Cruise during a commercial flight

There is a common thought from many people, including myself before I started flying, that once the pilots takeoff, they click the “autopilot” button, recline their seat, and relax. When I first got into aviation, I pretty quickly realized that this is not the case.

There are hundreds of things that the pilots need to do on a commercial flight, that keep them busy from start to finish. In fact, actually hand flying the plane (having the autopilot off), is the easiest thing in the flight for many pilots. In this post, I am going to highlight a few of the main things that pilots do to stay busy during a standard commercial airline flight.

The first thing that they need to do is talk to air traffic control in order to receive their clearances, and instructions. Flying on a commercial flight is not as simple as the pilots just going directly to their destination airport. During a flight, air traffic control is telling the pilots exactly what to do, and in order to maintain the safety of the flight, they must follow these instructions.

The second major thing that all pilots do on every flight is manage the systems of the airplane. This can be monitoring the engine, monitoring the hydraulics, electrical systems, pressurization, and anti-icing systems. These are all things that the pilots are constantly scanning while in the cruise portion of the flight.

Finally, the pilots are briefing their arrival. The busiest portion of the flight is the arrival into their destination airport. One of the most crucial parts of the flight is the in-depth briefing that the pilots give on the arrival and approach into their destination airport. This is especially important if there is inclement weather at their destination.

Overall, the entire flight for a commercial pilot, or any pilot for that matter, is busy. There is always something that the pilots are doing in the plane, even when you are in cruise. After all, the reason autopilot was invented was because the pilots would be overloaded if they had to hand fly the plane, and they had to manage all of the systems, briefings, and etc.

Boeing 737 Max cleared for takeoff

Back in 2017, the Boeing 737 was a new fuel efficient jet that was anticipated to take over the skies and be able to battle against Air Bus’ new fuel efficient jet. This was one of the most anticipated commercial jets in the last 15-20 years. However, a pair of deadly crashes killing over 350 people in 2018-2019, halted the use of these new Boeing commercial jets. This was a software issue in the jet that was causing these deadly crashes. Following the crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) grounded all Boeing 737 Max’s in the United States.

Yesterday, the FAA announced that the update in software that Boeing released fixed the glitch in the system, and that the planes would again be allowed to fly. Prior to the FAA grounding these planes, there had already been almost 400 delivered to Boeing’s customers, and there were 400 waiting to be delivered. Each of these 737 Max’s cost about $100 million dollars, so these were billions of dollars up in the air for both Boeing and airlines such as Southwest, and American Airlines.

With the Boeing 737 Max being cleared by the FAA once the proper repairs are made, this will help both airlines and Boeing begin to revive their businesses. Between the Coronavirus pandemic and the 737 Max crashes from 2018 and 2019, this has been a very difficult time for both parties.

While this may sound scary, it will still be months before the Boeing 737 Max can actually carry passengers again. By lifting the grounding of these planes, they can begin to train their pilots on how to use the system in case of emergency. This will take months of training for each individual pilot from each company.

Path to an Airline Transport Pilot

This post will overview the different certificates and ratings that pilots need to complete and earn before getting their airline transport pilot’s license.

The step of the process is the private pilots license. This allows pilots to fly around passengers, but they are not allowed to fly people for compensation. This typically takes students about 50-60 flight hours in order to complete. Another requirement for this license is that they pilots can only fly in visual flight conditions, prohibiting them from flying through clouds.

The second rating that needs to be earned on the path to become an airline pilot is the instrument rating. This rating is for flight with sole reference to the flight instruments, so the when the pilot cannot see outside of the airplane at all. This typically takes pilots almost another 40 hours to complete.

The third license needed is the multi engine license. This one is pretty obvious as all it is is an add-on allowing the pilot to fly planes with more than one engine. All of the training done before this are done in a single engine airplane.

Finally, the commercial pilots license. The commercial pilots license is what initially allows you to be paid for flying. Jobs with this rating are typically skydive pilot, flight instructor, or areal photographer. This allows pilots to get paid for all of the remaining hours that they need to get their airline transport license.

Finally, when you reach 1500 hours of total flight time, you can take the tests for your airline transport pilots license. This is the last “rating” aside from a type rating. This allows you to carry a large number of passengers like you would on an airline.

After the ATP license, for each new aircraft you learn to fly that’s takeoff weight is over 12,500 pounds, you need to get a type rating. A type rating certifies you to fly that specific aircraft, and that specific aircraft only, unless you add-on other type ratings, or have previous type ratings.

Aviation in wisconsin

While Wisconsin is not as popular in the aviation world as places such as Florida, or Arizona because of weather, Wisconsin is home to the largest airshow in the world. Wisconsin is home of the EAA AirVenture, which is an annual event that takes place in late July. This event takes place at Wittman Regional Airport (KOSH), in Oshkosh Wisconsin.

This event offers anything from job hunting in the aviation world, to meeting other people that share the aviation passion, or people that are there to look at the cool military planes that fly in. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, the event was cancelled in 2020, however, here are some of the stats from 2019. In 2019, roughly 625,000 people attended, 10,000 airplanes from all over the world and country flew into the event, and there were roughly 2,700 show aircraft.

This is a very unique event for the state of Wisconsin. There are other airshows around the world, but none of them amount to this event. This event not only offers an amazing amount of planes for casual enthusiasts to look at, but there are hundreds of booths set up which can introduce people to taking flight lessons, or even getting career opportunities in aviation.

Even if you are not interested in a career in aviation, I encourage everyone to go to this event at least one time in their life. It is a truly unique event that is right in many of our backyards, as it is in Oshkosh Wisconsin. During this event, it is becomes the most busy airspace in the world, even over the likes of O’Hare in Chicago, or Hartfield-Jackson in Atlanta. This is a unique event that offers something for everybody to enjoy, regardless of your involvement in the aviation world.