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Aviation

Ask the pilot: What does a “normal working week” look like for a pilot?

What does a “normal working week” look like for a pilot? How many hours do you work in a row? And do you get free time at your destination if it is a long journey?

What does a “normal working week” look like for a pilot? How many hours do you work in a row? And do you get free time at your destination if it is a long journey?
Therese

Hi Therese,

I fly short haul, so we have everything from 20 minutes to six hour-long flights. We don’t have any layovers outside Scandinavia so we always fly the return flight directly, with between 20 and 60 minutes on the ground. Within Scandinavia we have layovers that make it possible to have early and late flights to/from our destinations. The layovers can be anything from five to 20 hours, but normally they are between 10 and 16 hours (for long-haul they are normally 24 hours, but can occasionally be 48 or 72). Usually a stopover consists of a transfer to or from the airport, sleep, food and hopefully some time to work out. If time permits we might even be able to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing which is a great way to discover many of our small cities in Scandinavia. 

The maximum time we have on duty in a week is 47.5 hours. The maximum for a working day is 15 hours without a break, as we can eat onboard while we are working. I have a fixed schedule pattern, so I work five days and then have four days off and we get our roster two weeks in advance before a new month begins. In aviation there are no weekends or holidays as such, as every day counts as a working day. It doesn’t actually matter whether it’s Christmas Eve, New Year’s Eve, or a regular Monday, they all count as the same. So if you’re talking to someone working in the aviation industry, don’t be surprised if they don’t know what day it is!

Christopher Medevik
First Officer

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