Airline Captain (pilot)

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icould and Inspiring the Future
Michelle, Airline Captain

Time Code Audio
00:00:06 Hello everyone, my name is Michelle and I’m an airline pilot. I work for Easyjet and I’m based out of London, Gatwick. I fly the Airbus A319 and A320 and that can hold up to 186 passengers.
00:00:20 I’ve always loved flying and I’ve always loved planes. From a very young age I was lucky enough to be flying backwards and forwards from Kenya to visit my family. But it wasn’t until I was about 13 or 14 that I decided that I wanted to be an pilot,so I’ve been at Easyjet now for 10 years and I’ve actually been a Captain for 5 years and I’ve got round about 7,500 hours flying the Airbus A319 and A320.
00:00:44 Every flying school and airline has a slightly different selection process but in general what they like to see when you’re thinking about becoming a pilot is having good grades in Maths and good grades in Physics. So those are the kind of subjects that I would focus on. As well as all of your academic studies, it’s great to have other things on the side of your studies as well.
00:01:04 One of the biggest barriers to becoming a pilot is the cost. It costs a lot of money to become a pilot. You know, training school is very expensive and then once you join an airline, you may have to pay for additional training.
00:01:15 Some of the skills that you need as a pilot can include good teamwork skills, communicating skills, problem solving skills and I think, as an airline captain, because it’s my job to look after everyone, it’s really important that I’m able to lead the team and I’m able to make good decisions.
00:01:31 So there’s lots of responsibility involved in my job because I can be looking after up to 200 people and sometimes it can get quite intense and it can be quite serious because sometimes we can be on the plane together with the crew and the passengers, you know, for 6 hours in a go and with the crew we need to bring that aeroplane back, so we sometimes have 13 to 14 hour days. So it’s really important that as a team leader, I make sure everyone has a good day and everyone enjoys themselves..
00:01:59 There’s lots of paperwork involved with my job as well and that includes the flight time, how heavy the aircraft is, what kind of weather we’re going to be expecting en route and if there’s any special considerations, anything else that we need to consider for that day. And even though I have to get up so early sometimes, when I’m at work and I’m surrounded by all of these lovely people, it really makes it worth it.


“I’ve always loved flying and I’ve always loved planes. From a very young age I was lucky enough to be flying backwards and forwards from Kenya to visit my family.” After A-levels in maths, chemistry, German and PE, Michelle gained a degree in chemistry and then took an 18-month flying course to train as a pilot.

More information about Aircraft pilots and flight engineers

average salary

The UK average salary is £29,813

average weekly hours

There are 37.5 hours in the average working week

90%  male 
10%  female 

The UK workforce is 47% female and 53% male

Future employment

Future employment?

? Aircraft flight deck officers check, regulate, adjust and test engines and other equipment prior to take-off, navigate and pilot aircraft and give flying lessons.
Entrants with GCSEs/S grades and A levels/H grades, an Advanced GNVQ/GSVQ Level III or a BTEC/ SQA award can apply for an airline sponsorship. Private residential training is available to candidates with GCSEs/S grades or appropriate BTEC/SQA or GNVQ/GSVQ awards or to holders of Private Pilots Licences who have 700 hours flying experience. Normal colour vision is required and candidates undergo a medical examination. Training lasts up to 15 months and consists of courses of study and flying instruction. Airlines may have additional age and height requirements.
  • Studies flight plan, discusses it with flight deck crew and makes any necessary adjustments;
  • Directs or undertakes routine checks on engines, instruments, control panels, cargo distribution and fuel supplies;
  • Directs or undertakes the operation of controls to fly aeroplanes and helicopters, complying with air traffic control and aircraft operating procedures;
  • Monitors fuel consumption, air pressure, engine performance and other indicators during flight and advises pilot of any factors that affect the navigation or performance of the aircraft;
  • Maintains radio contact and discusses weather conditions with air traffic controllers;
  • Performs specified tests to determine aircraft’s stability, response to controls and overall performance;
  • Accompanies pupil on training flights and demonstrates flying techniques.
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