Summary Report for:
53-2011.00 - Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers
Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing, multi-engine aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport Pilot certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, National, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.
Sample of reported job titles: Airline Captain, Airline Pilot, Airline Pilot (Captain), Airline Transport Pilot, Captain, Check Airman, Co-Pilot, Commuter Pilot, First Officer, Pilot
Tasks | Tools & Technology | Knowledge | Skills | Abilities | Work Activities | Detailed Work Activities | Work Context | Job Zone | Education | Credentials | Interests | Work Styles | Work Values | Related Occupations | Wages & Employment | Job Openings | Additional Information
- Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
- Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
- Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
- Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
- Monitor gauges, warning devices, and control panels to verify aircraft performance and to regulate engine speed.
- Respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.
- Steer aircraft along planned routes, using autopilot and flight management computers.
- Check passenger and cargo distributions and fuel amounts to ensure that weight and balance specifications are met.
- Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
- Inspect aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.
- Choose routes, altitudes, and speeds that will provide the fastest, safest, and smoothest flights.
- Confer with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters to keep abreast of flight conditions.
- Direct activities of aircraft crews during flights.
- Brief crews about flight details, such as destinations, duties, and responsibilities.
- Order changes in fuel supplies, loads, routes, or schedules to ensure safety of flights.
- Record in log books information such as flight times, distances flown, and fuel consumption.
- Make announcements regarding flights, using public address systems.
- Perform minor maintenance work, or arrange for major maintenance.
- Test and evaluate the performance of new aircraft.
- Coordinate flight activities with ground crews and air traffic control and inform crew members of flight and test procedures.
- File instrument flight plans with air traffic control to ensure that flights are coordinated with other air traffic.
- Conduct in-flight tests and evaluations at specified altitudes and in all types of weather to determine the receptivity and other characteristics of equipment and systems.
- Instruct other pilots and student pilots in aircraft operations and the principles of flight.
- Plan and formulate flight activities and test schedules and prepare flight evaluation reports.
- Load smaller aircraft, handling passenger luggage and supervising refueling.
- Evaluate other pilots or pilot-license applicants for proficiency.
Tools & Technology
Tools used in this occupation:
- Aerospace cockpit display panels — Electronic flight instrument systems EFIS
- Aerospace head up display HUDs — Head-up guidance systems HGS
- Aircraft anti skid controls — Anti-skid control systems
- Aircraft braking systems — Autobrakes; Brake management systems
- Aircraft communication systems — Digital communications display units DCDU; High-frequency HF radio communication systems; On-board intercom systems; Ultra high frequency UHF radio communication systems (see all 5 examples)
- Aircraft cooling fans — Equipment cooling controls
- Aircraft drag chutes — Brake pedals
- Aircraft environment controllers — Pressurization control systems; Recirculation control systems
- Aircraft escape or ejection systems — Emergency exit slides; Emergency life rafts
- Aircraft fire control or extinguishing systems — Fire suppression and control systems
- Aircraft fuel management systems — Fuel control systems
- Aircraft guidance systems — Automatic direction finder ADF radio systems; Distance measuring equipment DME; Satellite-based navigation and guidance systems; Very high frequency VHF direction finders (see all 16 examples)
- Aircraft hydraulic systems — Hydraulic actuators; Hydraulic control systems; Hydraulic pressure regulators
- Aircraft navigation beacons — Nondirectional radio beacon markers
- Aircraft onboard defrosting or defogging systems — Engine anti-ice systems; Windscreen ice control systems; Wing anti-ice systems
- Aircraft oxygen equipment — Continuous flow emergency oxygen systems; Diluter demand emergency oxygen systems; Passenger oxygen control systems; Pressure demand emergency oxygen systems
- Aircraft power supply units — Power generation and distribution control systems
- Aircraft steering controls — Aileron trim switches; Automatic landing systems; Rudder trim knobs; Yaw damper systems (see all 10 examples)
- Aircraft warning systems — Airborne collision avoidance systems ACAS; Ground proximity warning systems GPWS
- Desktop computers
- Fire extinguishers
- Flight computer systems — Aircraft data loaders; Autopilot systems; Data load selectors; Flight database systems (see all 5 examples)
- Landing gear assemblies — Landing gear control systems
- Notebook computers
- Personal digital assistant PDAs or organizers — Personal digital assistants PDA
- Pneumatic aircraft accumulators — Pneumatics systems
- Point plotting recorders — Point plotters
Technology used in this occupation:
- Analytical or scientific software — Pilot Navigator Software Load Balance
- Calendar and scheduling software — SBS International Maestro Suite
- Data base user interface and query software — Airline Pilots Daily Aviation Log PPC; AirSmith FlightPrompt; CoPilot Flight Planning & E6B; doXstor Flight Level Logbook (see all 11 examples)
- Information retrieval or search software — AeroPlanner; Notam Development Group Airport Insight
- Route navigation software — IFT-Pro; Navzilla
- Spreadsheet software — Microsoft Excel
- Word processing software — Microsoft Word
Hot Technology — a technology requirement frequently included in employer job postings.
- Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
- Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
- Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
- English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
- Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
- Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
- Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
- Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
- Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
- Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
- Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
- Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
- Operation and Control — Controlling operations of equipment or systems.
- Operation Monitoring — Watching gauges, dials, or other indicators to make sure a machine is working properly.
- Active Listening — Giving full attention to what other people are saying, taking time to understand the points being made, asking questions as appropriate, and not interrupting at inappropriate times.
- Critical Thinking — Using logic and reasoning to identify the strengths and weaknesses of alternative solutions, conclusions or approaches to problems.
- Monitoring — Monitoring/Assessing performance of yourself, other individuals, or organizations to make improvements or take corrective action.
- Complex Problem Solving — Identifying complex problems and reviewing related information to develop and evaluate options and implement solutions.
- Judgment and Decision Making — Considering the relative costs and benefits of potential actions to choose the most appropriate one.
- Reading Comprehension — Understanding written sentences and paragraphs in work related documents.
- Speaking — Talking to others to convey information effectively.
- Active Learning — Understanding the implications of new information for both current and future problem-solving and decision-making.
- Time Management — Managing one's own time and the time of others.
- Coordination — Adjusting actions in relation to others' actions.
- Social Perceptiveness — Being aware of others' reactions and understanding why they react as they do.
- Systems Analysis — Determining how a system should work and how changes in conditions, operations, and the environment will affect outcomes.
- Mathematics — Using mathematics to solve problems.
- Systems Evaluation — Identifying measures or indicators of system performance and the actions needed to improve or correct performance, relative to the goals of the system.
- Learning Strategies — Selecting and using training/instructional methods and procedures appropriate for the situation when learning or teaching new things.
- Quality Control Analysis — Conducting tests and inspections of products, services, or processes to evaluate quality or performance.
- Troubleshooting — Determining causes of operating errors and deciding what to do about it.
- Writing — Communicating effectively in writing as appropriate for the needs of the audience.
- Instructing — Teaching others how to do something.
- Management of Personnel Resources — Motivating, developing, and directing people as they work, identifying the best people for the job.
- Science — Using scientific rules and methods to solve problems.
- Service Orientation — Actively looking for ways to help people.
- Control Precision — The ability to quickly and repeatedly adjust the controls of a machine or a vehicle to exact positions.
- Response Orientation — The ability to choose quickly between two or more movements in response to two or more different signals (lights, sounds, pictures). It includes the speed with which the correct response is started with the hand, foot, or other body part.
- Problem Sensitivity — The ability to tell when something is wrong or is likely to go wrong. It does not involve solving the problem, only recognizing there is a problem.
- Spatial Orientation — The ability to know your location in relation to the environment or to know where other objects are in relation to you.
- Depth Perception — The ability to judge which of several objects is closer or farther away from you, or to judge the distance between you and an object.
- Far Vision — The ability to see details at a distance.
- Flexibility of Closure — The ability to identify or detect a known pattern (a figure, object, word, or sound) that is hidden in other distracting material.
- Inductive Reasoning — The ability to combine pieces of information to form general rules or conclusions (includes finding a relationship among seemingly unrelated events).
- Multilimb Coordination — The ability to coordinate two or more limbs (for example, two arms, two legs, or one leg and one arm) while sitting, standing, or lying down. It does not involve performing the activities while the whole body is in motion.
- Near Vision — The ability to see details at close range (within a few feet of the observer).
- Rate Control — The ability to time your movements or the movement of a piece of equipment in anticipation of changes in the speed and/or direction of a moving object or scene.
- Reaction Time — The ability to quickly respond (with the hand, finger, or foot) to a signal (sound, light, picture) when it appears.
- Written Comprehension — The ability to read and understand information and ideas presented in writing.
