Easy Mental Arithmetic for Pilots

Easy Mental Arithmetic for Pilots

How to quickly and accurately do maths as a pilot

Easy Mental Arithmetic for Pilots

When flying an aircraft, whether it’s a Cessna 152 or an A380, pilots need to be able to do fairly basic but quite quick mental arithmetic. Of course, there are occasions where complete accuracy is critical, but the vast majority of the time, you don’t need to be ‘bang on’, but rather work to rough ‘ballpark’ figures. Whether it be calculating required descent rates or speed/distance/time calculations, general rules of thumb can help you make these calculations quickly and reasonably accurately.

These rules of thumb also work very well when completing pilot numerical reasoning aptitude tests as part of airline pilot assessments. Such tests often require you to work quickly, but with a number of multiple-choice answers, you often just need to reach a rough figure rather than an exact one. Quickly being able to calculate a good estimate in test conditions can prove to be invaluable in passing an airline pilot selection process.

Some of the most important rules of thumb involve using the 3 times table, the 1 in 60 rule and being able to divide or multiply by 10. Let’s have a look at some examples:

Distance Required to Descend for Aircraft Calculations

Most aircraft plan to descend at an angle of approximately 3 degrees. To calculate how much distance an aircraft needs to fly to achieve a given reduction in altitude, based on a 3-degree angle of descent, a basic rule of thumb can be used:

Distance Required to Reduce Altitude = Total Altitude to Lose / 1,000 x 3.

For example, if you are at 40,000ft and you need to be at 10,000ft at 30NM before the airfield, you need to lose a total of 30,000ft. Divide 30,000ft by 1,000 (simply take away the last 3 numbers when dividing by 1,000), which gives you 30 and multiply this by 3 gives you 90. It will therefore take you about 90NM to reduce altitude by 30,000ft. If you need to be at 10,000ft by 30NM before the airfield, then add this to the 90NM which gives you a start of descent point of 120NM.

This assumes still air conditions at a constant speed. Whilst it depends on aircraft types, for commercial aircraft, adding an extra mile for every 10kts of airspeed you need to lose is a good ballpark figure. So, in the above example, if you start the descent at 300kts IAS, and need to be at 200kts IAS by the time you reach 10,000ft, you would add 10NM to the distance required to lose the altitude (so 90NM becomes 100NM).

Having a headwind or tailwind also needs to be factored when calculating the distance required to descend. As a rough guide, add 1 NM to the distance required to descend for every 10kts of tailwind and reduce the distance by 1 NM for every 10kts of headwind.

Descent Rate Required to Achieve a 3 Degree Descent Angle when Flying

So, you’ve calculated the distance required to descend to a given altitude using the above method. Using the above example, you will be descending at a 3-degree angle over 90NM. But if you are descending at 3 degrees, what descent rate do you need to achieve? An easy way to calculate this is using this basic formula.

3 Degree Descent Rate = 5 x Ground Speed

For example, if you are flying at a ground speed of 300kts, multiply 300 by 5 and this tells you that you would need to descend at 1,500fpm to achieve a 3-degree descent profile. Some people prefer to multiply the ground speed by 10 then divide by 2. Clearly your ground speed will change with altitude as the True Airspeed and Head/Tailwind changes so you will need to periodically review your rate of descent throughout the manoeuvre.

Descend to an Altitude within a Fixed Time Period

ATC will sometimes require an aircraft to descend to a given altitude within a specific time period. For example, “FDF123 descend to Flight Level 320 to be level within 4 minutes”. In this type of scenario, you need to calculate how many feet per minute you need to descend in order to achieve this restriction. This can be calculated using the following method:

Feet Per Minute Required = Total Altitude to Lose / Number of Minutes

For example, if flight FDF123 is maintaining FL360 (36,000ft) and has been told to descend to FL320 (32,000ft) within 4 minutes, the total altitude required to lose is 4,000ft. 4,000 divided by 4 is 1,000, so the aircraft needs to descend at 1,000ft per minute to meet the restriction.

In such a scenario, you don’t necessarily need to be exact, sometimes you can simplify and be conservative with your calculations since the request is usually ‘within 4 minutes’ not ‘exactly 4 minutes’. For example, if you are flying at 25,000ft and are told to descent to 17,000ft to be level within 9 minutes, we know the calculation is 8,000 / 9 (which equals 888 fpm). However, we can turn these into round numbers to make the calculations easier, just remember to do it in a conservative way to ensure the restriction can be made. For example, we can hopefully quite quickly work out that if we descended at 1,000 fpm, we would descend 8,000ft in 8 minutes. Yes, we’d be levelling off one minute earlier than the restriction required, but we have achieved ATCs request.

Speed, Distance and Time Calculations for Pilots

We are probably all aware of the relationship between variables from school and have heard of the Speed, Distance & Time triangle. When flying, we should always be aware of our speed so calculating distance and time is more relevant.

There is a ‘magic triangle’ which can help us quickly remember how to calculate speed, distance, and time. You simply cover up the entity you are trying to find and the reveals how to calculate it. For example, if you cover the ‘S’ you can see that the calculation for speed is distance divided by time.

  • Speed = Distance / Time
  • Distance = Speed x Time
  • Time = Distance / Speed

How to calculate speed distance and time for pilots

Easy Speed / Distance / Time Calculations for Pilots

Speed is the distance you travel over a specific time period, so they are intrinsically related. It’s worth understanding some rules of thumb which can help you make quick calculations about distance and time calculations.

  • 30kts = 0.5NM per minute
  • 60kts = 1NM per minute
  • 120kts = 2NM per minute
  • 180kts = 3NM per minute
  • 240kts = 4NM per minute
  • 300kts = 5NM per minute
  • 480kts = 8NM per minute
  • 540kts = 9NM per minute
  • 600kts = 10NM per minute

Remember that there are 60 minutes in an hour. Well therefore, if we divide any speed by 10, this will tell us what distance the aircraft is travelling in 6 minutes at its current speed.

For example, if an aircraft is flying at 150kts, this tells us that it is travelling 15NMs every 6 minutes (150 divided by 10 = 15). Another example is that if the aircraft is travelling at 370kts it is covering 37NM every 6 minutes. You could then halve this number to see how far the aircraft travel in 3 minutes, 1.5 minutes etc.

Put another way, if asked ‘how many miles will you travel in 20 minutes at a speed of 180kts?’. 180 divided by 10 is 18, so 18 miles every 6 minutes. So, if we multiply this number by 3, we know how many miles are covered in 18 minutes (3 x 18 miles = 54NMs). If we cover 18 miles every 6 minutes, we know we cover 9 miles every 3 minutes (it’s then easy to see that it’s actually a mile a minute in this example!). So therefore, we are covering 63 miles every 21 minutes. Knock 3 miles off and we get to 60 NM.

Example Distance to Descend Questions for Pilots

Here’s a few example questions. We’ve got lots more pilot numerical reasoning test example questions over on our dedicated page. The BBC GCSE Bitesize website is also a great resource to help you practice your mental arithmetic.

If an aircraft is flying at an intermediate altitude of 25,000ft and is instructed by ATC to achieve an altitude of 13,000ft by a fix on the arrival, what distance before the fix should the pilots initiate the descent, assuming a planned 3-degree descent profile at a constant speed and still wind?

  • A) 40 NM
  • B) 38 NM
  • C) 36 NM
  • D) 28 NM

25,000ft minus 13,000ft = 12,000ft to lose. 12,000 divided by 1000 = 12, multiplied by 3 = 36.

ATC have told you to self-position to a 10NM extended centreline from the landing runway. There are no restrictions other than needing to achieve an altitude of 3,000ft and at a speed of 180kts at the 10NM point. You are currently level at 8,000ft at 250kts and anticipate an average tailwind of 10kts. In order to achieve the restriction, at what point before the 10NM fix should you commence the descent?

  • A) 23 NM
  • B) 15 NM
  • C) 22NM
  • D) 16NM

8,000ft – 3,000ft = 5,000ft. 5,000 divided by 1,000 = 5, multiplied by 3 = 15 NM. 250kts – 180kts = 70kts = add on an extra 7NM (1NM per 10kts of airspeed to lose). Add 1NM per knot of tailwind. 15 NM (distance required) + 7 NM (to account for deceleration) + 1 NM (to allow for tailwind) = 23NM.

Example Descent Rate Required Questions

With a 280kts ground speed, what rate of descent do you need to achieve in order to maintain a 3-degree descent angle?

