When you ride as a passenger in a commercial plane, the cockpit is closed off to you. Likely, you’ll go the entire duration of the flight without even hearing from the airline pilots. Because of this, it’s not commonly known how many pilots are needed per aircraft.
If you’ve purchased a private jet or are considering it, it’s important to understand how many pilots are needed for both regular use and chartering. Enrolling in flight school or pursuing an aviation college degree to get a pilot’s license will allow you to pilot your own jet. But in most cases, and especially when it comes to chartered private jets, more than one pilot will be required per aircraft. Below, we discuss how many pilots must be on board the aircraft and why. We’ve also included a list of each type of aircraft + the minimum trained pilots per aircraft so that you can easily reference this list as needed.
Let’s dive right in!
How Many Pilots Are Required Per Aircraft?
In general, there are two required pilots on a private jet. Most aircraft necessitate two pilots, but there are a few LJ (light jet) and VLJ (very light jet) exceptions that only mandate a single pilot. However, if you plan to use a charter broker to rent out your aircraft, most reputable brokers will obligate at least two pilots regardless of the minimum number of crew members declared by the jet manufacturer.
Why Are There Two Pilots In A Plane?
Most private jets require two pilots simply because it’s safer. All aircraft, even small private jets are complicated and sophisticated machines. When there are two pilots, each one can divide the workload. In-flight tasks like managing radio communications, navigating ground stops, reading charts, and landing are easier with a second pilot assisting with flying the plane.
Additionally, flight fatigue is a true safety risk for both crew members and passengers. Simply put, flight fatigue is when pilots experience tiredness and reduced mental performance due to long hours, rigorous work schedules, or disrupted sleep cycles. And, unfortunately, nearly 64% of pilots say they’re mildly fatigued, which has been a factor in almost a quarter of the major aviation incidents of the past.
This is particularly concerning when encountering hazardous weather conditions or conducting lengthy flights. In fact, it’s sometimes required that long haul international trips have three pilots on board. That way two pilots work and are alert while a third is resting in a JetBed for ultimate relief from lethargy and brain fog.
Having two pilots aboard is objectively safer. This is why a charter broker will most certainly demand a second pilot, even if your aircraft only requires one. However, if you are taking a personal trip without any chartering services, you may be legally allowed to fly solo in certain light jets or very light jets.
Though this may be technically allowed, consider all your responsibilities and ensure you can efficiently manage passenger decorum, communications with the air traffic controller, flight checks, potential fatigue, and all other tasks related to the flight plan.
Your Guide For How Many Pilots Are Needed To Fly Each Private Jet:
- M2: One Pilot
- CJ: One Pilot
- CJ1: One Pilot
- CJ2: One Pilot
- CJ3: One or Two Pilots
- CJ4: One Pilots
- Citation 10: Two Pilots
- Challenger 300: Two Pilots
- Challenger 600: Two Pilots
- LearJet 40: Two Pilots
- LearJet 60: Two Pilots
- Global Express: Two Pilots
- G200: Two Pilots
- G280: Two Pilots
- G450: Two Pilots
- G500: Two Pilots
- G550: Two Pilots
- G600: Two Pilots
- G650: Two Pilots
- Falcon 50: Two Pilots
- Falcon 900: Two Pilots
- Falcon 2000: Two Pilots
- Legacy 100: One Pilot
- Legacy 500: Two Pilots
- Legacy 600: Two Pilots
In most cases, two pilots are required (or at least recommended) for safety and efficiency.
If you’re ready to take flight, consider whether you have the appropriate number of pilots. It’s true that the FAA requires most private jets to be accompanied by two pilots. However, there are a few exceptions. Still, even in these atypical circumstances, it is recommended that your jet has two pilots to increase the safety of the crew and passengers.
For more answers to questions related to your private jet ownership, consult our blog. And, if you’re looking an easy and convenient tool that will help you and your crew avoid flight fatigue, explore our fleet of JetBeds to find the one that best fits your aircraft.