How Many Hours A Week Do Pilots Work?

For most jobs, it is easy to see exactly what their schedule will look like for a typical week. For example, an administrator in an office will be working a 9 to 5, Monday to Friday schedule most of the time.

How Many Hours A Week Do Pilots Work?

Once you start talking about specialized or unusual positions then it starts to get a bit more difficult, like an international tournament administrator or a night security guard. 

However, one of the most difficult jobs to schedule for people who do not work in that industry is the job of a pilot.

Planes depart and arrive at all hours of the day, and they need a professional flight crew in order to make the journey.

Since these flights can happen at any time of the day, how do pilots maintain a schedule? And just how many hours a week do pilots work? 

In this article, we will look closer at a pilots flight schedule and see just how they work. 

How Many Hours A Week Do Pilots Work?

The number of hours a pilot works varies from person to person based on their preference, company policy, and personal preferences.

Some people prefer to work a lot while others prefer to take off early in the morning. The main point here is that there are no concrete rules as far as how many hours a pilot should work each week.

It really depends on the individual, but there are some general trends. 

Pilot Preference

Most pilots fall into one of two categories when it comes to scheduling.

There are those who prefer to work a set schedule every week which may include weekends and holidays, and those who prefer to work whenever they feel like it.

This second category usually includes people with irregular schedules such as part-time students, military members, single parents, etc.

However, even if a pilot does choose to work irregularly, there are still some things they must keep in mind. 

Pilot Safety

One thing that makes flying so dangerous is that a plane takes off and lands during different times of the day.

If a pilot were to fly during rush hour traffic without proper training, he could easily cause an accident. So the first rule for a pilot is to ensure that he has enough experience before taking off in a real emergency situation. 

Safety Training

Another important factor when picking a flight schedule is safety training. No matter how experienced a pilot is, accidents can happen.

A pilot needs to know the basics of aviation before getting behind the controls. 

Airport Requirements

A final consideration for a pilot’s schedule is airport requirements. These requirements depend on where the pilot flies out of as well as the type of aircraft he uses.

In smaller airports, planes often have to wait around for other airplanes to land or leave. This means that a pilot arriving late in the evening may find himself sitting idle until after midnight.

Also, small airports usually require pilots to check in 30 minutes prior to takeoff. This time allows them to prepare their airplane for departure. 

Flexible Schedules

No matter what kind of pilot you are, there is always going to be flexibility involved. You may want to work fewer than 40 hours per week to have more free time or more than 50 hours per week to earn extra cash. 

The bottom line is that pilots have a choice in how much they work each week.

There are no true standards as to how long a pilot should work each month. Instead, the key is to understand your own preference and then plan accordingly. 

How Many Days Off A Week Do They Get?

How Many Hours A Week Do Pilots Work?

This question is fairly easy to answer. Most pilots report working 5 days a week. In fact, most airlines also allow their employees to take at least 2 days off per week.

These days will vary depending on the airline and the region. For example, American Airlines allows its pilots to take up to 8 days off per year. 

However, these days off aren’t just for fun. They are very helpful because they provide an opportunity for pilots to catch up on sleep. Many companies also offer paid vacation days so that pilots don’t have to worry about money. 

In addition to vacations, pilots receive sick days as well. Sick days are used for any illness that doesn’t cause the employee to miss too many hours at work. 

When Do Pilots Receive Their Schedule?

Again, this depends on the company. Some companies give their pilots a detailed schedule weeks before they start working.

Others only give them a rough outline and expect them to fill in the gaps themselves. Either way, the point is that pilots need to be prepared ahead of time. 

If a pilot wants to know exactly when his next shift starts, he should ask his supervisor or manager for the information.

If not, he should put down his phone and focus on the task at hand instead of checking whether he’ll have to make another run to the bathroom. 

What Does “Flight Time” Mean?

Pilots who fly for different airlines and even different jobs within the same airline may hear terms like ‘flight time’, ‘hours flown’, ‘flying time’, etc.

Although none of these terms mean exactly the same thing, all of them refer to the total amount of flying time a pilot has logged over the course of a given period of time.

For example, let’s say a pilot flew from Monday through Thursday last week. He would have had 10 hours of actual flying time during that week.

However, if he was on call for 24 hours during that week, he would have been credited with 25 hours of flying time.

Final Thoughts

So, pilots’ schedules are really based on long and how often they wish to work.

Most airlines will set a schedule, but they are given to the pilot on a week by week basis and as such pilots themselves only really know the hours they will work each week and not the times they will work.

They could choose to work 40 hours, but those hours may be from 10am to 6pm one and 11pm to 4am the next.

Jacob Stern
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