Being a Professional Pilot


Becoming a professional pilot requires mastery of various aspects of aviation. After learning the technical and mechanical components of an aircraft, one is required to acquire standard experience level before being allowed to operate commercial or private jets (O’Neil and Krane 99). Accordingly, it is important to understand the commercial features of an airline because the industry is competitive and companies are targeting profits. In this report, a discussion is presented pertaining to essential components of aviation when pursued as a career. Additionally, this paper reviews airline operations and the role of pilots in the industry.

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Academic Journey for Professional Pilots

For one to be accredited as a professional pilot, there are requirements proposed by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) which must be fulfilled. To start with, an aspiring pilot must be certified by the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) following successful completion of a professional course in aviation. Accordingly, it is required that one must be at least 23 years old by the time of application for certification. The FAA also requires a commercial pilot certificate with a compulsory instrument rating. For those who are aiming to be hired as first officers or co-pilots, the regulators will ask for proof of at least 1,500 hours of flying time and a minimum of 50 hours operations in a multi-plane engine (O’Neil and Krane 107).

Since these prerequisites cannot be attained by merely completing an aviation program at the university, prospective pilots are often advised to pursue valuable experience by working as a flight instructor. This will enable the graduating students to achieve the minimum requirements soon after completing school thereby facilitating their accreditation to operate commercial jets. It is also important to review the education process of acquiring the basic academic qualifications which open ways for professional practice. The FAA requires that students should attend flight schools categorized as Part 61 or Part 141. According to the established regulations, Part 61 schools are not strictly commanded by the FAA thus making them informal and less expensive (O’Neil and Krane 110). On the other hand, Part 141 schools are operating under comprehensive directives of the FAA thus adhering to aviation rules. However, both flight schools are allowed to offer flexible training which enables the trainee to learn at their own pace and environment.

The FAA also recommends a college or university degree for students who wish to proceed with their training as certified pilots. Under these programs, the learners are expected to complete a four-year course consisting of technical training and exposure to aviation technology. However, the programs might be too expensive thus locking out many students. It is also possible to attain certification through aviation academies which are accredited by the FAA. These institutions offer Part 141 programs thereby providing a competent syllabus for becoming a professional pilot.

Working in the Aviation Industry

As a professional pilot, one is required to perform duties other than controlling the aircraft during a flight. Pilots are tasked with the responsibility of ensuring the safety of passengers and decision-making once the aeroplane is in the air. They are expected to maintain decency and reputation of the airline where they are working. Accordingly, pilots are expected to coordinate communication between crew members and passengers. Once in the cockpit, a pilot will perfume routine checks like weather, flight plans, aeroplane maintenance, communication lines, supervising fuel amount, checking load limit, and other dashboard reviews (Alazard 503). Due to technological advancement, these functions have been simplified and can be completed through digital commands in the cockpit. Therefore, working in the aviation industry can be broadly discussed under the following competencies;

To start with, pilots should be proficient in aircraft flight path management (AFPM). Here, professional pilots are expected to master flight deck management as well as stick and rudder flying skills. While learning AFPM, it is required that aviation trainees should be exposed to manual and automated controls. Familiarity with these cockpit commands is essential in navigating between autopilot and manual operations of an aeroplane (Alazard 507). For instance, when a flight is disrupted by turbulent conditions, the autopilot becomes disengaged thereby requiring personal involvement of a trained pilot. In this case, professional skills are highly needed in ensuring that smooth flow is maintained despite the wild weather situations.

