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About The Career of a Pilot

Article by Youssef Mohammed

About this Story

Let me tell you a little bit more about a pilot’s career and how he/she progresses upon joining other pilots on a flight deck.

Seniority Matters

Seniority simply means how long you’ve been flying as a pilot for the airline.

All pilots, regardless of the type of equipment they fly or whether they are a Captain or a First Officer, are on a master seniority list. Almost all career steps are based on this list. This means all pilots are considered equally qualified, provided they pass the required training and check flights. A seniority system prevents favoritism and other undemocratic practices from interfering with the career of a pilot. It also restricts one from progressing quicker than the others as seen in other industries (by extraordinary achievement).

Consequently, if the airline flourishes and grows, every pilot participates in attempts to get his/her career to advance quicker.

Welcome to the Flight Deck

Photo by Sam Chui

You made it and graduated from flight school. You are now an airline pilot, and the type-rating will get you trained to fly on airline’s short-haul fleet.

The Ranks

Long Haul is Calling

Photo by Inverse

You are flying for some time (currently around 5-7 years), and it is time to move on. You will be a long haul pilot.

Becoming a Captian

Photo by FlightDeckFriend.com

Undoubtedly one of the important- if not the most significant step in a pilot’s career- is becoming a captain and taking command. One will upgrade to the left seat by joining one of the short-haul fleets.

Long Haul is Calling again!

Again, after some years on a narrow body airplane, it’s time to join the long haul fleets; this time as a Captain.


To a Great Career

Most of the pilots spend a great deal of their lifetime and most of their profession with their airline. Their “last flight” is an extraordinary, emotional moment, and many will congratulate the pilot for his/her great achievement and bid farewells. The Air Traffic Controller (ATC) will speak a water salute upon the last arrival back home (or sometimes the fire brigade wishes the pilot farewell) on the radio.

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