AskDefine | Define aviator

Dictionary Definition

aviator n : someone who operates an aircraft [syn: aeronaut, airman, flier, flyer]

User Contributed Dictionary

English

Noun

  1. An aircraft pilot; the use of the word may, however, imply claims of superior airmanship, as in navy aviator vs. air force pilot
  2. An experimenter in aviation.
  3. A flying machine.

Translations

aircraft pilot

Extensive Definition

An aviator is a person who flies aircraft for pleasure or as a profession. The word is normally applied to pilots, but it can be applied more broadly, for example to include people such as wing-walkers who regularly take part in an aerobatic display sequence. The word aviatrix is sometimes used of women flyers, reflecting the word's Latin root.
The term was more used in the early days of aviation and has connotations of bravery and adventure. Anyone can fly an aircraft, with or without a certificate. However, at all times the aircraft must be under the operational control of a properly certified and current pilot, who is responsible for the safe and legal completion of the flight. The first certificate was delivered by the Aero Club de France to Louis Blériot in 1908, followed by Glenn Curtiss, Leon Delagrange and Robert Esnault-Pelterie. The absolute authority given to the Pilot in Command is derived from that of a ship’s captain.
As of 2006, just over 6% of certified pilots (both private and commercial) in the U.S. were women.

Civilian

Civilian pilots fly privately for pleasure, charity, or in pursuance of a business, for non-scheduled commercial air transport companies, or for airlines. When flying for an airline, pilots are usually referred to as airline pilots, with the pilot in command often referred to as the captain.

United States

United Airlines and Delta Air Lines, long considered the most prestigious and lucrative employers, have slashed their pilot payscales and benefits in the face of fierce competition from low-cost carriers. In fact, Southwest Airlines captains and first officers both start off with significantly higher salaries than the legacy carriers. As of May 2004, median annual earnings of airline pilots, copilots, and flight engineers were $129,250. However, such salaries represent the upper level of airline pay scales. Salaries at regional airlines can be considerably less - though according to the Bureau of Labor statistics, median annual earnings of commercial pilots were $53,870, with the middle 50 percent earning between $37,170 and $79,390. Pilots making very large salaries are typically senior airline captains, while pilots making very small salaries are generally low-seniority first officers. In practice, most pilots make reasonable average working salaries. A large variability in salaries can easily skew an average. Thus, the use of median wages to gauge such things as salary. Where large gaps are seen between a median figure, and a lower bound figure, this usually reflects those who don't stay in that particular field. Viewing this middle ground in context to the upper bound numbers can give a burgeoning pilot an idea of what to expect if they are able to stay with flying as a full time career. Based upon voluntary pilot reports, many US airline payscales are listed here: http://www.willflyforfood.cc/airlinepilotpay/. Most airline pilots are unionized, with the Air Line Pilot's Association (ALPA) being the largest pilot labor union in the United States.
In the United States, due to pay cuts, airline bankruptcies, and other industry problems there are fewer young people who want to make a career out of flying. First year pilots at AMR Corporation's outsourced operation called American Connection which is flown by Trans States Airlines, would only see $22,000 a year if they could pick up and fit into their schedule, all the extra flying allowed under federal FAA rules.
Commercial airline pilots in the United States have a mandatory retirement age of 65, increased from age 60 in 2007.

International

In some countries (e.g., Pakistan, Thailand and several African countries), there is a strong relationship between the military and the principal national airlines, such that many or most airline pilots come from the military; that is no longer the case in the USA and Western Europe. While the flight decks of US and European airliners do have many ex-military pilots, they have just as many, if not more, pilots who spend their entire career as civilians. With the increasing popularity of European-style airline training schools in the USA and the fact that military training and flying, while rigorous, is fundamentally different in many ways from civilian piloting, it seems likely that the percentage of ex-military pilots flying for the airlines will continue to decrease.

Military

Military pilots fly under government contract for the defense of countries. Their tasks involve combat and non-combat operations, including direct hostile engagements and support operations. Military pilots undergo specialized training, often with weapons operation and defensive maneuvering. Some military pilots are also civilian pilots.

Becoming a Pilot

It is well known that becoming a pilot is an expensive, time consuming and hard task. To be a commercial pilot, pilots are required to go through many hours of training, starting with the Private Pilots Licence (PPL), then do the Night Qualification, Multi-Engine Rating (MEP), Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL), Instrument Rating (IR) and finally Multi Crew Co-operating Certification (MCC). Another way of becoming a commercial pilot is through the "integrated route". (Note this information applies to JAA Member States only)

Aviators in space

In human spaceflight, a pilot is someone who directly controls the operation of a spacecraft while located within the same craft. This term derives directly from the usage of the word "pilot" in aviation, where it is synonymous with "aviator". Note that on the US Space Shuttle, the term "pilot" is analogous to the term "co-pilot" in aviation, as the "commander" has ultimate responsibility for the shuttle.

Well-known aviators

People largely known for their contributions to the history of aviation

While all of these people were pilots (and some still are), many are also noted for contributions in areas such as aircraft design and manufacturing, navigation or popularization.

Famous military pilots

People from other walks of life with aviation in their history

aviator in Afrikaans: Vlieënier
aviator in Bulgarian: Пилот
aviator in Danish: Pilot
aviator in German: Pilot
aviator in Esperanto: Piloto
aviator in Persian: خلبان
aviator in Finnish: Lentäjä
aviator in French: Aviateur
aviator in Hebrew: טייס
aviator in Indonesian: Penerbang
aviator in Italian: Aviatore
aviator in Nepali: विमान चालक
aviator in Dutch: Piloot
aviator in Polish: Pilotaż
aviator in Portuguese: Piloto (aviação)
aviator in Russian: Лётчик
aviator in Swedish: Pilot (flygförare)
aviator in Vietnamese: Phi công
aviator in Chinese: 飛行員
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