Commercial airline pilot explains what they really do during 18-hour flights

  • Autopilot helps manage the flight
  • Pilots are constantly monitoring and ready to take control
  • Pilots need to perform regular system checks and maintain steady communication

Published on Jun 28, 2024 at 6:45 PM (UTC+4)
by Daksh Chaudhary

Last updated on Jun 29, 2024 at 4:07 PM (UTC+4)
Edited by Tom Wood

Ever wondered what airline pilots do during those marathon 18-hour flights?

While many believe pilots just sit back and let the autopilot handle everything, the reality is quite different.

Commercial airline pilot Gary Baumgardner, who has been flying since 2007, recently shed light on the responsibilities and activities pilots engage in during long-haul flights.

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Duties of pilots during flights

First, it’s important to understand that autopilot is a crucial tool, especially for such long journeys.

However, it doesn’t mean pilots have nothing to do.

Autopilot helps manage the flight, but pilots are constantly monitoring and ready to take control.

For example, if unexpected situations like crosswinds or thunderstorms appear, it’s not the autopilot that can guarantee your safety, but your pilot.

Moreover, there are constant instructions from the traffic control.

Autopilot cannot understand these instructions and behave accordingly; it’s the pilot who does that.

So while the autopilot helps, it’s the pilots who ensure your safe flight and allow you to enjoy those beautiful views.

Apart from that, the pilots are busy with many crucial tasks during the flight.

They need to perform regular system checks and maintain steady communication.

These tasks continue throughout the flight.

Pilots take rest during the journey

But that doesn’t mean pilots don’t rest throughout the journey.

There are multiple pilots on board, taking their turns to rest and flying the plane.

There are separate sleeping areas for the pilots.

They are not as luxurious as the sleeping areas in private jets of the uber-wealthy, but they are quite comfortable.

Gary Baumgardner’s take on the misconception about pilots solely depending on autopilot has surely been an eye-opener for many.

So the next time you fly, don’t forget, there are hard-working pilots keeping you and your loved ones safe.

# Tags - flight, Planes


Daksh Chaudhary

Meet Daksh: Not your typical pro, but definitely a pro at being fascinated by supercars, tech, and all things futuristic. When he's not nose-deep in work, catch him glued to anime screens or lost in the pages of a good book.