# 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. Here’s 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

### 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

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.

## 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.

### Airlines

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.

### Europe

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.

### Conclusion

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.

# A Typical Day for a Short-Haul Airline Pilot

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

## A Short-Haul 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’.

### Check-In

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.

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.

### Briefing

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.

### Taxy

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.

### Take-off

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.

### Cruise

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.

### Descent

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.

### Approach

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.

### Landing

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.

### Turnaround

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.

### Conclusion

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. There is almost always some sort of  technical issue, poor weather, passenger issues, ATC delays etc. (or a combination of all them), 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.

If you found this interesting, check out our article on the Day in the Life of a Long Haul Pilot.

# 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.

# 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.

### Conclusion

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.

# A Day in the Life of a Long Haul Pilot

The typical lifestyle of a long haul pilot

## A Typical Day as a Long Haul Pilot

This is one of our pilots typical day at ‘the office’. A long haul flight from London Heathrow to Las Vegas on a Boeing 747-400. It represents a typical day for a long haul pilot.

#### Day before Departure

So the day before departure I check the weather just to confirm it’s boiling hot and that I will be requiring an array of shorts and flip flops! I pack my suitcase (this trip is 6 days long), check any notices that have been issued in my week off, ensure all my apps are up to date on my iPad and the iPad is fully charged along with my battery pack (Our mature jumbo jets do not have power available in the flight deck).

As I’m packing my bags I try not to appear too happy to be going to Vegas for 6 days, the wife picks up on this and she finds it especially annoying if I whistle in a jolly way as I’m packing the sun tan lotion, so I have learnt to avoid whistling until I’m in the car on my own driving to work!

### Report / Check-in

Report time (the time I have to be ready at the briefing room) is 10:45. This means I will have to be in the staff car park by 10:00 to catch the bus to the terminal, check in my bags and ensure I can take care of any admin housekeeping before proceeding to the briefing area. Just as I’m on the bus I get a text message from a flight crew colleague on short haul (we always have a bit of long haul vs short haul banter – poor guys!) as his brother and wife are on our flight and he wanted us to try and ensure they get on (they are on standby).

We are lucky on the Jumbo as we have at least 6 spare cabin crew jump seats we can use for staff passengers, on some flights (depending on the length and time of flight) we get a club world seat allocated to the flight deck for rest if we choose not to use our bunk beds in the flight deck.

#### Crew Report

After checking in my bag I head to our Crew Report Centre which is a huge area with about 12 briefing rooms, offices, managers, currency exchange, coffee shops, luggage stores and our own dedicated security checkpoint. I check in on the computer terminals 15 mins early, check any notices (by checking in I’m confirming I have a valid licence, medical and am up to date with all new notices from the company).

We have been assigned briefing room number 1 today and the cabin crew (14 today) are all inside the room briefing.

#### Meeting the Crew

I meet up with the other 2 pilots (we have 3 due to the length of the flight and so we can share rest) and after the pleasantries are out of the way we decide who is going to operate the 2 sectors (one flight there and one back). So one pilot will not operate the controls for take off and landing during this trip.

#### Who is going to fly?

This decision will first of all be based on currency and by that I mean every pilot has to do one takeoff and landing in a month (in my company it is 35 days). Due to annual leave, sickness or other reasons it could be that a pilot needs to do the flight to maintain his/her currency.

The Captain will be sat at the controls for both flights during take off and landing, the 2 Senior First Officers will rotate, one will be rostered to be the operating pilot outbound and the other will be the ‘heavy pilot’. This will normally swap round for the inbound flight.

#### ‘Heavy’ Pilot

We call it heavy not because first officers tend to be overweight but because we are operating with a ‘heavy’ crew, a crew composition that is higher than required to operate the aircraft.

On ultra long flights (over 12 hours each way) we have 4 pilots. So we decide that I will operate the flight outbound as pilot flying. This means although I am not the Captain, the Captain will delegate most of the decisions to me, I will conduct the take off and landing and lead all the briefings.

#### A Full Flight

The flight today is full, which is no surprise and we do have staff on standby trying to get on. The first thing we do is print off the paperwork and check on our trip report that there are no company messages specific to our flight. Examples of these might be security messages (recommendations not to leave the hotel), portable water fill levels (the water that comes out the taps – on shorter flights we do not fill it up to capacity due to the extra weight as not all the water will be required).

### Crew Room Briefing

We then move onto the briefing, looking at the significant weather charts across our whole route which would highlight any issues, we look at departure, destination and alternate airports weather and notams in detail, we look at en-route alternates, en-route airspace notams and sigmets, we perform a check to ensure we will not be too heavy to land at the destination and alternate airport.

