Pilots typically do the following:
1. Work as part of a flight team with other crew members, especially during takeoffs and landings.
2. Use instrumentation to guide flights when visibility is poor.
3. Start engines, operate controls, and pilot airplanes to transport passengers, mail, or freight, adhering to flight plans, regulations, and procedures.
4. Contact control towers for takeoff clearances, arrival instructions, and other information, using radio equipment.
5. Monitor gauges, warning devices, and control panels to verify aircraft performance and to regulate engine speed.
6. Respond to and report in-flight emergencies and malfunctions.
7. Steer aircraft along planned routes, using autopilot and flight management computers.
8. Check passenger and cargo distributions and fuel amounts to ensure that weight and balance specifications are met.
9. Monitor engine operation, fuel consumption, and functioning of aircraft systems during flights.
10. Choose routes, altitudes, and speeds that will provide the fastest, safest, and smoothest flights.
11. File instrument flight plans with air traffic control to ensure that flights are coordinated with other air traffic.
12. Inspect aircraft for defects and malfunctions, according to pre-flight checklists.
13. Order changes in fuel supplies, loads, routes, or schedules to ensure safety of flights.
14. Confer with flight dispatchers and weather forecasters to keep abreast of flight conditions.
15. Direct activities of aircraft crews during flights.
16. Brief crews about flight details, such as destinations, duties, and responsibilities.
17. Record in log books information such as flight times, distances flown, and fuel consumption.
18. Make announcements regarding flights, using public address systems.
19. Perform minor maintenance work, or arrange for major maintenance.
20. Test and evaluate the performance of new aircraft.
21. Coordinate flight activities with ground crews and air traffic control and inform crew members of flight and test procedures.
22. Conduct in-flight tests and evaluations at specified altitudes and in all types of weather to determine the receptivity and other characteristics of equipment and systems.
23. Instruct other pilots and student pilots in aircraft operations and the principles of flight.
24. Plan and formulate flight activities and test schedules and prepare flight evaluation reports.
25. Load smaller aircraft, handling passenger luggage and supervising refueling.
26. Evaluate other pilots or pilot-license applicants for proficiency.
Many aircraft used for hire use two pilots. The most experienced pilot, the captain or pilot in command, supervises all other crew members and has primary responsibility for the flight. The copilot, often called the first officer or second in command, shares flight duties with the captain. Some older planes require a third pilot known as a flight engineer, who monitors instruments and operates controls. New technology has automated many of these tasks, and new aircraft do not require flight engineers.
There are mainly 2 log books, the pilot's log book for their progress record (hours flown, aerodromes visited, air crafts flown) and the aircraft's maintenance log where all the info concerning the aircraft is (The pilot's who flew it, fuel used, when it last had a maintenance check, etc).
Testing aircraft is mainly done by test pilots but generally speaking any qualified pilots can do it if authorised to. The test pilots usually double as the maintenance crew in the hangar.
Generally all planes have dual controls so that any present pilot can have control at any one moment. What one does with his controls happens to the other's as well. The ones that have single controls are the very small, very light, usually single seat personal aircraft.
The flight engineer is actually required as a third person because he/she is the one who enters the information (desired altitudes, speeds, total weights of personnel, luggage, fuel, the plane itself, etc) into the flight computer and monitors any changes during flight as the computer handles those aspects of the plane. This is for planes equipped with flight computers as a major participant during flight, mostly the jet airliners.
Some additional information here
Before you fly as Pilot In Command of a plane, you must have flown a specified no. of hours as Copilot in that particular plane model.
There are 3 major licenses
The Student Pilot's License : Allows one to train to become a pilot.
The Private Pilot's License : Qualifies one as a pilot, however one can't work with it, one will be used mainly for leisure personal flights
The Commercial Pilot's License :Enables one to work as a pilot
After progressing to the commercial Pilot's License, one can move onto other licenses like the Instructor's License, Airline Pilot's License, Acrobat Pilot's License, etc. For each of these there is a separate license for Planes and Rotor craft.
