Real Answers from Real Pilots

While Flying

I’m sure this question has already been asked, but I was wondering what are the most common things to do while on auto-pilot? What do you guys do, and what have you noticed other pilots do? Also, what is NOT allowed while flying?

I want to eventually fly long-haul flights, but I am concerned of the potential boredom factors on 12 hour flights.

Cameron,

In my experience the really long flight are better than the mid-length (6-7hrs). You see any flight over 8hr requires an augmented crew (RO, Relief Officer) which allows you to take a break and longer flights (12hrs+) require an entire additional crew (both Capt and FO). The breaks are usually split equally so you can sleep, eat, watch a movie, whatever. Again it’s the 7hr flights where you have no breaks that are the worst. Different airlines have different rules governing what you can and cannot do but most make some reference to not doing anything that “may distract the pilot from their duties…”. There are of course your normal duties which may include plotting (yes we still do if we’re not on a defined “track”), fuel scores, and sending position reports. Aside from that many pilots read or play games on their phones/iPads. The idea is again to keep yourself alert without getting too distracted. You never want to look up and be staring at a line of thunderstorms with no time to turn.

Adam

Cameron,

Check out this article that I wrote, it addresses your questions.

Chris