What Airline and Commercial Pilots Do
Airline and commercial pilots fly and navigate airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft.
Pilots typically do the following:
- Check the overall condition of the aircraft before and after every flight
- Ensure that the aircraft is balanced and below its weight limit
- Verify that the fuel supply is adequate and that weather conditions are acceptable
- Prepare and submit flight plans to air traffic control
- Communicate with air traffic control over the aircraft’s radio system
- Operate and control aircraft along planned routes and during takeoffs and landings
- Monitor engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems during flight
- Respond to changing conditions, such as weather events and emergencies
- Navigate the aircraft by using cockpit instruments and visual references
Some pilots are also instructors using simulators and dual-controlled aircraft to teach students how to fly.
The following are examples of types of pilots:
Airline pilots work primarily for airlines that transport passengers and cargo on a fixed schedule. The captain or pilot in command supervises all other crewmembers and has primary responsibility for the flight. The copilot, often called the first officer or second in command, shares flight duties with the captain.
Commercial pilots are involved in unscheduled flight activities, such as aerial application, charter flights, and aerial tours. Commercial pilots may have additional nonflight duties. Some commercial pilots schedule flights, arrange for maintenance of the aircraft, and load luggage themselves.
Federal regulations set the maximum work hours and minimum requirements for rest between flights for most pilots. Airline pilots fly an average of 75 hours per month and work an additional 150 hours per month performing other duties, such as checking weather conditions and preparing flight plans. Pilots have variable work schedules that may include some days of work followed by some days off. Flight assignments are based on seniority. Seniority enables pilots who have worked at a company for a long time to get preferred routes and schedules.
Airline pilots may spend several nights a week away from home because flight assignments often involve overnight layovers. When pilots are away from home, the airlines typically provide hotel accommodations, transportation to the airport, and an allowance for meals and other expenses. Commercial pilots also may have irregular schedules. Although most commercial pilots remain near their home overnight, some may still work nonstandard hours.
Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor, Occupational Outlook Handbook, Airline and Commercial Pilots,
on the Internet at https://www.bls.gov/ooh/transportation-and-material-moving/airline-and-commercial-pilots.htm (visited December 20, 2017).
|WHAT ARE MY FLYING OPTIONS?|
|WHAT DO YOU WANT TO DO?||CERTIFICATE OR RATING||HOW MUCH DOES IT COST?||HOW LONG WILL IT TAKE?*|
|Day flights in light-sport aircraft||Sport||~$3,000||3 months|
|Fly personal or business, travel in clear weather||Private||~$7,000||4 months|
|Fly personal or business, travel in clear or cloudy weather||Instrument||Private certificate + ~$3,000||6 months|
|Fly higher and faster in airplanes with two engines||Multi-Engine||Private certificate + ~$3,000||3 months|
|Get paid to fly||Commercial||~$20,000||8 months|
|Teach people to fly||Flight Instructor||Commercial certificate + ~$2,000||12 months|
|Be an airline captain||Airline Transport Pilot||Could be as low as $0, if training is paid by the airline||6 Months to 4 years**|
|*Flying 2-3 times a week **Some airlines provide career-track flight training|
For more information , please go to http://www.aopa.org/training-and-safety/learn-to-fly
What are my options? How long will it take?
- Aviation Certificate I – Private Pilot = 17 – 18 units (1-2 semesters)
- Aviation Certificate II – Instrument Pilot = 24-26 units (2 semesters)
- Aviation Certificate III – Commercial Pilot = 31-34 units (2-3 semesters)
- Aviation Certificate IV – Advanced Pilot = 35 units (2-3 semesters)
- Associate in Science Degree – Commercial Pilot = (2 years)
How much will it cost? How much financial aid can I get?
Cost of Attendance ($46 per unit for CA residents + books, fees)
What is the job and salary outlook?
- CareerOneStop (US Dept. of Labor)
Where do students work?
At all major airlines, including Express Jet, Delta, Sunrise Aviation, Flight Safety, South Bay Aviation, United, Gulfstream and more!
Quick links to get you started:
- Apply to Cypress College
- Apply for Financial Aid
- Enroll: Start with basic certificate classes*
- International Students
- Student Services
- Work Study (jobs on campus)
* If you will be taking general education classes toward a degree, you’ll want to take the placement tests, but these tests are not necessary to start this program.
Note: Students may receive course credit for FAA certifications or military experience toward their degree. Please see the Credit by Examination section of the Cypress College Catalog and meet with the Department Coordinator.