Aspiring pilots must understand that they need to have a good mix of technical and soft skills to be successful in their careers. The technical skills involve the principles of aerodynamics and how to safely operate an aircraft, which you can learn in pilot school. On the other hand, soft skills are qualities that help you interact effectively with other people and perform your duties well. For example, pilots must remain calm under pressure, have leadership qualities, and effectively communicate and work well in a team.
Aside from helping you be effective in your job as a pilot, these soft skills can set you apart from other aviators. They’re also what hiring managers in airline companies look for in their candidates. So if you want to have a successful career as a pilot, developing soft skills must be part of your goal. For your reference, here are some soft skills you can aim to develop during your training.
Ability to Stay Calm Under Pressure
As a pilot, you’ll be exposed to different situations. Some of them can be highly stressful like unexpected turbulence or minor issues with the aircraft. However, it’s important that you remain calm and composed throughout the flight as any sign of panic might trickle down to your crew and passengers. If you stay calm, it will help alleviate the crew’s and passengers’ stress.
Additionally, it allows you to quiet your own emotions and remain objective in solving the problem at hand. When you panic, it can cloud your judgment and have a detrimental impact on your performance as a pilot.
Typically, you can develop a calm demeanor through intense pilot training that exposes you to different emergencies and trains you to make sound decisions while under pressure. Through practice and persistence, you’ll learn how to stay calm.
Pilots need to have leadership qualities as they are the people in charge of a flight. They manage the cockpit and ensure the correct procedure is in place. Also, they are responsible for leading the flight crew.
In a commercial flight, the captain takes on the leadership role and must be able to issue instructions with confidence. This way, the rest of the crew listens and follows through with the necessary procedures.
If you want to improve your leadership skills, maintain a good track record of successful decision-making. It will help garner your crew’s respect and trust in your abilities as a leader.
Aside from being an effective leader, a pilot must also work well in a team. Remember, the success of a commercial flight doesn’t just rely on the captain. They need the support of their co-pilots, the entire crew, air traffic controllers, and flight dispatchers to safely transport passengers. The only way you can do this is by inspiring everyone in your team to work together rather than having an individualistic mindset.
You can foster good teamwork by making your crew members feel valuable. Even if you’re leading the team, you should be collaborative and open to their feedback and recommendations. Trusting in their skills can help boost your crew members’ confidence, which can make them more effective in their roles.
Having good communication skills is vital for any pilot. You need to issue instructions to your crew members clearly so they can immediately carry out what you requested. If the commands seem vague, it can lead to incidents.
Similarly, you’ll be communicating a lot with the air traffic controller to help them manage airport and airspace flow and safety. They will also assist you in different aspects of your flight. This includes seeking clearance during landing and take-off, proposing flight routes, asking or confirming a request, and getting instructions during emergencies. As such, you must effectively communicate flight details so the controller can give you the correct information or advice in emergencies.
Creativity in Solving Problems
While being a pilot requires a huge chunk of technical skills, being creative can also be very helpful. As part of your training, you’ll learn different checklists and when to follow them. These checklists are designed so that pilots have a guide on what to do in different scenarios to ensure a safe flight. However, pilots may still encounter unique situations that aren’t exactly defined in their standard training. In these cases, being creative in coming up with the best solution comes handy.
That said, pilots must be critical when deviating from their checklists is the appropriate action. They must also not be afraid to think outside the box to solve a problem.
Soft skills are just important as technical skills in your performance as a pilot. After all, even professionals with other technical skills, like a professional who works in web design, need soft skills to succeed in their respective fields. They help you make decisions during high-stress conditions and allow you to lead your flight crew effectively. If you feel like you don’t have certain soft skills, you can develop them through training and perseverance. What’s important is recognizing the traits that you have and the ones you need to further enhance early on. This way, you can continue working on them, helping you reach your dream to be a successful pilot.