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A day in the life of a Commercial Pilot

Why you'd want to be a Commercial Pilot

There are many advantages to why being a Commercial Pilot should be on everyone’s dream job list; going to work every day (and loving it), having frequent time and travelling the world meeting new people! However, the portrayal of Commercial Pilots in movies and on TV falls short on what really happens in real life - it’s not all about fancy sunglasses and immaculate uniforms.

Ever wondered what a day in the life of Commercial Pilot is like; what really happens behind the cockpit door?

A day in the life of a Commercial Pilot

Pre-Flight Commercial Pilot Duties

Here are a few everyday duties that a Commercial Pilot has to diligently follow before being able to initiate the mighty Boeing 737 or the Airbus engines can roar to life!

  1. Meeting the Crew: The crew begins the day by meeting in operations 60-90 minutes before departure – there’s a good chance crew have not met, especially on international routes, so after a few preliminary introductions and some small talk, the crew will go over the paperwork for the upcoming flight.
  2. Checking the Planes Maintenance and History: Pilots will go over the maintenance status of the aircraft, there are occasions when some non-essential aircraft systems may not be at 100%, but the plane is still safe to fly. In addition to the current aircraft status, the plane’s maintenance history is important because if something unusual happens at the gate or during the flight, this knowledge will help the Crew and Pilot troubleshoot the problem.
  3. Weather Forecast: Each season has its own set of challenges and a Pilot needs to understand what the weather will be like from departure to arrival. Pilots need to consider precipitation to determine if they will need to de-ice, the condition of the runway to calculate if precautions need to be taken for less-than-ideal braking in the event of an aborted takeoff, icing conditions in the clouds, takeoff delays that may require extra fuel, or thunderstorms and the wind shear – these are just to name a few potential factors! A pilot should also review airports along the route for a suitable emergency landing, just in case.
  4. Reviewing the Flight Plan: Pilots will then check the planned route and altitude for areas where there could be expected turbulence or wind shifts, as well as keeping an eye on temperature changes over small distances that might indicate areas where forecasted turbulence might be expected. This will allow the pilot to ensure that the fuel load makes sense for the flight and ensure there is enough reserve fuel, again just in case.
  5. Other Pre-Flight Preparations: Each pilot has a pre-flight routine; ensuring the cockpit has all the safety equipment, pre-flighting all of the aircraft’s main backup and emergency systems for functionality (including tests and fluid level checks). The total number of steps to be completed before every flight numbers in the hundreds. In addition to all those tasks, pilots serve as the main point of contact between maintenance, dispatch, flight attendants, ground service, station operations and customer service.

Finally, it’s time to close the door and partake in the miracle of flight — that’s the part pilots all love. Getting through the administrative work is the work, flying is the passionate profession.

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