What Do Pilots Do During a Flight?

Something that you might have wondered is what a pilot gets up to on a flight. When we get on a plane, we have the luxury of getting on with other things, like reading or watching a film, but do pilots get that same experience?

We are going to talk about what a pilot gets up to when they are in the cockpit, and how they pass the time on a flight. This could be non-stop eyes on the sky, or unwinding with a good book. Keep reading to find out. 

What Do Pilots Do During a Flight?

During a flight, there is much more that needs to be done during takeoff and landing than there is during cruise. However, there are lots of tasks that will need to be completed throughout a flight, like position reports to air traffic control, monitoring the fuel log, and verifying that the flight management computer has followed the flight plan. 

These are just a few of the things that will need to be done during the course of the flight, and a pilot will always need to be vigilant to ensure that they are prepared in the event that something goes wrong. When they are not doing all the necessary checks, they are permitted to do certain other things.

Some airlines will allow the use of personal laptops, but others will not, and most of them will require the pilot to only access things that are directly related to the flight or additional studies that are relevant. So, checking up on your Facebook page probably isn’t going to be allowed if you are a pilot.

One of the biggest challenges that a pilot can face is staying awake, especially with nighttime flights, and only a few countries will allow pilots to take controlled naps when flying. However, not many places will allow this, including the US. Instead, pilots are encouraged to keep the lights on and find other ways to stay awake and alert.

Some pilots will be allowed to read newspapers, listen to music, and even play games, but these rules will depend on the airline. Something to be aware of is that there are laws in place to prevent the flight crew from doing anything during a critical phase of flight that is not related to operating the plane. These critical phases include ground operations, taking off, landing, and anything under 10,000 feet.

Can Pilots Read While Flying?

Whether or not a pilot is allowed to read during a flight will depend on the airline they are flying with. The majority of pilots will be allowed to read through a newspaper, as the articles are short and quicker to read, not taking up too much of their attention.

Reading longer books and novels is typically not permitted as it is more likely for the pilot to get swept up in a long book than a newspaper, and fail to monitor the flight deck as often as they should.

There are lots of pilots that will read up on materials that are related to the flight and their job, as this may be the only content that is permitted with certain airlines.

There are even some airlines that have policies to ensure that pilots are not doing anything that isn’t to do with the aircraft, so reading will not be permitted.

Do Pilots Have Internet?

Pilots do have the internet, as this can open up lots of opportunities for them to improve the overall safety of a flight. Wi-Fi on flights has been a huge game changer, and it provides pilots with many different advantages. Onboard internet will allow pilots to have access to relevant and up to date information and communication.

They will be able to access the most current weather information, use flight and travel planning apps in real time, and communicate with dispatch and much more easily and quickly. It has been reported that 75% of companies agree that in flight connectivity is a huge priority due to the benefits that it can provide.

One of the best things about Wi-Fi is that it can be used to create easier and more efficient communication between the dispatch center and pilots. Pilots can be given information that can help them during their flight, and they can also communicate back important information. Connectivity in the cockpit allows you to keep an open communication with everyone on the ground, so you are never out of reach of your team if you need them.

Do Pilots Know What All the Buttons Do?

A pilot will know what every single button and switch does, as they are all equally important for different situations. There would be no point in having all of these buttons if the pilot didn’t know how to use them.

The education that you need to learn the specifics of an airplane is quite intense, and there is lots of information to remember.

During the training that each pilot has to go through, almost every switch and button will be activated to show its function.

Is a Pilot Allowed to Leave the Cockpit?

A pilot is allowed to leave the cockpit, but only for the minimum amounts of time, like to use the bathroom.

Lots of pilots will try to limit themselves when it comes to drinking liquids to avoid having to leave the cockpit too often. They are able to leave the cockpit if they need to, but the rules of doing so will vary depending on the airline. In the US, a flight attendant will need to take the pilot’s place in the cockpit when they leave.

The rules are slightly different according to the German aviation safety authority, where it is dictated that when there are two crew, one of them can leave the cockpit, but only for the absolute minimum time.

Other airlines have a rule of two, so if one pilot leaves the cockpit, another member of the crew must take their place while they’re gone.