Air traffic reporting pilots often work for television stations, radio stations, or traffic reporting companies that make the information available to others. On occasion, an air traffic reporting pilot may be asked to assist government or law enforcement agencies with the condition that the pilot is not put at personal risk. Air traffic reporting pilots often work swing shifts to be on hand during rush hour traffic or special events. This type of work is an opportunity for a pilot to build flight hours while getting paid for it. Air traffic reporting may be done in a fixed wing or a rotary aircraft.
An air traffic reporting pilot must be able to multi-task as in addition to flying the aircraft, they will be observing traffic conditions, and alternately communicating with the control tower and the radio or television personality. Often, the air traffic reporting pilot must fly in marginal weather conditions because the traffic report is especially needed by those on the ground. The schedule can be irregular and split into a morning and a late afternoon shift which means it’s difficult to supplement the part-time work schedule with a second job in order to earn a full income.
Most employers require a minimum amount of logged flight time, but it may be as low as 500 hours. Usually, a commercial license is required as is an instrument rating. 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.
Air traffic reporting pilots usually work in the morning and then again in the late afternoon in time for the rush hour traffic. Working on some holidays may be required.