Well, yes, technically you can become a pilot without a qualification in math and physics. However, in practice you do need a decent understanding of both subjects.
To become either a commercial or airline pilot, you only actually need a high school diploma or equivalent in terms of academic achievements.
Some airlines prefer pilots to have a degree in aviation or related discipline. Again, you’ll need a good grade in both math and physics to get onto one of those courses. You’ll also need those skills to continue to thrive when completing the course.
Some airlines don’t mind what degree you have, so long as you hold a bachelor’s degree or higher. In these cases, they are looking at your soft skills like perseverance, commitment, and grit, as well as academic skills like critical thinking and general understanding.
Generally, it is only larger airlines that require a degree education. Smaller airlines don’t always ask for degrees, and you don’t need a degree to be a commercial pilot.
If you’re going to be a private pilot, that is, you’re going to fly your own aircraft for fun, then you won’t need a degree.
Do Pilots Need Math and Physics?
Yes, they do! There may not be a formal requirement for academic proof of math and physics but in their day-to-day work, pilots apply mathematical principles and laws of physics.
During your training, you will be tested on theoretical subjects including the principles of flight, navigation, mass and balance and flight planning. All of these areas of learning rely heavily on calculations rooted in basic math and physics.
Outside of your training, when you’re up in the air you’ll need to make these calculations in your head as you fly. You won’t be able to rely on your phone or a calculator when you’re up in the air.
During the flight you may have to work out fuel levels, top of descent, crosswinds and other critical indicators. These all rely on your mathematical ability and your understanding of physics.
In addition, most airlines or flight schools include mathematical and knowledge-based tests as part of their selection process. If you want to stand a chance of getting a job or into a flight school, you’ll need to be fairly confident with math and physics.
If these subjects are not your strong point, and you’re thinking of becoming a pilot, don’t despair. You don’t need a specialized understanding of either subject. So long as you practice the principles that apply to planes and flying you should be ok.
During your flight training you’ll have enough new information to learn and get to grips with. You don’t want to also be struggling with your math and physics. It’s better to prepare before you start flight school.
Is Math Compulsory for Pilots?
Math is not compulsory insofar as flight schools will not ask to see a mathematics qualification.
However, math is required to obtain a high school diploma and the GED. As all flight schools require a high school diploma or equivalent, you do technically need to have a passing math grade.
The same is true for airlines that require degree level education. You can’t get onto most college courses without a high school diploma or equivalent. Therefore, math is compulsory in a broader sense.
Outside of academic qualifications, mathematics is crucial to a pilot. You will need to calculate things like crosswinds, tailwinds, fuel, and descent angles. You’ll also need a strong grasp of mathematics in order to plan flights and manage the different time zones.
Before you even get in the air, you’ll need to pass a series of tests as part of your flight school. Some of these tests will rely heavily on mathematical principles.
You may be required to plot a course which will require you to use measurements and angles. You might be asked to calculate fuel use and estimate fuel requirements. Some parts of your training will focus on angles of descent, while others will ask you to work out g-force and speeds.
All of these things require a firm mathematical understanding. You will need to be able to manage arithmetic, algebra, and calculus to do your job well.
Don’t forget, when you’re up in the air you may not have time to reach for a calculator. You’ll need to practice your mental arithmetic just in case!