Boeing 747 Qualifications

Hello everybody,
The Boeing 747 and Airbus 380 are the biggest type of aircrafts that flies in the sky. How does one builds his or her qualifications to fly the big jets?

Thomas Kim


To fly the jumbo jets you need to first build up enough flight time and qualifications to get hired by a major airline. Then, you need to be hired by an airline that actually has such jets. Finally, you will need to build up enough seniority to be able to hold a position on said jets within your airline. It typically takes decades of flying before a pilot is able to fly such large airplanes. Also, there are currently not any US airlines that are flying the A380 and in a few months no major US airline will be flying the 747. There will however continue to be cargo operators that fly the 747.

Keep in mind that in the airlines it really isn’t the size of the airplane that matters, it is the quality of life and the pay that airplane afforeds the pilots that counts. For example, I can easily hold the 767 or 777 at my airline, but I chose to fly the smaller 737 because it enables me to have a much better schedule, which in turn allows me to make more.


So are Delta and United retiring their 747s?


ALL airline pilots have the same ATP (Airline Transport License) and therefore are required to have the same qualifications. It’s the same license for a Regional jet and a 747 or A380. As Chris says it’s a question of getting hired at an airline that flies those planes (for a 747 you’re really talking cargo). I have a friend who worked for Emirates and he was hired directly onto the A380 after only flying for a Regional airline. Simply put flying a larger jet airplane doesn’t require any more skill or training than a smaller one. In fact I’m currently on the A330 and it’s the simplest plane I’ve ever flown.



Both United and Delta have announced they plan to retire all their 747s by the end of the year. Kinda sad.


THX Adam… That is a quick exit. Do you think it is accurate to say that by 2020, all Delta MD 88’s will be retired.

That’s hard to say. The DC-9 platform is one of the most successful and robust airframes ever built. There are still hundreds of variations (DC-9, MD-80s, MD-90s and 717) flying worldwide. Here at Hawaiian we use the 717s interisland. They do up to 16 cycles a day year round and while they’re getting long in the tooth we’ve yet to find another airplane that can match it’s performance and durability. Guess we’ll have to wait and see?


Is overheating ever a concern with these older planes that still fly several times a day.

Short answer. No. Turbine engines are incredibly efficient and all commercial engines get overhauled or replaced and regular intervals.