Pilots must have good teamwork skills because they must work closely with other pilots on the flight deck, as well as with air traffic controllers and flight dispatchers. They need to be able to coordinate actions and provide clear and honest feedback.
Pilots plan their flights carefully by making sure the aircraft is operable and safe, that the cargo has been loaded correctly, and that the weather conditions are acceptable. They file flight plans with air traffic control that they may modify in flight because of weather conditions or other factors.
Takeoffs and landings can be the most difficult parts of the flight and require close coordination between the pilot, copilot, and flight engineer, if present. Once in the air, the captain and first officer usually alternate flying activities so each can rest. After landing, pilots must fill out records that document their flight and the status of the aircraft.
Many pilots will have some contact with passengers and customers. Charter and corporate pilots will often need to greet their passengers before embarking. Some airline pilots may have to help handle customer complaints.
Commercial pilots employed by charter companies usually have many more nonflight duties than airline pilots have. Commercial pilots may have to schedule flights, arrange for maintenance of the plane, and load luggage themselves.
Pilots who routinely fly at low levels must constantly look for trees, bridges, power lines, transmission towers, and other dangerous obstacles. This is a common danger to agricultural pilots and air ambulance helicopter pilots, who frequently land on or near highways and accident sites that do not have improved landing sites.
The following are examples of types of pilots:
Airline pilots are commercial pilots who primarily work for airlines that transport passengers and cargo on a fixed schedule.
Commercial pilots are involved in unscheduled flight activities, such as aerial application, charter flights, aerial photography, and aerial tours.
Flight instructors are commercial pilots who use simulators and dual-controlled aircraft to teach students how to fly.
NB: The pilot has the final say on matters concerning the aircraft and the flight therefore he/she is responsible for the lives of all on board the aircraft.
1. Transportation — Knowledge of principles and methods for moving people or goods by air, rail, sea, or road, including the relative costs and benefits.
2. Geography — Knowledge of principles and methods for describing the features of land, sea, and air masses, including their physical characteristics, locations, interrelationships, and distribution of plant, animal, and human life.
3. Mathematics — Knowledge of arithmetic, algebra, geometry, calculus, statistics, and their applications.
4. English Language — Knowledge of the structure and content of the English language including the meaning and spelling of words, rules of composition, and grammar.
5. Computers and Electronics — Knowledge of circuit boards, processors, chips, electronic equipment, and computer hardware and software, including applications and programming.
6. Psychology — Knowledge of human behavior and performance; individual differences in ability, personality, and interests; learning and motivation; psychological research methods; and the assessment and treatment of behavioral and affective disorders.
7. Mechanical — Knowledge of machines and tools, including their designs, uses, repair, and maintenance.
8. Public Safety and Security — Knowledge of relevant equipment, policies, procedures, and strategies to promote effective local, state, or national security operations for the protection of people, data, property, and institutions.
9. Physics — Knowledge and prediction of physical principles, laws, their interrelationships, and applications to understanding fluid, material, and atmospheric dynamics, and mechanical, electrical, atomic and sub- atomic structures and processes.
10. Customer and Personal Service — Knowledge of principles and processes for providing customer and personal services. This includes customer needs assessment, meeting quality standards for services, and evaluation of customer satisfaction.
11. Administration and Management — Knowledge of business and management principles involved in strategic planning, resource allocation, human resources modeling, leadership technique, production methods, and coordination of people and resources.
12. Telecommunications — Knowledge of transmission, broadcasting, switching, control, and operation of telecommunications systems.
Communication skills. Pilots must speak clearly when conveying information to air traffic controllers. They must also listen carefully for instructions.
Observational skills. Pilots must regularly watch over screens, gauges, and dials to make sure that all systems are in working order. They also need to maintain situational awareness by looking for other aircraft or obstacles. Pilots must be able to see clearly and judge the distance between objects, and possess good color vision.
Problem-solving skills. Pilots must be able to identify complex problems and figure out appropriate solutions. When a plane encounters turbulence, for example, pilots may assess the weather conditions and request a route or altitude change from air traffic control.
Quick reaction time. Pilots must be able to respond quickly and with good judgment to any impending danger, because warning signals can appear with no notice.