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Commercial Airline Pilot

Commercial airline pilots transport passengers and cargo, normally on fixed routes and schedules. They are in command of a multi-crew airline aircraft and have full responsibility for the safety of the aircraft's passengers and crews.


  • Prepare flight plans based on weather forecast and operational information;
  • Conduct pre-flight check on maintenance status of aircraft prior to flight;
  • Conduct checks of flight controls, instruments and aircraft engines;
  • Confer with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters;
  • Check for fuel requirements and fuel quantities prior to flight;
  • Operate radio equipment to contact control tower for takeoff, clearance, and arrival instructions;
  • Make sure passengers are correctly informed of emergency procedures and maintain care of passengers;
  • Provide passengers with information and weather details.

Basic Educational Requirement

Apart from the educational attainment demanded by employers, which may or may not be aviation-related, airlines pilots are required to have a license from the Air Transportation Office (ATO) before they can perform their duties. Among the requirements for pilot's license are instrument ratings, type ratings, aircraft ratings, pilot proficiency checks, flight checks, proof of experience and training. The grant of licenses or progressions always require a certain number of prescribed flying hours.

To qualify as commercial airline pilot, one must meet the following specifications:

  • At least 18 years old;
  • Must be fit enough to pass a 2nd-class medical examination administered by the ATO approved flight medical examiner;
  • Must meet the minimum flight experience of 150 hours;
  • Must enroll in the ATO approved ground courses and pass the written exam;
  • Must pass the oral and practical ATO flight test with the ATO examiner.

Skills and Competencies

  • Cognitive and Social Skills
    • work load management;
    • situational awareness;
    • communication skills;
    • planning, problem solving, decision-making.
  • Technical Skills
    • aeronautical knowledge (navigation. meteorology, radio operation, air traffic communications, flight planning, aircraft weight and balance);
  • Aerospace Engineering Skills (aircraft instrument systems, engine system, airframe and mechanical systems, maintenance practices for pilot, avionics and electrical systems);
    • Physics and aircraft general knowledge;
    • Operation performance;
    • Managerial and coordination skills;
    • Aircraft operation systems.

Physical Attributes and Characteristics

  • Good eyesight and hearing;
  • Able to make accurate judgements quickly and remain calm in an emergency;
  • Alert and quick to react if something goes wrong;
  • Physically fit.


Locally, a First Officer receives an average monthly salary of P177,000 while a Captain's average monthly salary is estimated at around P274,000. Aside from the basic salary airline pilots receive additional benefit such as premium and longevity pay, incentive pay, transportation allowance, monthly rice subsidy, 13th and 14th month pay, and reduced rates on personal and family airline travel.

In the US, the highest total monthly pay of $162,900 belongs to Captains/Pilots in command of larger jets while those manning small jets get approximately $136,505.

In other foreign countries, pay and benefits are definitely higher than local rates.

Prospects for Career Advancement

Many airline pilots begin with smaller regional or commuter airlines where they obtain experience flying passengers. These jobs often lead to higher paying jobs with bigger national or major carriers.

In commercial airlines, advancement within the company usually depends on seniority and experience. First officers may advance to a Captain after meeting the prescribed number of flying hours and advance training. Seniority also determines which pilots get the more desirable routes and schedules.

Pilots who have logged the greatest number of flying hours using sophisticated equipment usually have the best prospects for career advancement. Others may also be promoted to managerial positions.

Employment Opportunities

Entry opportunities for commercial airline pilots will be with small airline companies plying domestic routes. For most full-time flying jobs, experience is the primary consideration in increasing the pilot's employment opportunities and the chance to land a job in major airline companies.

Those with a degree in aviation have better employment prospects since major airlines are increasingly hiring pilots with university degrees preferably in aviation related courses.

The demand for airline pilots is expected to steadily increase over the years as populations grow and incomes rise, stimulating the demand for air travel.

There will also be various opportunities for overseas employment with job openings expected to come from China, India, Singapore, Hongkong, Qatar and and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Cost of Education *

A course in B.S. Aviation major in Flying cost around P91,000 per tri-semester while training in flight operations would cost P4,987 per hour.

* Based on tuition fee rates for school year 2007 - 2008

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