- Arm-Hand Steadiness — The ability to keep your hand and arm steady while moving your arm or while holding your arm and hand in one position.
- Deductive Reasoning — The ability to apply general rules to specific problems to produce answers that make sense.
- Information Ordering — The ability to arrange things or actions in a certain order or pattern according to a specific rule or set of rules (e.g., patterns of numbers, letters, words, pictures, mathematical operations).
- Oral Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in speaking so others will understand.
- Perceptual Speed — The ability to quickly and accurately compare similarities and differences among sets of letters, numbers, objects, pictures, or patterns. The things to be compared may be presented at the same time or one after the other. This ability also includes comparing a presented object with a remembered object.
- Selective Attention — The ability to concentrate on a task over a period of time without being distracted.
- Oral Comprehension — The ability to listen to and understand information and ideas presented through spoken words and sentences.
- Time Sharing — The ability to shift back and forth between two or more activities or sources of information (such as speech, sounds, touch, or other sources).
- Hearing Sensitivity — The ability to detect or tell the differences between sounds that vary in pitch and loudness.
- Speech Clarity — The ability to speak clearly so others can understand you.
- Speech Recognition — The ability to identify and understand the speech of another person.
- Manual Dexterity — The ability to quickly move your hand, your hand together with your arm, or your two hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble objects.
- Peripheral Vision — The ability to see objects or movement of objects to one's side when the eyes are looking ahead.
- Visual Color Discrimination — The ability to match or detect differences between colors, including shades of color and brightness.
- Night Vision — The ability to see under low light conditions.
- Auditory Attention — The ability to focus on a single source of sound in the presence of other distracting sounds.
- Glare Sensitivity — The ability to see objects in the presence of glare or bright lighting.
- Category Flexibility — The ability to generate or use different sets of rules for combining or grouping things in different ways.
- Mathematical Reasoning — The ability to choose the right mathematical methods or formulas to solve a problem.
- Number Facility — The ability to add, subtract, multiply, or divide quickly and correctly.
- Speed of Closure — The ability to quickly make sense of, combine, and organize information into meaningful patterns.
- Finger Dexterity — The ability to make precisely coordinated movements of the fingers of one or both hands to grasp, manipulate, or assemble very small objects.
- Sound Localization — The ability to tell the direction from which a sound originated.
- Visualization — The ability to imagine how something will look after it is moved around or when its parts are moved or rearranged.
- Written Expression — The ability to communicate information and ideas in writing so others will understand.
- Operating Vehicles, Mechanized Devices, or Equipment — Running, maneuvering, navigating, or driving vehicles or mechanized equipment, such as forklifts, passenger vehicles, aircraft, or water craft.
- Controlling Machines and Processes — Using either control mechanisms or direct physical activity to operate machines or processes (not including computers or vehicles).
- Getting Information — Observing, receiving, and otherwise obtaining information from all relevant sources.
- Making Decisions and Solving Problems — Analyzing information and evaluating results to choose the best solution and solve problems.
- Monitor Processes, Materials, or Surroundings — Monitoring and reviewing information from materials, events, or the environment, to detect or assess problems.
- Identifying Objects, Actions, and Events — Identifying information by categorizing, estimating, recognizing differences or similarities, and detecting changes in circumstances or events.
- Inspecting Equipment, Structures, or Material — Inspecting equipment, structures, or materials to identify the cause of errors or other problems or defects.
- Processing Information — Compiling, coding, categorizing, calculating, tabulating, auditing, or verifying information or data.
- 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.
- Analyzing Data or Information — Identifying the underlying principles, reasons, or facts of information by breaking down information or data into separate parts.
- Updating and Using Relevant Knowledge — Keeping up-to-date technically and applying new knowledge to your job.
- Interacting With Computers — Using computers and computer systems (including hardware and software) to program, write software, set up functions, enter data, or process information.
- Organizing, Planning, and Prioritizing Work — Developing specific goals and plans to prioritize, organize, and accomplish your work.
- Communicating with Supervisors, Peers, or Subordinates — Providing information to supervisors, co-workers, and subordinates by telephone, in written form, e-mail, or in person.
- Judging the Qualities of Things, Services, or People — Assessing the value, importance, or quality of things or people.
- Estimating the Quantifiable Characteristics of Products, Events, or Information — Estimating sizes, distances, and quantities; or determining time, costs, resources, or materials needed to perform a work activity.
