Airline Captains

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Airline Captains

Airline Captains - Working Conditions

In a typical work setting, airplane pilots:

Interpersonal Relationships

  • Have a high level of responsibility for the health and safety of passengers and crew members.
  • Communicate most often by in-person discussions. They also use telephones and occasionally e-mail to reach others.
  • Are responsible for the work done by other workers, such as co-pilots and flight attendants.
  • Often work as part of a larger team or group. This will depend on the type of plane they fly.
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  • Have a medium level of social contact. They work with other pilots, air traffic controllers, and flight attendants. However, they also spend time alone while writing reports and flight plans.
  • Are occasionally placed in conflict situations in which passengers might become rude or difficult.

Physical Work Conditions

  • Are regularly exposed to sounds and noise levels that are distracting and uncomfortable.
  • Almost always wear a special uniform.
  • Usually work indoors in airports and airplanes. They work outdoors when loading cargo or baggage.
  • Often wear protective or safety attire.
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  • Are sometimes exposed to contaminants, such as jet fuel.
  • Are sometimes exposed to cramped work places, such as underneath a plane, that require them to get into awkward positions.
  • Are sometimes exposed to very hot or very cold temperatures, depending on the weather.
  • Are sometimes exposed to bright or dim lighting conditions, depending on the time of day.
  • Pilots who fly small places may come into close physical contact with other pilots, attendants, and passengers.

Work Performance

  • Must fully complete and be exact in their work to ensure the safety of passengers. Any errors may result in serious or fatal injuries.
  • Repeat the same physical activities while operating airplane controls.
  • Must keep pace with the speed of equipment.
  • Make decisions on a daily basis that greatly impact passengers. They usually make these decisions independently.
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  • Set their daily tasks and goals in conjunction with air traffic controllers.
  • Work in a moderately stressful environment in which daily deadlines must be met.


  • May work nights, holidays, and weekends.
  • Usually fly 75 to 100 hours a month. They also spend about 75 hours a month preparing for flights, writing reports, and waiting for planes to arrive.
  • May spend a lot of time away from their home base.
  • May experience jet lag after long periods of travel.
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  • Usually work a regular schedule.
Source: Illinois Career Information System (CIS) brought to you by Illinois Department of Employment Security.