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An air crew member is someone who forms a vital part of an air-borne army combat team, or a civilian crew. Air crew members who work for the army have the responsibility of performing several jobs that make sure that combat, search and rescue missions, and aircraft communications run smoothly. The majority of air crew members have responsibilities that must be carried out before, during and after the flight.
The role of air crew members is usually sub-divided into several specialties. While some may specialize in combat-specific roles such as infantry, artillery and missile operations, others choose to head for roles like command and control, or search and recovery. No matter what role air crew members choose to take on, it is important that each individual working in the field is able to cope with highly stressful situations.
Air crew members employed in civilian roles may work in the cockpit as a pilot, officer, or flight engineer. In the cabin, air crew members can work as loadmasters, pursers, or flight attendants.
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An air crew member who works for the army is typically involved in the preparation and operation of air defense system weapons, such as determining what the target is, and evaluating the situation before firing. This also includes identifying whether the target is 'friendly' or whether it is a 'foe'. Air crew members also ensure that all artillery is fully stocked, and prepared for firing when the time comes.
Many air crew members are also involved in collecting intelligence and using it for defense and attack plans. This part of an air crew member's role involves working closely with reports, statistics, as well as geography in the form of grid maps and targets. Air crew members use this information in order to alert the teams they work with about any readiness changes, as well as suggested fighting positions. Other army air crew member roles include working as a flight surgeon, pilot, or signaller.
An air crew member's role in the civilian sector is considerably varied. Pilots are responsible for the control and operations of the flight, while first, second, and third officers take on command roles based on their set hierarchy. The final member of a civilian cockpit is the flight engineer, who monitors and controls aircraft systems, both during the flight and on the ground.
Those who work within civilian cabins also have varied roles. Loadmasters calculate cargo and passengers to determine gravity limits throughout the flight and prevent overloading. Pursers are responsible for money aboard the flight, and typically take an offboard role. Finally, cabin crew members are responsible for the overall well-being of passengers, serving food, drinks, and maintaining their health and safety.
Depending on the chosen role, the qualifications for being a air crew member vary widely. Those who choose to work in the army must have normal color vision, 20/20 vision, and a minimum height of 64 inches. The qualifcations required depend heavily on the role that each individual takes on. For example, a surgeon should be a medical school graduate, while a pilot must possess the qualifications relevant to their country's aviation authorities. All members can expect to undergo army training, as well as extra training at specialist army bases.
The required qualifications of those who work in the civilian sector are also based on the role they choose. While cabin crew members may only need a high school diploma, those who choose to work as a pilot, officer, or engineer need a university education, as well as further practical training.
All air crew members must be fit and healthy. Those who work in the civilian aviation industry are responsible for large numbers of passengers, and will need to be able to coordinate their escape routes in emergency situations. All civilian workers should know how to swim. Those who work in the army must be physically strong and healthy. Each crew member will have to undergo an aptitude test that will determine their suitability for their chosen sector.
The workplace of air crew members depends on which sector they choose to work in. Those who work in the civilian industry can work on a wide range of planes, and may even choose to branch into the private flight sector. Those who work in the army can expect to operate in a high-pressure environment, and will most likely have to work in volatile combat situations at some point in their career. Ground work can be expected for both sectors, as well as extra training sessions on a periodic basis.