With engines manufactured by Rolls-Royce and weighing nearly 600 tons, the Airbus is the largest family of passenger aircraft in the world as of 2011. Pilots who fly the Airbus receive specialized training for flying this type of aircraft and have wages that vary by airline, experience, rank, employer and the destination of flights, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS).
The BLS states that the median annual wage of an airline pilot was $111,680 in 2008. Commercial pilots, however, earned a median salary of $65,340 per year. Airline pilots fly passenger planes, while commercial pilots fly aircraft filled with cargo. Both industries use the Airbus. A pilot may earn more money if he flies an Airbus at night or on international flights.
According to AviationInterviews.com, an Airbus pilot’s salary varies greatly by years of service. For example, an Airbus captain could earn up to $116,029 during his first year flying for a major commercial airline. A pilot who is a first officer in the same company, on the other hand, would only earn $39,480. In his 12th year of service, an Airbus captain for a commercial airline can earn up to $133,308, while a first officer can earn up to $91,140.
Many airlines give their pilots uniform allowances and compensation for uniform cleaning services. For every hour she is away from her home, an Airbus pilot may also receive extra wages, a per diem and reimbursement for overnight hotel stays and meals. The BLS states that a pilot usually receives a comprehensive benefits package and that many airlines give pilots and their immediate families free or discounted airplane tickets.
Those who have a bachelor’s degree, according to the BLS, have the best chance of working as an Airbus pilot. In addition, an individual needs to obtain a pilot’s license. A good place to gain flying experience is through the U.S. Armed Forces or by taking lessons from a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)-certified instructor. To fly for an airline, the BLS states that a captain must carry an air transport pilot's license, which requires at least 1,500 hours of flight experience and a passing score on FAA examinations. Because of the Airbus’ size, different cockpit structure, and the use of side-sticks that move independently from each other instead of yokes and special computerized controls, pilots who wish to fly this aircraft must receive flight training in a simulator before flying the actual aircraft. When a pilot receives training to fly an Airbus, he learns how to fly the entire series of aircraft, so he can more easily serve as a substitute on another flight.
The BLS reports that the demand for pilots in general is expected to grow by 12 percent between 2011 and 2018, which is an average rate of growth. There will be a lot of competition for Airbus pilots seeking jobs with major airlines, so it may be best for new pilots to seek employment with low-cost or regional airlines. Airbus pilots may find it easier to fly for shipping and cargo companies because of increasing security requirements on passenger flights and the higher demand for international cargo transportation.
- U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics; Aircraft Pilots and Flight Engineers; December 2009
- AviationInterviews.com: JetBlue Pilot Pay
- "The Sunday Times"; Flying the Airbus Giant of the Skies; Dominic O’Connell; March 2006
- "USA Today"; Ask the Captain: It’s All in the Wrist; Meryl Getline; November 2005
- Airbus: Passenger Aircraft: Commonality
- Justin Sullivan/Getty Images News/Getty Images