#### A look at LAS

We check to ensure all of us have watched the video presentation for Las Vegas. The airport is categorised by my company as Category B which effectively means there are various challenges in operating into the airport.

Today, the weather is very hot, forecast is 40 degrees, Las Vegas has some interesting non-precision approaches and is surrounded by high terrain as well as being 2,500ft above sea level. Today, we also have thunderstorms and forecast severe turbulence en-route.

#### What do we brief?

With the briefing we are effectively looking to see if we can depart out of the departure airport, operate into the destination and alternate airports taking into account the weather and notams. Once the answer is yes, we then need to decide on how much fuel to take. Do we need any extra over and above the flight plan minimum requirement? Extra fuel costs a lot of money, for every extra 1,000kgs of fuel we take we use about 1/3 of it just to carry it!

We have a flight plan that is very accurate and details exactly how much fuel we need. Minimum fuel for this flight is 114,200kgs of fuel – a lot!!! The Jumbo can actually hold 173,000kgs of fuel which is actually the weight of approx 2, maybe 3 fully loaded medium size aircraft and that’s just our fuel load. Our take off weight today will be around 340,000kgs.

#### Cabin Crew Briefing

Once the briefing is complete we enter the briefing room (our station with a computer and a printer is just outside) introduce ourselves to the cabin crew and we brief them on the flight details and we would normally conduct a joint briefing where we would talk about a particular issue that is relevant on our flight or has occurred recently.

This includes, for example, what actions are required in the event of a toilet fire, how would the communication work and then we would detail what our actions and thought processes would be in the flight deck especially on the subject of a diversion and how long that may take if we are mid-Atlantic.

#### Jump Seats

We confer with the cabin crew regarding the use of cabin crew jump seats to allow extra staff passengers to travel. Today, we decide on allowing all the spare ones to be occupied which is 6. We have 2 upstairs on the upper deck, 2 at door 2 right and 2 at door 4 right. Once out of the briefing room we decide what order (if any) we would like staff to be on loaded into the jump seats, this is always the Captains authority.

We call flight management and tell them this information so they can start planning to issue jump seat boarding cards to allow some of our staff colleagues on the flight.

#### Security

After this we proceed to security and go through as a whole crew together. Our flight today operates from Terminal 3 so we have to catch a bus across to the aircraft. The company stipulate timings for everything to try to ensure an on time departure so we have to be at the bus at a certain time and the cabin crew have to be ready to board at a certain time.

On the bus we have chance to chat to the crew about everyone’s plans for the trip, unfortunately for the cabin crew they only get a 4 day trip which is still 2 nights, they are planning on a bit of socialising and sunbathing and some are visiting the outlets for shopping.

### At The Aircraft

Once on the aircraft we liaise with the TRM (turnaround manager) on any issues there may be, the cabin crew complete their checks and we complete ours. The PF (pilot flying – me) will normally enter the data into the FMC, PNF/PM (pilot not flying – the captain today) will perform the setups on all the panels, calculate take-off performance through our ACARS system along with the ATIS (the latest weather information for Heathrow detailing runway in use).

The heavy pilot completes the external check of the aircraft as well as our cockpit security checks including our toilet and bunk rest area which are all enclosed in the flight deck.

#### Departure Time Management

Time management is crucial here, typically we will only be on the aircraft 40-45 mins before departure so there is a fair amount to do and we normally agree a time we would start briefing, the briefing normally takes around 15 minutes including what we call the critical data entry procedure which is where we enter all the performance in terms of take off thrust setting, speeds, clearance and setting up the Mode Control Panel into our Flight Management Computers.

Getting a long haul flight ready for departure is literally an event. There are so many people and processes involved and you only need one process to fail or the smallest issue to arise and the flight will go late, this is compounded by capacity issues at Heathrow whereby it is quite usual to close the doors on time and ask for push and start only to be told we have a start up delay due to congestion.

### Pre-departure Briefing

The briefing focuses on identifying threats and talking about how we can avoid, trap and mitigate them, it is another opportunity to go over any recall / memory items and revise which pilot does what. The briefing is very important as an effective briefing involves everyone and resolves any ambiguity.

#### Threat Management

If I have spoken about various threats and what I will do to avoid them and one of the threats actually occurs then everyone knows what the other person has said they will do and if they don’t do it then they can verbalise it straight away without hesitation.

There is no time wasted with one pilot thinking ‘I wonder if he is going to do that, or ask for this’. Although we operate strictly to our company SOP’s there are many ways that things could be done and many pilots have slightly different thoughts on various emergencies, little things they may do or ask for which could help, so it’s also good to talk about these.