  • A) 2,800 fpm
  • B) 1,400 fpm
  • C) 700 fpm
  • D) 2,000 fpm

5 x 280 = 1,400. Or 280 x 10 = 2,800 / 10 = 1,400.

With a 420kts ground speed, what rate of descent do you need to achieve in order to maintain a 3-degree descent angle?

  • A) 2,000 fpm
  • B) 1,800 fpm
  • C) 2,800 fpm
  • D) 2,100 fpm

5 x 420 = 2,100 fpm. Or 420 x 10 = 4,200 / 10 = 2,100.

Descend to an Altitude within a Fixed Time Period Questions

If an aircraft is maintaining 27,000ft and has been told by ATC to descend to 13,000ft within 10 minutes, what rate of descent is required?

  • A) 1,400 fpm
  • B) 1,200 fpm
  • C) 1,300 fpm
  • D) 1,500 fpm

27,000 – 13,000 = 14,000. 14,000 divided by 10 minutes = 1,400 fpm

If an aircraft is maintaining 35,000ft and has been told by ATC to descend to 30,000ft within 3 minutes, what rate of descent is required to the nearest 100fpm?

  • A) 1,600 fpm
  • B) 1,700 fpm
  • C) 1,500 fpm
  • D) 1,800 fpm

35,000 – 30,000 = 5,000 fpm divided by 3 minutes = 1,666 fpm.

Airline Pilot Salary

Airline Pilot Salary

A look at an airline pilot’s typical yearly salary

Updated: October 2022

Disclaimer: The pilot salary figures provided on this page are generalisations and for guidance purposes only. There will always be exceptions both above and below the figures stated.

It should also be noted that over the last two years, thousands of pilots have taken a significant pay cut, or worse, lost their jobs due to the pandemic. Whilst top end pilot salaries can be very lucrative, it can be an extremely volatile industry in terms of job security.

How much do airline pilots earn?

A commercial airline pilot salary can vary considerably between airlines, region and experience. At some of the ‘major’ airlines or Flag Carriers like Emirates, Delta, United Airlines or Qantas, Long Haul Captains may receive a salary of up to $350,000 (USD) / £200,000 a year. The First Officers (or co-pilots) at these major airlines can earn a salary of up to $170,000 / £120,000 a year.

However, junior First Officers who are just starting out in their career might only get paid $25,000 (£20,000) a year. Less experienced Captains or those working at some low cost or regional airlines may start on about £60,000 a year.

In general, the more experience the pilot has and the bigger the aircraft they fly, the higher the pilot’s salary will be. Long Haul pilots are typically paid more than short haul pilots and Captains are paid more than First Officers. First Officers are often referred to as co-pilots.

Pay can also be affected by the amount of variable pay achieved (based on the amount of flying you do and allowances you receive), the amount overtime accepted (which can be very lucrative) and the bonuses on offer.

How much do pilots in the USA get paid?

In the United States, the large ‘major’ airlines pay their pilots very good salaries. Carriers like Delta, American Airlines and United Airlines pay their long haul Captains up to $350,000 a year when you take into account allowances and bonuses. Regional pilots just starting off their career will typically earn a salary of $20,000 – $40,000 a year. Pilots normally start out flying at regional carriers before moving across to major airlines where they fly bigger aircraft and earn more money. However, not all pilots go on to achieve this.

UK & Europe Airline Pilot Salary

In the UK and Europe, senior long-haul Captains flying at airlines like Lufthansa, Swiss Air, Virgin Atlantic, Iberia & KLM can be expected to earn between £150,000 – £250,000 a year. This varies depending on length of service, training qualifications, as well as bonuses, allowances and flight pay. First Officers at short haul low cost airlines can expect to earn between about £40,000 to £80,000 a year (although cadet pilots may start on less) whilst a short haul Captain pay can be between £90,000 and £150,000 a year. Some Regional or small low cost airline First Officers might start on as little as £20,000 a year for the first few years of their career, with Captains potentially earning between £40,000 – 80,000.

Asia Commercial Pilot Pay

In countries across Asia, such as China, airline pilots were in significant demand before the Covid-19 pandemic. As a result, some companies were offering pilots a salary as high as $500,000 a year for experienced long haul Captains. First Officer pay can also extend upwards of $100,000 a year. Whether these huge salaries continue to be offered as world travel demand starts to recover is yet to be seen. The average salary for a commercial pilot in India is around ₹4,687,90o, with Captains earning up to ₹6,610,000 a year.

Commercial Pilot Salary Breakdown…

Commercial pilots are typically paid a base salary which makes up the majority of their pay. They are then usually given allowances for overnight stays to cover expenses as well as earning flight pay for every flight they operate. Some airlines also pay the pilot for every hour they are away from their home base. For example, if you fly from Frankfurt to Las Vegas, you will be paid for every hour from when you arrive at Frankfurt to start your duty, to when you return to Frankfurt after completing the return flight. This can be quite lucrative if it is an extended long-haul trip that goes on for 7 days. Many airlines also pay bonuses to their pilots if the company is profitable.

Commercial Pilot Pension…

Airline pilot pensions tend to be quite generous with airlines often paying an extra 15-25% of your salary into your pension. Airlines used to offer final salary pensions but this is now less common due to the high cost to the company.

Top Level Captain Pay – it doesn’t come quick!

Whilst the pay for Long Haul Captains at major & legacy airlines is a large sum, it can take many years to be promoted to such a position. Regional, low cost and short haul generally steadily lose pilots to the major & legacy airlines due to the lure of bigger pay checks and bigger aircraft. Once at a major carrier, pilots don’t tend to leave until they retire. With little in the way of company expansion, Captain positions only become available when another pilot retires. This is referred to in the industry as ‘dead mans shoes’. Promotion is based on seniority so it doesn’t matter if you are the best pilot in the airline; you will only be promoted from co-pilot to pilot (First Officer to Captain) when there is a gap to fill and this can take as long as ten to twenty years. Given that most pilots will have had to have completed a few years at smaller regional carriers before joining a major, they might not hit the top pay scales until well into their fifties.

If you enjoyed reading this article, check out our page which describes a typical day for a long haul pilot.

Check out our YouTube video on how much commercial pilots get paid…

Is there a Pilot Shortage?

Is there a pilot shortage?

An independent look at the truth behind the much talked about pilot shortage

Is There a Pilot Shortage?

Prior to Covid-19, the answer was yes there was a global pilot shortage but the situation was a bit more complex than the straight forward answer might suggest. However, at present in 2021, there is no pilot shortage due to the impact on aviation of the Covid-19 pandemic.

Whenever you hear reports of ‘pilot shortage’ it is usually referring to a world-wide shortage, not necessarily a shortage in Europe or the UK. The shortage is always specific to a region, type of operation and pilot experience.

Covid-19 Pandemic & Aviation

The impact on of the Covid-19 pandemic on commercial aviation has been catastrophic. With huge portions of fleets being grounded for almost a year, tens of thousands of pilots around the world have found themselves out of work. IATA do not anticipate airlines recovering to pre-Covid levels of operation until 2024 and beyond.

However, flight training provider CAE have stated that due to natural attrition (such as retirements), the world will require 260,000 pilots over the next 10 years. This suggests that whilst the immediate outlook is bleak, when the industry recovers, employment opportunities will start to open up.

Pilot Shortage Pre-Covid

The remainder of this article was first published prior to the Covid-19 pandemic but address the age-old questions that come up when this topic is discussed.

First of all, let’s get the statistics out the way. In 2016, Boeing have forecast that the aviation industry will require 679,000 new pilots between now and 2035. Airbus have said that between 2016 and 2035, there will be a requirement for in excess of 500,000 new pilots. Keep in mind though, that this is a worldwide forecast.

Flight Schools

It’s a general point, and I don’t want to tarnish all flight schools with the same brush, but if you are considering starting your flight training, be aware that lots of Flight Training Schools will always tell you there is a looming pilot shortage regardless of the market state. To them, ultimately you are profit, and to make profit, they need people to train with them. It’s not going to be good for business if they tell prospective students that there is no point training as there are no jobs! It’s not the case at the moment, as the market for freshly graduated low hour pilots is better than it’s been in a long time, but keep it in mind.


Secondly, the airlines want to avoid a pilot shortage from occurring, in fact they want the exact opposite; lots of pilots on the job market. It’s simple economics. Pilots cost a lot of money to airlines. They get paid a lot and have lower productivity than other personal due to flight time limitations. If you have lots of unemployed pilots, it puts a downwards pressure on wages as you have lots of applicants for one position. The opposite occurs when there’s a shortage; airlines have to put up terms and conditions to attract the best candidates. Lots of pilots looking for employment suits airlines.

