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Regional vs. International Pilots

Last Updated on January 13, 2024


The aviation industry in Canada is experiencing a high demand for pilots due to the increasing importance of regional and international flights.

Regional pilots primarily fly short-haul flights within a specific region, while international pilots operate long-haul flights spanning across continents.

The demand for regional pilots is driven by the need to connect smaller communities within Canada and ensure their accessibility to major cities.

These pilots play a crucial role in facilitating regional tourism, business, and transportation.

On the other hand, the demand for international pilots arises from the globalization of air travel and the expanding routes between countries.

The differences between regional and international pilots go beyond the scope and duration of their flights.

Regional pilots mostly operate turboprop or smaller regional jets, whereas international pilots often pilot larger commercial aircraft, such as wide-body jets.

This contrast also affects the required training, certification, and experience for each type of pilot.

Regional pilots typically have lower flight hour requirements and may start their careers with smaller regional airlines before progressing to larger carriers.

International pilots, on the other hand, are often required to have a significant amount of flight experience and may undergo additional training and certification processes due to the higher level of responsibility associated with long-haul flights.

In short, the demand for both regional and international pilots in Canada is driven by the need to connect communities and facilitate global travel.

Understanding the differences between these two types of pilots is essential for aspiring aviators and industry stakeholders alike.

Regional Pilots

When it comes to flying, the pilots always steal the limelight, but have you ever wondered about the unsung heroes who keep the regional aviation industry soaring high?

Regional pilots play a vital role in connecting communities by operating smaller aircraft on short-haul flights.

Let’s take a closer look at their responsibilities, aircraft types, qualifications, and the pros and cons of being a regional pilot in Canada.

Role and Responsibilities of Regional Pilots

Regional pilots are responsible for safely transporting passengers and cargo on short-distance flights within a specific region.

They ensure a smooth flying experience by adhering to safety protocols, making critical decisions, and navigating through variable weather conditions.

These pilots are also accountable for aircraft pre-flight inspections and addressing any technical issues that may arise during flights.

Types of Aircraft and Operated Routes

Regional pilots mainly operate smaller aircraft, such as turboprops and regional jets.

Turboprops are known for their efficiency and versatility, making them suitable for short runways and remote airports.

On the other hand, regional jets are ideal for longer regional flights with higher passenger capacities.

These pilots connect smaller towns and cities to large hub airports, facilitating easy access and reducing travel time for passengers.

Qualifications and Licensing Requirements

To become a regional pilot in Canada, several qualifications and licensing requirements must be met.

Firstly, aspiring pilots need to obtain a Private Pilot License (PPL) followed by a Commercial Pilot License (CPL).

Additionally, they must accumulate a specific number of flight hours, ranging from 1500 to 3000 hours, depending on the airline’s requirements.

Finally, regional pilots must pass the Transport Canada written and practical examinations to obtain an Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL).

Benefits and Drawbacks of Being a Regional Pilot in Canada

Becoming a regional pilot in Canada comes with its own set of benefits and drawbacks.

On the positive side, regional pilots gain valuable flying experience and build their skills, which can pave the way for career progression into larger airlines.

They also enjoy the opportunity to explore different destinations within the region and become familiar with various types of airports and airspace.

However, regional pilots often face longer duty hours, irregular schedules, and lower salaries compared to their international counterparts.

Benefits of Being a Regional Pilot

  1. Valuable flying experience

  2. Career progression opportunities

  3. Exploring different destinations

  4. Diversified knowledge of airports and airspace

Drawbacks of Being a Regional Pilot

  1. Longer duty hours

  2. Irregular schedules

  3. Lower salaries compared to international pilots

In fact, regional pilots play a crucial role in the aviation industry by connecting smaller communities and ensuring efficient air travel within a specific region.

Their responsibilities are vast, requiring them to possess the necessary qualifications, licenses, and skills to undertake this challenging task.

Although being a regional pilot in Canada might have its drawbacks, the benefits of gaining experience and expanding one’s aviation knowledge are invaluable.

So, next time you board a regional flight, take a moment to appreciate the hard work and dedication of these unsung heroes of the skies!

Read: Canadian Pilots’ Role in Safety

International Pilots

International pilots are individuals who operate aircraft on international routes and are responsible for the safe transportation of passengers and cargo across different countries.

They play a crucial role in connecting the world and ensuring smooth air travel.

Role and Responsibilities of International Pilots

  1. Flying long-haul flights and operating on international routes.

  2. Ensuring the safety and security of passengers and crew during the entire flight.

  3. Following all aviation regulations and protocols set by international authorities.

  4. Maintaining effective communication with air traffic control and fellow colleagues in the cockpit.

  5. Monitoring the aircraft systems and making necessary adjustments to maintain optimal performance.

  6. Understanding and interpreting weather reports to make informed decisions on route changes.

  7. Coordinating with cabin crew to provide a comfortable and enjoyable flying experience.

Types of Aircraft and Routes

  1. International pilots typically fly large commercial aircraft, such as the Boeing 747 or the Airbus A380.

  2. The types of routes they operate vary greatly, ranging from transatlantic flights to intercontinental journeys.

  3. These pilots are trained to handle various weather conditions and different airports worldwide.

Qualifications and Licensing Requirements

  1. International pilots must possess a commercial pilot’s license issued by the aviation authority in their home country.

