Day in the life of
International Airline Pilot – Brett Manders
My Name is Brett Manders and I am an International Airline Pilot.
The thing about working in Aviation is that no day is typical. We might see and deal with various common situations but it is always at different times of the day at different airports.
Starting our day we review our flight plan and forecast weather for our route. There are also NOTAMs which stand for Notice to Airmen. These are notices that have critical information relating to safety. They could inform us about closed runways or unserviceable navigation aids.
Looking at that and our payload (passengers and freight) we work out how much fuel we need and if we can carry any extra. Fuel is expensive on the ground but priceless in the air. However, it is a delicate balance because the more fuel we carry, the heavier our aircraft is and the more fuel we burn carrying that extra weight. That costs the airline money.
Then the crew would make their way out to the aircraft and do a preflight inspection to make sure it is safe to fly. The engineers also do a thorough check of the aircraft before each flight.
We would then program the flight computers, calculate take off performance and the pilots do a take off brief where we discuss normal operations and any contingencies for any emergencies that could occur.
Once we are airborne, depending on the length of flight we would start preparing for our arrival by; obtaining airport information and weather, program the flight management computer for our arrival, calculating landing performance and then briefing what we are going to do.
In amongst all that we are talking to Air Traffic Control, trying to make a PA to the passengers and we may also have to radio the company to find out which gate we are parking at and what the passenger/freight load will be for the next sector if there is one.
So that is the basics of a typical day but you can throw in weather delays and deviations, late passengers or bags, rowdy passengers, runway or even aircraft changes.
It can make for a bit of a chaotic day but most pilots wouldn’t have it any other way.
The pros are getting to do a job most of us have dreamed about for a long time and other people would love to do. It is a respected profession and it is nice that people in the airports look upon you this way and believe you are an expert in your field. Travel is certainly a perk but often you are in exotic places by yourself.
The only other downsides are jet lag and because it is shift work, missing functions with family and friends.
Brett is an International Airline Pilot and the author of Behind The Flight Deck Door.
pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, national, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.