#### A Rejected Take-Off?

An example would be turning the aircraft or stopping straight ahead in the event of an RTO (rejected take-off) with an engine fire warning. It can be useful to turn the aircraft in strong winds to stop the wind blowing the fire and fumes onto the fuselage, however it may also be prudent not to turn such a large aircraft on a 45 metre runway as there is little room to manoeuvre.

Turning could also restrict access for emergency services on the paved surface and slides would be deployed for passengers to land into the grass. Lots of things to consider.

The briefing is interactive with the heavy pilot also playing a part although the briefing is always led by pilot flying.

Today we get the call from downstairs in the cabin from the cabin crew member in charge stating that there are customers missing at the boarding gate and the TRM has instructed the ramp team to start looking for their bags so that they can be offloaded. It appears we will not be going on time.

Our TRM changes our TOBT (this is a target off blocks time which enables ATC to better plan ground movements). Eventually the passengers are located before we find their bags and they are allowed to board the aircraft, we get the doors closed and I do a welcome onboard PA to everyone.

#### PA

With the PA our company requires us to state several items as mandatory requirements including introducing the flight crew team and my companies policy on safety and security which includes the recommendation for customers to keep their seat belts fastened whilst seated even when the seat belt sign is off.

On long haul we always recommend that customers fasten their seat belt over their duvets or blankets to avoid being disturbed by the crew if the we have to put the seat belt sign on at short notice.

#### Closing the Doors

We confirm the doors are actually all closed by our pictorial diagram of the aircraft doors on one of our screens. I then speak to Air Traffic Control stating our aircraft type, stand number, latest weather information identifier (this is a letter of the alphabet and the information is called an ATIS), QNH pressure setting, PDC (confirmation we have received a pre-departure clearance) and confirmation that we are ready. Unfortunately we are then given a 10 minute start up delay on stand. I communicate this to our ground crew that are waiting on the tarmac to push us back.

### Pushback & Taxy

Eventually we get going 20 mins late. We pushback start all 4 engines, run the before taxi checklist and get our taxi clearance. At Heathrow different ground controllers have different areas of responsibility so they will only clear you to the limit of their authority before transferring you to the next one.

We are departing from runway 27L and once we start to reach some of the holding points for the runway we can see there is at least 12 aircraft ahead of us. It has taken us 12-13 minutes to taxi the aircraft to this point and it looks like we will have a further 15 minute wait before it’s our turn to take off, the joys of Heathrow!

We do a mini-brief update to see if any conditions or parameters have changed for take off and revise the crucial parts, we run the before take off checklist and receive a message from the cabin crew that they are secure for departure in the cabin.

This message is conveyed initially by each crew member stationed at the doors on the left hand side of the aircraft over the phone to the senior crew member who then instructs the crew to take seats for take off, she then presses a button on her panel and we get an electronic message in the flight deck stating the ‘cabin is ready’.

Once we are all ready for departure and I have the park brake set I do another PA to the customers updating them on the reason for the delay at the holding point. On the ground we try to do PA’s to the customers as often as possible to keep them in the loop with what is going on, there is nothing worse when you’re sat on an aircraft as a passenger with nothing happening and no information.

### Take-off

It’s finally our turn for departure, we check the clearance with each other from ATC to ‘line up and wait 27L’. We check visually for traffic on approach and also check our navigation displays for TCAS (Traffic Collision Avoidance System) traffic.

Once lined up you have to be ready to depart as soon as ATC clear you as airports want to try and maximise their capacities for traffic on the runways, if everyone took 15-30 seconds to set thrust, over a day it could mean some aircraft not being able to depart later in the day.

#### Wind Direction

We check the wind direction and speed, ATC will read us the wind with the take off clearance but there are also wind socks we can use.

#### Setting Thrust

Now comes one of the best parts of the job, this bit never gets boring! ATC give us take-off clearance, we set our elapsed time clocks to run, and I stand the thrust levers up, confirm engines are stable and then press the TOGA buttons on the top of the 4 thrust levers, the thrust levers then set the take off thrust automatically, considering the weight of the aircraft the acceleration still amazes me.

#### Take-off Roll

At this point in my head I’m thinking about stopping the aircraft in an emergency and almost reciting my actions in my head. I’m transferring my eyes to outside to keep the aircraft straight and the wings level, whilst looking inside checking my PFD (Primary Flight Display) for the speed and also the EICAS (Engine Indications Crew Alerting System) for the engine parameters to ensure they are normal.

