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The crew of an aircraft consists of the pilots and flight attendants. The FAA sets high standards and strict training requirements for all members of the crew that the airlines often exceed.


On most commercial airline flights there is a captain and first officer (co-pilot); though in some older aircraft there is also a second officer (flight engineer).

The FAA sets stringent requirements for commercial airline pilots. Physical and mental health, flying experience and even driving records are taken into consideration. The FAA requires commercial pilots to participate in recurrent training. Commercial airline pilots must retire at age 60.

In addition, U.S. airlines have strict screening processes that often exceed the minimum requirements set by the FAA. Typically only 10-15 percent of applicants emerge from this screening process to begin training as airline pilots. The average new hire at the major airlines has almost 4,000 flight hours.

The typical commercial pilot is changing. More than half of the pilots currently flying in the United States have had military training, but as the military trains fewer pilots, civilian training is on the rise. That does not mean, however, that standards have changed.

Flight Attendants

The FAA mandates that on commercial airline flights with a seating capacity of more than 50 seats, the flight will be staffed with two or more flight attendants.

Review Flight Attendant Qualifications >>

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