Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

risk level
Based on 1,265 votes
by year 2032
or $105.35 per hour
as of 2023

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Automation risk

65% (High Risk)

High Risk (61-80%): Jobs in this category face a significant threat from automation, as many of their tasks can be easily automated using current or near-future technologies.

More information on what this score is, and how it is calculated is available here.

Some quite important qualities of the job are difficult to automate:

  • Manual Dexterity

  • Social Perceptiveness

  • Finger Dexterity

User poll

44% chance of full automation within the next two decades

Our visitors have voted they are unsure if this occupation will be automated. However, the automation risk level we have generated suggests a much higher chance of automation: 65% chance of automation.

What do you think the risk of automation is?

What is the likelihood that Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers will be replaced by robots or artificial intelligence within the next 20 years?


The following graph(s) are included wherever there is a substantial amount of votes to render meaningful data. These visual representations display user poll results over time, providing a significant indication of sentiment trends.

Sentiment over time (yearly)


Fast growth relative to other professions

The number of 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' job openings is expected to rise 6.0% by 2032

Total employment, and estimated job openings

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2021 and 2031
Updated projections are due 09-2023.


Very high paid relative to other professions

In 2023, the median annual wage for 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' was $219,140, or $105 per hour

'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' were paid 356.0% higher than the national median wage, which stood at $48,060

Wages over time

* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics


Moderate range of job opportunities compared to other professions

As of 2023 there were 93,670 people employed as 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' within the United States.

This represents around 0.06% of the employed workforce across the country

Put another way, around 1 in 1 thousand people are employed as 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers'.

Job description

Pilot and navigate the flight of fixed-wing aircraft, usually on scheduled air carrier routes, for the transport of passengers and cargo. Requires Federal Air Transport certificate and rating for specific aircraft type used. Includes regional, national, and international airline pilots and flight instructors of airline pilots.

SOC Code: 53-2011.00


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Leave a comment

bob (Highly likely) says
1 word autopilot
Jul 06, 2024 at 07:24 PM
Anonymous (Moderate) says
Because pilots even today have a sizeable portion of the piloting during flight cut out for them with autopilot and it is already so trustworthy and efficient that they can sleep around a half hour while autopilot is on before being woken up by an alarm. Though this is balanced out by takeoff and landing which is much more tricky to automate and there is still the need for pilot input during emergencies
Jul 05, 2024 at 03:49 PM
LBFEBNL (Moderate) says
If wanted, the aircraft manufacturer could easily develop a computer to follow all the instructions that pilots need to follow too, like taxiing, departure (still needs human help), cruising (already taken over by autopilot but still needs human help if an emergency happens), and landing.

That is for the pilot. For the co-pilot, it is highly likely because the A.I. doesn't need to do all the instructions; they just do half of it, and the rest the pilot will handle.

For the flight engineer, I think it has a lower chance of getting replaced by A.I. or some sort of computer.

But this is overall just my opinion.
Jul 05, 2024 at 09:19 AM
James (Moderate) says
Yeah the 64% chance scares my freind who is a pilot
Jul 02, 2024 at 08:18 AM
criag (No chance) says
There are many airlines that want soft, silky landings and not slammy, hard, ai- landings
Jul 02, 2024 at 12:33 AM
Josh (Low) says
It is a very complex job that requires concentration and multitasking of witch a robot can't di
Jul 01, 2024 at 07:38 PM
. (Low) says
you will always need humans incase something happened. its possible but not in the next 20 years
Feb 22, 2024 at 04:26 PM
Luca (Highly likely) says
Automated flight is already a well-established reality, the pilot on board serves only to reassure passengers who are not yet accustomed to the idea of a completely automated flight.
Dec 03, 2023 at 03:43 PM
Oxtin Poss says
We are no where near completely autonomous flight. We barely have self-driving cars, which are normally confined to certain parameters. There are so many variables and things that could go wrong, that it simply isn’t viable yet.
May 17, 2024 at 12:46 AM
boo (Low) says
Automation has the ability to control events in a certain context, and wouldn't be able to handle an emergency or malfunction, considering the usual age of aircraft computers.
Nov 29, 2023 at 02:09 AM
Harry (Low) says
Landing and take off needs accurate readings and a lot of man power we also need to understand the runway so it my not be
Nov 11, 2023 at 12:01 PM
KickinTyres (Low) says
The public's perception of safety is intrinsically connected to having human pilots in the cockpit.
Sep 25, 2023 at 07:07 AM
Ayden (No chance) says
New plane can fly it self but they still need pilot or co pilot to make sure nothing is going wrong especially when it is landing
Sep 02, 2023 at 04:11 AM
Alneez (Moderate) says
Airbus Project Dragonfly
Aug 11, 2023 at 02:55 PM
C.L.M. (No chance) says
It is not a technological issue, it is a sociological, legislative, and regulatory one.

People are too anxious to get on a plane without another human being up front with their life and safety on the line. This will be even more true as we move through the inevitable accidents during automation of ground transportation. At least that's what I heard as an FAA research scientist working on future drone airspace research projects.
Jul 15, 2023 at 05:31 AM
Captam (Highly likely) says
The “need for the human touch“ when things “go wrong“ with a flight is arguably correct However this function can be provided perfectly adequately from a remote control room. The human does not need to be sitting in the cockpit. The ability to fly precision drone operarions from control rooms thousands of miles away proves this. Flights can be totally automated but when an abnormality occurs, the controllers (who oversee multiple flights)can be alerted, and intervene renotely if necessaey.
Jun 23, 2023 at 01:59 AM
MKD (Low) says
Social licence
Complex decision making
Unknown and unforeseen circumstances requiring reactions not programmed
May 21, 2023 at 05:33 AM
Landon (Low) says
Too many FAA regulations for something so untested
Apr 20, 2023 at 08:25 PM
Allen (No chance) says
The consequences of having a 'computer's problem are too dire. It may be that there will only need to be a single pilot instead of a co-pilot backup. There will always be a human pilot when transporting humans.
Mar 26, 2023 at 07:48 PM
Corey Snyder (No chance) says
Human factor is often blamed for air crashes, however the Human factor is truly the only thing that can prevent accidents in the complex air traffic system. An AI is not capable of making the philosophical and logical decisions that a required crew member on an aircraft has to be able to make. A theoretical AI that could add up every single factor in an Instant still could not make a rational choice that would balance deontological and consequentialist philosophies.
Mar 18, 2023 at 12:58 AM
mike (Low) says
it is just too risky, to put so many peoples lives on the line of an AI with no emotion is a madness
Mar 09, 2023 at 05:19 AM

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