How many pilots are in a cockpit?

More pilots, longer shifts

Hopefully there will be three pilots on board on such a long flight. The flight time is around eleven to twelve hours. Whether two or three pilots are on board, however, depends on the deployment time. The regulation of the so-called flight duty period or FDP (Flight Duty Period) is central. Incidentally, this is often limiting even on short-haul flights. Because we often fly three or four flights a day on short-haul routes. This results in very long operating times of over 10 hours.

For example, we have a maximum flight duty time of 13 hours for two-pilot crews. This usually begins an hour before the flight and ends when the aircraft is parked after the last flight. A third pilot is needed to extend flight duty times. A crew of 3 pilots can therefore work longer than a crew of 2 pilots.

Up to 18 hours

Depending on the possibility of recreation during the flight, the flight duty times in a three-pilot crew can be around 16 to 18 hours. In order to achieve even longer operating times, a fourth pilot would then be needed. All pilots are in the cockpit during take-off and landing. During the flight there are two pilots in the cockpit and the third takes a break.

With these limited flight duty times, one should not forget that they are actually designed for the safety of passengers. Unfortunately, there are often missions that go to the limit of these flight duty times - and sometimes even beyond. The accident rate increases by 65 percent if a pilot is on duty for between 10 and 12 hours. After 13 hours of use, the accident rate even increases to 500 percent. At the European level, flight duty times are unfortunately not limited, but rather relaxed. You can find valuable information on this The danger in aviation today is that the unbelievable cost pressure is putting more and more pressure on safety. And that makes flying cheaper, but not safer.

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