Under AFPM manual controls, pilots are acquainted with advanced psychomotor skills which can enhance instantaneous performance completion of tasks during panic conditions. Accordingly, mastery of these commands helps in accomplishing the following; maintaining the required trajectory of aeroplane, controlling speed and thrust, detecting deviations, and selecting appropriate mode of flight (Andrews 39). AFPM is also essential in learning the fundamentals of flying such as; climbing, descending, turning, and level flights. On the other hand, AFPM automatic control is a simplified version of mechanical operations which entails computer applications used for accomplishing commands and controlling an aircraft. The automatic system works under three main divisions namely; the Flight Management System (FMS) which regulates all the functions of an autopilot, the Flight Director (F/D) which controls turning and climbing, and the Autopilot (A/P) which is the computerized hydraulic servo actuators (Andrews 51). With these set of skills, pilots are capable of managing aircraft flight mechanics for both the fixed wing and rotary wing aircrafts. Accordingly, AFPM enhances a proper understanding of the flight dynamics, control systems, and stability of aeroplanes in the air.

Besides the proficiency in AFPM, professional pilots working in the aviation industry are expected to showcase competency in procedure applications. This is a concept relating to the identification and application of instructions in accordance with the established regulations. While working for commercial airlines, pilots are required to adhere to standard operating procedures (SOP) which guide efficiency and safety within that organization. In most cases, SOP demands that professional pilots should be able to recognise where operating instructions are issued from (Ornato and Peberdy 175). For example, radio calls from the control tower which clear an aircraft for take-off should be received promptly to avoid delays. Secondly, pilots are expected to prioritize SOPs to avoid conflicting information which might cause collision mid-air or on the runaway. Thirdly, SOPs are helpful in studying aircraft systems and other vital equipment used in flight operations.

Another useful concept for professional pilots is called situational awareness. This is the ability to perceive and comprehend essential information during flight operations. Failure to interpret vital communication signals can lead to spatial disorientation, a situation where the captain is unable to perceive his or her location. Therefore, pilots are expected to maintain situational awareness by doing the following; comprehensively understanding the aircraft, accurately identifying vertical and lateral positions, developing contingency plans, keeping track of time, and assessing the physical environment.

Accordingly, working in the aviation industry requires proficiency in workload management. This is whereby professional pilots are expected to accomplish simultaneous duties with the highest level of precision. In actual sense, these tasks might be overwhelming thereby causing defects in flight operations. Therefore, it is advisable for pilots to remain proactive while discharging their duties so that distractions and mistakes are optimally alleviated. To reinforce these skills, flight schools often offer a course called Crew Resource Management (CRM) to train pilots on how to identify and utilize resources in the aviation industry. While inside the aircraft, it is recommended to consult with the following personnel; members of the crew, air traffic control (ATC), automation systems, maintenance workers, airport administrators, and ground managers (Jensen 27).

Lastly, the aviation industry requires teamwork and leadership skills. It is expected that professional pilots should be synergistic leaders who create a balance between authority and humility. As the pilot in command (PIC), one is privileged with the powers of being the final decision maker for all activities taking place inside an aircraft. In essence, the success of this position requires the involvement of other crew members and technical advisors on the ground (Grote 194). As a synergistic leader, one should admit his or her mistakes while also taking responsibility for the resulting consequences. During these operations, teamwork is enhanced through open communication, discussion, and workload management. Accordingly, feedback should be received constructively while rectifying any incompetence which might interfere with flight schedules.


Works Cited

Alazard, Daniel. “Robust H design for lateral flight control of highly flexible aircraft.” Journal of Guidance, Control, and Dynamics 25.3 (2002): 502-509.

Andrews, Stuart P. Modelling and simulation of flexible aircraft: handling qualities with active load control. Diss. Cranfield University, 2011.

Grote, Gudela. “Leading high-risk teams in aviation.” Leadership lessons from compelling contexts. Emerald Group Publishing Limited, 2016. 189-208.

Jensen, Richard S. Pilot judgment and crew resource management. Routledge, 2017.

O’Neil, Patrick D., and Dale Krane. “Policy and organizational change in the Federal Aviation Administration: The ontogenesis of a high‐reliability organization.” Public Administration Review 72.1 (2012): 98-111.

Ornato, Joseph P., and Mary Ann Peberdy. “Applying lessons from commercial aviation safety and operations to resuscitation.” Resuscitation 85.2 (2014): 173-176.