Pilots navigate and fly multi-engine aircraft for transport of passengers and cargo. Pilots may fly commercial airlines or helicopters, test aircraft, dust crops, fly cargo or work as aviation directors, and large corporations often employ executive pilots for company use.
They carry major responsibility as they must ensure that their passengers arrive safely to a destination; this entails choosing routes, altitudes and speeds, filing flight plans, and communicating with flight dispatchers, weather forecasters, and air traffic controllers. Pilots inspect aircraft for safety, monitor engine operations, and perform minor maintenance. They must record information to comply with government regulations and all the while keep a soothing yet upbeat tone as they inform their passengers of flight information.
Flying demands strong depth perception and spatial orientation and quick response time.
Many airlines require a bachelor’s degree, followed by time at military or civilian flying schools certified by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). Commercial airlines, which employ 60% of pilots, require 1,500 hours of flight time, along with passing written, flight and instrument tests.
Most pilots begin as flight engineers and spend two to seven years there before moving up to co-pilot, while logging lots of flight hours to boost them to a higher position.
Pilots must stay with the same company for more than ten years to be a captain and gain seniority, resulting in higher pay and flying preferred routes. Overall, the long hours to get there result in high-flying job satisfaction for pilots.
Airlines have been hit financially by the economic turbulence, with the Head of International Transport Association calling global aviation a “fragile industry in a crisis” even before September’s stock market crash. Changes may be occurring to the shape of many airlines, but the need for commercial pilots along with helicopter, agricultural and test pilots will most likely remain steady.
$134,190 average annual salary.