Commercial pilots are responsible for ensuring safety during flights.
They also perform other duties such as monitoring weather conditions and communicating with passengers.
But how much time should you spend flying each week? If you want to become a commercial airline pilot, you’ll need to get some flight training.
But how long does it take to become a pilot? And how much time should you spend in the air?
We’ll also cover the differences in learning long-haul and short-haul flights and how long it will take to fly these specific durations, amongst a few other guides.
What Are A Pilot’s Typical Working Hours?
Pilots typically work 12-hour shifts, although they may be required to work longer or shorter days depending on their employer.
The FAA requires that pilots log at least 8 hours of rest every 24 hours, but they can work up to 14 hours per shift.
In practice, most commercial airline pilots work between 10 and 13 hours per day, including both flight and ground duty.
How Many Hours Can You Fly Each Week?
A typical commercial airline pilot works about 30 hours per week.
This includes time spent preparing for flights, actual flying, and any additional duties assigned by your company.
However, if you’re an independent contractor without benefits, you could work even more than this.
For example, a captain working for a major airline might only have 15 hours available for flying each week (see also “How Many Stripes Does A Captain Have?“).
The exact number of hours you can fly depends on your job title and company policy.
Some companies will allow you to fly fewer hours if you don’t meet performance standards. Others require you to complete specific tasks before being allowed to fly.
The key is to make sure you’re not putting yourself in danger.
When you’re flying, you must maintain a safe distance from obstacles like mountains and buildings.
You also need to pay attention to traffic patterns and avoid landing at busy airports.
If you’re a student pilot, you’ll probably be limited to no more than 20 hours of flying per month.
How Long Does It Take To Become A Pilot?
It takes anywhere from two months to three years to become a commercial airline captain.
Most people start out as first officers (pilots who aren’t captains), which means they usually earn less money. First officers are paid based on experience.
You can expect to spend about $10,000 on tuition and certification fees alone. Other costs include books, uniforms, and equipment.
Once you’ve completed all requirements, you’ll then need to pass a physical exam and receive your medical certificate.
You’ll also need to pass a background check and drug test. Depending on where you live, these tests can cost around $100.
After passing all of these steps, you’ll be ready to begin your career as a commercial airline pilot.
Flight Time Limitations
Most airlines limit how many hours you can fly each week. These limits vary by airline, so ask your recruiter what restrictions apply to you.
Some airlines will allow you to fly for up to 35 hours per week. However, others will restrict you to 25 hours per week.
Some airlines will let you fly up to 50 hours per month.
Although this is possible, you won’t be able to accumulate enough hours to qualify for a promotion until you reach 40 hours.
How Are Pilot Flight Hours Calculated?
If we’re referring to commercial pilots, how do you log flying hours?
As you may not know, flying hours do not begin when pilots begin to male necessary safety checks, or even when the airplane begins to take off.
It’s actually counted from the moment of push-back. This is when the pilot releases the brake and begins to navigate the runway.
Long-Haul Flights Versus Short-Haul Flights
Commercial airline pilots often fly long-haul routes. These trips take place across the Atlantic Ocean, Pacific Ocean, or the Indian Ocean.
Short-haul flights are those that travel within North America. Examples include flights from New York to Miami, Los Angeles to San Francisco, or Boston to Washington DC.
Short-haul flights generally last between four and six hours. Long-haul flights can last anywhere from 10 to 14 hours.
Flying short-haul flights require less training because there’s less distance to cover.
On the other hand, long-haul flights involve more complex maneuvers. They also require more fuel, which increases flight times.
Flying short-haul flights also make it easier to find a new job when you want to change jobs. If you decide to switch careers, you may have to wait longer for a new position.
Before taking off, pilots typically get 30 minutes to an hour to rest their eyes. This allows them to focus on navigation and communication during takeoff and landing.
When you’re flying over land, you’re required to stay awake. Your body needs time to adjust to changes in pressure and altitude.
When you’re flying at night, you should try to sleep during daytime periods. Nighttime flying requires more concentration, which makes it harder to fall asleep.
The FAA recommends that pilots get one hour after landing before going home. During this time, you can relax and catch up on some much-needed sleep.
If you work overnight shifts, you’ll probably want to go straight home after landing. You can use the time to prepare for the next shift.
Overtime usually lasts two weeks at a time. It’s common for pilots to work 12-hour days, 6 days a week.
Overtime pays significantly better than regular pay. For example, a captain with 20 years experience can earn about $150,000 annually.
You can only work overtime if you receive permission from your employer, and you must request permission to work overtime.
Some employers might not approve your request.
So there we have it.
There are many factors that determine how many hours a pilot will fly, and it will ultimately depend on their contract, and whether their employer will allow for certain considerations such as overtime.