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Many individuals are aware that being a pilot can be a rewarding career. They get to travel to different places and enjoy the best views from the cockpit. They can also potentially earn a lot of money if they’re employed in a commercial air carrier. While these benefits can be very attractive, the journey to becoming an airline pilot requires a lot of work.

First off, aspiring pilots need to find a reputable pilot school where they can undergo ground training to understand fundamental aviation and navigation techniques and then apply them during flight training. Next, they’ll need to complete a certain number of flight hours to qualify for specific pilot licenses as well as other requirements before they can apply for a job in any airline company.

If your goal is to become an airline pilot, you need to have a good understanding of the process to become one as well as learn what will be expected of you once you land your dream job. To help you, check out the key points below that can prepare for this particular career.

Pilot Licenses

Before you become an airline pilot, you need to acquire certain licenses to be legally allowed to operate an aircraft and be employed by airline companies. These licenses are a Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and the Airline Transport Pilot License (ATP). Both licenses are issued by the Civil Aviation Authority of the Philippines and permit you to earn as a pilot, but there are certain differences between the two that you need to understand.

Commercial Pilot License 

All pilots who want to be compensated for their service must be a CPL holder. This license also allows you to apply to any airline as a First Officer, which is a starting point for many airline pilots. To apply for this license, you must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid First Class medical certificate. You need to pass the Air Transportation Office Knowledge tests and their practical flight test and oral examination. You also need to get a license from the National Telecommunications Commission to operate the aircraft radio.

To obtain a CPL, pilots must complete at least 150 flight hours. This can be a combination of the 110 minimum flight hours required in your CPL training while the 40 hours are the ones you’ve already earned as you worked your way through your private pilot license.

Airline Transport Pilot License 

Although CPL holders can apply for First Officer positions in different airlines, an Airline Transport Pilot license allows you to immediately work as a captain of a large, multi-crew commercial aircraft. To get an ATP license, you need to accumulate 1,500 flight hours. You start earning these hours after getting your CPL, and any flight hours you’ve obtained before your CPL won’t be counted towards this total.

Apart from the required number of flight hours, you also need to have a multi-engine rating, an instrument rating so you can operate a commercial aircraft during inclement weather, and a type rating so you can fly various aircraft such as an Airbus, Boeing, or ATR.

Educational Attainment

Many airlines require their pilots to have a bachelor’s degree. While they prefer individuals who majored in aeronautics, aviation, aerospace engineering, physics, or computer science, any college major will do. In most cases, airline companies accept applicants with various industry backgrounds as they’re presumed to have the discipline and work ethics to uphold the values of the company as well as to be in touch with the latest technology, systems, and procedures in aviation.

Height Requirement

Although the Philippine Civil Aviation Regulations don’t require pilots to be a certain height, many airline companies impose one to ensure the pilot is capable of manipulating the controls in the cockpit. Often, these companies want to ensure their pilots’ limbs are long enough to reach every lever, button, switch and step on the brakes and rudders.

Every airline has a specific requirement for its pilots. For example, Philippine Airlines requires pilots to be at least 5’4”. On the other hand, some international airline companies impose height requirements of at least 5’1” and accept applicants who are up to 6’2” tall.

Responsibilities of an Airline Pilot

When you become an airline pilot, your duties begin before the airplane takes off. You need to follow a checklist of preflight checks to ensure the engines, hydraulics, and other systems are in order. You also need to check fuel, weather conditions, and flight schedules. Then, you must ensure the cargo has been loaded into the aircraft and its weight is properly balanced.

Primarily, pilots are responsible for safely navigating the aircraft using the different cockpit instruments. Part of this job is to ensure a smooth takeoff and landing. During the flight, they also monitor the engines, fuel consumption, and other aircraft systems. They must also steer the aircraft along the planned routes. Once they have landed the plane, pilots need to file a post-flight report.

Being an airline pilot has a lot of perks, but it also has plenty of responsibilities. This is why the process to become one takes plenty of hard work, knowledge, and dedication. If you want to excel as an airline pilot, it’s best to learn as much as you can about the requirements of most airline companies. Apart from the information mentioned above, you can also ask other airline pilots about their experiences to help you better prepare for your aviation career.