  2. They need to complete extensive flight training, accumulating a specific number of flight hours and passing rigorous theoretical and practical exams.

  3. Additionally, they must obtain a type rating for the specific aircraft they will be operating internationally.

  4. Constant currency and recurrent training are also required to maintain proficiency and stay updated with the latest aviation standards.

Benefits and Drawbacks of being an International Pilot in Canada


  1. Global Travel Opportunities: International pilots get to explore various countries and experience different cultures around the world.

  2. Higher Salary Potential: International flying often comes with higher salaries and additional allowances due to the increased responsibilities and longer flights.

  3. Career Growth Opportunities: By gaining experience as an international pilot, one can progress to more advanced positions, such as captain or training instructor.


  1. Jet Lag and Fatigue: Constantly changing time zones and long hours of flying can result in fatigue and disrupted sleep patterns, affecting overall health.

  2. Family Separation: Frequent international travel can lead to spending extended periods away from family and loved ones.

  3. Challenging Work Environment: Piloting aircraft over long distances can be mentally and physically demanding, especially during adverse weather conditions.

In essence, international pilots play a vital role in the aviation industry by connecting people from different parts of the world.

They undergo extensive training to acquire the necessary qualifications and licenses to operate globally.

While there are numerous benefits to being an international pilot, including travel opportunities and career growth, there are also drawbacks such as jet lag, family separation, and a challenging work environment.

Despite the challenges, for many, the allure of exploring the world from the cockpit outweighs the hardships.

Read: Pilot Unions in Canada: A Guide

Regional vs. International Pilots

Career progression and opportunities

Listed below are various aspects of career advancement for regional pilots:

The potential for career advancement for regional pilots

Regional pilots have the potential for career growth within their respective airline.

They can progress to become senior captains, training instructors, or check pilots.

Additional responsibilities and leadership roles may open up as they gain experience.

Becoming a chief pilot or flight operations manager are further advancement possibilities.

The possibility of transitioning from a regional pilot to an international pilot

Regional pilots can also transition to become international pilots in the future.

Transitioning from a regional pilot to an international pilot comes with several possibilities:

Regional pilots can upgrade their licenses to meet international requirements.

Acquiring necessary experience and flight hours make them eligible for international opportunities.

They can apply for positions in international airlines and expand their career horizons.

The advantages and challenges of such a transition

The transition from regional to international piloting offers several advantages:

International pilots can fly larger and more advanced aircraft, enhancing their skills.

Greater variety of destinations and routes provides a broader and more exciting work experience.

International pilots often receive higher salaries and better benefits compared to regional pilots.

However, transitioning from regional to international piloting also poses challenges:

International pilots face greater competition due to the higher demand for these positions.

Adapting to new airline policies, procedures, and cultures can be a challenging transition.

Long-haul flights can result in irregular schedules, fatigue, and jet lag.

The career prospects and opportunities for international pilots

Exploring the career prospects and opportunities for international pilots:

International pilots have the chance to work with renowned airlines and prestigious brands.

They can fly to various destinations worldwide and experience different cultures.

Advancement opportunities as an international pilot include becoming a captain or instructor.

Chief pilot, flight operations manager, or other leadership roles are also possibilities.

Pilots can specialize in specific aircraft types or join corporate aviation as they progress.

Pilots with extensive international experience may become sought-after for training and consultancy roles.

In general, regional pilots have opportunities for career advancement within their airlines and can transition to become international pilots, which offers new challenges and benefits.

International aviation provides a larger scope of possibilities, including flying advanced aircraft, exploring new destinations, and enjoying better financial rewards.

However, transitioning to an international pilot requires meeting additional requirements, facing increased competition, and adapting to new environments.

Nevertheless, the career prospects and opportunities for those who become international pilots are significant, allowing for further growth and specialization within the aviation industry.

Read: Navigating Canadian Airspace

Work-life balance and lifestyle

The work schedule and lifestyle of regional pilots

When it comes to the work-life balance and lifestyle of regional pilots, there are several factors to consider.

Firstly, regional pilots typically have a more fixed and predictable schedule compared to their international counterparts.

They usually fly short-haul flights within a specific region, allowing them to have a consistent routine.

The challenges they may face in terms of work-life balance

However, this fixed schedule often comes with its own challenges in terms of work-life balance.

Regional pilots may have to work irregular hours, including early mornings, late nights, and weekends.

This can make it difficult to maintain a healthy work-life balance and spend quality time with family and friends.

Moreover, regional pilots may also struggle with limited time off.

They may have fewer days off compared to international pilots, making it harder for them to plan vacations or take time for themselves.

