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What Do Pilots Do Once They Arrive at the Airport and Before Takeoff?

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John Chesire, Four decades of aviation experience:

I was what is known in the industry as an airline pilot “commuter.” This is someone who does not live in the same city or anywhere near the airport where they worked and were based. At my airline, perhaps half of our pilots lived far away from their base or domicile and had to fly there to start their trip and very few even commuted from foreign countries on very long flights to go to work.

Prior to every multi-day trip I had scheduled, I had to take a much earlier flight on any available airline to arrive at the airport where I was based to begin my trip, which could often be stressful trying to get there on time before my required check-in. This was my routine:

A. The first and also one of the most important things I did immediately was to check in with our pilot scheduling department to let them know I was there and ready for my flight. Otherwise, if I did not check in, they would call out a reserve pilot to fly my trip while wondering what happened to me.

B. If I had time before departure, I would eat a light lunch or a snack at one of the airport food vendors. (Our in-flight crew meals were not always very good.)

C. I would check in our pilots’ lounge for anything in my mailbox there as well as a binder of important new airline and pilot information. I would also pick up my flight bag, my uniform hat and jacket.

D. I would then check the weather, both at my first destination and the enroute weather.

E. Then, I would pick up my “flight release” that contained everything needed to conduct my flight. I would review it and discuss it with my dispatcher if we needed to adjust the flight plan or any other number of things. (Pre-launch before a flight: the flight release)

F. Well before passenger boarding, I would meet and introduce myself to the flight attendants and my first officer. I might also meet certain law enforcement passengers, jump seat riders or FAA check airmen, among others.

G. I would perform both exterior and cockpit pre-flight checks.

H. Then close the door and prepare for taxi.

Featured photo courtesy of Jeff Greenberg via Getty Images.

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