Air crew officers, also known as flight crew, are highly trained and highly experienced professional aviators who are responsible for safely and efficiently operating an aircraft. Essentially, air crew officers fall into two broad categories: civilian-level officers or military flight officers. More commonly, air crew officers are known to the general public as pilots and co-pilots.
Other interchangeable job titles for flight crew officers include commercial aviator, charter aviator, and airline pilots. Regardless of the actual job title, air crew officers must perform a wide array of pre-flight, mid-flight, and post-flight duties.
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The day-to-day job duties of air crew officers are numerous. From an aviation perspective, the most complex and dangerous portion of any flight are take-off and landing. To minimize the risks of flying, air crew officers must fill out an extensive pre-flight checklist in order to monitor the integrity of flight systems. Specifically, these flight systems consist of hydraulic, engine, or instrument checks.
Other pre-flight job duties of air crew officers include monitoring the latest weather advisories and arranging flight schedules with air traffic controllers. Modern day airports require very meticulous coordination between pilots and air controllers in order to safely take off and land.
Mid-flight job duties of flight crews range from operating an aircraft's controls, monitoring its flight instruments closely, and successfully navigating a pre-approved flight plan. Flight crew monitor fuel levels as well as the status of engine systems, for instance.
An air crew consists of a captain and a first officer, also known as a co-pilot. The captain oversees the entire flight while the first officer assists the captain in flying the plane or checking the status of the flight. Both members of the typical flight crew actually take turns flying the aircraft. The first officer of an airplane is more than a mere backup pilot.
Post-flight job responsibilities of air crew officers may encompass properly filing the documentation required by the federal aviation authorities in the United States and Canada. Checking the final maintenance status of an aircraft post-flight is yet another crucial responsibility of a flight crew.
Air crew officers must be able to travel long distances and work in a vast number of settings. The varied work environments provide air crew officers the opportunity to partake of arguably the most exciting work environment of any career.
Flight crew officers may have to travel abroad several times a year after achieving seniority. Indeed, these international flight crew positions are the most highly sought after jobs in the entire aviation industry. The experience of operating the largest commercial aircraft in the world draws thousands upon thousands of applicants every year.
The actual work schedule of air crew officers depends upon the amount of non-flight job duties involved. For instance, senior airline captains perform fewer pre-flight checks than the first officer. Commercial cargo pilots in particular perform many more non-flight duties than airline pilots. These responsibilities include ensuring that airport workers have properly secured cargo, for example.