The work schedule and lifestyle of international pilots

On the other hand, international pilots have a completely different work schedule and lifestyle.

As the name suggests, they fly long-haul flights that take them to various destinations around the world.

The work schedule of international pilots is often irregular and unpredictable.

They may have flights that last for several days, followed by a few days off before their next assignment.

This flexibility in their schedule allows them to have more time off and plan their personal lives better.

The challenges and perks of being an international pilot

However, being an international pilot also comes with its own set of challenges.

Jet lag and irregular sleep patterns can take a toll on their physical and mental well-being.

Constantly changing time zones and irregular sleep patterns can lead to fatigue and make it challenging to maintain a healthy lifestyle.

Despite these challenges, being an international pilot also has its perks. They get to travel to different countries and experience different cultures.

This exposure to new places and people can broaden their horizons and provide them with unique experiences.

Furthermore, international pilots often enjoy better pay and benefits compared to regional pilots.

They may have access to better accommodations and facilities during layovers. These perks can make the demanding lifestyle of an international pilot more rewarding.

In brief, regional and international pilots have contrasting work schedules and lifestyles.

Regional pilots have a more fixed schedule but may face challenges in terms of work-life balance and limited time off.

On the other hand, international pilots have an irregular schedule but enjoy the perks of traveling and better pay.

Ultimately, the choice between regional and international flying depends on an individual’s preferences and priorities.

Read: Types of Pilots in Canada

Salary and financial considerations

Salary and financial considerations are important factors for both regional and international pilots in Canada.

Let us take a closer look at the average salary range and the factors that influence their earning potential.

Average Salary Range for Regional Pilots in Canada

  1. On average, regional pilots in Canada earn a salary range of $50,000 to $80,000 per year.

  2. The specific amount within this range may depend on factors such as experience, type of aircraft, and the region of operation.

  3. Pilots with more experience and those flying larger aircraft may earn towards the higher end of the salary range.

  4. Pilots in remote areas or less in-demand routes may earn towards the lower end of the salary range.

Factors Influencing Regional Pilots’ Earning Potential

  1. Experience: The number of hours flown and years of experience can increase earning potential.

  2. Aircraft Type: Pilots flying larger aircraft may earn more than those flying smaller ones.

  3. Company Seniority: Regional pilots who have been with a company for a longer time may receive better pay.

  4. Region of Operation: Pilots flying in remote areas or less popular routes may earn less.

  5. Additional Certifications: Specialized training or certifications can lead to higher pay.

Average Salary Range for International Pilots in Canada

  1. International pilots in Canada have an average salary range of $80,000 to $150,000 per year.

  2. This range is generally higher than that of regional pilots due to the international scope of their work.

  3. Pilots flying long-haul routes and wide-body aircraft often earn towards the higher end of the range.

  4. International pilots with significant experience and in-demand skills may earn even higher salaries.

Factors Influencing International Pilots’ Earning Potential

  1. Flight Experience: More flight hours and years of experience generally result in higher salaries.

  2. Long-Haul vs. Short-Haul: Pilots flying long-haul international routes typically earn more.

  3. Aircraft Type: Pilots operating larger aircraft, like wide-body jets, usually earn higher salaries.

  4. Employer and Contract: Different airlines may offer different pay and benefits packages.

  5. Market Demand: The demand for pilots on certain international routes can influence salaries.

Comparing Financial Considerations of Regional and International Pilots

While both regional and international pilots have good earning potential, there are some notable differences:

  1. Regional pilots usually start on a lower salary but may have quicker career progression opportunities.

  2. International pilots generally earn higher salaries, especially those flying long-haul or wide-body aircraft.

  3. International pilots may have more opportunities for travel perks and allowances due to their job requirements.

  4. Both types of pilots need to consider factors like taxes, cost of living, and lifestyle when comparing their financial situations.

Ultimately, both regional and international pilots have opportunities for a rewarding career, but the salary and financial considerations differ based on various factors.

It’s important for pilots to consider their own goals and preferences when choosing their career path.


Regional and international piloting paths offer different opportunities and challenges.

Regional pilots tend to have a better work-life balance and more stable schedules, while international pilots have the chance to see the world and experience different cultures.

It is essential for aspiring pilots to carefully consider their preferences and goals before making a decision.

For those who prioritize stability and a predictable lifestyle, regional piloting may be the right choice.

On the other hand, if adventure and exploration are top priorities, international piloting may be more suitable.

To learn more about becoming a pilot in Canada, there are several resources available.

The Canadian Aviation Regulations (CARs) outline the requirements and guidelines for obtaining a pilot license, while the Transport Canada website offers information on training programs and licensing processes.

Additionally, speaking to current pilots or joining pilot forums can provide valuable insights and firsthand experiences.

Ultimately, the decision between regional and international piloting paths should be based on individual preferences and aspirations.

Careful consideration and thorough research will lead aspiring pilots to the path that aligns best with their goals and aspirations.

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