Terms and Conditions

In 2008, we saw a recession across Europe and other parts of the world. This put a lot of airlines out of business and left a lot of pilots unemployed. As a result, the last 10 years have seen pilot wages stagnate in many regions as pilot supply has outstripped demand. This pressure on terms and conditions wasn’t helped by an increase in the retirement age in Europe from 60 to 65 being introduced. This meant that pilot who were planning to retire, could stay on for an additional five years if they wanted to.

More recently, airlines have again been expanding, and the major carriers have been recruiting heavily. When the major carriers recruit, it tends to shake up the employment market as people move up the next step of the ladder. As a result, there are less pilots to choose from and we are now slowly starting to see terms and conditions improve at mainly airlines, as they look to generate interest from the most capable crews.

Airline Finances

As airline financial performance has started to improve, their pilots have started to demand a share in the profit through increased wages. Lufthansa pilots have been striking throughout 2016 to fight for a better increase in their salaries as they haven’t had a pay rise since 2012. Delta Airlines pilots recently secured a whopping 30% increase in their pay.

Middle East & Asia

The pilot shortage is more notable across the Middle East and Asia. Airlines in this part of the world are expanding rapidly and don’t have enough established and experienced local pilots to fill the seats. Therefore, they need to recruit pilots from parts of the world where aviation has been established for a longer period, such as Europe, America and Australasia. They are offering huge sums of money to attract crew, in some cases in excess of $20,000 a month.

However, whilst there is clearly a pilot shortage in these parts of the world, it isn’t for inexperienced cadet pilots straight out of flight school, it’s for experienced First Officers and Captains. An experienced Captain takes years to train and build up the required experience whereas a cadet pilot can be ‘on the line’ in as little as 18 months.

Who does the pilot shortage affect first?

In general, a pilot shortage would usually hit the regional carriers first, as they are unable to offer the terms and conditions found at the charter, low cost and legacy airlines.

Naturally, most people aspire to improve their living standards throughout their career, and this means moving up the ladder to the next job. Once working for a legacy carrier, there isn’t a step up, and therefore pilot retention at these companies is very high and generally only recruit when they expand and to replace retired or medically unfit crews.

Regional Airlines in the United States

The pilot shortage is particularly notable at regional airlines in the United States. In the US, the FAA introduced a requirement for pilots to have 1500 hours total flight time before operating for a commercial transport operator. You graduate from flight school with around 250 hours, but you now need to build those hours up through instruction, banner towing, general aviation etc. The regional carriers have traditionally recruited the cadet level entry pilots, and this has significantly stemmed the flow of available candidates.


The European market is currently doing pretty well with recruitment for pilots of all experience levels from legacy carriers through to the regional operators. It’s debatable whether you could call it a shortage, rather than just a good employee’s market for the moment. Flybe did however suggest last month that a shortage of pilots was holding back growth.

To assess if or how bad any pilot shortage in Europe will get, you need to look at potential expansion opportunities and how saturated the market currently is. Much of Europe is well connected to Europe and millions of people now have access to air transport thanks to the success of low-cost carriers over the past ten years.

Can there be more expansion?

How much more room is there for airlines to expand in order to offer services to new destinations and untapped markets? That’s yet to be seen but it’s certainly nothing like those opportunities in developing counties with huge populations like India and China. That being said, some airlines like have impressive numbers of aircraft on order, and many of these frames are for expansion rather than fleet replacement.


Looking at it independently, now is a good a time as any to start your flight training. You must however, consider this. Just because you have a licence, you don’t have the right to secure employment as a professional pilot. The airlines want more than just a licence, they need a competent commercially minded operator and a frozen ATPL doesn’t guarantee this. Just because there is a job opening, meeting the minimum requirements doesn’t mean you’ll get it, even if you’re the only applicant. Yes, there is a pilot shortage across many parts of the world but this isn’t a job guarantee.

Choose your training route and flight school carefully, and be aware of the qualities that airlines are looking for in their pilots. It’s much more than just stick and rudder skills.

Typical Day for an Airline Pilot

A Typical Day for a Short-Haul Airline Pilot

What happens from arrival at the airport to when the passengers disembark the aircraft. A full day as a pilot described.

A Short-Hail Airline Pilot’s Typical Day

Ever wondered what it would be like to walk in the shoes of a short haul airline pilot for the day? We take you through what a pilot does during a typical day at ‘work’.


For short haul operations, the flight crew usually arrive in the ‘crew room’ approximately one hour before departure. Here they meet and introduce ourselves to the other crew members and sign in on the airline’s system to verify they have arrived on time for the duty and are acknowledging they are fit, well rested and up to date with all the latest revisions to company manuals and notices. The pilots will then download the flight plans, weather information and notices to airman (NOTAMS) for the flights they will be operating.

Crew carefully evaluate if the weather is suitable at the departure and destination airports, whilst also looking at airports around the destination in case the flight needs to divert. Weather conditions that require special attention include strong winds, low cloud, fog or thunderstorms. Any of these factors may require changes to the flight plan or an increase to the amount of fuel to be loaded. En-route weather is also reviewed to spot areas of potential turbulence or icing. This gives flight crew a good overview of the day and builds their ‘Situational Awareness’.

The fuel figure is decided on between the two pilots and passed this onto the dispatch team.

The crew will look to find out what stand the aircraft is parked on.

Joint Briefing

The pilots and cabin crew then get together to conduct a quick briefing. This is where formal introductions between the crew take place. You may have flown with some or all of the crew members many times before and therefore be well acquainted but at some larger airlines, you may not have flown with or met any of the other crew before.

During the joint briefing, the Captain or First Officer will double-check that the Cabin Crew are well rested and will highlight a few points which are important to the Cabin Crew such as the flight times and potential areas of turbulence.

Pilot vs Co-Pilot

There is a common misconception regarding who does what on the flight deck. There is a Captain and a First Officer (or called a Second Officer depending on experience) which are often referred to as the Pilot and Co-Pilot. Whilst the Captain has overall responsibility for the decisions and ultimately the passengers and aircraft, most of the duties are split evenly with the co-pilot doing just as much flying as the pilot.

In the briefing room, the pilots would usually decide who is going to do the flying for each flight at the start of the day. For example, if they are flying 4 flights that day, the Captain may choose to fly the first and last flight, whilst the First Officer flies the middle two.

Head to the Aircraft

As with all passengers, all the crew have to pass through a security check at some point before arriving at the aircraft.

The pilots and cabin crew will then head to the aircraft, with the aim to be onboard about 30 – 35 minutes before the departure time. It’s worth noting that the departure time is the time that the aircraft’s parking brake is released to commence push back from the stand. Many people are under the impression that the scheduled departure time is when the aircraft gets airborne, but this is incorrect.

One pilot will do the “walk around” to check the outside of the aircraft. The walk around serves to check that there is no obvious damage or issues with the exterior of the aircraft.

Technical Log

The Captain will also check the aircraft’s technical log to ensure the aircraft is fully serviceable, or identify any defects. An aircraft defect doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t depart as it depends on how critical that system is and what redundancy is in place. There are complex documents which provide pilots with high specific guidance as to what can and can’t be defective. For example, if a windscreen wiper wasn’t working, the aircraft could still depart, but couldn’t land in thick fog.

Flight Deck Setup

Whilst one crew member is completing the walk around, other crew member starts to ready the flight deck for departure. This includes running system checks, configuring the aircraft systems, inputting the route for the flight into the Flight Management Computer and checking the take-off performance. The pilot flying will also plan how they intend to fly the Standard Instrument Departure (SID).

Take-off Performance

The take-off performance varies on a daily basis and is a safety critical function. The pilots need to calculate various take-off speeds such as the speed they initiate the rotation of the aircraft and the minimum speed to maintain if an engine fails during or just after take-off. These speeds depend on runway length, aircraft weight, temperature and pressure. The take-off performance has to be double-checked very carefully by both crew members.


Once the walk around is complete and the flight deck initially set up, the crew will conduct a pre-departure briefing. This covers a range of points such as the initial taxi and departure routing, potential threats or errors that could occur (for example heavy rain showers that may be present on the climb out), high terrain, as well as looking at contingency plans should an emergency situation occur. The passengers are usually boarding whilst this is taking place.

Once all the passengers and their bags are onboard and the correct amount of fuel has been loaded, the dispatcher will hand over the final paperwork confirming how many people are onboard and the final weight of the aircraft for take-off. At this point the Pilot Flying will call for a pre-departure checklist (the names differ between aircraft types).