#### Calling Stop?

There are several emergencies I can call stop for and the Captain can call stop for anything he/she likes but normally we would only stop for major emergencies like an engine failure, any fire on the aircraft, wind shear warning, take off config warning, blocked runway or some sort of control restriction. Stopping an aircraft this size is a major and challenging manoeuvre.

With any minor items it is normally safer to continue the take off. The pilot monitoring (the Captain today) calls 80 kts which is just under 100mph, this is a check to ensure I am still alive and I’m not incapacitated but it is also a check to remind us that after this point we are more “continue” minded and we are only going to stop the aircraft for something very major.

#### V1, Rotate…

I receive the call of V1 (take off decision speed) which I acknowledge by taking my left hand off the thrust levers as we are now committed to taking off, V1 is the last chance a decision can be made to stop the aircraft without us going off the end of the runway. Whatever happens now we are taking off!

At the call of rotate I gently pull back on the column and rotate the aircraft into the air. The rate is 2.5 degrees a second and my target pitch is 15 degrees. The Captain calls positive rate – this ensures we are safely climbing away from the ground before retracting the landing gear, I then call ‘gear up’ and he raises the landing gear. The gear provides a lot of drag so as soon as it can be retracted the better as we can improve our climb performance.

### Climb

We are heavy so we climb slowly at around 1,000ft per min. At an altitude of 1,000ft we have to perform a noise abatement procedure which involves accelerating normally only a few knots (we took off at 160kts which is around 185mph) to retract one stage of flap, we reduce power from take off thrust to climb thrust and climb away with flap 10 out until we reach 4,000ft at this point we then accelerate further and retract the flaps.

Typically out of London we may not get continuous climb so we may have to level off at an intermediate level or altitude.

At this point we are thinking about other aircraft, descending towards us, we can avoid this threat by managing our rates of climb. Once cleared above transition level we set a standard pressure setting on our altimeters and at 10,000ft we accelerate to our climb speed which is 320kts today.

#### 10,000ft Checks

The captain turns off all the external lights and we have a discussion regarding whether it is safe to switch the seat belt signs off. There looks to be some weather we may need to fly through so we hold off on the seatbelt signs until we get higher. The cabin crew (unless we have said otherwise) automatically release themselves to commence their duties.

After we climb through 20,000ft we release our heavy pilot to commence his rest in the bunks in the flight deck. This is a bit like a small cabin on a ship with bunk beds, we have lighting and heating controls with pillows and sleeping bags.

### In the Cruise

At cruising altitude we start our paperwork, monitor the aircraft systems and discuss contingency planning, we will look at the weather and notams for en-route airfields, our first available one is Shannon in Ireland so we plot that on our navigational displays and have a quick look at the ILS chart for the approach in use which is onto runway 24.

We send off an oceanic clearance to Shanwick control. Effectively there are tracks for all aircraft planned to cross the Atlantic or we could be planned on a random route that our company has chosen. The tracks are modified every day and during the day they go east to west and at night west to east as that is where the majority of the traffic movement is.

#### NAT Tracks & Weather

The tracks are planned to avoid any weather if possible whilst taking advantage of the wind as best as possible, flying towards the US and Canada you can expect to have headwinds so we pick routes where the headwinds are least outside of the jet streams and on the way back we pick tracks that are in the jet streams to take advantage of the tailwind.

To give an example we would expect the flight time coming back from Vegas to be at least 90 minutes quicker. There is no radar over the Atlantic so air traffic control plan aircraft at different levels, speeds and tracks to keep separation, you must maintain the track and the level although there may be an opportunity to change level later on.

#### Cabin Communications

The cabin crew call is every 30 mins to check we are ok and vice versa and this is normally done over the phone and is an opportunity for us to brief each other on any situation that may be arising. We continue to monitor the aircraft systems, including the temperature in each zone of the aircraft, fuel checks and planning and contingency planning. We revisit the actions and plans if we were to have an engine failure.

We then get to choose some lunch from a menu and the cabin crew on the upper deck bring this in for us. Entry to the flight deck is monitored, they would usually call us to warn us they are coming and we have cameras around the door to check it is clear before electronically unlocking and opening the door. There is also a keypad by the door and the cabin crew can request entry through that, however, we can always accept or deny entry.

#### Pilot Rest

I plan the rest for each pilot, today we get 2 hours and 50 minutes each. So effectively the heavy first officer will cover our breaks as he/she takes the first rest, we have an alarm that wakes him up in the bunk area and he would come out and sit in the Captains seat and my seat to cover each of our breaks in turn.

