Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers

6.4/10 job score
risk level
by 2031
or $97.19 hourly
as of 2021

What is the risk of automation?

We calculate this occupation to have an automation risk score of 65% (Robots are watching)

More information on what this score is, and how it is calculated
Qualities required for this occupation:
Manual Dexterity
Social Perceptiveness
Finger Dexterity
very important
quite important
[Show all metrics]

What do you think the risk of automation is?

How likely do you think this occupation will be taken over by robots/AI within the next 20 years?

How quickly is this occupation growing?

The number of 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' job openings is expected to rise 6% by 2031
'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' is expected to be a fast growing occupation in comparison to other occupations.
* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics for the period between 2021 and 2031.
Updated projections are due Sep 2023.

What are the median wages for 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' in the United States?

In 2021 the median annual wage for 'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' was $202,180, or $97.19 hourly
'Airline Pilots, Copilots, and Flight Engineers' are paid 341.8% higher than the national median wage, which stands at $45,760
* Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics

How many people are employed as airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers?

As of 2021 there were 81,310 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

JP (Likely) says
Autoland already exists. Commercial ops will be reduced to a single pilot with autoland already existing. The biggest barrier is emergency management.
Jul 29, 2021 at 12:34 PM
Yes (Highly likely) says
Cars are becoming automated, sea craft becoming automated, so why not planes? At the end of the day planes sort of have an "autopilot" feature so it's only a matter of time before they're fully automated
Jul 24, 2021 at 08:35 AM
MMS says
Will not be flying...AI cannot make good decision...Needs a human
Jul 11, 2021 at 02:03 PM
sev (Likely) says
with drone technology pilots may not even need to fly.
Jun 06, 2021 at 10:38 PM
Amin says
Illogical. Pilot can be offset with proper flight planning software, making its higher risk in being replaced with aircraft engineer or aircraft technician.
May 25, 2021 at 08:41 AM
Boris (Small chance) says
There may still have pilots to control the plane if robots have some accidents.
Apr 30, 2021 at 08:18 AM
looney townes says
People forget that the aviation is a heavy safety regulated industry. The technology is there but the cost benefit analysis is not. It is going to happen eventually but not in our lifetime, anybody who can read this. Single pilot airliners will start with cargo operations then proceed to airlines. If single pilot airliners are proven to be well trusted, then fully autonomous planes will be up next. This is going to take decades upon decades to even be invented, if ever.
Jan 19, 2021 at 05:44 PM
Pavel (No chance) says
This occupation is reliant on skills that require being able to make very complex choices based on the context of the situation/problem. I don't see machines or AI developing the necessary skills on the near future.
Jan 06, 2021 at 09:06 PM
Anonymous (No chance) says
Because even if bots could do everything, we still need humans in case something goes wrong
Dec 30, 2020 at 05:18 PM
Mehmet (Highly likely) says
Pilot costs are second after fuel, it will help.
Jun 07, 2020 at 08:50 PM
Beuh says
Not pilots, personnel. That includes cabin staff, gate agents, mechanics, flight attendants etc. Even if they removed pilots personnel will still be the #2 cost of operations.
Nov 29, 2020 at 04:22 PM
Abraham S T Mariam says
AI aircrafts will definitely take over real soon for 2 main reasons: Commercial Boeing have estimated to save over 40 Billion dollars by eliminating the commercial pilot his co pilot and flight engineer.

This is a business move and money is the reason for all things and all agendas. 2nd reason, autonomous software has a much better precision on working the system than the pilot or the flight engineer, back in the days the flight engineer would often make mistakes and push the wrong button and the plane crashes leaving everyone dead.

Autonomous software will never make a mistake. So many sensors will be built in on the air craft that can sense all things and nodes on the air craft will communicate with the cloud meaning the pilot can man the plane like a drone. Autonomous software will maintain the air craft 24/7 bu using algorithms, consequently eliminating any type of failure to occur.

