What measures are in place to prevent pilots from being put in charge of passenger planes without an appropriate level of training and skill? Are these measures enforced equally by different countries, airlines and aviation authorities?


2 Answers 2


Put quite simply for this answer - The Licence a pilot holds is the assurance that the pilot has received the appropriate level of training.

Each country has it's own standards for training, their own requirements, and their own limitations on the operation of that licence. In saying that, MOST countries standards are reasonably in-line in regards to Aeronautical Experience required to sit each flight test.

In Australia, the requirement to sit a Commercial Pilot Licence is a minimum of 200 hours Aeronautical Experience (150 hours if ALL training has been conducted on an Integrated Course, now to be recognized under Part 141). From there, there is a break down of what that 200/150 hours must consist of.

Now, having a Commercial Pilot Licence (again, speaking from an Australian point of view) does not give a pilot the right to sit in the left seat of an Airliner. You need further training such as;

  • Multi-Engine Command Instrument Rating
  • Type Endorsement (for the intended aircraft)
  • Crew Resource Management Training
  • Dangerous Goods Training
  • Senior First Aid (Not mandatory, but common)
  • Company, Emergency, Cyclic and Systems checks (per company)
  • Air Transport Pilot Licence Theory Exams (in some cases, Airlines may not even look at you if you haven't completed these - In Australia, it is an unwritten must-have!)

And thats just to sit in as a Co-Pilot..

Captains need years of experience, and a lot more training and check to get into that coveted Left Seat.

So again, to bluntly answer your question, regardless of country, there is law in place that stipulates that Pilots must be appropriately trained to fly airliners.

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ You should also mention the recurrent training to make the answer complete. $\endgroup$
    – Jan Hudec
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 14:23
  • $\begingroup$ Are you sure a CPL allows you to fly right seat on scheduled passenger service in Australia? This is certainly not the case here in the U.S. At least an ATP-r is required here and even then you usually have to start out on the regional carriers. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 17:05
  • $\begingroup$ @reirab "usually have to start out on the regional carriers" makes it sound like you could be conflating legal requirements with industry/business common practices. $\endgroup$
    – Sparr
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:14
  • $\begingroup$ @Sparr Sorry for any confusion there. The ATP-r is a legal requirement. The "usually have to start out on regional carriers" is not a legal requirement, but is industry reality. The OP asked how pilot training is ensured by airlines, too, not just by laws. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:17
  • $\begingroup$ It's true enough that there are laws in every country, but the legal, as well as practical, experience requirements to fly an airliner on scheduled passengers service varies dramatically between different countries. For example, ICAO has "Multi-Crew Pilot License" specification that is designed to allow relatively low-hour (i.e. starting at around 250 hr) pilots to fly SIC on an airliner, while, in the U.S., 750 is the absolute minimum requirement to fly SIC on an airliner (and that requires that you have additional previous experience as a military pilot.) $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 20:26

That is the function of a license. Every country has their own standards, and by international treaties most countries must respect the licenses issued by other countries. So, for example, a Malaysian pilot is allowed to fly in the United States, even though he has a Malaysian license and does not have an FAA license. For this reason, it may be slightly more dangerous to fly on foreign air carriers, especially if they are from sketchy, third-world countries.

Carriers have much different standards for who is allowed to captain an aircraft. For example, a big carrier like Delta will usuallly have tougher standards than a regional airline or a charter company, but not necessarily. You can find small charter companies with really tough standards, and others that will let much less experienced captains fly their aircraft.

Do not think that safety is purely a product of training and experience. You can find guys with 10,000 hours who do stupid stuff and make bumpy landings all the time and kids with 800 hours who fly ten times better than them. Skill does not necessarily = experience. Also, performance in a crisis has little to do with experience. Put one guy in a crisis and he might freeze up like a rabbit, and another cooly reacts with correct decisions. It's impossible to predict ahead of time.

In difficult situations often judgement is more important than skill or experience, although experience can help improve judgement. Examiners will try to test a pilot's judgement, but it is hard to do. It's an undefinable quantity. Once again, you can have a guy with 800 hours who has much better judgement than the long-timer Navy pilot with 10,000 hours. It's difficult to predict.

  • 10
    $\begingroup$ I have to disagree on some points here. Saying that flying on Foreign Carrier's is less safe than fly an American Carrier is really not true (I'm presuming your indicating American carriers by the FAA reference). Qantas in your statement above would be a foreign carrier, and according to the recently released stats and ratings for 2014, Qantas is the world's safest, and most experienced carrier, and in this case, experience relates directly to skill and safety. Included in that Top Ten listing where Airlines such as Lufthansa and Singapore, both foreign carriers. $\endgroup$
    – James Ham
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:05
  • $\begingroup$ Thanks Tyler, I have to admit I tend to check airlines' safety records before I fly with them if they are not already known to me. I'm sure even the most lax are reasonably safe but as a nervous (yet frequent) flier I will take very safe over reasonably safe if given the option! $\endgroup$
    – Tom
    Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:06
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    $\begingroup$ @JamesHam I said "sketchy third-world carriers", not Quantas. Yeah, and Swiss pilots are good too. Try flying Chanchangi Airlines in Nigeria sometime if you think foreign carriers are so safe buddy. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:07
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    $\begingroup$ According to Airline safety rankings, the safest airlines are non-US airlines. There's also Airline Ratings but that gives both Delta and Aeroflot the maximum score so has lower precision. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 11:45
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    $\begingroup$ @reirab. I guess my real point is that the answer lacks any data or references to support the (implicit) flag-waving. What data I can find (however debatable) doesn't either. $\endgroup$ Commented Jan 22, 2015 at 17:27

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