In the bunk sometimes I sleep, sometimes I may read a book or watch a programme on my iPad. Our bunk area on the 747 is great, it can only be accessed from the flight deck and is very quiet and dark so really helps us get some rest. During low workloads it is much better to ensure we all rest so we are all awake and alert for the approach and landing when the workload is higher. The pilot flying will normally choose which break they would like to have. I decided to take the middle break.

### Crossing the Atlantic

Crossing the Atlantic we speak to air traffic control through our HF radios and through our FMC, it is a little like text messaging and it’s called CPDLC. We have to get a clearance to avoid weather and we have a dedicated frequency 123.450 which we tune up so that all pilots in a similar area can talk to one another, it’s not for idle chit chat but more for warning others about weather or turbulence.

Half way across the Atlantic we switch to Canada air traffic controllers. The flight plan today has us routing towards Goose Bay which is quite far north and even after making landfall in Canada there are not many options to land in an emergency. The routing has us eventually turning south into the US over Minneapolis and then towards Salt Lake City approaching Nevada and Vegas from the North.

### Crew Rest

Before heading off for my break I head off for a walk around the aircraft to stretch my legs and chat to the cabin crew to check they are all ok. It is a good way of picking up on an issues as we cannot see their body language when we speak on the phone. Inevitably you may get chatting to some customers, I also quite like to grab some chocolate to keep the energy levels up from our club kitchen which is a buffet area in the Club World galley where there is sandwiches, ice cream, drinks, biscuits and chocolate that you can help yourself to.

As I mentioned earlier we are full today so even half way through the flight there are a lot of people standing up, drinking and being quite loud, especially in world traveller cabin.

The cabin crew down there are very busy and running out of alcohol I suggest putting on the seat belt signs for 20 minutes to give them a chance to tidy up, bring the noise levels down a bit for other customers and give them a chance to get organised for the next service.

Half the cabin crew are on their breaks and we have bunk beds in the roof of the aircraft above the rear galley.

#### The Rest Area

It is quite a claustrophobic area in the cabin crew rest area, there are spiral stairs that are steep that lead up into the roof from the rear galley, once in the roof there are 4 normal seats for crew to sit in if they wish or if you head further towards the front of the aircraft there are numerous bunk beds with sleeping bags, duvets and pillows. I head back up to the flight deck to start my rest and change into my pyjamas and manage to get my head down for 90 mins or so.

I am woken up to the ‘ding dong’ that means the end of my rest, like any alarm clock its not a popular noise. We always try to get out of the bunk rest facility quickly so the next guy can get in to maximise their opportunity to sleep. We can get changed again and cleaned up in the flight deck whilst the other pilot continues to fly the aircraft.

### Arrival Briefing

Back in the seat we are now in Canada and whilst flying the aircraft, checking weather and notams for alternates and liaising with the cabin crew regarding turbulence reported ahead, the other SFO and I are planning the Arrival procedure, Approach and taxi in to Vegas.

The first thing I do is work through all the notams, some of the notams indicate taxiways are closed or have reduced wing span clearances, I mark these with a red high marker on my iPad chart app.

#### Performance

I work out the performance for each runway in terms of how much tailwind we can take at our estimated landing weight and what setting on the auto brake we can use with either idle, partial or full reverse. We use reverse thrust to save brake wear and if it is a short turnaround it stops the brakes getting overheated. If we are using the auto brake on the landing roll then we will not stop any sooner by using reverse as the braking distance will be the same, controlled by the auto brake.

#### Airport Restrictions

We check the Airport notes which is under the AOI section of our charting app, we also check our companies briefing notes about the airfield. We are expecting to do a non-precision approach onto either 19L or 19R, both these runways are on the short side for a 747. (this is sort of let down procedure via imaginary points in the sky or by using other less accurate navigation aids – normally we use ILS approaches at most airfields which is an accurate system giving us lateral and vertical precision guidance to the runway).

#### Runway Length

Typically we are using runways around the world in excess of 3,000 metres. The 747 can land no problem on shortish runways in fact we could just about do around 1400 metres with max braking in normal conditions. However, as it is such a large aircraft if it is a shortish runway we need to take particular care in ensuring we land in the touchdown zone and preferably on the markers.

#### Non-Precision Approach

The non-precision approaches are both in excess of a normal 3 degree glideslope, this all points to the threat of a runway excursion (running off the end of the runway) which can be created by a fast un-stable approach with a potentially long landing.

This is further compounded by ATC keeping you high due to restrictions on radar vectoring due to terrain and helicopter traffic corridors that head towards the Grand Canyon. We will also expect to be cut in very tight for a short final approach as ATC cannot vector us further than 6NM north due to Nellis Air Force Base being on the extended centre line. These threats will be discussed in the approach briefing.

