Captain pilot: A glimpse into the life of pilots

Aviation World | July 29, 2020

Flying is a very rewarding career, both financially and socially. Being a captain pilot is an esteemed position around the world.

Pilots usually undertake intensive and expensive training become such. Consequently, pilots are commonly well paid. They earn significantly above the average salary. The starting salary for fresh graduate pilots can be up to 30,000 SAR; And of course the bigger the aircraft and the further the destination, the greater the pay.

Moreover, most airlines offer excellent travel packages for pilots and their families. These offers can come up to 90% off ticket prices. They also generally offer more off days than typical jobs, partly because there is a global restriction on the number of hours a pilot flies in a certain amount of time.

The job definitely has more pros than cons, and that is why a lot of people dream about becoming pilots.

However, and even though becoming a pilot is a typical dream, the job itself is not a typical one, and it doesn’t have typical hours. A typical workday for a captain pilot can differ substantially. Work might start at 5 am one day and start at 12 pm another day.

So let’s take a look together on the life of a captain pilot, what does a normal workday for a captain pilot look like?

Short Haul and Medium Haul Pilots


Short haul flights are the flights that last anywhere from 30 minutes to 3 hours. And medium haul is between 3 hours and 6 hours.

Usually, there are two pilots on short haul flights, a First Officer and a Captain pilot.

Short haul pilots typically start and finish their workday at their assigned base. They do not tend to do night stops unless there are technical or weather issues of course. But oftentimes short haul pilots are back home for the night.

The roster for short-haul pilots is generally fixed with set days off. It is usually of a more stable nature than for long haul. Short and medium-haul pilots often fly regular routs. And sometimes in short flights they only get 1 hour to rest before they have to fly back.

A typical short-haul roster would be 5 days of work and then 3 or 4 days off. And they often alternate from week to week, for example, a pilot might work an early shift pattern one week, then a late shift pattern the next.

Short haul pilots can do between 2 and 6 flights per day, depending on the duration of the flight. Of course, this involves doing a lot of take-offs and landings, which are the most tasking part for pilots.

Long Haul Pilots


A long haul flight is one that has more than 6 hours of flight time. Long haul pilots fly long distances and thus often spend a considerable time away from home as trips can last anywhere from a few days to over a week. However, to compensate that, long haul pilots usually get more days off than short-haul pilots.

On particularly long flights, there may be several pilots to allow the flight crew members to rest during the flight.

Normally destinations are more varied in long haul flights, and the stops are longer because the pilots need to rest after the long flight before they fly back.

A long haul pilot is often paid more than a short-haul pilot. But in order to become a long haul pilot, you have to start as a short-haul pilot to gain experience. Long haul pilots do much fewer take-offs and landings therefore for a pilot to gain good experience most airlines require that they get a good degree of previous experience in the short-haul sector.



Flight Time VS Duty Time 

Many people believe that the profession of a pilot is limited only to flying and that only working time is the time of the pilots’ flight. Also, some people imagine that the life of the pilot is very luxurious and they enjoy traveling from one country to another, and this is not true because the pilot is not only responsible for the end of the flight, but will continue until after that.


The time that pilot spends at work does not simply mean the time he spends on the plane that is operating the plane. The total flight duration of flights may reach approximately 118 hours, but the actual flight time is not the service time but much more.


In fact, the pilots are responsible for many tasks before, after, and during the time-consuming flight. These tasks include weather assessments, file archiving plans, pre-flight checks on aircraft, post-flight reports, and ensuring that each flight is operated at the highest level of safety.


The working day of the bird arrives with all the tasks performed before and after the flight about 14 hours a day, including flight time.


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