Ever wonder what a pilot does to pass the time on flights? Personally, I can’t imagine taking even a short flight without some music, a game, or a movie to pass the time. The boredom is too much to handle. This is especially true on long-haul flights.
On a long flight, I would imagine that pilots also would love to have some music to help pass the time.
This brings up a question that a lot of people ask: Are airline pilots allowed to listed to music while flying?
Yes, the FAA allows airline pilots to listen to music while flying as long as it doesn’t interfere with their ability to hear communications and ambient sounds.
In this article we’ll take a look at some of the specifics of this situation as well as how pilots in real life handle this situation.
Clear Communication Comes First
As mentioned above, pilots are allowed to listen to music while they fly as long as it doesn’t get in the way of hearing their communications through their headset. These communications can include a lot of important information including:
- Air Traffic controller instructions
- Co-pilot or other crew member
- Emergency communications
- Clearance to land
Since the top priority of a pilot is the safety of the crew and passengers, being able to clearly hear these communications is key. Thus, the FAA requires that if a pilot is going to listen to music, it doesn’t interfere with these important communications.
How Could Music Get in the Way?
In addition to listening for important communications from their headset, pilots also need to hear other things going around them in the plane.
Most pilots want to be able to hear what’s going on in the plane so they are completely aware of the situation. This includes being able to talk to the flight crew, hear any noise or commotion from the passengers, and even hear what noises the plane is making. Pilots are experienced professionals and being able to hear things like the engines and other safety equipment is important in preventing and/or reacting to an emergency.
Another thing that could go wrong when it comes to listening to music while flying is missing a radio call while being distracted. Not only is this an obvious safety issue, but it could also lead to an embarrassing situation where the rest of the crew (and the airline) knows that you were distracted and missed a radio call. This is generally a bad career move and since most pilots are very proud of their career, they do everything they can to avoid this.
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How Would Pilots Listen to Music?
You might be wondering how a pilot would go about listening to music while they fly. After all, it would be odd if you were sitting in the plane as a passenger and hear loud music coming from the cockpit.
How a pilot would typically go about listening to music while they fly is by connecting a iPod or other music device to their headset so they can hear both the communications and the music through their headset. The technology to do this is pretty common these days and makes the process pretty easy for any pilot that would want to do so.
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What do Pilots Prefer?
Most pilots actually choose not to listen to music while they fly. Let’s take a look at the common reasons why:
- Although they are allowed to listen to music while they fly, many pilots see it as a distraction and would rather not have any distractions present while they fly
- While flying a commercial aircraft, there are many communications coming through for a variety of reasons. Since these communications come before the music you’re listening to, a pilot would have their music interrupted on a very regular basis which would get annoying
- Other crew members and fellow pilots tend to look down upon the practice, so even if you were interested in doing so you might have to deal with colleagues who prefer you weren’t. This can cause an awkward work situation that is easily avoided.
As a general rule, airline pilots do not want to do anything that will keep them from being completely under control and aware of what’s going on while they are flying.
Although the FAA does allow pilots to listen to music while they fly, many of them choose not to. This is mostly because pilots want to have as much awareness as possible while they fly. Being able to hear communications over your headset clearly, communicate with fellow crew members, and hear anything else that might be going on. The top priority of a pilot is safety. Since many pilots feel that listening to music makes the flight less safe, they choose not to.