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Corporate Pilot vs. Airline Pilot: What Are the Differences?

Learn about the two careers and review some of the similarities and differences between them.

Both corporate and airline pilots fly planes, but their job duties, responsibilities and work environments differ in several ways. If you’re interested in becoming a pilot, it’s important to understand the key differences between these two types of positions. In this article, we provide an overview of corporate and airline piloting, and we discuss the key differences between these two types of positions.

What is a Corporate Pilot?

Corporate Pilots fly private planes for their employer, which is typically a corporation, business or individual. They transport company employees, executives and clients to and from meetings, conferences and other events. Corporate Pilots typically work on-call, as their employer’s needs can change on short notice. They may be required to fly to multiple destinations in a day or stay overnight at their destination if their employer needs them to be available for early morning meetings. Corporate Pilots must have a commercial pilot’s license and a clean driving record.

What is an Airline Pilot?

Airline Pilots fly passengers and cargo on fixed schedules between airports. They are responsible for the safety of their passengers and crew and must adhere to all aviation regulations. Airline Pilots typically have a co-pilot who assists with flying the plane and helps with navigation. Airline Pilots must complete a pre-flight checklist to ensure that the aircraft is safe for takeoff. They must also monitor the aircraft’s systems during the flight and make any necessary adjustments. If there is bad weather or another emergency, Airline Pilots must make decisions about how to safely land the plane.

Corporate Pilot vs. Airline Pilot

Here are the main differences between a corporate pilot and an airline pilot.

Job Duties

Corporate and airline pilots share some of their job duties, but each type of pilot has unique responsibilities that the other does not. For example, both corporate and airline pilots ensure a safe flight by following pre-flight checklists, monitoring systems and in-flight procedures and communicating with air traffic control. However, an airline pilot’s duties increase during take off, cruise and landing because they transport passengers. Corporate pilots may perform additional tasks, such as transporting important company personnel or delivering documents.

Another difference between corporate and airline pilots is that corporate pilots often have to perform emergency procedures. This is because many of their flights occur over land, where there are more obstacles if something goes wrong. Additionally, corporate pilots may train for specific scenarios, such as engine failure during takeoff or water landings. An airline pilot rarely trains for these scenarios because their flights typically travel long distances at high altitudes.

Job Requirements

Airline pilots typically need to have a bachelor’s degree, although some airlines may require a higher level of education. They must also have a commercial pilot’s license from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), which requires at least 250 hours of flight time. Airline pilots must also pass an FAA physical exam every year and complete simulator training every six months.

Corporate pilots usually need to have a high school diploma or equivalent, although some employers may prefer candidates with a college degree. They must also have a commercial pilot’s license from the FAA, which requires at least 250 hours of flight time. Corporate pilots must also pass an FAA physical exam every year and complete simulator training every six months.

Work Environment

Corporate pilots typically work for companies that provide transportation services to other businesses. They may fly executives and employees between locations, or they may transport goods from one location to another. Corporate pilots often have more flexibility in their schedules than airline pilots because they don’t need to adhere to a strict flight schedule.

Airlines require pilots to follow a strict flight schedule, so they can be on call at all times. This means that airline pilots must always be prepared to fly when needed. They also travel frequently, which means they spend much of their time away from home.


Both corporate pilots and airline pilots use a variety of skills while on the job. Both types of pilots need to be able to fly the aircraft, which requires excellent hand-eye coordination and the ability to make quick decisions. They also both need to be able to navigate the aircraft using maps and other tools, as well as communicate with air traffic control.

However, there are some differences in the specific skills used by each type of pilot. Corporate pilots typically need to be able to fly smaller, private planes, so they may not need as much experience as airline pilots. Airline pilots usually fly larger commercial planes and may need to have more experience flying different types of aircraft. In addition, airline pilots typically need to be able to speak another language, as they may fly internationally.


Corporate pilots earn an average salary of $89,373 per year, while airline pilots earn an average salary of $96,538 per year. The average salary for both positions may vary depending on the size of the company, the location of the job and the level of experience the pilot has.


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