Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

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Also known as:
Airline Captain, Airline Pilot, Airline Pilot Flight Instructor, Airline Pilot In Command, Airline Pilot Second In Command, Airline Transport Pilot, Charter Pilot (Air Transport Pilot Certificate Required), Charter Pilot (Airline), Regional Airline Pilot

Video transcript

Aircraft pilots fly airplanes and helicopters to do everything from crop dusting to intercontinental travel to traffic reports for radio stations. Flight engineers assist the cockpit crew in some larger airplanes by monitoring and operating many of the instruments and systems, but computers are rapidly eliminating this position.

Generally, jet pilots earn more than pilots of propeller-driven planes do. And those who fly corporate aircraft, or work for major airlines earn the most of all. Pilots must be in excellent physical condition, with 20/20 vision with or without glasses, and they must be able to quickly make accurate decision under pressure and can have no physical limitations that may impede their performance. For this reason, pilots trained by the armed forces are highly valued by civilian companies and tend to have a special advantage when entering this very competitive profession.

Those who can handle the stress of being personally responsible for the safety of hundreds of other people, find that being a pilot offers high earnings, a bit of glamour and prestige, and excellent free-travel benefits for immediate family.

Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, national, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.
Critical decision making
Level of responsibilities
Job challenge and pressure to meet deadlines
Dealing and handling conflict
Competition for this position
Communication with others
Work closely with team members, clients etc.
Comfort of the work setting
Exposure to extreme environmental conditions
Exposure to job hazards
Physical demands
Daily tasks

Respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.

Record in log books information, such as flight times, distances flown, and fuel consumption.

Direct activities of aircraft crews during flights.

Brief crews about flight details, such as destinations, duties, and responsibilities.

Make announcements regarding flights, using public address systems.

Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.

Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.

Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.

Monitor gauges, warning devices, and control panels to verify aircraft performance and to regulate engine speed.

Steer aircraft along planned routes, using autopilot and flight management computers.

Choose routes, altitudes, and speeds that will provide the fastest, safest, and smoothest flights.

Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
Getting Information Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
Transportation Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
Geography Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
Mathematics Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
English Language Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
Computers and Electronics Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
Psychology Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
Mechanical Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
Public Safety and Security Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
Operation and Control Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
Operation Monitoring Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
Monitoring Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
Critical Thinking Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
Active Listening Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
Reading Comprehension Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
Complex Problem Solving Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
Speaking Talking to others to convey information effectively.