

Earnings of airplane pilots are among the highest in the nation. An individual's earnings can vary based on the type, size, maximum speed the aircraft can reach, and number of hours flown. In addition, pilots may earn bonuses for international and overnight flights. In 2007, the median annual salary of airline pilots, co-pilots, and flight engineers was $148,810. The median annual earnings of commercial pilots in 2007 were $61,640.


Who are some influential Pilots?

In 1973, Emily Howell Warner became the first female pilot hired by a United States airline, Frontier Airlines. Before being hired by Frontier, Howell worked for Clinton Aviation Company as a flight instructor. She rose through the ranks, quickly reaching the position of FAA pilot examiner and racking up more than 7,000 hours of flight time in less than twelve years. Through incredible persistence, Howell was hired by Frontier after six years of "camping out" in their offices. She also flew for Continental Airlines before United Parcel Service hired her as a captain. Warner left UPS to work for the FAA as a safety inspector. She then worked for United Airlines as the B-737 aircrew program manager until her retirement in 2001.

Although Barbara Harmer left school at fifteen to become a hairdresser, she eventually went on to become the first qualified female Concorde pilot. At 21, she took a job as an aircraft controller at London Gatwick Airport. She became a pilot for a small commercial airline and a flying instructor after quickly earning her Private Pilot's License and Commercial Pilot License. When British Airways bought the airline Harmer was working for, she became determined to fly the Concorde, even though no woman had previously done so. Although, British Airways only picks a few pilots to undergo the rigorous six month training program required of Concorde pilots, Harmer was chosen in 1992 and became qualified to fly the Concorde in 1993.

What are some leading organizations in this field?

Air Line Pilots Association, International has been working to advance the profession of pilots since 1931. With a membership of nearly 55,000 pilots in the United States and Canada, the ALPA is the largest airline pilot union in the world. This organization works to provide three vital functions to its members: airline safety and security, representation, and advocacy. The founders of this organization chose the motto "Schedule with Safety," and the current leaders carry out this motto through unbiased, fact based evaluation of airline safety issues that have gained a reputation for excellence in the industry.

The Federal Aviation Administration began its history in 1926 when President Calvin Coolidge signed the Air Commerce Act. The mission of this organization is to provide the safest and most efficient air transportation system in the world. The FAA strives to carry out this mission while remaining responsive to customer needs and accountable to the public. The Federal Aviation Administration is governed by the values of safety, quality, integrity, and the strength of people.

What are the top cities for Airplane Pilot Jobs?

Currently, Glendale Arizona is the top city for airplane pilot jobs. Other cities with good job prospects include Wichita Kansas, Philadelphia Pennsylvania, East Granby Connecticut, and Detroit Michigan.

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