Doors Closed

Once the main doors are closed the Senior Cabin Crew member will confirm to the pilots that the doors are closed and number of passengers onboard. Another very quick mini briefing will be given to the Cabin Crew member to reiterate the expected taxi time (this gives the Cabin Crew an idea of how long they have to conduct their safety briefing), expected flight time, anticipated turbulence and any other important information.

One of the pilots will then complete a PA to the passengers. During this time, the ground crew outside remove the steps, loading machinery etc. and complete a final walk around as a final check.

Pushback and Start

The pilots will then liaise with the ground pushback team to make sure that the tug is connected, and they are ready to push back the aircraft. The pilots then speak to ATC to request to push back and engine start. Assuming permission is given, the pilots reconfigure some of the aircraft systems and then complete a ‘before start checklist’.

The pushback then commences and the engines are started, usually the right engine first then the left. The pilots carefully monitor the engine indications and this is supported by the ground crew visually observing the engine start; they would report any excess smoke, noise or anything unusual.

Once the engines have been successfully started, the pilots tell the ground crew to disconnect from the aircraft. Some of the aircraft’s systems, such as the flight controls are then checked to make sure there are no technical issues. The after-start checklist is then completed.


The pilots will then request permission to taxy to the runway from ATC.

Taxiing the aircraft is one of the most critical phases of flight and therefore both crew members will be concentrating on maintaining the correct taxi routing whilst looking out for other aircraft and ground traffic. Airports can be extremely busy which is why it is so important to keep a good look out. During the taxy phase, the crew will run a number of checklists to ensure the aircraft is correctly configured and setup for departure.


When cleared to line up on the runway, the pilots will double-check to make sure both the runway and final approach is clear. The flight crew turn on the strobe and landing lights and send a signal to the Cabin Crew that the take-off is about to start (this is usually either signalled by a few ‘ding-dongs’ or the seat-belt sign quickly being turned off and then on again.

Once lined up on the runway, and cleared to take-off by air traffic control, the pilot flying for that sector advances the thrust leavers and sets take-off thrust. As the aircraft accelerates down the runway, the Pilot Flying (PF) controls the aircraft direction with the rudder pedals. The PM is verifying that the take-off thrust has been set correctly, checking the aircraft’s speed monitoring any abnormalities or failures of the aircraft systems.

At the correct calculated speed, the pilot flying carefully pulls back on the control column to “rotate” the aircraft and allowing it to climb away. Pulling back to quickly can result in the tail coming into contact with the ground so using the correct technique is very important.

Climb Out

Once safely climbing away and a positive rate of climb is observed, the landing gear is raised. The pilots will usually have discussed at what point they intend to engage the autopilot on the departure which could be anywhere from about 1,0000 to 20,000ft depending on the airspace, terrain and weather. Engaging the autopilot above around 2,000ft should really have been discussed as part of the briefing.

Even when the autopilot is activated, the pilot’s workload at this stage of flight is still quite intense. The crew are managing the aircraft’s configuration, speed, altitude and heading through manipulating the autopilot controls whilst communicating with air traffic control.

Flap Retraction

At around 1,000ft (although it can vary), the aircraft’s nose is slightly lowered and power reduced from take-off power to climb power. The aircraft continues to accelerate which allows the flaps on the wing to be retracted stage by stage.

Once the flaps are up, the crew complete the after-take-off checklist and continue climbing the aircraft towards cruising altitude. During the climb, various checks are completed and certain systems may need to be reconfigured depending on aircraft type.

The crew will be making initial fuel checks and verifying performance considerations like the maximum altitude the aircraft could climb to depending on the weight and temperature.

Once it is safe to do so the pilots will indicate to the Cabin Crew that it is safe to move around the cabin and will also turn off the fasten seat belt sign at an appropriate point.


Having had approximately one and a half hours of a very intense workload, the pace and intensity of the operation starts to reduce. Once established in the climb and throughout the cruise, the pilots are monitoring the aircraft’s systems, navigating the aircraft, communicating with air traffic control, carrying out fuel checks and getting the weather for airports along the flight path and destination in case an en-route diversion is required. In the cruise, the pilots normally get the chance to have a meal, a cup of coffee and a chat with our colleagues, depending on how long the flight is.

Most airlines have what is referred to as a “sterile flight deck”. This means the crew should not talk about anything that is not related to the operation of the aircraft below around 20,000ft as their focus should be exclusively on the operation.


Around half an hour before the descent commences, the crew brief for the descent, approach, landing and taxy in at the destination airport. This requires a review of what autopilots modes will be used to manage the descent, the expected profile, configuration and landing performance.

A PA will then usually be given to the passengers with an update on the flight progress and expected landing time.


The approach phase is one of the busiest phases of flight. The pilots are carefully managing the ‘energy’ of the aircraft ensuring that the correct rate of descent is being flown at the correct speed. The speed of the aircraft will typically need to be reduced from over 400 mph to around 150 mph whilst reducing the altitude from around 36,000ft to 0ft. This is not always straight forward and needs to be carefully actioned and monitored.

Final Approach

As the aircraft approaches its destination, the flaps are gradually extended to help slow the aircraft down to its landing speed. With the help of ATC, the pilots steer the aircraft towards the final approach and intercept the ILS, usually around 10 – 15 miles from the runway.

At about 5 miles from landing the pilots select the landing gear down, final flap setting and establish the landing speed. They also complete the landing checklist.


The autopilot is disconnected at around 1,000ft, although it can be taken out much earlier on the approach, or left in until a later point.

At about 30 – 50ft, the aircraft’s nose is raised very slightly to reduce the rate of descent, allowing the aircraft to touchdown on the runway. In calm conditions this might be relatively straight forward but in windy and turbulent conditions, it requires considerable skills and hand to eye co-ordination.

A good landing is considered to be one that is on the centreline, within the touchdown zone and at the correct speed. A smooth landing isn’t necessarily a good one if it doesn’t meet the above criteria. Equally, a firm landing is recommended on some aircraft types if the runway is wet, or it’s windy.

Taxy In

As the aircraft leaves the runway, it is again reconfigured and the after landing checklist is complete. The taxy in remains a very critical phase of flight and requires a high level of concentration.

Once the aircraft has come to a stop on the parking stand, the engines are shut down and the shutdown checklist is completed.

The doors are opened and the passengers start to disembark.


The turnaround then starts where the aircraft is prepared for the next flight. The turnaround can be as quick 25 minutes at some airlines. If you are flying 4 flights in a day, which is quite typical at short-haul airlines, you will be doing one initial setup and 3 turnarounds every day as well as doing just about everything spoken about above (after initial check-in) 4 times.


This article assumes that everything goes without a hiccup and there are no issues. However, the reality is that there is very rarely a ‘standard day out’ which runs seamlessly. The reality is, technical issues, poor weather, passenger issues, ATC delays etc. (or a combination of all them) occur quite frequently, and they all have to be managed appropriately by the flight crew.

The check-in, planning, aircraft setup, aircraft operation and flight management described has been toned down significantly to help a person with little or no knowledge about commercial aviation understand what a pilot does on a daily basis. However, the reality is that all of these areas are far more complex than this brief overview describes. It takes years of training and experience to become fully proficient at the job.

Anyone that tells you that pilots don’t work hard or the job is easy don’t really understand what the job entails.

How Much do Airline Pilots Get Paid?

How Much do Airline Pilots get Paid a Year?

Captains and First Officers Salary

How Much Do Airline Pilots Get Paid?

First Officers (or co-pilots) can earn from £25,000 – £150,000 a year whilst the yearly salary for Captains (pilots) can range from £100,000 to about £300,000. Pilot pay varies significantly between airlines and countries with factors such as the type of operation, aircraft flown and experience level all affecting pilot pay. Generally speaking, the bigger the aircraft, the further the aircraft is flown and the longer a pilot has been with that airline, the more the airline pilot gets paid. Many airlines have a yearly increase in salary that reflects the pilot’s length of service or seniority.

The Guardian (a UK newspaper) stated that in 2016, airline pilots were the 4th highest paid profession in the United Kingdom earning an average of £86,915 ($120,000 / €95,000), before tax a year.

The Roles of Pilots

Airline pilots are split into two roles; the Captain and First Officer. The Captain is in charge of the aircraft and ultimately responsible for the safety of the passengers, crew and aircraft. The First Officer assists the Captain in the safe operation of the flight with (on most days), the flying duties being split evenly, taking it in turns to fly the aircraft. The First Officers roles can be further split into a junior First Officer, Second Officer or Senior First Officer. Training Captains and First Officers (pilots who train other pilots) would expect to earn an extra increment on top of those stated below.

