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The Challenges And Pitfalls Of Airline Captains

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Young pilots and aviation trainees alike dream of becoming an airline captain. In the United Kingdom, airline captains typically need to have a decade or more of experience in the airline industry before settling into the captain’s chair. As well, captains usually have to exert an extraordinary amount of patience in rising to such a high level as there are many pilots waiting to ascend the airline ranks. However, the large number of pilots waiting for captain positions in the UK is only one of the challenges a pilot faces in advancing their career. By recognising these challenges, an aspirant to the captain’s chair can work on their skills and manage these issues before they become problems.

One of the major challenges for airline captains is learning to delegate responsibility to fellow staff members. First officers, trainee pilots, and flight attendants alike need to help ease the pressure off of captains in terms of pre-flight checks and customer service. However, airline captains have risen through the ranks and are used to doing these things as part of a team. A good airline captain learns quickly that their role is to be a leader and to be decisive in case of emergencies. Younger professionals in need of seasoning can do a lot of the administrative tasks required before, during, and after flights.

Another challenge for airline captains comes in building a strong flight team. Many captains have young co-pilots and other flight crew members, which mean that there may be a generational gap between the veteran captain and his youthful professionals. Airline captains will usually find that time is best solution to this challenge, as airline crews get comfortable with each other after a few weeks of repeated flight. However, a captain should also feel free to be outgoing with his staff and look for ways to relate to younger professionals.

A third pitfall of the airline captain position in the United Kingdom is the increasing amounts of regulatory and administrative tasks that they have to take on. As pilots age, the government’s regulatory body requires increased scrutiny on physical and mental condition. Airline captains often have to perform physical tests every six months to maintain their position and their certification. As well, airline captains are ultimately responsible for all of the administrative tasks that they perform. Many airline captains delegate this to junior pilots, which mean that a captain needs to look over the materials and affix their name. Captains need to take this challenge in stride, as it is meant for the safety and security of everyone in the airplane.

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