It’s rare to find an individual who doesn’t dream of visiting far places. Of course, the day-to-day responsibilities of work and family are frequently limiting factors, not to mention the financial aspect associated with venturing out for more than a day trip. Joining a flight crew often seems like an obvious solution for those who are seriously bitten by the travel bug.
However, it’s certainly not as straightforward and easy as applying for the job and nailing a few rounds of interviews. The pilots and flight attendants are highly trained professionals who are responsible for the safety of thousands of lives every day.
As technology has improved over the years, airline safety has benefitted along with it. Those advances don’t mean that the pilots are any less engaged while manning the cockpits during flight, although they certainly have more advantages than their predecessors when it comes to the mechanization of the controls and the aircraft. The pilot is the captain, so he or she has ultimate authority and accountability for the passengers and the airplane, although there are guidelines that dictate the behavior of pilots to ensure they can adequately carry out their duties.
The most common and well-known rule pertains to the pilots’ eating habits. Situations where pilots fall victim to food poisoning have been portrayed various times in the movies and on television, but there are actually safeguards in place to ensure that pilots aren’t permitted to eat the same meal during the voyage. If one of the pilots does get sick, the others can easily take over without interrupting the flight or endangering the rest of the crew and passengers. This regulation can even extend to offering the pilots a completely different food selection from the rest of the flight since the meals are usually prepared in the same place. This avoids the potential for any cross contamination.
No small talk
Depending on the altitude of the plane, the pilots aren’t permitted to speak to each other or anyone else unless the conversation is directly related to the current flight. For the first 10,000 feet, the pilots should be focused solely on take-off and the initial ascending pattern out of the airspace near the busy airport.
Although a tiny percentage of planes ever crash, the majority of those accidents occur during take-off and landing, so this is an added security measure. Pilots can’t risk being distracted by non-essential exchanges with the flight attendants and the co-pilots, or even the act of relaying messages over the loudspeaker to the passengers. Unless they need to convey critical information, the pilots don’t talk during this early leg of the flight.
There are even rules that govern pilots’ sleep requirements. It’s important that the people flying these aircraft are alert and well-rested. Regulations are in place to protect the pilots’ health by mandating to have adequate time to sleep in between routes, and that their flight hours are limited by week, month, and year. This translates to a safer flying experience for the crew and passengers.
On long international flights, the pilots will even take turns napping. Depending on the airline and the type of plane, the sleeping quarters can be fairly comfortable and separate from the passengers. In these instances, there are always enough pilots on board to safely navigate the plane while one is resting, and the sleeping pilot can be readily contacted if needed.
These are just a few of the quirks that pilots experience in their role, but all jobs have unique characteristics. Ultimately becoming a pilot is an opportunity for adventure. The decision to pilot an airplane for a living can be a rewarding career path. If you believe you’re suited to become a pilot and love to fly, you can always start your piloting journey here.