The profession of airline pilot is a very demanding one and requires a real passion for flying as well as intellectual, psychological and physical skills. It also requires a good command of English.
Above all else, an airline pilot is responsible for passenger safety, but is also in charge of tracking flight paths (piloting and navigation), managing radio communications and the technical monitoring of the aircraft.
Pilots fall into two categories: Captain and First Officer.
The Captain has authority over all the crew and passengers. He/She takes all the necessary decisions, from the preparation to the closure of the flight. His/her absolute priority is to ensure the security and the safety of the flight. He/She takes responsibility for the mission by delegation from the CEO.
The First Officer (or co-pilot) is second in command in the crew. The crew always consists of a Captain and at least one First Officer.
Pilots come from various backgrounds: the National School of Civil Aviation (ENAC), private pilot training schools, other airline companies, military pilots, …
The training aims to guarantee an optimum and up-to-date level of professional performance. It is composed of two main parts:
Each pilot obtains his airline pilot's licence during the first years of his training.
At Air France, a pilot begins as an airline First Officer on short- or medium-haul planes, such as: Airbus A318, A319, A320, A321 and B737 (Transavia).
Depending on the airline requirements and his choices, he may then move on to long-haul planes such as: Airbus A330/A340, Boeing B777 or Airbus A380.
During his career, the airline First Officer reinforces his experience and his knowledge of the company, which will allow him in turn to become Captain.
Becoming Captain is an important step in a pilot's career. It happens after a long period of training in both the technical and managerial fields.