Real Answers from Real Pilots

What is the amount of math done by airline pilots on a typical flight?

Ill quickly note that I am good at simple math- 24*2 in my head, but college algebra is hard as hell for me. Besides doing private pilot math, do airline pilots really do a lot of math?

James,

On a daily basis we don’t due much. During training there are performance problems you have to do but even those are usually basic arithmetic (addition, subtraction, multiplication and division). Only thing I find myself doing math wise on almost every flight is some addition/subtraction when it comes to fuel scores and weight/balance fuel adjustments, if we’re over or underweight. The other you need to do on the fly (no pun intended) and somewhat quickly is reciprocal heading which means the 180deg opposite of a given heading. Knowing there are only 360deg possible you need to either add or subtract that 180. No biggy and not hard but you must be accurate and you also need to be quick.

Adam

James,

Most of the math you will be doing will be repeated so many times that it wont really be math anymore as much as memory. I assure you that most pilots are not math geniuses…you don’t need to be worried about it.

Yarden