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Working as a pilot

Pilot training is highly competitive, but due to the rising demand in airline pilots around the world, accessing this industry as a career path is becoming easier. This type of career is not only able to provide opportunities for global exploration, and with long or short-haul flights, there are a number of opportunities to break into the industry. Here, we’re taking a closer look at the role of a commercial airplane pilot, the responsibilities, benefits and drawbacks of such a role.

Obtaining the role

The career of a commercial airplane pilot is full of responsibilities, as the captain is the one who has overall responsibility for the safety of those on the plane, both crew and passengers. In order to obtain the role initially, candidates must undergo stringent training courses having to be undertaken, followed by recurrent training and relevant licenses to obtain. In most cases, the equivalent of a minimum of five GCSEs and 2 A-levels are required, as well as a good understanding of maths and physics. While there are numerous related degrees around the world which can be undertaken, these are not a necessity.

In order to work as a commercial airplane pilot, an individual must obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License, which will be ‘unfrozen’ after a certain amount of training and experience is undertaken. There are a number of paths which can be taken in order to obtain this license, dependent on an individual’s funds and timeframe in which they would like to become a commercial airplane pilot. The equivalent licences must be held in order to be a pilot in any country in the world, but with Greece, the Philippines and Kenya offering world class flying facilities, this isn’t necessarily an issue for expats and nationals alike.


Responsibility is rife in this role, with the following being standard as a commercial airplane pilot:

  • All information on route, weather, passengers and aircraft must be received for every flight
  • Flight plans detailing altitude, route and fuel must be determined
  • Fuel levels must balance safety with economy
  • Supervision of the loading and fuelling of the aircraft
  • All safety systems must be working properly
  • Pre-flight checks must be carried out
  • Noise regulations must be followed
  • Air traffic control need regular communication throughout the flight
  • Technical performance and position on the aircraft must be regularly monitored
  • All instruments and control data must be interpreted and understood effectively
  • Passengers need to be communicated with
  • Environmental changes and emergencies must be reacted to quickly and efficiently
  • The aircraft logbook must be filled in and reports of any disturbances, issues, or problems with the aircraft must be noted effectively

The list depicted above is just a brief description of the role and responsibilities an aircraft pilot must be able to deal with.

Familial impact

A major impact which many commercial airplane pilots have to deal with is the unusual working hours and constant travelling. This can make it difficult for pilots to hold down familial roots in one particular country, and they may find themselves based abroad for training on numerous occasions. Pilots who are dealing with long-haul flights need to adjust to different time zones, and even those on short-haul flights can suffer severely from fatigue. In addition to this, most pilots will need to live in close proximity of the airport as they are often on stand-by duty. A lot of work and dedication needs to be put into this particular role, as tests are conducted every six months, so much of the time spent not working is actually spent studying for these. Medicals must also be passed on an annual basis, meaning pilots must not over-exert themselves during their downtime.

The role of a commercial airline pilot is a tough one but travelling across and living in new countries can be an exhilarating experience. There are a lot of restrictions, and requirements when it comes to being a pilot, however with dedication, this can be a highly successful career path.

If you career as a commercial airline pilot requires relocation, get in touch with a member of our expert team today.

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