Sunday, April 19, 2009

life of commercial airline pilots

There are all kinds of commercial pilots from flight instructors, crop dusters, helicopter medevac, and sightseeing tour pilots, to corporate pilots, firefighting pilots and those who fly for the regional or major airlines. Anyone who is licensed to fly for a living is a "commercial pilot". Every type of flying has a different schedule and lifestyle. Now, if you're referring to Airline Pilots, then it is a mixed bag. It is definitely stressful. Airline pilots are the most scrutinized, tested and retested professionals in the world, bar none. They follow tight schedules (no leniency if you're late) and always need to perform at their best. There's no going only half-way as a pilot just to get through the day and the responsibility is huge. It isn't a job for the lazy. At best, it is a pleasant way to earn a living, but having been a senior regional airline captain for a large company I can say that it is not exactly fun. Enjoyable sometimes, perhaps, but not fun in the way you probably imagine it. An airline pilot in the USA who flies domestic routes flies an average of 4 days per week, puts in anywhere from 8 to 14 hours per day, and spends 150 to 200 nights per year away from home. Expect to work odd hours, holidays, and weekends, especially the first half of your career. On most "layovers" you don't often have an opportunity to do much of anything other than go to the hotel, have a meal and maybe hang out at the pool for a couple of hours. It's not a bad life at all, but it's not exactly the glamorous, easy-going lifestyle most non-pilots think it is.It also takes a lot of money, education, dedication, effort and experience to become an airline pilot and most people spend a lot of years flying in more or less low paying jobs before they get a shot at the "big time". Only about half of all commercially rated pilots ever make it to the major airlines or a six-figure salary. It's a highly competetive field to get into.

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