In Summary - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
Airline Pilot - Civil Aviations typically work in the following Career Sectors:
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The Work - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
The work of a Pilot is both physically and mentally demanding, but it is also a rewarding, fulfilling and challenging career. Working in an aircraft cockpit requires a high degree of discipline, and teamwork is an essential element of the job. On reporting for duty on an average day Pilots are responsible for pre-flight preparation, filing the flight plan and calculating fuel required, taking into consideration meteorological information and passenger and cargo loads. Pilots must liaise with Operations Control Staff, Engineers and Cabin Crew and they must check that the aircraft and its systems are prepared for departure. They conduct checks on controls, instruments and engines.
Between take-off and landing the crew operates and navigates the aircraft, communicates with Air Traffic Control, listens to weather reports, monitors engines and systems, checks fuel consumption, and advises passengers on the progress of their flight. They make sure that the passengers are informed of emergency procedures. Duties are usually shared with one co-Pilot, but responsibility for the aircraft and its safety finally rests with the Pilot.
After landing, when the aircraft has been taxied to its final position, the Pilot shuts down the engines and writes a flight report, noting any problems or technical difficulties.
Flight decks where Pilots spend long hours in a seated position can be very confined spaces. Flight delays because of weather or other difficulties, plus the fact that aircraft operate around the clock, will mean irregular working hours (including weekends and bank holidays) and periods spent overseas in a hotel or airport. They have to be prepared to make numerous flights in the one day and prepared to make the same flight regularly.
Most commonly reported Work Tasks
- Check aircraft prior to flights to ensure that the engines, controls, instruments, and other systems are functioning properly.
- Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
- Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight according to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
- Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
- Consider airport altitudes, outside temperatures, plane weights, and wind speeds and directions to calculate the speed needed to become airborne.
- Order changes in fuel supplies, loads, routes, or schedules to ensure safety of flights.
- Obtain and review data such as load weights, fuel supplies, weather conditions, and flight schedules to determine flight plans and identify needed changes.
- Plan flights according to government and company regulations, using aeronautical charts and navigation instruments.
- Use instrumentation to pilot aircraft when visibility is poor.
- Check baggage or cargo to ensure that it has been loaded correctly.
Most commonly reported Work Activities
- 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.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Controlling Machines and Processes Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Evaluating Information to Determine Compliance with Standards Using relevant information and individual judgment to determine whether events or processes comply with laws, regulations, or standards.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Processing Information Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
Interests - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
This occupation is typically suited for people with the following Career Interests:
Realists are usually interested in 'things' - such as buildings, mechanics, equipment, tools, electronics etc. Their primary focus is dealing with these - as in building, fixing, operating or designing them. Involvement in these areas leads to high manual skills, or a fine aptitude for practical design - as found in the various forms of engineering.
Realists like to find practical solutions to problems using tools, technology and skilled work. Realists usually prefer to be active in their work environment, often do most of their work alone, and enjoy taking decisive action with a minimum amount of discussion and paperwork.
The Investigative person will usually find a particular area of science to be of interest. They are inclined toward intellectual and analytical activities and enjoy observation and theory. They may prefer thought to action, and enjoy the challenge of solving problems with sophiscticated technology. These types prefer mentally stimulating environments and often pay close attention to developments in their chosen field.
Enterprising people like situations that involve using resources for personal or corporate economic gain. Such people may have an opportunistic frame of mind, and are drawn to commerce, trade and making deals. Some pursue sales and marketing occupations. Many will eventually end up owning their own business, or in management roles in larger organisations. They tend to be very goal-oriented and work best when focused on a target. Some have an entrepreneurial inclination.
Trainee Pilot applicants should be at least eighteen years of age, be physically fit and have good hearing and normal eyesight (within defined limits correcting lenses may be permitted). A medical and eye examination will be required.
Candidates will need to display a very special blend of personal characteristics: maturity, commitment, a technical aptitude and interest, determination to succeed, self-motivation and willingness to take on responsibility.
They have to be reliable, calm and level-headed, able to take charge in an emergency and have good clear communication skills both with the other crew members and with Air Traffic Control.
The ability to inspire confidence in both passengers and air crew is very important. You will need to be able to make quick decisions in emergencies and to accept considerable responsibility. You need to be able also to communicate and give instructions to the passengers and cabin crew on board.
Trainees should also be able to demonstrate an ability to apply themselves successfully to a course of study. They may need a second language for some airlines.
Entry Requirements - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
Airline pilots are required to earn a licence prior to flying an aircraft and will normally have to complete training courses. A background in aviation, aeronautical engineering or a related field is beneficial.
There are four main entry routes to becoming a pilot:
Integrated Course - offered from an FTO (Flight Training Organisation). These are full time courses that bring you from zero to a level where you can apply to an airline for a position as a first officer. These courses must be completed in full or you won't qualify with any licence. It takes just over one-year on average.
Approved Training Organisations (ATOs) conduct flight training (aeroplane or helicopter) approved by the Irish Aviation Authority for both private and professional licences and ratings. Intending students are advided to check directly with the ATO for the specific courses offered by them. A list is available on the Irish Aviation Authority website here.
Modular Course - gives the same qualification as the Integrated Course but it is done on part time basis where students still have the option to work while completing their training. It can also be structured into a full time course but is at the discretion of the student and requires the student to put together, with the help of the school, a plan for their training if they wish to expedite it. There are a number of schools that offer modular courses in Ireland. It does take longer than an integrated course, from approximately 18 months to 2 years.
Airline Sponsor - In the past this was the preferred and most popular way to achieve a career as an Airline Pilot. An Airline would advertise openings for a cadetship and sponsor the student for their training and offer them a job at the end. In recent times, due to the changing economic structure of airlines, this has been phased out.
Air Corps - Similar to the Airline sponsor, the Defence Forces offered a cadetship for the Air Corps where they train you and contract you for minimum of ten years. At the end of this time you can move onto an airline with flying experience. Cadetships are currently on hold due to the Public Sector recruitment embargo. This may change with economic and other conditions.
See also IAA 'How to become a pilot'
Last Updated: March, 2015
Pay & Salary - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
Salary Range (thousands per year)* 23k - 140k
Last Updated: March, 2017
* The lower figures typically reflect starting salaries. Higher salaries are awarded to those with greater experience and responsibility. Positions in Dublin sometimes command higher salaries.
Labour Market Updates - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
Useful Contacts - Airline Pilot - Civil Aviation
Irish Aviation Authority
British Women Pilots' Association
Irish Airline Pilots Association
National Flight Centre
International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)