What is PICUS in Aviation? (“Pilot In Command)

In the world of aviation, the term “Pilot In Command” (PIC) holds immense significance. It refers to the individual who is legally responsible for operating and navigating an aircraft during flight. The Pilot In Command plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of all passengers and crew members on board. They are in complete control of the aircraft and are ultimately accountable for the decisions made during the flight.

Pilot In Command’s Role and Responsibilities

The Pilot In Command has several key roles and responsibilities, which are vital for maintaining the safety and security of a flight. Let’s delve into the various aspects of their position:

Pilot In Command’s Authority

As the highest-ranking individual on an aircraft, the Pilot In Command has ultimate authority and decision-making power. Their decisions are binding and must be fully respected and followed by the entire crew, including the first officer or co-pilot. This authority ensures that there is a clear and centralized command structure, which is essential for effective communication and coordination during a flight.

Pilot In Command’s Decision-Making

The Pilot In Command is responsible for making critical decisions throughout the flight. They must exercise good judgment and consider various factors, such as weather conditions, fuel levels, aircraft performance, and air traffic control instructions. These decisions can involve diverting to an alternate airport, initiating an emergency landing, or implementing specific procedures to handle any unexpected situations that may arise.

Pilot In Command’s Flight Planning

Flight planning is a vital aspect of a Pilot In Command’s responsibilities. They must carefully analyze all relevant information, such as weather reports, NOTAMs (Notice to Airmen), and Air Traffic Control instructions, to create a comprehensive flight plan. This plan includes determining the optimal route, evaluating fuel requirements, calculating the expected time of arrival, and considering any potential hazards that may affect the flight. By conducting thorough flight planning, the Pilot In Command ensures a safe and efficient journey.

Qualifications and Training to Become a Pilot In Command

Becoming a Pilot In Command requires a significant amount of training, experience, and qualifications. Here are some of the key requirements:

Flight Experience

One of the primary qualifications for becoming a Pilot In Command is accumulating a certain number of flight hours. The specific requirement varies depending on the type of aircraft and the regulatory authority’s guidelines. In the United States, for example, commercial airline pilots typically need to have a minimum of 1,500 flight hours to qualify as a Pilot In Command.

Educational Requirements

Another crucial aspect of becoming a Pilot In Command is obtaining the required education and aviation knowledge. Aspiring pilots typically enroll in aviation degree programs or complete the necessary pilot training courses from certified flight schools. These programs cover subjects such as aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology, aviation regulations, and aircraft systems. Additionally, pilots must pass a series of written exams to obtain their pilot’s license.

Licenses and Certifications

To serve as a Pilot In Command, individuals must hold a valid pilot’s license issued by the appropriate regulatory authority. In the United States, this is the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The pilot’s license is obtained through rigorous training, both theoretical and practical, and successful completion of the necessary examinations.

In addition to a pilot’s license, pilots must also obtain specific type ratings for the aircraft they intend to operate as Pilot In Command. These ratings indicate a pilot’s proficiency and knowledge in the handling and operation of specific types of aircraft. They are usually obtained through specialized training programs and examinations.

Continuous Training and Certification

To maintain their qualifications as a Pilot In Command, pilots are required to undergo regular training and certification updates. These recurrent training programs cover a wide range of topics, including emergency procedures, aircraft systems, flight operations, and safety protocols. By staying current and up-to-date with their skills and knowledge, pilots can ensure they are well-prepared to handle any situation that may arise during a flight.


The role of Pilot In Command holds immense responsibility within the aviation industry. The Pilot In Command is the ultimate authority on an aircraft, responsible for ensuring the safe operations during flight. Their decision-making, flight planning, and authority are critical for the overall safety and well-being of all individuals on board. To become a Pilot In Command, individuals must accumulate sufficient flight experience, obtain the necessary educational qualifications, and maintain their licenses through continuous training. The role of the Pilot In Command is both challenging and rewarding, as they have the privilege of commanding an aircraft and ensuring the safety of all who fly.


For More: What is MEP in Aviation? (Multi-Engine Piston)