### Passenger Medical Issue

Next, the cabin crew call with a customer in Business Class who is experiencing chest pains. We have a contract with a facility called Medlink. This a facility where we can call them up on our satellite phone and obtain advice and direction on how to proceed. They have specialist aviation doctors available to talk to. They will also give a recommendation on continuing or diverting the flight.

Medlink know all the medical supplies we have onboard and also know the training our cabin crew have. In the event of a diversion they can advise on the suitability of a diversion airfield in terms of their medical facilities on the ground.

#### Divert?

If we had a choice we would rather divert to an airfield that a nearby full facility hospital where our customer can receive the care they require very quickly.

Luckily today we have a doctor onboard who is assisting the cabin crew and Medlink recommend us to just keep the customer on oxygen and monitor them, with the doctors assistance we are advised to continue to Las Vegas unless the customer gets worse. Medlink arrange a medical team to meet us on arrival.

#### Arrival PA

We have made up some time but are till going to arrive late into Las Vegas my next job is to speak to our ground teams at Vegas and make a plan for some of our connecting customers.

They advise they believe the customers will still make their connections with some assistance so we arrange ground staff to meet some of our customers at the top of the airbridge on arrival and we pass this information on to the CSM who passes on the information to the customers.

### Descent

Next it is time to wake the Captain up, we order him a nice strong coffee to help him get back in the zone as quickly as possible, we brief the approach, arrival and taxi in, along with contingency’s and how we are actually going to fly the RNAV approach. This looks at the modes we shall use on the mode control panel, discuss alternates and their weather and suitability.

We also revise some memory action manoeuvres that are pertinent to this approach including TCAS RA (a mandatory command to manoeuvre to avoid another aircraft) in the landing configuration due to helicopter traffic and GPWS Pull up (a mandatory command to climb the aircraft with max thrust to avoid terrain) due to the surrounding terrain.

#### Missed Approach

We discuss missed approach procedures and chose a high speed exit to the runway that if we have not got the wheels down by that point we shall initiate a missed approach. At 40 minutes to go I do a PA to our customers detailing the arrival time, route and weather information.

We always put the seat belt signs on a minimum of 20 minutes before landing to give the cabin crew the time they need to secure the cabin. For example, if the electronic seat adjustment in First or Club World fails then the cabin crew have to manually restore the seats to their upright positions for landing.

### Approach & Landing

After the briefing and PA has been completed I give control to the Captain who will fly the approach for my landing. We are one of the few airlines to fly monitored approach procedures, most airlines operate this way in low visibility procedures but we do it all of the time. It has the advantage that both pilots at the controls are involved in the approach and the objective for the captain today is to get the aircraft to 1000ft on the approach meeting the Stable Approach Criteria. I would then take control and land. It really is true (like the saying) a good approach leads to a good landing.

#### ATC Clearance

Today, we are cleared by ATC to descend with the arrival. In the US this means we are free to descend at our own discretion but must meet all of the restrictions on the arrival. Our FMC has this all programmed and we have checked it so the autopilot should do this automatically for us in VNAV mode. We then get given a short cut which reduces are track miles, so therefore we have descend the aircraft a little more aggressively by using the speed brake.

#### Speed Brake

The speed brake just gives us more drag so if we descend at the same speed with the speed brake out then we can achieve a higher rate of descent. The captain has to work hard as today vectoring by ATC is quite poor and they keep us higher than we expected. We do manage to get on the vertical profile and lined up with the runway at 4 miles out fully configured with the landing gear and flaps. We get the auto-callout from the flight deck speaker system of ‘1000’ telling us we are at 1000ft Radio altitude – actual height above the ground.

#### Disconnecting the Autopilot

I visually check we have met all of the stable approach criteria and call ‘stable, visual, I have control’. I take control and disconnect the autopilot and auto throttle, its a little windy, we have around 15kts (20mph) of wind from the left, so the speed is a little unstable which requires constant thrust corrections.

#### 100ft…

At around 100ft, everything looks ok, at 30ft I flare by raising the nose slightly, I squeeze the right rudder pedal to bring the aircraft in line with the runway and counter act the rolling motion by a small amount of left aileron down. The main gears touch the runway firmly, I lower the nose gently and the captain ensures the speed brake deploys and gives me partial reverse thrust on all 4 engines. Its important to lower the nose gently as the nose wheel is not designed to support large forces unlike the main gear, first class is also directly above the nose wheel!

#### Rate my Landing

So my days work is almost complete and although we have been working hard for the last 12 hours or so, I know according to our passengers the quality of my work will be assessed in the last 30 seconds! It wasn’t the best landing, but it wasn’t awful either.

