Pilot Skills: What Makes a Great Aviator?
There are a wide range of interests and abilities needed to become a pilot, and being a well-rounded aviator requires a healthy mix of both hard and soft pilot skills. Not only are pilots responsible for in-flight events, but they also must work as their crew members’ teammate and help ensure all individuals aboard the aircraft are having a positive experience.
What skills does a pilot need? Let’s take a look.
Soft Pilot Skills
“Soft skills” consist of work-ethic, people, social and attitude-related skills. For their success, a pilot should have a variety of soft skills.
1. Communication and Teamwork Skills
Communication is a crucial element in every pilot’s job. For the safety of everyone, pilots need to be in constant contact with Air Traffic Control (ATC) and those aboard the plane.
In addition to having the ability to communicate, your soft pilot skills must include being a team player. These two things go hand-in-hand. During training, students must be properly communicating with their instructor, just as First Officers and Captains must do the same in the professional world. You’ll also need to be working be with your other teammates, such as dispatchers, crew members and ATC to ensure coordination of all that occurs during flight.
2. Stress Management and Decisiveness
Included on your list of pilot skills should be stress management. In case of an emergency situation, it’s imperative that you stay calm and collected, not just for your sake, but the sake of your crew and passengers. When people are stressed, it’s natural to make irrational decisions. Being able to confidently act under pressure in difficult situations is an important component in your role.
3. Strong Focus and Multitasking
Airline pilots must be able to focus, as flying an aircraft requires performing several tasks at once. When it comes to flying, all details matter and require your full attention.
In addition to navigating your aircraft, you’ll also need to be communicating with ATC, operations, your cabin crew and passengers – there’s a lot going on at once. For this reason, you must be able to multitask.
Hard Pilot Skills
Hard pilot skills, on the other hand, are considered “measurable” and are taught.
1. Ability to Understand their Aircraft and its Avionics
Before takeoff, a pilot is responsible for examining the aircraft’s condition, inside and out. Pilots utilize multiple checklists, before, during and after flight to ensure the plane is in proper shape. They also look at fuel levels, keep an eye on engine performance, use the radio system, look at flight plans and navigate the plane. All of these skills are quite technical and require a great deal of knowledge, but each one is critical for safe operation.
2. Understanding of Math and Physics
You’ll need to have a general understanding of math and physics as a pilot. Areas such as principles of flight, mass and balance and navigation involve formulas and calculations. During training, you’ll learn about each of these and more, but don’t fret – flight instructors will be there to help along the way! Prior to attending flight school, it may be beneficial for you to take a few math and physics classes to prepare, but it’s not required.
3. Situational Awareness
Being constantly aware of your surroundings comes right along with the airline pilot career. Pilot skills, such as watching for changes in the weather and other airplanes, looking at the aircraft configuration, system and attitude and knowing what procedures to utilize in all situations is crucial. Do you know what to do if threatening weather appears? Are you prepared for spin/stall recovery situations? Whatever the circumstances may be, make sure you’re mindful.
Do you have what it takes?