Being a pilot may seem glamorous, but the working hours are long, and in some cases, pilots may need to spend quite a bit of time away from their families.
The hours a pilot works often depend on whether they fly short haul or long haul flights. One thing that is certain about the job, is that pilots have one of the most abnormal work schedules out there.
This article will be going over the average pilot’s work schedule, discussing how often they are able to go home.
What Hours Do Pilots Normally Work?
As mentioned above, pilots have very abnormal schedules. There are around 100,000 flights taking off and landing every single day across the globe.
These flights happen every minute each day, and many get diverted, or experience delays.
That being said, being a pilot can be challenging, but many who are involved in the profession enjoy the idea that they have as far a job as you can imagine, from the typical 9 to 5.
However, this isn’t always the case for all pilots.
This may have you wondering what kinds of hours do pilots work? And how often are they able to go and spend time with their loved ones?
Short Haul Pilots And Long Haul Pilots And Their Hours
If you’re interested in learning more about how much a pilot actually works, it’s important to understand the difference between short-haul and long-haul flight hours.
In the US, all domestic flights are considered short-haul, no matter how long they may feel. For a flight to be considered long-haul, it must be over 7 hours long.
Therefore, the schedule of a pilot depends on the type of flights he/she is designated to fly.
There are also regulations they must follow. The Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) states that no pilot should fly for more than 8 hours in 24 hours.
Once they have reached that limit, they are required to have a 10-hour rest period before their next scheduled flight.
If a pilot is flying short-haul flights, they may be flying multiple times in one day, so long as their total number of flying hours is below 8 hours.
It is often the case with short flights, that a pilot will fly to one city, and then return home straight after. This works well with those pilots who like to have a home base.
The case is very different with long-haul flights, as they can often be over 12 hours, exceeding the 8-hour limit.
When this happens, as the plane is cruising, the main pilot may be replaced with extra pilots, who will step in so the main one can rest.
He/she will then resume his position when it comes to landing and taking off. The main pilot will then have a few days in the city they arrived in, to rest before resuming their work.
When it comes to how many days off they get, it depends on whether they are long-haul or short-haul pilots.
Short Haul Pilots
Short-haul pilots can either have a fixed patterned schedule or a variable patterned schedule.
When it comes to a fixed schedule, they are likely to work for 5 days, and have 4 days off, alternating between both schedules.
They may also alternate between a 5-day on and 3 days off schedule.
Variable schedules are offered when it comes to seasonal airlines.
This means they may work more hours during high-peak times, such as the summer, when there is more demand for travel, and have more time off during the quieter, winter months.
This schedule isn’t as common with major airlines.
Long Haul Pilots
Long haul pilots usually get more days off each month than short-haul pilots do. This is because they fly long distances and spend more time away from home than short-haul pilots.
Their schedules are usually fixed, but they have more flexibility when it comes to scheduling, as it largely depends on what planes need to be flown that month.
A long-haul pilot will typically have around 10 to 15 days off each month. This works out at around 1 to 6 more days off than short-haul pilots.
When Do Pilots Get Time To Go Home?
No matter what the career, no one enjoys being away from their loved ones for long periods of time.
Once a pilot has had sufficient experience, they can join an airport that is close to their home, enabling them to be able to go home most, if not every night.
If this is not the case, then pilots will have a home base airport they work from, and they will stay at the hotel that is on-site to the airport in between flights, and then go home on their days off.
The above applies to short-haul pilots. When it comes to long-haul pilots, they are a little worse off when it comes to how much time they have to see their families.
They are likely to spend more time away from home, as they may be overseas for quite a few days before they can fly home.
However, they do have more time off each month, meaning they can spend more days home at a time than short-haul pilots.
Private Jet Pilots
There are a few terms that have people confused when it comes to private jet pilots. A pilot with a private license cannot legally fly anyone but themselves, but a pilot with a commercial license can fly a private jet.
In these cases, a commercial pilot that flies a private jet is usually at the beck and call of the person who owns the jet, or who wants to use it.
There is often a wide variety of arrangements for this type of work, and they usually depend on the employer.
However, like short and long-haul pilots, those who fly private jets are required to have their off time also.
In summary, how much time a pilot gets to spend at home will depend on the kind of flights he/she is involved in.
It is regularly the case that pilots will work many years gaining a reputation and experience, before basing themselves where they want, and carrying out their work from their desired location.