Second officer is a civil aviation rank, also known as junior first officer. It is used for pilots at an early stage of their career.[1]


Modern airliners only require two pilots, the captain and the first officer.[2] Before a pilot is fully qualified to operate as first officer, they will typically act as a second officer, sitting in the right hand seat, while undergoing training and supervision from a training captain. A safety pilot will sit in the jump seat to monitor the junior first officer and the captain.[3][4]

In some airlines, a second officer is not permitted to take off or land the aircraft, and will only fly the aircraft during the cruise.[5][6]

At Singapore Airlines and Scoot, second officers are usually promoted to first officer after 5-8 months.[1] In Ryanair UK, pilots are promoted from second officer to junior first officer when they achieve 500 hours of flight time.[7]


Airlines which use the title "second officer" include:

Historically, the second officer was the flight engineer. This is a trained pilot who does not fly the aircraft, but instead monitors aircraft systems.[16] Modern airliners only require two pilots, and do not have a flight engineer or a navigator.[2]

See also


  1. ^ a b "Career Progression". Pilot Kaki. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  2. ^ a b "First-Hand:Evolution of the 2-Person Crew Jet Transport Flight Deck". ETHW. 30 July 2014. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  3. ^ "How to become a Boeing 737 Ryanair Pilot". JohanAero. 9 May 2017. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  4. ^ Secchi, Beatrice (12 November 2021). "Ryanair line training". AFTA graduate blog. AFTA. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  5. ^ Page, Charlie. "The path to becoming an airline captain -- how pilots climb the ranks". Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  6. ^ "What do Pilot Stripes Mean?". Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  7. ^ "Pilot Salary UK: Everything You Need To Know". The Pilot Guys. 28 May 2023. Retrieved 12 October 2023.
  8. ^ "Cathay Pacific Airways Second Officer". Better Aviation. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  9. ^ Fan, Wenxin. "At Controls of Crashed China Eastern Jet: One of Country's First Commercial Pilots". WSJ. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  10. ^ Airline Jobs | Jet2Careers Retrieved 8 July 2023.
  11. ^ KLM Cockpit crew KLM Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  12. ^ "Pilot career entry". European Flight Academy. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  13. ^ "Singapore Airlines Pilot Recruitment - Direct Entry Second Officer". Fly Gosh. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  14. ^ "Airbus pilot cadets to be recruited by Volotea". 1 March 2022. Retrieved 24 February 2023.
  15. ^ "Air New Zealand Careers". Retrieved 4 June 2023.
  16. ^ Harris, Tom. How Airline Crews Work, website, 14 June 2001. Retrieved 2 September 2014.