Develop These Top 6 Soft Skills
to Become a Pilot

See also: Soft Skills

If pursuing a career as a pilot interests you, there is a set of qualifications and soft skills which you will require to become a successful pilot. The duty of an airline pilot incorporates flying passengers or cargo over long and short aerial distances for business purpose or leisure. Aircraft flying involves two pilots; one is the captain in command and the other one acts as the supporting officer or co-pilot. The main pilot flies the plane by operating the controls while the co-pilot monitors him and speaks to the air traffic control unit. Pilots usually take turns to fly the aircraft. For long flights, more than two pilots are kept on board to avoid fatigue.

In addition to the basic graduation degree from pilot schools, one has to undertake regular training courses and recurrent practice sessions to acquire and maintain the relevant licence required for this profile. With the qualification criteria fulfilled, you can join an airline as an apprentice and then get promoted to become a second officer. After taking the required hands-on training, you may be promoted to become the first officer, senior first officer and then captain.

Besides the professional qualifications needed to pursue this career, certain soft skills or behavioural characteristics may help you become successful.

The top 6 useful skills that you must develop to become a successful pilot are discussed below:

1. Effective Communication Amongst the Team

Accurate exchange of information amongst the pilots is very important as the pilot is responsible for the safety of all the passengers and crew travelling in the aircraft. Inaccuracy in the information shared between the pilot and co-pilot has been found to be the chief reason behind many mishaps. Vital information like the weather condition, air traffic information, radar vectors and other technical information shared among the aircraft staff when properly communicated will ensure a safe flight and landing. The communication between the pilot and the passengers also needs to be effective. It is also a part of their etiquettes to greet passengers as they board the aircraft. In some cases, the passengers may have some doubts and complaints which should be addressed in an effective manner to build up confidence among the pilot and the travellers.

A pilot may have to instruct the trainees who are under trained and need to be accompanied by their seniors. In this case also, effective communication plays a vital role.

2. Handling Various Duties Without Compromising Focus

Airline pilots need to have great concentration and the ability to focus on the situation at hand. Flying an aircraft is a critical role to undertake and perform as the safety of many lies in the hands of the pilot. Flying an aircraft involves performing various tasks at once. There are several factors that need to be taken care of. In case of an unexpected change of a factor, the pilot has to make an important decision in a fraction of second. In such a cases, even the smallest details matter and the pilot needs to stay focused without compromising any of their duties. While handling an aircraft, they may have to follow the specified route and communicate with the team at the same time. Possessing great multitasking skills will be of great use to pilots in such situations.

3. On-spot Decision Making Skills

The conditions in the air there never remain the same. There is a constant change in the weather, temperature, pressure and other technical factors. A sudden change in these and other such factors may cause issues like turbulence. It’s the quick thinking and decision-making skills of a pilot that can prove to be life-saving in such situations. Certainly, there are predetermined procedures to be followed in case of emergencies but not every situation may necessarily be covered in the checklist. In a particular situation, the pilot has to take the power into their hands and make the best decision. One wrong decision and the results may be disastrous. In many cases, there may be two or more ways to go but it’s at the discretion of the pilot to decide which way to follow. They have to use their quick-thinking skills and make a decision that’s best for everyone. Whether to make an emergency landing in an unfamiliar territory or change the route are some examples of important decisions that a pilot may have to make in a very small amount of time.

4. Staying Calm in Daunting Situations

The pilot must be the last person to panic in an unexpected situation. It is, however, natural to panic under unforeseen circumstances, but a pilot has to remain calm in any situation. This is possible by controlling their own personal traits and thinking about a way out from the situation. It is a part of the pilots’ training to stay calm and deal with the situation using their earlier training. During their training, pilot trainees are tested under stressful situations to determine how effectively they can handle such situations under pressure.

5. Effective Collaboration with the Team

While the role of the chief pilot is vital when flying an aircraft, teamwork is also essential for a successful flight. The complete flying team needs to work as a single operating unit as everyone in the team has their own tasks to perform. It is important for every member of the flying team to observe and report any discrepancy observed to the concerned teammate.

6. Determining When to Take an Individual Decision

Under certain unforeseen occurrences, the pilot may have to break the specified rules and do what’s best for everyone. Although there is a book of rules to be followed, sometimes it is necessary to stop going by the book and follow one’s conscience. Sometimes situations prove that following a rule is ideal, but sometimes it is better to take an alternate step. This is why training of the pilot is very crucial.

Thus, becoming a successful pilot requires the presence of these soft skills in addition to the required professional qualifications.

About the Author

Steve Hudson is a talent specialist and helps young adults and college graduates with their career choices and career development. He has a keen interest in further training and specialisation in trade and vocational education.