I jokingly give it 6/10, but the Captain gave me 7/10 – clearly he wants me to buy the first round of drinks! Even more so on larger aircraft it is so important to land at the right place and at the right speed more so than the actual touchdown feel, however every pilot will also tell you we would like to land at the right place, the right speed and make the wheels just kiss the ground! Unfortunately it doesn’t happen every day.

### Taxy

The final part is navigating the airports taxiways with ATC and it is very busy. We must ensure we stay alert and focussed until the aircraft is on stand with the park brake set. Approaching our stand we start the APU to give us electrical power when we shut the engines down and instruct the cabin crew to place the doors into manual mode – this means when the doors open the slide will not deploy.

Each crew member will be responsible for their own door, but once they have placed their own door into manual mode they proceed across to the other side of the aircraft and check their colleague has correctly placed their door into manual mode. The CSM will then call each left hand door for them to confirm they have each got 2 doors at each station in manual mode.

#### Setting the Park Brake

I set the park brake and the captain switches the generators to the APU and shuts down the engines and switches off the seat belt signs. We run the shut down checklist and then I do a farewell PA to the customers. After this the three of us conduct a post flight review, this is effectively a de-brief and we discuss what went well, what didn’t and why it didn’t and how we can improve for next time.

We are then informed that some of the customers would like to come and visit the flight deck so we welcome a family with some young children, they sit in the seats with our hats on (I hope mine didn’t have too much hair gel stuck in it!) and we take some photos for them and answer any questions they may have, we always like to have a bit of banter with the passengers.

### Leaving the Aircraft

Once we have secured the aircraft, all the passengers are off and the cabin crew have completed their checks we all get off the aircraft together handing authority over to the engineering team.

We head to immigration, which, yes it can take us just as long as the normal passengers to navigate through. The longest I have waited is about 2 hours, but not here today in Vegas, we are all through in about 25 minutes, we collect our suitcases and head towards our transport which is a large coach.

#### To the Hotel

We tip the driver for loading all of our cases, mine is always the heaviest, I overpack! Have a short de-brief on the bus with the cabin crew, but more importantly we discuss what the plans are for our ‘down-time’.

We have got to the hotel at just before midnight UK time, but it is only 2pm here in Vegas. Luckily Vegas is one of our shortest transfers, it only takes 10 minutes from the airport, but a lot of our destinations can take up to two hours due to poor infrastructure and congestion.

### Hotel

Once in the hotel, we collect our keys which are normally all ready for us, some hotels will give us a mini-briefing on the facilities etc, but here we just grab our keys and head up to our rooms. We get discounts on food and sometimes drink in our hotels, the hotels want to encourage us to spend our money there, but rarely do I stay around the hotel.

After a long day the key is to dump your bags, jump in the shower, touch base with home and get down to the bar, if you sit or lie down you don’t get back up again! My work is finished and I can enjoy the Vegas casinos, hotels and pool parties (even if I am too old!)!

#### Conclusion

It’s been about 17 hours since I left my house this morning so it’s a long day. We not get 3 days off here before heading back to London. In this time we are free to do what we want.

I hope my wife doesn’t read this as she will confirm her thoughts that going to work is like a holiday!

Hopefully this gives you an insight into a typical day at work. If you have any further questions please select the ‘Ask an Airline Pilot a Question‘ under the home menu on our webpage and one of will get back to you.

# A Pilot’s Perspective on the Differences Between Short Haul and Long Haul

Our pilots have operated both short haul and long haul, see the pros and cons in this blog.

## A pilot’s perspective on the differences between short haul and long haul.

Having flown both short-haul and long-haul operations, in this blog I will try to highlight the differences with as little bias as possible. Apart from the obvious differences long-haul flights typically (although not always) will be operated by larger wide body aircraft and short haul flights generally use narrow body aircraft.

There are exceptions to this rule, some airlines operate from the eastern seaboard of US and Canada into the UK using narrow body aircraft. Likewise, Emirates and some Japanese airlines have used large wide body aircraft on domestic or regional routes of less than one hour flight time.

### Operational Differences

From a pilot’s perspective the short haul and long haul operations are totally different. I guess you could say the short haul lifestyle is more of a regular shift work job as with most short haul operations you will go to work and be home the same day and you would sleep in your own bed every night.

Some short-haul operators do night stop crews, but most do not. Sleeping in your own bed every night is not to be underestimated! Every pilot is different and their views on what constitutes a good life style can be totally different. I have colleagues that have tried both short-haul and long-haul, and our opinions seem to be divided.

