Commercial Pilot Vs Private Charter Pilot

Posted by Monica Michelle Manley on January 27, 2017

Everyone knows what a pilot is, but not many understand the difference between a commercial pilot and a private charter pilot – what each are qualified to do, what their different responsibilities include, and what a typical schedule is for each. So, whether you’re looking to become a pilot, or are simply curious about the difference, here we have broken it down for you.

What is a Commercial Pilot?

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There are two different types of pilots that have a commercial rating, which include commercial airline pilots and commercial charter pilots. Airline and commercial pilots operate airplanes, helicopters, and other aircraft. Airline pilots operate primarily for airlines, where they are responsible for transporting people from one destination to another on a fixed schedule. Whereas, commercial charter pilots can fly aircraft for other reasons like rescue operations and charter flights.

What They Do

Despite what most might think, commercial airline pilots and charter pilots do more than just get passengers to their destinations safely. Commercial pilots employed by charter companies typically have more non-flight duties, such as, arranging the maintenance of the plane, and loading luggage to ensure a balanced weight. They must also follow a checklist of preflight checks on engines, as well as ensure that all of the cargo has been loaded. They even carry the responsibilities of checking the fuel, all of the flight schedules, and the weather conditions.

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It’s important to know that becoming a commercial pilot can be expensive, and require a lot of hard work and commitment in order to make it to the airlines. Depending on how the pilot decides to train, the final price of a commercial license will vary. The total cost of flight and ground instruction, books, test prep, and airplane rentals for required instruction, can cost up to $7,000.

Getting Started







When starting out for an airline, seniority rules, meaning that new pilots my receive a less-desirable schedule and pay rate. Starting out, new pilots can bring in less than $30,000 a year. To make it to the big leagues and bring in that six-figure salary, it can sometimes take up to 10 years.

Private Charter Pilots


When compared to a commercial pilot, a private charter pilot has more flexibility in their schedule. Although these pilots have to fly passengers as service demands, most of their flights take place during daylight hours and are usually pretty short, allowing for the pilot to return home to his or her family at the end of the day.


For young pilots, they must fulfill 40 – 50 trips on the specific aircraft they wish to train for. Training can be difficult, and even after the completion of training, pilots who have received their license can be rejected by operators.


For a private pilot license, expect to pay around $9,000. In addition, you have to get an instrument rating, a commercial license, and an ATP license. The total cost for training altogether, runs around $30,000.

Although a commercial pilot might make more income in the long-run, a private charter pilot makes up for it with a flexible schedule. If your dream is to travel the world, and spend little time at home, then becoming a commercial pilot might be the right fit for you. However, if a quick day trip and time off is more your style, then you might just find your happy place in the cockpit of a private charter plane.








Become a Pilot for IMAGINEAIR

If helping revolutionize how people travel and joining a talented, genuine, passionate team excites you, you’re in the right place. We value thought leadership, ambition and resourcefulness. Together we will make big things happen.



Position Background

As a Pilot for ImagineAir, you’ll do what you love – fly – while enjoying uncommon lifestyle benefits:

  • A schedule that is 4 days on and 3 days off each week for full-time pilots, or that fits your desired schedule for flex-time pilots.
  • Spend most nights at home. Our primary focus is regional routes with shorter hops, so you can often be home in time for dinner or free time.
  • Varying flight routes that keep your experience interesting and diverse.
  • Flying celebrities, top executives, leading medical practitioners, and other fascinating people that you’ll get to know.
  • Building your flight time to help you keep doing what you love, advance in your career with ImagineAir or help you jumpstart your next opportunity, whichever your heart desires.
  • The joy of being part of a team of exceptional pilots that are changing the world of aviation.

This application is intended for full-time and flex-time pilot positions. Full-time pilots will be assigned flights 4 days per week out of airports within their metro area. Flex pilots will be expected to be available a minimum of 24 days in a quarter.

  • Currently, applications are being accepted for pilots for work in the Eastern U.S.
  • Training takes place in Atlanta, GA, prior to heading back to work at domicile. We target 2-3 weeks for this process.

For more details, and to fill out an application, click here.

Topics: commercial pilot, private charter pilot, pilot