Pay Scales

The figures below are meant to be used as a general guide and there will always be exceptions above or below the figures. Each airline has its own pilot pay scales which will vary with the type of operation and aircraft type. The taxation applicable to each country will significantly alter the take home pay (net) for a given gross salary. Please note the Dollars and Euros figures given are based on a UK pound sterling conversion. Salaries are updated to reflect conditions in 2021.

Long Haul Pilot Pay

Long Haul Captain (Maximum)
Long Haul Captain (Minimum)
Long Haul First Officer (Maximum)
Long Haul First Officer (Minimum)

£250,000 ($350,000 / €280,000)
£80,000 ($124,000 / €113,000)
£120,000 ($187,000 / €170,000)
£50,000 ($80,000 / €65,000)

Long-haul aircraft types would include Boeing 747, 767, 777, 787, Airbus 330, 340, 350 380. Airline examples might include, Virgin Atlantic, Cathay Pacific, Emirates, American Airlines, Delta, Qantas, Qatar Airways, Lufthansa, KLM, Air France Turkish Airline’s, Iberia.

Short Haul Pilot Pay

Short Haul Captain (Maximum)
Short Haul Captain (Minimum)
Short Haul First Officer (Maximum)
Short Haul First Officer (Minimum)

£130,000 ($205,000 / €185,000)
£70,000 ($109,000 / €100,000)
£70,000 ($109,000 / €100,000)
£35,000 ($55,000 / €50,000)

Short to medium haul aircraft types would include Boeing 737, 757, Airbus 319 / 320 / 321, Embraer 190/195.

Regional Pilot Pay

Regional Captain (Maximum)
Regional Captain (Minimum)
Regional First Officer (Maximum)
Regional First Officer (Minimum)

£80,000 ($120,000 / €100,000)
£40,000 ($63,000 / €57,000)
£40,000 ($63,000 / €57,000)
£20,000 ($32,000 / €29,000)

Regional aircraft types would include Jetstream 41, Saab 2000, Dash 8, ATR42/72, Fokker 50, Embraer 145. Example airlines might include Eastern Airways, Aer Arran, Flybe, Darwin Airways or Logan Air.

Charter Airline Pilot Pay

Charter airlines operate both long and short haul. As such pay will vary between the short and long haul salary brackets.

Pilot Job Prospects

Job prospects for pilots after graduating from flight shool – Will I get a job after flight training?

It’s a question we are asked all the time! See what one of our Training Captain’s has to say…

Will I get a Job After Completing Commercial Flight Training?

Whether you will get a flying job after completing your commercial flight training depends on the state of the industry, your attitude, aptitude and training record. It’s understandable that people want reassurance about their future prospects given the amount of money they are investing in their flight training, but there are never any guarantees.

For a few years up until March 2020, the pilot job market was particularly buoyant for both freshly graduated and experienced pilots. During this time, you could well have walked straight into a decent First Officer job but as always, this won’t have been the case for everyone. Both aircraft manufactures and airlines across the globe were predicting a substantial global pilot shortage for the next twenty years although it was common to hear this rebuffed by pilots who had gained their frozen ATPL years ago, but were still looking for their first flying position.

The Effect of Covid-19

Unfortunately, from early 2020, Covid-19 has been cataclysmic for most airlines across the world with huge reductions in air transport capacity requirements. As a result, significant airline failures have occurred such as Norwegian Long Haul, Flybe, Virgin Australia, CityJet and AtlasGlobal with more likely as 2021 progresses. Airline’s that have survived are undergoing significant restructuring and, in some cases, retiring entire fleets years earlier than planned such as the British Airways and Qantas B747 fleets, the Air France A380 and the Delta B777 fleet.

This has resulted in significant redundancies across the industry, dumping thousands of experienced pilots into the job market. With no bounce back in sight, potentially, until a vaccine is produced and distributed, this undoubtedly specifically impacts the job prospects of those seeking their first flying job.

Holding a Frozen ATPL Does Not Guarantee You a Flying Job

The reality is that holding a frozen ATPL doesn’t mean you are automatically entitled to a job with a commercial airline, even if they need pilots. They want the right person for the job not just a licence holder. Reputable airlines would rightly rather recruit no-one than a person with a license but with the wrong attitude and aptitude.

Getting to the point of holding a frozen ATPL, passing the theory exams, flight skills tests and multi crew co-operation course, isn’t easy, but it is something that many people can achieve if they invest enough time and money into it. Whilst many complete the training to a high standard, the end product isn’t always a well-rounded, commercially minded, enthusiastic, potential First Officer. To be successful after being issued your licence, you need to understand exactly what sort of person the airline is looking for in their pilots and this isn’t just being able to operate an aircraft to instrument rating standards, it’s much, much more.

Airline Assessments

Some people have all the desirable criteria, but just don’t perform well at airline assessments or interviews. The good news is that this is something that can be improved upon and there are many companies out there who will help you improve (FlightDeckFriend.com is one of them!). You will have invested tens of thousands of pounds in your flight training; spending a few hundred pounds more could significantly enhance your job prospects. The big airlines will only interview once for a recruitment campaign so don’t wait for the rejection email to come through before deciding to invest a bit more in a career that will hopefully last you a lifetime. The time to do it is before your interview.

Other prospective candidates struggle to get invited to the initial airline selection. Again, there could be an element of luck involved (your application getting read by the right person at the right time) but there are steps you can take to significantly improve your chances of being invited to an assessment, and this bit is really the hardest part. Every year we receive hundreds of unsolicited CVs and Covering Letters from people asking to join ‘our airline’, and we also review lots of documents for people looking to apply to the airlines.

Quality of Application Documents

I can tell you that whilst we do see some excellent applications, we do regularly see very poor CVs and Covering Letters which I expect most companies would not even consider – I wouldn’t have done when I was a recruiter. You can see straight away that no thought has gone into the application, in some cases they don’t even bother to mention the company by name, let alone highlight why they want to work for the company in any specific terms.

It’s absolutely vital that each application is tailored to the airline you are applying to. Yes, it’s a bit more work but you’ve just spent the last year or so training to get to this point so the least you can do is spend a few more minutes on each application to ensure its specific to the airline you are applying to. Writing “I would be proud to work for your esteemed company” makes it pretty clear that you haven’t put much thought into the application, and have likely sent the same Cover Letter to every airline you’ve applied to.

Attitude & Aptitude

The final reason some struggle to gain employment is that some people have the wrong attitude and aptitude. Commercial airlines are looking for a particular person and if you don’t fall into their “specification”, many would rather slow down their expansion or cancel flights than recruit someone who they don’t deem suitable.

So, what are they looking for? Well these are a few things you might not have considered.

Someone who is commercially minded. Basically, someone who is going to be actively considering the needs of the airline and its passengers when making decisions (after putting safety first of course). You aren’t always taught this at flight school!

A team player. How well do you interact with others? You need to work with many, many people in a typical day at work and the airline needs someone who can do this effectively. How would you interact with the Captain and Cabin Crew? Are you likely to be overbearing or too timid? They want someone in the middle.

What leadership qualities do you have? The airline wants to recruit future Captains, not career First Officers.

How’s your customer service? It might not be the first thing that comes to mind when you think about what it takes to operate a commercial aircraft, but airlines are placing more and more emphasis on their pilot’s interaction with customers in the same of customer service.


You must always appreciate, that a commercial pilot’s licence isn’t an entitlement to a job with an airline, it’s a gateway. Try to gain the skills they are looking for ensuring you have the right attitude for the job.

We offer our own CV & Cover Letter Tailoring Services where you can have your CV reviewed for FREE by our recruitment specialist. Our friends at Aviation Job Search also offer a free guide on preparing your CV.

Simulator Experience For Aspiring Pilots

Flight Simulator Experiences

Fly a multi million-pound flight simulator with a commercial airline pilot

Flight Simulator Experience for Prospective Airline Pilots

If you’re thinking of becoming a commercial airline pilot, you will be investing tens of thousands of pounds in your flight training. Many people do this without even seeing what flying a large passenger jet actually feels like. If you are conisdering becoming a pilot, we’d strongly recommend experience the thrill of it yourself first!