### Workload & Time Off for Long and Short Haul Pilots

If you’re a long haul pilot you will probably find yourself reporting to work on average around once a week, this may enable you to live quite some distance from your home base. In fact some pilots may live in a different continent! In a short haul job with no night stopping you can expect to be travelling into work 4/5 days in a week, although most report times would be outside commuting rush hour times.

Long haul pilots will generally get more days off per month simply due to restrictions on days off after a duty that has a considerable time change.

Under EASA regulations some destinations that have large time differences will require 4 local nights back at home base to re-adjust time zones before you can report for duty again. Long haul pilots also burn up their maximum hours in a shorter period and all pilots have maximum monthly and yearly hour limitations. For example this week I will be reporting for a 3-day trip to Vancouver from London and in those 3 days I will have flown in excess of 19 hours. It would be unusual for a short haul pilot to accrue that amount of hours in 3 days.

### Short Haul Before Long Haul?

Typically, newly qualified pilots will fly short-haul operations at the start of their career simply to give them more exposure to the operation. In short-haul I could potentially fly up to 6 sectors a day with at least 3 of those being my sectors, so I would perform the take-off and landings.

You also become familiar with destination airports very quickly as you may end up flying to some of them weekly. In long-haul, sometimes I may run out of recency and end up being rostered a quick 30 minutes in the simulator to carry out some take-off and landings to renew my currency. On an average month I may only conduct 1-3 take off or landings a month let alone in one day!

### Rusty Skills!

You can become rusty very quickly in long haul operations and although you may have been operating for over 20 years you will never really become very familiar with any destinations or regions.

In my opinion, it really is the lifestyle that is different. I have flown short-haul and long-haul and it really depends on what you and your body prefers.

### Who gets paid more long-haul or short-haul pilots?

Typically, you will be paid more long haul as you require more experience and operate larger aircraft with a responsibility for more passengers. You will also fly for the bigger, national flag carriers.

Some struggle with jet lag on long-haul operations and the nights out of bed flying. If your body struggles to cope with this you are less likely to be able to take advantage of the extra time off long haul gives you.

### Personal Preference

I personally much prefer the long-haul lifestyle to short-haul. I remember often operating a run of 4 early starts in a row, these duties would require me setting my alarm clock for around 3am and on the longer days I may not get home until 4-5pm due to traffic. It would then be a case of grabbing food and going to bed as I was too tired to do anything else. So although I was home every night I couldn’t do anything else, but I did generally sleep well in my own bed!

An advantage of long-haul operations is not only would you get on average of around 14 days off a month compared with 9 or 10 with a short-haul roster, typically many flights land early in the morning. I’m typically back in bed for 09:00, up at lunchtime to have the rest of the day free on top of my other days off.

My experience has certainly been that I get more time off to do what I like on long haul than short haul. Long haul flying can impact on families as every time you go to work you are typically away for at least 2 nights, although it could be up to 4 or 5, some families or should I say partners this may benefit their relationship and others may struggle with this. I know my partner and I quite enjoy having some time apart, so we are not always in each other’s pockets, or at least I think that anyway!

### The Pace of Operations

The style of operations are very different too. Long-haul pilots are generally much less current and the pace of the operation is a lot slower. Briefings will be longer, you probably won’t have flown with the rest of the crew before. Most decision-making processes take longer in long-haul too, you have more passengers and crew to manage and a diversion airport could be hours away.

In long-haul we are less exposed and perhaps get less frustrated with delays, if we are delayed once outbound it generally only affects that flight, whereas in short-haul you are dependent on the aircraft arriving on time for you to start your day on time, and delays can accumulate throughout the day, sometimes adding hours to your finishing time. Air traffic control slot restrictions are rare on long haul as it is so difficult for different ATC authorities to co-ordinate.

Normally destinations are more varied in long-haul. When I flew short-haul I was lucky enough to night stop in some terrific European cities, but many pilots would only get 30mins to an hour at the destination airport before operating back to their home base. On long haul one trip I could be in South Africa wine tasting in their summer and our winter and the next trip I could be lying on the beach in Rio de Janeiro. It is difficult to get those experiences on short haul, however whilst you’re indulging yourself in these experiences you’re many miles away from your loved ones.

### Long-haul vs Short-haul, The Summary

In summary, I believe each individual is different and if the opportunity arises you should try both. Most of my friends and colleagues prefer long haul for many of the reasons I have given above, although probably its just the wine tasting and the sunbathing! The pilots that have tried long haul and don’t like it would normally be because they struggle to manage the sleeping in bunks onboard and the jet lag / time zone impact on your body which would then have a negative effect on their lifestyle outside of work.

Having done both, my vote goes to long haul.

# 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.

### Book/Enquire

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]

# 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.