Another thing, 5G technology is being implemented, we are in the early stages, give it about 5 years before we are living in a fully functional 5G world and you will start to see smart cars and smart homes, that being said smart planes will be more efficient in a world of 5G.
Apr 30, 2020 at 11:17 PM
Vikrant (No chance) says
Less trust on machines in case of emergency
Mar 10, 2020 at 11:19 AM
Dcv (Highly likely) says
It's clear no risk in modern combat for our soldier
Nov 20, 2019 at 10:11 PM
Captain Fish (No chance) says
With safety concerns AI won’t be able to handle an emergency situation
Nov 15, 2019 at 11:13 PM
liam (No chance) says
there are many human factors that go into conducting a flight, such as weather, runway status, traffic, diversion, emergency procedures and runway friction (ex. snow, ice, water,dust) and last minute variables that a computer would never be able to comprehend.
Nov 07, 2019 at 05:17 PM
John says
I don't think airline pilots will get automated, because the cockpit is already highly automated. The pilots are mostly there to make sure everything is going smoothly and to respond to emergencies.
Sep 26, 2019 at 11:43 AM
Sky King (Likely) says
There’s a huge push to do commercial airline/cargo operations with drones. I fly planes for a living and they can just about do everything themselves. They can land and fly by themselves. Haven’t seen a plane do a take off or engine failure but I believe these things can be accomplished with the same technology government MIC drones use now. If it saves airlines money they WILL do it.
Aug 16, 2019 at 04:56 PM
Bob says
Many areas of the world still cannot get reliable HF communication. MH370 is the perfect example of GPS positioning is not available world wide.
Even if airliners become unmanned, they will still need to be piloted or managed on the ground.
Although aircraft can auto land, most are limited up to light winds (conditions that fog would be present) UAVs that don’t have these limitations are still piloted, just from a pilot on the ground.
Jun 25, 2019 at 11:02 AM
Kevin says
Airliners are already extremely automated, but I don't see it happening any time soon.

Even the most advanced airliners today are designed and built to be flown by two pilots. It would be incredibly hard to fly say, a 737, by yourself... even if you were a qualified airline captain.

The technology is there (in theory) to build a pilot-less plane. But for it to be a money-making endeavor for airlines to consider, you'd have to jump the massive hurdle of public opinion. A lot of people are afraid of flying already, let alone going 38,000 feet in the air at the hands of a robot.

It's not exactly feasible nor is it a money-making idea at the moment.
Jun 25, 2019 at 06:56 AM
A(soon to be) pilot (No chance) says
No chance! Yea robots might be better at flying than pilots (sometimes). But because of the way they are right now they can't calculate unnatural situations like: emergencies, failures, volcanic ash etc.

Thought experiment:
the AI is operating the plane normally but suddenly the AI gets notified that an engine is failing but the engine is not failing it's the system which checks if the engine is running is failing! What now? The AI will take steps which you would take if an engine failed but the engine didn't fail.

You see the problem? It is not as easy as it may seem to replace pilots.
Jun 09, 2019 at 01:49 PM
no says
You did not describe AI. Current computers and software systems can do that. AI will take into account different situations including location, weather reports, volcanic reports and may even use photographic imagery detection which is already used in Tesla self driving cars...and they can see whether the engine is failing or not as a pilot would do and not solely trust on computer systems and numbers.
Jun 12, 2019 at 08:50 AM
A plane enthusias says
It also come under FAA/basically all flight centres that 2+ people must be flying the plane

(Of course not VFR/Small planes)
Nov 09, 2019 at 08:48 AM
Joodi Al Farsi (Could go either way) says
Can people trust a computer to take them 1000 feet above the ground? Technology has already advanced so much, so who knows?
May 26, 2019 at 07:43 AM
Vince (No chance) says
Think about it. We've had the technology to automate trains and we haven't done so. Why in the world would you expect airliners full of passengers to be automated any time soon?
May 15, 2019 at 07:01 AM
no says
We do have Automated trains in I dont see your point.
Jun 12, 2019 at 08:51 AM
Bob John says
You have the dockyard line. Most train lines in the world are not automated. In the same way there are military drones (which are unmanned not automated) but airline pilots still fly planes and are in the cockpit.
Aug 27, 2020 at 04:02 PM
Fábio Ramos (Small chance) says
No chance
May 14, 2019 at 12:03 PM

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