Flying can be a very rewarding career, both financially and in terms of job satisfaction, but it is important to know both the ups and the downs of the profession. It must be emphasized that a pilot’s job comes with great responsibilities such as ensuring that every flight that a pilot undertakes is very carefully planned. There are so many topics that need to be addressed when discussing all the matters related to conducting a safe flight, but this time we will cover the main issues that a pilot should consider before take-off and after landing.
Preparation for a flight will greatly depend on the time of departure and whether there will be one or two extra pilots on board. Needless to say, all the pilots must show up for the flight rested and ready to go. The things a pilot usually puts into his suitcase include an iPad charger, several sets of uniforms and an extra shirt with the other one cleaned on a layover.
After collecting all the personal stuff, a pilot must take care of all the professional ‘must haves’ – a pilot’s kit which has to be carried every time when conducting a flight. The kit, amongst several other things, contains the following: approach, STAR, SID and area charts for the airports; clipboard; atlas; biro; flashlight; important things needed to know on each flight such as like limitations, airport regulations or specials; passport, licence, logbook, aircraft system overview book.
Pilots are required to report to operations an hour and a half prior to the departure in order to meet the other pilots and review flight plans, aircraft maintenance history and weather forecasts. Once the flight plan is agreed upon and the official copy is signed, pilots head up to the jet. All flight attendants are usually on the plane when boarding, everybody introduces each other and the captain briefs the entire crew about en route and destination weather whilst the other pilot goes to the cockpit. The crew then checks the departure, destination, alternate and diversion airports weather and orders the necessary amount of fuel whilst taking into account all the possible contingencies.
Once the aircraft is landed, parked at the gate and the shutdown checklist is complete the flight is considered to be officially finished. When an aircraft stops with the seat belt signs still on, it does not mean that the aircraft has reached a parking bay. Passengers are advised to remain seated with their seat belts on until they are told to unfasten them. Once all the passengers have disembarked, the aircraft is handed back to the airport ground engineers who then carry out all the necessary maintenance works. Afterwards the plane is refuelled for the next service. The Captain and the crew are then transported to the Hotel for a much deserved rest before the next flight home.
The crew must pass through Customs and Immigration; however, they can usually use a separate Crew Only line. Once outside, everyone will board a bus or a crew van and head to the layover hotel.
Being a pilot is a tremendously responsible and exciting job. As a pilot, you are accountable for the lives of hundreds of people sitting behind you whose safety depends on you, your skills, and your experience in bringing them all up to 10.6 km (35,000 feet) into the air, hurtling them like a missile at nearly 1,000 km per hour, and yet you must pilot them safely to their destination in the most assuring, shortest, and fastest way possible. If after reading the section you are still sure that this lifestyle suits you – there is nothing that can stop you from achieving your dream.