Of course the pilots sit in the cockpit and from there they control the aircraft. However do you know which are the positions of the two pilots inside the cockpit? Do you know if they always stay the same or change? These are the questions I’ll be answering in this post.
How Many Pilots Fly A Plane?
All modern jetliners now have only two pilots in the cockpit. However older generation planes used to have more than just 2 pilots. Even the Boeing 747-300 used to have:
- First Officer
- Flight Engineer
The latter of these roles used to be delegated with all tasks relating to the monitoring of systems and navigation. Modern on board computers have rendered this role obsolete and we are now left with a 2 man flight deck.
Where do Captain and First Officer Sit?
The side of the cockpit where the captain and the first officer of any given flight sit never changes. In any airline on any flight you will always have:
- The Captain sitting on the left hand side.
- The First Officer sitting on the right hand side.
Although each one has their own set of instruments, they do not differ in any way. The instrumentation of the captain’s side of the flight deck is exactly the same as the one found on the first officer’s side. This is to ensure that both pilots have the full picture of what is going on.
Also the two sets of instruments are connected to distinct sensors which ensures that there is redundancy of systems inside the cockpit. This adds an extra layer of safety to flying the plane.
Does The Captain Always Fly the Plane?
No, there is a difference between the roles of the pilots (Captain or First Officer) and which of the two is the pilot flying. In regards to piloting the aircraft the roles shift to:
- Pilot flying
- Pilot Monitoring
Therefore the pilot flying will be the one of the two who is physically controlling the plane and inputting commands. On the other hand pilot monitoring will be taking care of radio communication and monitoring that nothing goes wrong during the flight.
So on a classic two leg trip, the captain will be pilot flying on one and the first officer on the other. Only in extremely adverse conditions, or in an emergency, will this norm not be followed.