Corporate pilots fly their company’s executives and select staff to and from their place of business to meet with clients, attend trade shows, or for other reasons. Many corporations invest in aircraft and hire their own pilots for the advantage of having air transportation available to them at a moment’s notice. The costs involved with having an aircraft and crew are usually a tax write-off for the corporation. The corporate pilot may also be responsible for loading the aircraft with any freight or baggage that the company needs transported in addition to the passengers. Other duties may include washing and polishing the aircraft, cleaning the interior, fueling, stocking supplies for the galley, and de-icing the aircraft when necessary.
Many corporate pilots are on call, and must be available to fly on short notice. This can make it challenging to plan time off. The number of hours flown from month to month may be inconsistent, and require occasional overnight stops in distant cities. Corporate pilots have less support staff to assist them and usually have to perform all of their pre-flight tasks themselves, including preparing and filing the flight plan, interpreting weather reports, and more.
Most employers require a minimum amount of logged flight time, but it may be as low as 500 hours. Other minimums may be required as applicable to the aircraft and nature of the job. Some companies prefer that job candidates are Certified Flight Instructors as they know that entails additional training and experience on the part of the pilot.
Flight instruction at an FAA or Transport Canada-certified flight school is required in order to earn a commercial pilot’s license. Additional certifications and ratings may be necessary, depending on the aircraft that the pilot will be flying. If the aircraft is a jet, then the pilot must be rated to fly that type of airplane. Most companies prefer that the pilot have an instrument rating so that they can fly with less restrictions due to weather.
Scheduling varies considerably from one company to the next. Some corporate pilots have a semi-regular schedule while others are on call, and still others will do a combination of both. Some corporations, in an effort to cut cost, share ownership and operating costs among each other by having the flight crew personnel and aircraft available to each company on an as-needed basis. This method can provide enough work to satisfy the crew, while at the same time lowering each company’s overall investment. Some charter airlines employ pilots on staff, keeping them on call and making them available to companies that lease the charter company’s aircraft.
Salary and Benefits
Benefits usually include paid vacation, dental and life insurance, sick leave, retirement plan. Unlike when working for a commercial airline, most corporate pilots do not have the benefit of free or reduced airfare for themselves or immediate family members.