- Establishing and Maintaining Interpersonal Relationships — Developing constructive and cooperative working relationships with others, and maintaining them over time.
- Resolving Conflicts and Negotiating with Others — Handling complaints, settling disputes, and resolving grievances and conflicts, or otherwise negotiating with others.
- Developing and Building Teams — Encouraging and building mutual trust, respect, and cooperation among team members.
- Performing for or Working Directly with the Public — Performing for people or dealing directly with the public. This includes serving customers in restaurants and stores, and receiving clients or guests.
- Interpreting the Meaning of Information for Others — Translating or explaining what information means and how it can be used.
- Documenting/Recording Information — Entering, transcribing, recording, storing, or maintaining information in written or electronic/magnetic form.
Detailed Work Activities
- Pilot aircraft.
- Communicate with others to coordinate vehicle movement.
- Monitor equipment gauges or displays to ensure proper operation.
- Notify others of emergencies, problems, or hazards.
- Report vehicle or equipment malfunctions.
- Respond to transportation emergencies.
- Monitor engine operation or functioning.
- Monitor work environment to ensure safety or adherence to specifications.
- Inspect aircraft or aircraft components.
- Arrange maintenance activities.
- Maintain locomotives or other rail equipment in good working condition.
- Test performance of aircraft equipment.
- Choose optimal transportation routes or speeds.
- Coordinate flight control or management activities.
- Meet with coworkers to communicate work orders or plans.
- Resolve issues affecting transportation operations.
- Record operational details of travel.
- Train transportation or material moving personnel.
- Plan flight operations.
- Direct material handling or moving activities.
- Load shipments, belongings, or materials.
- Evaluate performance of applicants, trainees, or employees.
- Provide transportation information to passengers or customers.
- Importance of Being Exact or Accurate — 100% responded “Extremely important.”
- Contact With Others — 97% responded “Constant contact with others.”
- Frequency of Decision Making — 98% responded “Every day.”
- Work With Work Group or Team — 97% responded “Extremely important.”
- Responsible for Others' Health and Safety — 88% responded “Very high responsibility.”
- Spend Time Using Your Hands to Handle, Control, or Feel Objects, Tools, or Controls — 88% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Impact of Decisions on Co-workers or Company Results — 87% responded “Very important results.”
- Spend Time Sitting — 73% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Coordinate or Lead Others — 76% responded “Extremely important.”
- Importance of Repeating Same Tasks — 75% responded “Extremely important.”
- Freedom to Make Decisions — 69% responded “A lot of freedom.”
- Time Pressure — 88% responded “Every day.”
- Face-to-Face Discussions — 84% responded “Every day.”
- Sounds, Noise Levels Are Distracting or Uncomfortable — 75% responded “Every day.”
- In an Enclosed Vehicle or Equipment — 80% responded “Every day.”
- Physical Proximity — 70% responded “Moderately close (at arm's length).”
- Telephone — 53% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Equipment — 58% responded “Every day.”
- Structured versus Unstructured Work — 26% responded “Some freedom.”
- Deal With External Customers — 25% responded “Very important.”
- Wear Common Protective or Safety Equipment such as Safety Shoes, Glasses, Gloves, Hearing Protection, Hard Hats, or Life Jackets — 67% responded “Every day.”
- Consequence of Error — 72% responded “Extremely serious.”
- Responsibility for Outcomes and Results — 25% responded “Moderate responsibility.”
- Exposed to Radiation — 68% responded “Every day.”
- Outdoors, Exposed to Weather — 54% responded “Every day.”
- Indoors, Environmentally Controlled — 65% responded “Every day.”
- Electronic Mail — 62% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Level of Competition — 34% responded “Moderately competitive.”
- Pace Determined by Speed of Equipment — 62% responded “Extremely important.”
- Exposed to Contaminants — 47% responded “Every day.”
- Extremely Bright or Inadequate Lighting — 39% responded “Once a week or more but not every day.”
- Very Hot or Cold Temperatures — 34% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Exposed to High Places — 55% responded “Every day.”
- Spend Time Making Repetitive Motions — 40% responded “Continually or almost continually.”
- Degree of Automation — 51% responded “Moderately automated.”
- Public Speaking — 53% responded “Every day.”
- Frequency of Conflict Situations — 27% responded “Once a month or more but not every week.”
