Corporate pilots fly aircraft owned by business and industrial firms transporting company executives on cross-country flights to branch plants and business conferences They arrange for inflight passenger meals and ground transportation at destinations and are responsible for supervising the servicing and maintenance of the aircraft and keeping aircraft records
The job is often demanding, but challenging, as the pilot is expected to fly in all kinds of flyable weather into many unfamiliar airports. The aircraft may be a light twin-engine plane, a small executive jet, or even an airline type. The pilot is at the call of company executives so he or she is subject to irregular hours. Often the pilot may be away from home overnight. If the company owns a fleet of planes, pilots may fly a regular schedule. Compared with the airline pilot, corporate pilot flying assignments are far from routine.
There are several approaches to acquiring pilot training. The first is through flight instruction at FAA Certificated flying schools. The student must be at least 16 years of age and be able to pass a third class medical examination. Courses consist of 40 hours of ground school instruction where students learn the principles of flight, aerial - navigation, weather factors, and flight regulations. Flying lessons are conducted in dual controlled aircraft. The instructor judges when the student is ready to take the written and flight examinations which are given by FAA inspectors. Upon successful completion of both exams, she or he earns the private pilot's license which entitles the pilot to fly passengers, but not for hire. The private pilot can then undertake advanced instruction, learn to fly on instruments and earn a commercial pilot's license upon acquiring additional hours of flight experience. These achievements open up numerous pilot careers because now the pilot can fly for hire. Further study and experience could eventually earn him or her the Air Transport Rating to qualify as an airline pilot.
A second method of acquiring flight training is through pilot training in the armed forces. This entails no expense to the student other than a five year service obligation. With some additional study, the military pilot can qualify for numerous civilian pilot jobs upon leaving the service. The military services have been a major source of pilots for the airlines.
Thirdly, a growing number of colleges and universities offer flight training with credit toward a degree. The graduate leaves school with a private or commercial license, and in a few cases, an Air Transport Rating plus a degree.
Helicopter pilots can receive training in the armed forces or at special private FAA Certificated helicopter flight schools. Agricultural pilots can receive specialized advanced training at agricultural pilot schools.
Opportunities for Advancement
A corporate pilot can acquire enough flight experience and skill on the job to qualify as an airline co-pilot. If the pilot prefers to remain in general aviation and the firm has a fleet of aircraft, she or he may eventually move up to the position of Chief pilot, directing all the aircraft operations of the firm.
For many professional pilots, the ultimate job is to be an airline captain. The pay can be very good; top salary at some of the higher paying major airlines is around $200,000 a year, for about 80 to 85 hours of flying per month. And benefits for pilots, as well as many other airline employees, include travel passes. But remember, the top salary level is reached only after many years of service and only at a few of the major airlines. Most airline pilots start out as first officer (co-pilot) with a regional carrier; initially they earn about $15,000 to $20,000 a year. And when they join a major airline, their first position may not be as a pilot, but as a flight engineer. Considerable training is necessary for any type of pilot job, and most airline pilots have to "pay their dues" by first gaining a good deal of experience either in the military or in other types of civilian piloting. In addition to airline pilot, pilot jobs include flight instructor, corporate pilot, charter pilot, test pilot, and agricultural pilot.