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According to Dave,* a pilot for a major commercial airline in Canada, this preference is due to the fact that "50 to 60% of pilots in the U. commute because they don't live where their routes fly to and from," so the block of days off gives them enough time to get back home and relax. Pilots don't work with the same cockpit crew every time.
When pilots make their monthly scheduling bids, they can ask to fly with particular crew members, but requests are granted based on seniority only.
With autopilot steering the plane, "we don't actually need to look out the windows to fly until right before landing." But that doesn't mean the cockpit is ever left unattended. You may have heard rumors that pilots are either wildly under- or overpaid.
For long-haul flights, extra crew members—the number depends on how long the flight is––are rotated in, allowing the crew adequate time to rest in onboard sleeping quarters. But as in any other profession, compensation varies.
"For all intents and purposes, that cannot happen," Smith says. No pilot will ever say that any part of the flying experience is unsafe, yet they will admit that takeoff is the most critical part of a flight.
"Aircrafts are subjected to extremely intense conditions during testing—more so than the most seasoned pilots will ever experience." In the rare circumstance that a passenger does get injured during turbulence, it's usually because the person has ignored the "fasten seatbelt" sign and bumped his head or twisted his ankle while walking around. "The airplane is heavy, full of fuel and flying at a relatively low speed, and the engines are at or near full power," says George,* who has been a major commercial airline pilot for 22 years.
"Copilots are full-fledged pilots and can operate every aspect of the aircraft, including handling emergencies." The only difference is that the captain is in charge and has an authoritative role during that particular flight.
Although first officers make slightly less than captains, many seasoned pilots will actually remain first officers in order to keep their seniority, which allows them to score the best routes and better work schedules (most pilots prefer back-to-back trips followed by an extended period of time off).
However, according to the pilots we spoke with, the real deal is extremely rare.3."This multitasking can help keep us alert during a lull." And on a bright day, pilots may intentionally obscure their view."When the sun is too strong, we lay a map or a newspaper over the window," says Joe,* a commercial pilot in Canada."Each change requires much more work on the part of the airline than on the part of the passenger.
Catering, mechanics, fueling trucks, baggage handlers, flight crews and more must all make the move." According to George, gate changes can be caused by a number of factors: An aircraft needs additional maintenance or an inspection, a flight has been delayed by air traffic control due to weather, or extra security checks are required for passengers.According to the pilots we spoke with, it's really nothing to worry about.