Ask the Captain: What does the first officer do? Is flying a plane physically tiring?
John Cox, Special to USA TODAY
Published 9:30 a.m. ET June 21, 2019 | Updated 11:11 a.m. ET June 25, 2019
Answer: Flying modern jets is not overly physical. The automation and powered flight controls have made it much easier and less physically stressful.
Q: Do both pilots fly the plane under normal circumstances or only when there’s an emergency?
– Cameron, San Diego County, California
A: Both pilots are fully qualified to fly the airplane. Usually, one pilot flies the airplane while the other performs the duties of the monitoring pilot, such as communicating with air traffic control, handling checklists and overseeing the flight path. The breakdown of tasks between the flying pilot and monitoring pilot is very clearly defined but pilots are trained to perform both.
John Cox is a retired airline captain with US Airways and runs his own aviation safety consu