See if you’ve got what it takes

See if you’ve got what it takes by taking controls of one of the most advanced flight simulators in Europe. We offer flight simulator experiences a state-of-the-art Boeing 737 Next Generation simulator. Normally reserved for pilot training, this is a fantastic opportunity to experience flying a seventy tonne Boeing 737-800 anywhere in the world!

Based near Stansted Airport, UK, the 737NG HDX FNPT2 simulator offers one of the best visual effects systems of its type. You’ll take control with an experienced airline pilot sitting next to you, talking you through the session. This is NOT a generic flight simulator – it is type specific using the Boeing Flight Dynamic package meaning it handles exactly like the real aircraft in all stages of flight.

If you’re thinking of becoming an airline pilot, this is a fantastic opportunity to meet a real airline pilot and ask any questions you like from the training required to the lifetyle of an airline pilot.

An Experience Like No Other

Whether you would like to experience a landing at Hong Kong, or a take off at night at Heathrow, the session can be tailored to suit your requirements.

You’ll be briefed by an experienced commercial airline pilot, who will give you a 30-minute briefing on how to fly the aircraft before heading into the simulator to put theory into practice.

It makes a fantastic birthday or Christmas gift, or can be used by current pilots to brush up on their manual handling skills. Simulator views are welcome before making the booking.


All sessions include a 30-minute pre-flight briefing in addition to the stated time in the simulator. The simulator is located at Cambridge Airport, UK.

To make an enquiry or booking, contact [email protected]

What are the Perks of Being a Pilot?

The Perks of Being a Pilot

What a career as an airline pilot can offer you…

What are the Perks of Being a Pilot?

Without a doubt, the job of a commercial airline pilot is incredibly satisfying and rewarding and comes with lots of perks. For many, people get to go to work and do a job they love and wouldn’t swap for the world. It’s not all rosy, there are plenty of negatives to the jobs, like getting up at 3am or missing a loved one’s birthday because of a demanding roster, but at FlightDeckFriend.com, we thing the benefits by far outweigh the disadvantages.

Here’s a list of the best perks of being a commercial airline pilot:

The Office View

Yes, it’s cheesy and it’s probably been used as an interview answer thousands of times, but it’s true. Some of the finest views you’ll ever see are up at altitude. Whether it be a lunar eclipse, the northern lights or a sunrise over the alps, the views are unbelievably spectacular.

The Responsibility

Being given the responsibility to look after a $100,000,000 aircraft with hundreds of people on board is huge and one of the reasons that pilots tend to be well paid. It’s immensely rewarding to be trusted to make decisions in the interests of the safety of the most precious cargo you can carry – people!

The Variation

No two flights are ever the same. Each day presents a new challenge and provides another opportunity to learn something new. Flying these days is portrayed in the media as being repetitive and mundane, and of course there are periods of low work load in the cruise, but there is always something new that comes up every day.

The Career Opportunities

A career as an airline pilot doesn’t just stop when you reach the level of Captain. There are pilot managers, pilot ground trainers, pilot simulator trainers, fleet managers, chief pilots, duty pilots. All require different skills and additional training.

The Travel

As an airline pilot, there’s plenty of opportunities to see new places all over the world. When you night stop somewhere, there’s usually time to explore, especially if you’re a long-haul pilot.

The Staff Travel

Most airlines offer their staff some form of staff travel to you and your family. At the large flag carriers, you receive what is called an “ID90” ticket, that is you get a 90% discount off the fare and its use is unlimited. This means you can end up travelling business or first class across the globe for a few hundred pounds as much as you want.

The Pay

As an airline pilot you can expect to earn substantially more than the average wage. Experienced Captains can earn up to £250,000 a year.

Pay to Fly

Pay to Fly (P2F) Airline Programs

Pilots Paying For Line Training

FlightDeckFriend.com is against to Pay to Fly (P2F) or self sponsored line training. We will not advertise any job positions which require payment for line training.

What is ‘Pay to Fly’?

Pay-To-Fly is the name given to the practice of airlines charging pilots to be a Second or First Officer, at the controls of an aircraft for set number of flight hours, typically between 200 – 500, in order to gain experience. They operate as the First Officer (sometimes reffered to as the co-pilot) whilst under the supervision of a line training Captain and are usually being trained. Many people see this as morally wrong – you are paying to fly passengers when you should be being paid by the airline.

Why do people do it?

Many inexperienced pilots find themselves in a difficult situation, where most flying jobs require a certian level of commercial flying experience, but you can’t get this experience without getting a job. Some people therefore pay to gain some commercial flying experience, other wise known as pay to fly (P2F).

Should people do it?

No. You are lowering your future terms and conditions. If everyone took up this practice, no airline would pay a First Officer, you would be paying them. Presumably you are paying to fly because you want to be employed and be paid to fly an aircraft; this has the opposite effect. If everyone refused to pay to fly, they would have to pay you to build your experience. You are doing a highly skilled job that has taken years of training, don’t sell yourself short.

What is line training?

Line training is the final phase of training carried out to bring you up to “line standard”. This effectively means being able to operate the aircraft safely and to company standard. During line training you operate the aircraft, with passengers, under the supervision of a line training Captain who is providing you with tuition. This typically takes between 40 – 80 sectors (flights). Some cadet pilots are now financing their own line training in order to gain experience. This is known as paying to fly.

How much does it cost?

EagleJet are currently charging 35,500 Euros for 250 hours experience in a Boeing 737 Classic. Other companies charge as much as £50,000 for similar experience.

Aviation Abbreviations

Aviation Acronyms and Abbreviations

Specifically written with Pilots in mind…

The world of aviation abbreviations and acronyms is huge. More and more acronyms keep arriving and it will take an entire career to have heard and used them all! If you’ve got one in mind that you can’t find, give us at FlightDeckFriend.com an email and we’ll get it added.

A | B | C | D | E | F | G | H | I | J | K | L | M | O | P | Q | R | S | T | U | V | W | X | Y | Z


AA – Acceleration Altitude

A/A – Air to Air

AA – Anti Aircraft

AA – American Airlines

AAIB – Air Accident Investigation Branch

AAL – Above Aerodrome Level

ALPHA – Angle of Attack

AB – Auto Brake

ABP – Able Bodied Passengers

AC – Alternating Current

A/C – Aircraft

ACARS – Aircraft Communication Addressing and Reporting System

ACN – Aircraft Classification Number

ACP – Auto Control Panel

AD – Airworthiness Directive

ADC – Air Data Computer

ADF – Automatic Direction Finder

ADI – Attitude Director Indicator

ADU – Air Data Unit

AFE – Above Field Elevation

AGL – Above Ground Level

AH – Artificial Horizon

AI – Altitude Indication

AIP – Aeronautical Information Publication

ALS – Approach Lighting System

ALT – Altitude

AMSL – Above Mean Sea Level

ANC – Aviate, Navigate, Communicate

AoA – Angle of Attack

AOC – Air Operators Certificate

AOG – Aircraft on Ground (due to a technical defect)

AOM – Airport Operating Minima

AP – Auto Pilot

AP – Aeroplane

APFDS – Auto Pilot Flight Director System

APP – Approach

APS – Airline Pilot Standard (MCC Course)

APT – Airport

APU – Auxiliary Power Unit

ANC – Aviate Navigate Communicate

ANP – Actual Navigation Performance

AR – Aspect Ratio

AR – Authorisation Required (RNAV Approaches)

ARP – Aerodrome Reference Point

ASDA – Accelerate Stop Distance Available

ASI – Airspeed Indicator

ASL – Above Sea Level

ASR – Airport Surveillance Radar

ASR – Air Safety Report

AT – Auto Throttle

ATA – Air Transport Association

ATC – Air Traffic Control

ATC – Air Training Corps

ATIS – Automatic Terminal Information Service

ATM – Air Traffic Management

ATP – Airline Transport Pilot

ATS – Air Traffic Service

ATPL – Air Transport Pilots Licence

ATZ – Air Traffic Zone


BA – Braking Action

BA – British Airways

BAA – British Airport Authority

BAA – Baltic Aviation Academy

BACF – British Airways Cityflyer

BALPA – British Airline Pilots Association

BARO – Barometric

BCS – Back Course (ILS)

BPR – By-Pass Ratio

BRK – Brookfield

BST – British Summer Time

BT – Backtrack

BTB – Back to Back


CA – Critical Area (ILS)

CAA – Civil Aviation Authority

CAE – A flight training organisation (OAA)

CAS – Calibrated Air Speed

CAT – Category (ILS)

CAT – Clear Air Turbulence

CAVOK – Ceiling and Visibility OK

CB – Circuit Breaker

CB – Cumulonimbus

CBT – Computer Based Training

CC – Cabin Crew

CC – Crew Control

CC – Company Council (BALPA Related)

