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The Soft Skills That Commercial Flight Pilots Must Possess

February 11, 2022
by Kent Parrish

You’ve had an interest in airplanes for your entire life, and maybe you’ve even been allowed to fly supervised, or perhaps you feel like you have a knack for it. You’d love to pursue a career as a commercial flight pilot. What skills make you well-suited for the job?

The following soft skills are recommended for aspiring commercial flight pilots:

  • Leadership
  • Self-confidence
  • Calm under pressure
  • Communication
  • Teamwork
  • Awareness

This guide to commercial flight pilot skills will paint a clear picture of what hiring managers are looking for when they choose pilots to work for their airlines. We’ll also discuss how long your commercial pilot education will last.

What Does It Take to Become a Commercial Pilot?

The first step to becoming a pilot is enrolling in a commercial flight school. As you continue your education and obtain your license, you’ll have opportunities to develop and solidify a certain set of skills.

While every commercial pilot has different experiences and personalities, the following skills are widely regarded as important when working in this exciting yet demanding career role.

Leadership

Think of yourself as the captain of the ship as a commercial flight pilot. You’re the one who makes the final calls and then follows through.

You must be quick on your feet, as you can rarely deliberate decisions long when you’re thousands of feet in the air.

You should have a commanding presence so that when you issue instructions, the rest of your team is ready to listen. Developing a track record of successful decision-making will inspire more trust among your crew in your abilities, and eventually, your leadership role will be a seamless transition.

Self-Confidence

As we established, there’s little time for deliberation as a commercial flight pilot. You also have no leeway for self-doubt. You cannot be the type of person who makes up their mind only to second-guess themselves several minutes later.

You must be cool and confident in yourself and your ability to guide and lead a team. After all, if you don’t feel confident, then that will rub off on the rest of your crew. They too will begin to doubt themselves.

Besides confidence in your leadership skills, you must possess unwavering self-esteem regarding your flight abilities as well. This confidence will come through knowledge and practice, both of which you can obtain bountifully at a commercial flight school.

Although you will inevitably make mistakes in your career, a confident flight pilot can shake off those errors, learn from what they did, and take care not to repeat the same mistakes in the future.

Calm Under Pressure

Most commercial flights will occur without a hitch, but for the ones that don’t, tensions will rise high, and quite quickly at that. Your customers can panic over unexpected turbulence or a small issue with the aircraft.

In high-anxiety situations, you may find that your crew also feels nervous.

A commercial flight pilot is allowed to feel fear and anxiety, but they cannot express it. Even in very stressful situations, they must maintain their calm.

This collected exterior can inspire the rest of the crew to calm down as well, as the sight of their pilot maintaining their composure alleviates the crew’s stress.

The sooner you can put your emotions in check and rein in a situation, the calmer your customers will be as well. The moment will pass, the flight can continue, and it’s because you stepped up and calmed your nerves.

Communication

When you talk, your crew listens, but what are you really telling them? Communication skills are a must for a commercial flight pilot and could be one of the most critical skills to learn.

You could know everything about flying a plane and being an expert pilot, but if you can’t communicate to your crew, incidents can still happen.

You must be a clear communicator who’s able to issue commands on the fly. When your crew hears those commands, there’s no ambiguity. This way, they can quickly carry out what you requested.

Teamwork

No pilot commandeers a plane completely on their own. It’s through a combination of your talent behind the wheel and your crew that the plane gets your customers safely to their destinations.

Even if some of your crew members might not get along with each other, you can inspire unity. It’s when crew members take it upon themselves to do jobs on their own that incidents are likelier to happen, and you know that.

You also don’t let your role as a pilot get to your head. You’ll have to work with others in esteemed roles such as flight dispatchers, air traffic controllers, and even fellow pilots at times. You don’t assume that you know best just because you’re the pilot.

Further, you do your best to make your crew members feel important. Although your role is technically superior, you don’t treat them like they’re less than you. You play up their skills and abilities to bolster their self-confidence so that your crew may be more effective in their respective roles.

Awareness

Awareness of all sorts is a valuable skill to have as a commercial flight pilot.

You must have systems awareness to stay abreast of your aircraft when it’s in flight. Spatial orientation and awareness will help you determine geography.

Modal awareness is crucial for flight areas such as heading, altitude, and speed. Commercial flight pilots require environmental awareness as well to have a solid understanding of the terrain, weather, and surrounding aircraft.

How Long Does It Take to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot?

You happen to possess many of the skills that make commercial flight pilots in demand. You’re ready to become a pilot, but how long will it take you?

That depends on the pilot school requirements, which can vary per school. The average amount of schooling you must obtain to complete a commercial license takes a year, but it can be more time depending on the program you select.

Once you complete your training and obtain your licenses and ratings, you will likely need to continue building flight hours as a flight instructor. Although the process can be time-consuming, the abilities and knowledge you’ll learn along the way will make the process worthwhile.

How to Become a Commercial Airline Pilot

If you’re ready to take the next step and enroll in a commercial flight school, consider California Flight Academy. You’ll work your way towards a Commercial Multi-Engine Rating so you can work as a pilot-in-command at a public or private airline.

Along the way, you’ll earn the required FAA Instrument Rating and Private Pilot License as well. California Flight Academy also has a proven track record of graduating successful commercial pilots who live around the world. This network can help you get connected to airlines who are hiring and help accelerate your career.

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