Posted on Feb 25, 2018
Isabel Murcia
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I noticed there's always two pilots in the cockpit of a helo, but it's usually the Warrant Officers that are titled pilot in-command. What does the other pilot do? Do they fly at all?
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CPT Nicholas D.
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Excellent question. Pilot in Command or the “PC” is the aircraft pilot that has overall responsibility and ‘command’ over an aircraft. This is an aircrew designation that does require pilots to earn, its not based on paygrade. A CW2 could be the PC where the LTC he’s flying with is logging just Pilot or “PI” time. Most PC progression programs require pilots to demonstrate they have the knowledge and airmanship to be responsible for an aircraft. This usually culminates in a check ride or series of evaluations. In the Army, making Pilot in Command is a big deal. And the name means just that... they are responsible for everything that aircraft does.

So why is the PC typically a Warrant Officer? The answer is that it doesn’t have to be. Two O-grade officers could pilot an aircraft as long as one of them has been designated a PC. Within Army Aviation though, the Warrant Officer Corps is focused towards mastering their craft as pilots. The O grade side of the house is focused on organizational leadership and staff functions. Most pilots in the Army are Warrant Officers, and since becoming an aeronautical expert is their primary mission, they tend to progress faster to Pilot in Command, Air Mission Commander, tracks (Instructor, Maintenance Test Pilot, etc). Many O-grade Officers will divert their attention so far out of the cockpit that many will never make PC. Some Aviation Officers will retire after 20 years and not have enough hours for Master Wings (2,000 hours).

But from a current O-grade who is a PC in his aircraft, I will tell you... the designation is not associated with paygrade but rather demonstratable aeronautical performance.
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CW4 Juan Morales
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The pilot in command is the pilot responsible for the safety of the passengers and crew and the completion of the mission. It may be a Warrant Officer or a regular line officer. Pilot in command is a designation given to a pilot after he or she has accrued the experience necessary to not only act as an effective crewmember, but also act in the interest of the commander and the unit. Both pilots operate the flight controls and manage the aircraft systems, navigation and communications. The pilot in command is also tasked with training other pilots to progress into pilots in command.
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COL Commander
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If you want to be a full time pilot in the Army become a warrant officer. If you want to be a part time pilot become an officer. You could become an officer and fly and if you think you want to fly more you can resign you officer commission and transfer to a warrant commission. Plenty of friends of mine did just that. They were happier flying than doing all the other officer crap.
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