Hi Hannah! Please could you tell us a little bit about yourself and your job?
My name is Hannah and I’m a commercial airline pilot. I’ve wanted to fly since I was seven years old and did everything I could to become a pilot. This meant a lot of studying, as the most important subject for flying is maths.
Why do you think maths is important?
Maths is very important in flying as we use lots of numbers. You need to be good at problem solving and be able to do lots of calculations quickly and correctly.
How do you use maths in your job?
Pilots use a lot of maths everyday. We have to make sure we take enough fuel for the flight; work out how much the plane weighs so we’re not too heavy to take off and land; decide how fast to fly; how far we need to descend and when to slow down; and how much runway we need to land on. A lot of this is straightforward arithmetic: addition, subtraction, multiplication and division.
Do you have any advice for someone who may find some parts of maths tricky?
Times tables are very helpful. They make maths a lot easier, as you don’t have to work it out if you know if off by heart! But the best way to make maths simpler is to practise: if you do it every day it slowly becomes easier until you can do it in your sleep!
What’s your favourite number and why?
343! The speed of sound is 343 metres per second … and some planes can go more than 3 times as fast as that!
If a school wanted to ask a pilot to visit their school, what advice would you give them?
Most airlines have a careers department who arrange school visits and presentations. Air Cadets
and The Air League
provide older children with the opportunity to experience flying and gain valuable skills tailored towards a career in aviation.
Thank you Hannah!
Hannah needs to use a lot of addition, subtraction, multiplication and division to calculate things like how much fuel to take (too much fuel would make the plane too heavy and slow it down and too little would mean they couldn’t get to their destination!) and to work out how far they have left to go, so she can decide whether they need to go faster.
Geometry is also needed to plan routes and keep the aircraft on course. Hannah needs to think about angles and be able to work out how many degrees she needs to turn the plane in order to land on a runway – you don’t want to miss that! Angles are also really important for landing and take off, deciding how much the nose of the plane has to tip up or down so that the wheels or the back of the plane don’t scrape along the ground.
Measure (time and money):
Hannah also needs to be able to work out time and money problems – as a pilot, you’re always flying to different countries and need to be able to switch between different currencies. She also needs to be able to calculate the length of the flight and what time they will arrive so that she can update her passengers.