The role of a first officer is to be the second pilot (also referred to as the co-pilot) to the captain of an aircraft. The first officer will assume many of the same tasks as the captain, but the captain will ultimately be responsible for operation and safety of the aircraft. The first officer will only assume responsibility for the aircraft, should the captain become incapacitated.
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The captain will delegate tasks to the first officer, and it is assumed that the first officer will fulfil these routine duties. These tasks will include assisting the captain in flight preparation and operations, notifying the captain of any variations in standard flight operations, supporting the captain with take-offs and landings, maintaining navigation manuals and charts and preparing the weight and balance forms for each flight.
The first officer will also communicate with air traffic control during flight, take-off and landing, update the aircraft logbook, inspect the aircraft for operational and technical performance and assume control of the aircraft, should the captain become incapacitated.
Once a first officer has built the relevant flight hours and experience, a first officer can apply for captain vacancies within their airline. If a first officer has the credentials to become a captain but there are no vacancies available at that moment in time, the first officer will become a senior first officer.
There is no set time for when a first officer can be promoted to a captain, it completely depends on the seniority system within the airline in which you work.
The salary of a first officer can vary by airline and by the country from where you are based.
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