What Does an Airline Transport Pilot Do?

A commercial airline transport pilot is the pilot in command of a commercial aircraft. The airline transport pilot certification is the highest level of certification a pilot can achieve, and once earned, the pilot can fly any aircraft that transports cargo or passengers as the pilot in command. The safety of the aircraft, cargo, and passengers on board is solely the responsibility of the pilot. To become a commercial pilot, a person must be at least 23 years old in most countries — though the age requirement varies region — and must first obtain a commercial pilot’s license.

To become an airline transport pilot, a candidate must undergo extensive training. Specific requirements may differ country, but a pilot must log 500 hours of cross-country flight time and 1,000 hours of night flight time. The pilot must also achieve a certain level of instrumentation certification, which varies country. This means that instead of flying sight, the pilot can use instrumentation to guide the plane. In order to become an airline transport pilot, the pilot must be in good physical health and have a good moral character.

The airline transport pilot, once fully certified and licensed, will be in charge of all airplane operations prior to, during, and immediately after the flight. This includes inspecting the plane prior to the flight, preparing the plane for departure from a gate, preparing the plane for takeoff, operating the plane during the flight and dealing with any issues that arise, landing the plane, taxiing the plane to a gate, and shutting down the plane after the flight. The airline transport pilot is primarily responsible for the plane’s, passengers’, and cargo’s safety.

The airline transport pilot may also be responsible for flight planning, navigation, communication, and weight balancing. If the pilot works in a specific industry, the airline may require additional qualifications and responsibilities. If the pilot is a member of the military, he or she will be required to complete additional military operations training. The costs of obtaining the necessary certifications vary; flight time is likely to be the most costly, as a pilot must spend a significant amount of time flying an aircraft before being considered for an airline transport license.