CDA – Continuous Descent Approach

CDFA – Continuous Descent Final Approach

CDI – Course Deviation Indicator

CDU – Control Display Unit

CFI – Chief Flying Instructor

CFIT – Controlled Flight into Terrain

CGI – Chief Ground Instructor

CL – Center Line

CLB – Climb

CMD – Command

CMV – Converted Meteorological Visibility

COBT – Calculated Off Block Time

CoG – Centre of Gravity

CON – Contingency Fuel

CON – Max Continuos Thrust

CP – Chief Pilot / Cadet Program / Cadet Pilot

CP – Critical Point

CPDLC – Controller Pilot Data Link Communications

CPL – Commercial Pilots Licence

CPT – Captain

CRM – Crew Resource Management

CRMI – Crew Resource Management Instructor

CRZ – Cruise

CSM – Cabin Service Manager

CSS – Cabin Service Supervisor

CTC – British Integrated Flight Training Organisation

CTC – Chief Training Captain

CTOT – Calculated Take Off Time

CTR – Control Zone

CTZ – Control Zone

CVR – Cockpit Voice Recorder

CWS – Control Wheel Steering

CX – Checks


DA – Decision Altitude

DALR – Dry Adiabatic Lapse Rate

DC – Direct Current

DDG – Dispatch Deviation Guide

DEC – Direct Entry Captain

DER – Departure End (of the) Runway

DG – Dangerous Goods

DH – Decision Height

DI – Direction Indicator

DIV – Diversion

DLC – Data Link Clearance

DLR – Aptitude Testing Used by Lufthansa

DME – Distance Measuring Equipment

DNF – Did Not Fly

DODAR – Diagnose/Options/Decide/Assign/Review

DOC – Designated Operating Coverage

DOW – Dry Operating Weight


EASA – European Aviation Safety Agency

EAT – Estimated Approach Time

ECL – Electronic Checklist

EET – Estimated Elapsed Time

EFB – Electronic Flight Bag

EFIS – Electronic Flight Information System

EGT – Exhaust Gas Temperature

EGPWS – Enhanced Ground Proximity Warning System

EHSI – Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator

ELT – Emergency Locator Transmitter

ELW – Estimated Landing Weight

EMB – Embraer

EMR – Emergency

EPR – Engine Pressure Ratio

ET – Elapsed Time

ETA – Estimated Time of Arrival

ETOPS – Extended-range Twin-engine Operational Performance Standards

ETOW – Estimated Take Off Weight

ETP – Emergency Turn Procedure

EZFW – Estimated Zero Fuel Weight

EZY – easyJet (ICAO Code)


FA – Flight Attendant

FATPL – Frozen Air Transport Pilots Licence

FAA – Federal Aviation Administration

FADEC – Full Authority Digital Engine Control

FAF – Final Approach Fix

FAP – Final Approach Point

FAR – Fedral Aviation Regulation

FAT – Final Approach Track

FBS – Fixed Based Simulator

FBT – Fixed Based Trainer

FBW – Fly By Wire

FCL – Flight Crew Licensing

FCOM – Flight Crew Operations Manual

FCTM – Flight Crew Training Manual

FD – Flight Director

FDR – Flight Data Recorder

FE – Flight Engineer

FF – Fuel Flow

FFS – Full Flight Simulator

FI – Flight Instructor

FIR – Flight Information Region

FIS – Flight Information Service

FLCH – Flight Level Change

FMA – Flight Mode Announciation

FMC – Flight Management Computer

FMS – Flight Management System

FNPT – Flight & Navigation Procedures Trainer

FO – First Officer

FOM – Fuel of Merit

FOD – Foreign Object Damage

FPA – Flight Path Angle

FPL – Filed Flight Plan

FPM – Feet Per Minute

FPP – Future Flyer Programme

FPT – Flat Panel Trainer

FPV – Flight Path Vector

FREQ – Frequency

FT – Flight Training

FTE – Flight Training Europe, Jerez

FTL – Flight Time Limitations

FTO – Flight Training Organisation


G – G-force

GA – General Aviation

G/A – Go Around

GAPAN – The Guild of Air Pilots & Air Navigators

GC – Great Circle

GE – General Electric

GENDEC – General Decleration

GH – General Handling

GI – Ground Instructor

GLONASS – Global Orbiting Navigation System

GND – Ground

GNSS – Global Navigation Satellite System

GP – Glide Path

GP – Guidance Panel

GPA – Glide Path Angle

GPS – Global Positioning System

GPWS – Ground Proximity Warning System

GS – Ground School

GS – Ground Speed

GS – Glide Slope


HDG – Heading

HDG SEL – Heading Select

HEA – High Energy Approach

HF – Human Factors

HF – High Frequency

HIALS – High Intensity Approach Lighting System

HIL – Hold Item List

HoT – Head of Training

HOT – Hold Over Time (Anti-icing)

HPA – Hectopascal

HP – Horse Power

HP – High Pressure

HPT – High Pressure Turbine

HSI – Horizontal Situation Indicator

HST – Hypersonic Transport

HUD – Head Up Display

HWC – Head Wing Component

HYD – Hydraulics


IAA – Irish Aviation Authority

IAC – Instrument Approach Chart

IAP – Instrument Approach Procedure

IAF – Initial Approach Fix

IALPA – Irish Airline Pilots Association

IAP – Instrument Approach Procedure

IAS – Indicated Air Speed

IATA – International Air Transport Association

IC – In Command

ICAO – International Civil Aviation Organisation

IDG – Integrated Drive Generator

IFR – Instrument Flight Rules

ILS – Instrument Landing System

IMC – Instrument Meteorological Conditions

INOP – Inoperative

INS – Inertial Navigation System

IR – Instrument Rating

IRS – Inertial Reference System

IRST – Instrument Rating Skills Test

IRU – Inertial Reference Unit

ISA – International Standard Atmosphere

ITCZ – Intertropical Convergence Zone


JAA – Joint Aviation Authorities

JAR – Joint Aviation Requirements

JFO – Junior First Officer

JOC – Jet Orientation Course

JS – Jump Seat


kHz – Kilohertz

KIAS – Knots Indicated Airspeed

KM – Kilometres

KPH – Kilometres per hour

KTS – Knots


LCC – Low Cost Carrier/s

LCK – Line Check

LCTR – Locator

LD – Landing Distance

LDA – Landing Distance Available

LDA – Low Drag Approach

LDR – Landing Distance Required

LG – Landing Gear

LHO – Live Human Organs

LHR – London Heathrow

LLZ – Localiser

LOC – Localiser

LOE – Line Orientated Exercise

LOFT – Line Oriented Flight Training

LORAN – Long Range Navigation

LNAV – Lateral Navigation

LP – Low Pressure

LPC – Line Proficiency Check

LRU – Line Replaceable Unit

LSK – Line Select Key

LSS – Local Speed of Sound

LST – Line Skills Test

LT – Line Training

LT – Local Time

LT – Leadership Team

LTC – Line Training Captain

LTP – Landing Threshold Point

LVL – Level

LVO – Low Visibility Operations

LVP – Low Visibility Procedures

LW – Landing Weight


MAA – Military Aviation Authority

MAA – Missed Approach Altitude

MAC – Mean Aerodyanamic Chord

MACG – Missed Approach Climb Gradient

MAP – Missed Approach Point

MATZ – Military Air Traffic Zone

MCC – Multi Crew Cooperation Course

MCP – Mode Control Panel

MCRIT – Critical Mach Number

MCT – Maximum Continuous Thrust

MDA – Minimum Decent Altitude

MDH – Minimum Decent Height

ME – Multi Engine

MEA – Minimum Enroute Altitude

MEL – Minimum Equipment List

MMEL – Master Minimum Equipment List

MEP – Multi Engine Piston

MET – Meteorological

METAR – Meteorological Aerodrome Report

MFRA – Minimum Flap Retraction Altitude

MLM – Maximum Landing Mass

MLS – Microwave Landing System

MLW – Maximum Landing Weight

MM – Middle Marker

MMO – Maximum Mach Number

MOA – Memorandum of Agreement

MOC – Minimum Obstacle Clearance

MOR – Mandatory Occurance Report

MORA – Minimum En-route Altitude

MPA – Multi Pilot Aircraft

MPL – Multi-Crew Pilots Licence

MPS – Meters Per Second

MRO – Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul

MRW – Maximum Ramp Weight

MSA – Minimum Sector/Safe Altitude

MSL – Mean Sea Level

MTOW – Maximum Take Off Weight

MZFW – Maximum Zero Fuel Weight


N1 – Low Pressure Compressor Speed

N2 – High Pressure Compressor Speed

NADP – Noise Abatement Departure Procedure (1 or 2)

