An air crew officer is a highly trained and highly experienced professional aviator who is responsible for safely and efficiently operating an aircraft. Essentially, air crew officers fall into two broad categories: civilian-level officers, and military flight officers. More commonly, air crew officers are known to the general public as pilots and co-pilots, and they 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 is the 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 air crew officers range from operating an aircraft's controls, monitoring its flight instruments closely, and successfully navigating a pre-approved flight plan. Air crew officers 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.
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 an air crew officer.
Air crew officers must be able to travel long distances and work in a vast number of settings. A career as an air crew officer is a very demanding career path physically, mentally, and psychologically.
The actual work schedule of an air crew officer 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.