6 Important Qualities You Need to Become a Professional Pilot

Pilots with academic achievements and certified technical skills are definitely impressive. And while these credentials can help you fly a plane, they might not be enough when faced with unexpected situations while up in the air. 

As captains, pilots are not only responsible for their airplanes; they are also responsible for cabin crews, passengers, and other planes. If you’re planning on becoming a pilot, you have to understand that you need more than just technical knowledge to do your job. 

Listed below are six important qualities you need to become a professional pilot. You might already possess some of these traits, but don’t be discouraged if you don’t, as these can be honed through pilot training and practice.


Deciding to be a pilot isn’t an easy career choice. On top of all the classes you have to take, it takes hours of flying and training to meet all its requirements. Due to its difficulty, many pilot students might contemplate quitting. In times like these, the determination to keep going can help you stay focused and passionate about becoming a pilot. 

Aside from being a quality that can be useful during training, the determination to overcome your trials can also help you deal with situations as a professional pilot. When faced with a dilemma, your determination to solve it all costs can help you save lives. If you’ve made a mistake, your determination to learn from it and rise again can help you get back in the cockpit. 

Good Communication Skills

In school, you might be forced to think of the people around you as competitors, and you might want to alienate yourself and focus on getting good grades. But this is a disadvantage as pilots don’t work alone. In the cockpit, you always have with a co-pilot, and you have to communicate with this person as well as with personnel from Air Traffic Control (ATC) at all times. Poor communication has led to several air traffic accidents, where pilots fail to convey their circumstances with ATC. 

Aside from communication with your co-pilot and ATC, it is beneficial to strengthen your interpersonal skills. It is advantageous because you also have to converse and discuss flight matters with cabin crew members and passengers. These skills can also help when you deal with customers and their complaints. 

Good Mentality

Pilots need to have a strong mentality because it affects their confidence and discipline. Some pilots tend to be timid, while some are overconfident. Both are qualities that can lead to mistakes and accidents. 

Timid pilots will refuse to grow and second-guess their decisions, while overconfident pilots are less likely to be open to criticism and lack a sense of responsibility towards their passengers. This kind of mentality, whether timid or overconfident, can make pilots quick to succumb to their failures and can end up refusing to fly a plane afterward.    

It is good to be confident in your skills while staying humble, so you’ll never overestimate your skills and leave yourself prone to making mistakes. With this combination, you give yourself room to grow and make yourself open to guidance and advice. In addition, your humility can also help you feel more responsible, not only for the plane but also for the passengers and crew accompanying you. 

Situational Awareness

Situational awareness pertains to the individual factors involved in flying, controlling, and maintaining a plane. On top of that, you should also be able to account for these factors and make sure that it doesn’t negatively impact your aircraft and flight path. 

The components of situational awareness are: 

  • Environmental Awareness – It pertains to other aircraft, weather, and terrain, as well as communication between ATC and other aircraft pilots.
  • Mode Awareness – It is the configuration of your aircraft and includes control systems such as speed, altitude, heading, and more.  
  • Spatial Orientation – It is the geographical position and attitude of your airplane. 
  • System Awareness – It pertains to the systems required to control your plane. 
  • Time Horizon – It is when procedures and events should occur. 

Individually, mastering these factors can be easy, but they all come together and act in different ways once you’re in the air. Your ability to multitask and pay attention will come in handy during these times to ensure a safe flight. 

Quick Decision-Making Skills

Because of time constraints and the limited resources available to you when you fly, you must remain calm and composed whenever you’re flying. This is because weather and unexpected situations can always occur when flying a plane. Whatever happens, it can impact your route or landing, needing you to make quick decisions on what’s best for your flight.

Although there is a manual for emergencies that can guide you through such scenarios, it mostly serves as a checklist and doesn’t cover detailed approaches for every emergency. Because of this, most pilots have to come up with solutions of their own and have to find ways to act on them as quickly as possible. 

Your ability to make quick decisions and stand by them can allow you to save not only your passengers, but the lives of many people in the air and on land. 


As captain of the plane, cabin crews, passengers, and co-pilots should listen to you and respect your decisions. However, overconfident or timid pilots might not garner respect from those who fly with them, as they tend to be bossy or make poor decisions. This lack of trust and respect between pilots and crew can cause problems in communication and lead to accidents. 

Remember that leadership isn’t always about being the boss. It is also about listening to the needs of those around you—a give-and-take relationship between you and your crew. Your harmonious relationship with co-pilots, crew members, and ATC personnel ensures the safety of the passengers and can aid you in times of emergency. 

If you’re still in training and find that you lack some of these qualities, learn and practice them whenever you can to set yourself apart from those who merely fly planes. After all, pilots don’t just fly planes; they take care of the people who board their aircraft and promise to bring them safely to where they need to go.

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