NAT – North Atlantic

NAT-OTS – North Atlantic Organised Track System

NATS – North Atlantic Track System

NATS – National Air Traffic Service

NAV – Navigation

ND – Navigation Display

NDB – Non Directional Beacon

NG – Next Generation

Nigel – A British Airways Pilot (Slang)

NM – Nautical Mile

No1 – Number One (Senior Cabin Crew Member)

NOTAM – Notice to Airmen

NOTECH – Non Technical Skills

NPA – Non-Precision Approach

NPPL – National Private Pilots Licence

NSC – No Significant Cloud

NTS – Non Technical Skills

NTSB – National Transportation Safety Board

NWS – Nose Wheel Steering


OAA – Oxford Aviation Academy (UK Integrated School)

OAT – Outside Air Temperature

OB – Off/On Blocks

OBS – Omni Bearing Selector

OC – Operations Control

OCA – Obstacle Clearance Altitude

OCA – Oceanic Control Area

OCC – Operators Conversion Course

OCH – Obstacle Clearance Height

OEA – One Engine Approach

OEI – One Engine Inoperative

OEM – Original Equipment Manufacturer

OFP – Operational Flight Plan

OM – Operations Manual

OM – Outer Marker

OPC – Operator Proficiency Check

OTP – On Time Performance

OTS – Organised Track System

OTS – Out of Service

QTY – Quantity

OW – Operational Weight

OXY – Oxygen

O2 – Oxygen


P1 – Pilot in Command

P2 – Pilot Second in Command

PA – Public/Passenger Announcement

Packs – Air Conditioning Units

PANS-OPS – Procedures for Air Navigation Services

PAPI – Precision Approach Path Indicator

PAR – Precision Approach Radar

PAX – Passenger/s

PBN – Performance Based Navigation

PCN – Pavement Classification Number

PDC – Pre-departure Clearance

PET – Point Of Equal Time

PF – Pilot Flying

PFD – Primary Flight Display

PFL – Practice Forced Landing

PIC – Pilot in Command

PICUS – Pilot in Command Under Supervision

PIO – Pilot Induced Oscillations

PIREP – Pilot Report

PoB – Passengers on Board

PoF – Principles of Flight

POH – Pilot’s Operating Handbook

PM – Pilot Monitoring

PNF – Pilot Not Flying

PNR – Point of No Return

PPL – Private Pilots Licence

PPR – Prior Permission Required

PRNAV – Precision Area Navigation

PSI – Pressure per square inch

PSR – Point of Safe Return

PSR – Purser (No 1 Cabin Crew)

PT – Progress Test

PTT – Push to Talk

PUT – Pilot Under Training


QDM – Magnetic heading to a station

QDR – Magnetic Bearing from a station

QFE – Field Elevation (Pressure Setting)

QNH – Regional Pressure Setting

QRA – Quick Reaction Alert

QRH – Quick Reference Handbook


RA – Radio Altimeter

RA – Radio Altitude

RA – Resolution Advisory

RAD ALT – Radio Altimeter

RADAR – Radio Detection and Ranging

RAF – Royal Air Force

RAS – Rectified Airspeed

RAT – Ram Air Turbine

REL – Runway Edge Lights

RESA – Runway End Safety Area

RET – Rapid Exit Taxiway

RFFS – Resuce & Fire Fighting Services

RMI – Radio Magnetic Indicator

RN – Royal Navy

RNAV – Area Navigation

RNP – Required Navigation Performance

RPL – Repetitive Flight Plan

RPM – Revolutions Per Minute

RT – Radio Telephony

RTB – Return to Base

RTFQ – Read The F**k**g Question

RTO – Rejected Take Off

RTS – Return to Stand

RTS – Return to Service

RVR – Runway Visual Range

RVSM – Reduced Vertical Separation Minima

RW – Runway

RWY – Runway


SADLR – Saturated Adiabatic Lapse Rate

SAR – Search and Rescue

SAT – Saturated Air Temperature

SATCOM – Satellite Communication

SCCM – Senior Cabin Crew Member

SE – Single Engine

SELCAL – Selective Calling

SEP – Single Engine Piston

SEP – Safety and Emergency Procedures

SFI – Synthetic Flight Instructor

SFO – Senior First Officer

SHF – Super High Frequency

SIC – Second In Command

SID – Standard Instrument Departure

SIGMET – Significant meteorological advisory

SLF – Self Loading Freight (Passengers)

SLOP – Strategic Lateral Offset Procedures

SLP – Speed Limit Point

SM – Statute Mile

SMR – Surface Movement Radar

S/O – Second Officer

SOP’s – Standard Operating Procedures

SOS – Save our Souls (Distress call)

SPIC – Student Pilot In Command

SR – Sunrise

SRA – Surveillance Radar Approach

SS – Sunset

SSR – Secondary Surveillance Radar

SST – Supersonic Transport

STA – Scheduled Time of Arrival

STAR – Standard Terminal Arrival Route

STD – Scheduled Time of Departure

STD – Standard (Pressure Setting 1013mb)


TA – Transition Altitude

TA – Traffic Advisory

TAA – Terminal Arrival Area

TAA – Terminal Arrival Altitude

TACAN – Tactical Air Navigation

TAF – Terminal Area Forecast

TAF – Aerodrome Forecast

TAFB – Time Away From Base

TAS – True Airspeed

TAT – Total Air Temperature

TCA – Terminal Control Area

TCAS – Traffic Collision Avoidance System

TCH – Threshold Crossing Height

TDZ – Touch Down Zone

TECH – Technical

TEM – Threat and Error Management

TERPS – Terminal Procedures

TFC – Traffic

THOB – Total Heads On Board

THLD – Threshold

THLD – Thrust Hold

THR – Threshold

TKI – Theoretical Knowledge Instructor

TL – Transition Level

TLA – Thrust Lever Angle

TMA – Terminal Manoeuvring Area

TMI – Track Message Identification

T/O – Take Off

TO/GA – Take Off Go Around

TOC – Take Off Configuration

TOC – Top Of Climb

TOD – Top Of Descent

TODA – Take Off Distance Available

TORA – Take Off Run Available

TOW – Take Off Weight

TP – Turbo Prop

TR – Type Rating

TRE – Type Rating Examiner

TRI – Type Rating Instructor

TRTO – Type Rating Training Organisation

TRU – Transformer Rectifier Unit

TS – Thunderstorm

TT – Total Time

TTL – Total

TWC – Tail Wind Component

TWR – Tower

TWY – Taxiway


UA – Unusual Attitude

UAS – University Air Squadron

UAV – Unmanned Air Vehicles

UFO – Unidentified Flying Object

UHF – Ultra High Frequency

UIR – Upper Flight Information Region

U/S – Unserviceable

USAF – United States Air Force

UTC – Universal Co-ordinated Time (Zulu)


VA – Virgin Atlantic

VAAC – Volcanic Ash Advisory Center

VAC – Volcanic Approach Chart

VASI – Vertical Approach Slope Indicator

VFE – Maximum Flap Extension Speed

VFR – Visual Flight Rules

VHF – Very High Frequency

VIP – Very Important Person

VIMD – Maximum Drag Speed

VLE – Maximum Landing Gear Extended Speed

VMC – Visual Meteorological Conditions

VMCA – Minimum Control Speed Airborne

VMCG – Minimum Control Speed Ground

VMO – Maximum Indicated Airspeed

VNAV – Vertical Navigation

VNE – Never Exceed Speed

VNO – Normal Operating Speed

VOLMET – Meterlogical Information In Flight

VOR – VHF Omni Directional Radio Range

VR – Rotate

VRB – Variable

VS – Vertical Speed

VSI – Vertical Speed Indicator

VTOL – Vertical Take Off and Landing

VIP – Very Important Person

VV – Vertical Visability

VVIP – Very Very Important Person

VX – Best Angle of Climb Speed

VY – Best Rate of Climb Speed


WILCO – Will Comply

WIP – Work In Progress

WOCL – Window of Circadian Low

WPT – Way Point


WX – Weather

XPDR – Transponder

XWC – Cross Wind Component


Z – Zulu Time (Same as UTC and GMT)

ZFT – Zero Flight Time

ZFW – Zero Fuel Weight