How to Become an Airline Pilot
The job of an airline pilot is extremely challenging and exciting. Pilots fly aircraft carrying passengers or cargo to various places around the globe. This job is perfect for those who are not afraid to assume responsibility as well as love planes and traveling.
As a rule two pilots operate the plane, one being the captain (or the pilot in command,) and the other the supporting first officer. The captain is in charge of the safe, efficient operation of the plane and the safety of the people on board.
To become a pilot you need to be good at teamwork, have excellent hand-to-eye coordination and be able to concentrate well. It’s also very important to stay calm in case of emergency or bad weather conditions. If you would like to become a pilot you can get a degree at the university, take private courses or train with an airline.
You should be able to:
• have excellent hand/eye coordination,
• follow instructions given by air traffic control,
• have good communicative skills,
• be good at teamwork,
• be good at using technology,
• read maps and 3D displays,
• have advanced written communication skills,
• stay calm in critical situations.
Typical Duties and Responsibilities
As a pilot you will have to:
• do all the necessary pre-flight checks of the instruments, engines and fuel;
• check whether safety systems are working properly;
• calculate the best route to the destination, using data from weather reports along with data provided by air traffic control;
• follow airport approach as well as landing instructions provided by air traffic control:
• check flight data and make adjustments if the weather conditions change;
• notify the passengers and flight crew about the progress of the journey;
• write flight reports that provide detailed information about aircraft or flight path problems;
• assist in loading and unloading luggage or cargo (only on small aircraft).
It should be noted that on long haul flights, there is also a flight engineer on board, whose job is to deal with the instruments. Pilots can also work not only in airlines but also in other areas of aviation, such as crop spraying, flight testing and flight training.
Hours Worked and Working Conditions
Hours worked by a pilot typically depend on the particular flight destination. Be prepared to work at night, on weekends and sometimes even on public holidays. Hours worked are regulated for safety reasons. The time pilots spend away from home differ depending on the route. Pilots serving the routes within the UK and Europe can return home every day. Airline companies provide their pilots with accommodation during long-haul flights that include overnight stays.
A captain may earn from £55,000 to £90,000 a year, but experienced pilots who often fly long-haul can earn up to £140,000 a year. In addition, pilots are usually provided a nice package of benefits that include bonuses, health insurance and more.
If you dream of becoming a pilot you need to receive an Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL). Once you have got ‘frozen ATPL’ you can work as a first officer. After flying enough hours you can get a full ATPL and qualify as an airline captain.
Qualifications like GCSEs and A levels in Maths, English and Science are preferable.
Applicants are required to have a medical check and a class 1 medical certificate. To become a pilot you must be physically fit and healthy. Having good hearing, eyesight and colour-normal vision is required.
You can get your Airline Transport Pilot’s License (ATPL) at a Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) approved training school.
Armed Forces Experience
If you served as a pilot in the military, you will be required to take a conversion course to gain a commercial pilot's license.
You can get the pilot’s license by pursuing a university degree. In this case, pilot studies and training are combined with a related degree.
Company Training Schemes
Some major airlines provide pilot training courses so you can train with the company to receive your license.
You can get your license sooner if you already have a Private Pilot's Licence, Commercial Pilot's License or have related experience in the military.
Once you’ve got your frozen ATPL you can work as a co-pilot (first officer) under the supervision of a training captain on short-haul flights. As the first officer you will practice to take-off and land and after minimum 500 flying hours as a co-pilot you will finally get your full ATPL.