Pilot and Crew Requirements for Commercial Aviation

Working in the aviation industry as a professional requires highly qualified individuals that operate at the highest level in order for all of the many different sectors of the industry to function effectively. That is most true for the pilots and crews that operate commercial aircraft, where their actions can potentially affect hundreds of passengers’ lives. The requirements to become pilots or crew members for commercial aircraft are listed below.

Pilot Requirements

Commercial pilots are usually thought of as commercial airline pilots. However, a commercial pilot is simply anyone with the training and experience to charge for their services. Commercial pilots can be cargo pilots, tour pilots, flight instructors, or any number of related professions.

Commercial pilots must first train as a private pilot which allows them to learn the basics of flying, such as navigational controls, flight operation and maintenance tasks, airport communications, safety procedures and learning industry-related regulations.

Private pilots must be at least 18 years old and they must acquire a minimum of 250 hours flying in various situations, including solo flights and as the pilot-in-command, completing a specified number of takeoffs and landings, and flying cross-country in both day and nighttime conditions.

After becoming a private pilot, an instrument rating must be earned which allows a pilot to fly under Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) and in various forms of weather conditions.

Pilots who meet specific experience requirements can earn the Commercial Pilot certificate, which allows them to legally be paid to fly. Becoming a certificated flight instructor (CFI) also allows pilots to earn a living, while also gaining the flight experience required by airlines.

To fly large passenger airliners, pilots must add the requirements for multi-engine ratings to their commercial certificate and have recorded at least 50 hours in a multi-engine airplane to meet the minimum requirements for airline certification.

To be eligible to fly for a commercial airline, a pilot must earn the Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) certificate. The requirements of the Airline Transport Pilot certificate include being at least 23 years old, passing applicable knowledge and practical tests, and recording at least 1,500 hours total time as a pilot.

Most commercial airlines require pilots to have some form of a college degree. Most larger airlines require a bachelor’s degree however, some smaller, regional airlines may require only a two-year degree. It doesn’t necessarily have to be an aviation-related degree, but that will likely result in more opportunities for prospective pilots.

Cabin Crew Requirements

An airline cabin crew has the responsibility of ensuring that passengers are safe and comfortable during flights. Flight attendants instruct passengers on safety procedures, like how to use oxygen masks and exit the plane in an emergency, make sure all required equipment and supplies are available and handle any other problems that could occur during a flight.

In most occupations, the necessary training one needs comes before an actual job offer, but not for flight attendants. New airline flight attendants receive the bulk of their training after being hired.

New flight attendants receive training in all aspects of their job, such as customer service, pre-flight checklists, boarding procedures, in-flight services, safety and security procedures, first aid and what to do in various types of emergency situations. Flight attendants on larger aircraft also receive training to earn a Certificate of Demonstrated Proficiency which is issued by the FAA.

Some flight attendant training schools exist and some individuals choose to pay for their own training before seeking a job in the field. Those training programs focus on fire prevention and control, the use of emergency equipment, aircraft evacuation and escape, and survival skills for different kinds of crash scenarios and can take up to eight weeks to complete.

For most entry-level flight attendant jobs, a high school diploma or GED is required. Some airlines will only hire candidates who have a college degree, with emphasis on degrees in public related industries, such as hospitality management, restaurants, tourism, or nursing. Employers also prefer job candidates who have some kind of work experience in those types of jobs.

Flight attendants can spend a large amount of energy helping passengers storing luggage and handling beverage carts. As this can be a physically demanding job, flight attendants must meet very specific physical requirements as well. To get accepted into an airline’s flight attendant training program, an attendant must be at least 18 years old, in excellent physical health and height/weight proportional. The preferred height is between 5’2” and 6’2”, which is tall enough to reach the overhead luggage bins, but not too tall to feel cramped in the small cabin spaces.

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