- Cramped Work Space, Awkward Positions — 49% responded “Every day.”
- Wear Specialized Protective or Safety Equipment such as Breathing Apparatus, Safety Harness, Full Protection Suits, or Radiation Protection — 42% responded “Every day.”
- Exposed to Hazardous Conditions — 38% responded “Every day.”
- Duration of Typical Work Week — 39% responded “More than 40 hours.”
|Title||Job Zone Four: Considerable Preparation Needed|
|Education||Most of these occupations require a four-year bachelor's degree, but some do not.|
|Related Experience||A considerable amount of work-related skill, knowledge, or experience is needed for these occupations. For example, an accountant must complete four years of college and work for several years in accounting to be considered qualified.|
|Job Training||Employees in these occupations usually need several years of work-related experience, on-the-job training, and/or vocational training.|
|Job Zone Examples||Many of these occupations involve coordinating, supervising, managing, or training others. Examples include accountants, sales managers, database administrators, graphic designers, chemists, art directors, and cost estimators.|
|SVP Range||(7.0 to < 8.0)|
Percentage of Respondents
|Education Level Required|
Interest code: RCI
- Realistic — Realistic occupations frequently involve work activities that include practical, hands-on problems and solutions. They often deal with plants, animals, and real-world materials like wood, tools, and machinery. Many of the occupations require working outside, and do not involve a lot of paperwork or working closely with others.
- Conventional — Conventional occupations frequently involve following set procedures and routines. These occupations can include working with data and details more than with ideas. Usually there is a clear line of authority to follow.
- Investigative — Investigative occupations frequently involve working with ideas, and require an extensive amount of thinking. These occupations can involve searching for facts and figuring out problems mentally.
- Attention to Detail — Job requires being careful about detail and thorough in completing work tasks.
- Dependability — Job requires being reliable, responsible, and dependable, and fulfilling obligations.
- Leadership — Job requires a willingness to lead, take charge, and offer opinions and direction.
- Stress Tolerance — Job requires accepting criticism and dealing calmly and effectively with high stress situations.
- Self Control — Job requires maintaining composure, keeping emotions in check, controlling anger, and avoiding aggressive behavior, even in very difficult situations.
- Achievement/Effort — Job requires establishing and maintaining personally challenging achievement goals and exerting effort toward mastering tasks.
- Persistence — Job requires persistence in the face of obstacles.
- Integrity — Job requires being honest and ethical.
- Cooperation — Job requires being pleasant with others on the job and displaying a good-natured, cooperative attitude.
- Adaptability/Flexibility — Job requires being open to change (positive or negative) and to considerable variety in the workplace.
- Analytical Thinking — Job requires analyzing information and using logic to address work-related issues and problems.
- Initiative — Job requires a willingness to take on responsibilities and challenges.
- Social Orientation — Job requires preferring to work with others rather than alone, and being personally connected with others on the job.
- Concern for Others — Job requires being sensitive to others' needs and feelings and being understanding and helpful on the job.
- Independence — Job requires developing one's own ways of doing things, guiding oneself with little or no supervision, and depending on oneself to get things done.
- Independence — Occupations that satisfy this work value allow employees to work on their own and make decisions. Corresponding needs are Creativity, Responsibility and Autonomy.
- Support — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer supportive management that stands behind employees. Corresponding needs are Company Policies, Supervision: Human Relations and Supervision: Technical.
- Working Conditions — Occupations that satisfy this work value offer job security and good working conditions. Corresponding needs are Activity, Compensation, Independence, Security, Variety and Working Conditions.
Wages & Employment Trends
|Median wages (2015)||$117,290 annual|
|Employment (2014)||76,000 employees|
|Projected growth (2014-2024)||Little or no change (-1% to 1%)|
|Projected job openings (2014-2024)||19,300|
|Top industries (2014)|
Source: Bureau of Labor Statistics 2015 wage data and 2014-2024 employment projections . "Projected growth" represents the estimated change in total employment over the projections period (2014-2024). "Projected job openings" represent openings due to growth and replacement.
Job Openings on the Web
Sources of Additional Information
Disclaimer: Sources are listed to provide additional information on related jobs, specialties, and/or industries. Links to non-DOL Internet sites are provided for your convenience and do not constitute an endorsement.
- Airline and commercial pilots . Bureau of Labor Statistics, U.S. Department of Labor. Occupational Outlook Handbook, 2016-17 Edition.