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What does a Jet Pilot do?

By Harriette Halepis
Updated Mar 02, 2024
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A jet pilot is able to pilot all types of aircraft from large cargo planes to smaller passenger planes. Most jet pilots work for larger airlines transporting people around the globe, though some pilots are independently employed. The responsibilities of a jet pilot range from checking an airplane's equipment to ensuring the safety of those on board an airplane.

Major airlines require that two pilots are inside of an airplane at all times. Therefore, a jet pilot must be willing and able to work with a co-pilot on a regular basis. In addition, pilots are required to check in with air traffic controllers throughout a flight, which means that communication skills are an essential part of this job position.

Nearly one out of every five pilots does not work for a commercial airline. Often, these pilots work for various governments as test pilots. Test pilots fly new types of aircraft in order to check for flight ability and safety. Most of the time, once these newer airplanes pass initial inspection, they are used for military purposes. Other types of pilots include agricultural pilots, business pilots, and helicopter pilots.

Almost all employers require that pilots have a university degree. Test pilots must also successfully complete an engineering program. In addition, those pilots that intend to work for commercial airlines must have a pilot's license. Sometimes, commercial airline pilots do not have a university education, though all commercial airline pilots within the United States have at least 250 hours of flight experience.

Within the United States, those seeking to gain a position with a commercial airline may be able to gain a pilot's license with less than 250 hours of flight experience. Certain Federal Aviation Administration approved courses that require less than 250 hours of flight experience can be taken. Following flight school courses, all prospective pilots must pass three different tests.

The first test consists of a physical examination that is focused upon eyesight and hearing abilities. The second test is a form of a written test that includes flight knowledge and technical ability. The third test is a hands-on test that requires each applicant to demonstrate flying skills. In the United States, all of these tests are administered by the Federal Aviation Administration.

A jet pilot may also be required to have additional training that extends beyond flight school. This type of training can include specific airplane knowledge, radio abilities, and even safety testing. Also, a jet pilot must pass two annual tests that consist of new flight knowledge, and performance skill testing.

Interestingly, airline pilots in Pakistan, Israel, Thailand, and some African countries are linked with the military. Most commercial airline pilots within these countries began their careers as military pilots. This fact was also once true of the United States and Western Europe, though this is no longer the case today.

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Discussion Comments

By Rotergirl — On Feb 04, 2014

I have nothing but admiration for the men and women who fly jets -- especially airliners. They have a tough job that takes them away from their families.

Whenever I see a big jet land or take off, I am always fascinated and in awe of those who are able to fly these vehicles. There are some incredible videos online of pilots who have made unbelievable landings and takeoffs in the worst conditions possible, but they did it safely. I am always impressed by the abilities of a pilot to take off or land something that weighs 100,000 pounds. It's amazing.

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