What do pilots do?

The first thing to cover, is what do we actually do? What are the different types of pilots? There are two main categories of aircraft you may choose to pursue a career in. The first is fixed-wing or aeroplanes. The second is rotary or helicopters. These can be further broken down into categories such as “Single Engine Piston” and “Multi-Engine Piston” and many more. Then there are the different types of flying. Private, commercial and military.


Types of Pilot

  •  Private Pilots. To be a private pilot, you need a private pilot’s license (PPL). You cannot make money with this license, however it will allow you to fly friends and family around, go on day trips or weekends away. As part of your PPL, you will have a rating. Normally this will be a Single Engine Piston Rating (SEP). This is what allows you to fly small 2-4 propeller aircraft, such as Cessna’s in good weather.
  • Commercial Pilots. Once you’ve got your PPL, to be able to fly commercially you will need to undergo further training. This will be covered in more detail in a later post. As a rough guide, you will need to pass 14 written exams, take training in a multi engine aircraft, learn to fly in cloud and at night, as well as pass a commercial pilots license flying test. 
  • Military Pilots. To fly in the military you must take a completely different route by joining the RAF, Royal Navy, or British Army and undertake very specialized training. 

Pilot Duties

As a pilot, our main duty is to fly the aircraft to the highest standards and make sure that a safe flight is always achieved. To ensure this we carry out detailed planning and briefing, such as checking the weather and confirming flight plans. We will do a pre-flight inspection of the aircraft, otherwise known as a walk around, and double-check the flight logs. We also actively monitor the aircraft at all times during the flight, making sure the autopilot is programmed correctly and doing what it’s supposed to be doing. In commercial environment, it is believed that as the less experienced first or second officer, you won’t carry out any of the actual flying duties. However, this is incorrect. On a normal day, the flying and monitoring duties are shared equally between the captain and the copilot.

Once you move into the commercial world, you may be responsible for transporting people, commercial goods, or even other types of cargo. The type of aircraft you’ll fly will be dependent on what it is you’re moving. Whatever it is that you are transporting, the important thing to remember is that you are responsible for them. 

Some people decide to get their PPL and stay there. Enjoying flying around in the nice weather, maybe taking trips down into Europe. Even when flying small aircraft for pleasure, most of the principles of commercial flying still apply. We still have to carry out briefings, check the weather, check flight plans. We still have to inspect the aircraft and its logs. As well as still being responsible for the aircraft’s flight path and what it is carrying. 

what do pilots do

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