differences between Captain and First Officer

What are the differences between Captain and First Officer?

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Dear Aviator,

you cannot imagine how bad I feel that I have neglected my blog for a while. Lately my travels kept me very busy, therefore my productivity went doen. This fact and the packing are the two things I dislike most about traveling.  

Are you ready for another aviation related blog post? You probably have  questioned yourself what is really the difference between a captain and first officer. How many times have I heard people saying: "Ah you are the captain now, so you are finally allowed to fly the airplane!" In this blog post I will share with you the four major differences between Captain and First Officer.

 

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Appearance

Age is not an indicator of whether a pilot is a Captain or First Officer. I have flown with First Officers who were almost double my age. Have a look at the number of stripes of the pilot uniform.  Three stripes stand for First Officer and four for Captain. In genral, the higher the number of stripes, the higher is the rank.

Sometimes you might spot two stripes on a pilot uniform. This is a Junior First Officer who is either still in training or has not reached a certain hours flown. You might have also seen  three stripes with a really thick one. This stands for a Senior First Officer. This pilot is very expereicend  and he/she can fly from the left seat during cruise flight when the captain is taking a break on long-range flight for exampl. Speaking about the seat position. The Captain is seated in the left side whereas the First Officer in the right. These positions must not be interchanged. However, Captains can receive a right seat check out (additional training required) which allows them to fly from the left as well.

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Check out my YouTube channel PilotPatrick for more exciting videos about my trips around the world!

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Duties

How many times have I heard people say: "Ah you are the Captain, so you are finally the real pilot!" What was I before an unreal or fake pilot?! Both crew members regardless of their rank can be called pilots.

This might surprise you: Captains fly their aieplane as much as First Officers. Before each flight the crew decides how is PF (pilot Flying) or PNF (Pilot not flying or pilot monitoring). The PF controls the plane, performs the take-off, controls the autopilot in cruise flight and does the landing. The PNF fills the flight log, communicates with air traffic control (ATC) and supports the PF. Usually, I leave the choice to my First Officers which role they would like to perform. The answer is always the same when the weather is bad or it is getting late: I prefer to do the next flight ;-)

There are cases where the Captain determines that he or she wants to fly due to weather or other special reasons. Addtionally, the there are some circumstances  in which the First Officer is not allowed to fly. (more in detail at a later point)

So why doesn't the Captain fly the whole time?

  • Fatigue is better distributed if both pilots fly.
  • First Officers gain experience they will need as captains.
  • Flying is not always the best use of the Captain's experience, training and time. In cases of abnormal issues such as a system malfunction, it may be better for the Captain not to be tied up flying. That way he/she  can concentrate and coordinate the appropriate actions.

The major difference is that the captain always has the responsibility. From the time the Captain boards the plane until he/she leaves the plane again (no matter who is flying!!!), the Captain is responsible for the flight and is in command of it. The First officer is the second in command.

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Operational Procedures

The commercial operation of an aeroplane requires a high level of standarization. Guidelines, regulations, limitations and procdues on how to operate an aircraft are written in the opertional manuals. This grants a high level of safety and allows a new crew composition to fly with each other since they follow the prescibed operational procedures.

It is the job of the Captain to taxi the aircraft on ground due to the fact that the tiller (steering wheel of the nose gear) is mounted only on one side of the cockpit. The Airbus A300-600 has also a tiller on the First Officer side. This feautre does not automatically grant the First Officer to taxi as well. Most airlines follow a philosophy that it should be only the Captain taxing since he/she is responsible of the aircraft. An outdated philosophy since one day the First Officer becomes a Captain without any practice taxing.

Coming back to the cases in which the First Officer is NOT allowed to fly:

  • Takeoffs below 400m runway visual range (RVR).
  • CAT 2/3. when the weather is below CAT1 which means in most cases an RVR of less than 550m with a decision height of 200m.

To sum it up: Everytime it gets more challenging it the Captains task to fly , because he/she is trained to operate in low visibilty (LOVIS) and usually has more expierence.

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Money

The topic that everyone is most curious about. Moneywise there is a big difference in the salary of a Captain and a First Officer. To have the entire responsibility for a multi-million Euro jet, the lives of the passengers and the rest of the crew, a Captain gets paid extra. A safe flight depends on the ultimate judgement and decision making of the Captain. As a general rule you can say that a Captain makes about 50% more than a First officer. So if a First Officer makes about 60,000€ a captain makes at least 90,000 €. It can be also more than double or even more than that if company affliliation is a longer or when a Captain has additional tasks and responsibilites (eg. instructor).

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Which question about aviation would you like to have answered next? Let me know in a comment below and don’t forget to like my blog about the differences between Captain and First Officer. 

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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process of becoming a flight a captain

Moving to the left seat - Captain Upgrade Part 3

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Dear Aviator,

welcome on board of a new chapter. This is now your Captain speaking! After three months of training, the Upgrade to Commander course is completed. It was an intense time with lots of studying, challenging simulator sessions and first flights in the left seat. In the last two parts of my blog series, I already gave you insights into the process of becoming a flight Captain. In this last part, I will share with you the ultimate steps which were necessary to receive 4 stripes. In the end, you have the chance to win a pilot shirt with my 3 stripes. 

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The new Huawei P30 Pro

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What has happened so far?

Make sure to read the other two parts of this blog series to fully understand the process of becoming a captain.

Part 1: Written application and simulator assessment

Part 2: Upgrade to Commander ground course and simulator training

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Do not miss any of my videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel PilotPatrick

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Line training

After completing the simulator flight on the left seat, the next step was the line training also called supervision. This training takes place on board the real Airbus A300 during the regular line operation. Instead of flying with a First Officer, a training Captain was there to supervise me. The initial phase was to get familiar with the new position, which means the training captain guided, corrected and led me where necessary. He did all his First Officer tasks automatically and supported me in my tasks as well. But after a few flights, the leadership phase was due to strengthening my non-technical skills. All decisions were made by myself and he expected me to treat him like a "normal" First Officer. I had to lead the crew, give orders and to delegate tasks.

Main objectives during this phase:

  • Building up the confidence to fly from the left seat
  • Familiarise with the tasks of a Captain
  • Discussing the duties of the commander
  • Reviewing technical knowledge and operational procedures
  • Simulating CAT III (low visibility) approaches
  • Building up non-technical competency (leadership and decision making)

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last days wearing 3 stripes

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Paris Le Bourget airport

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Struggles on the first flight

Not everything flew smoothly at the beginning: I definitely had my struggles during my first flights. Now I smirk about it but when I was a trainee I was a little bit frustrated. The picture outside of the cockpit, especially during the approach and landing phase is different from the left seat. That's why I had difficulties finding the centerline of the runway. So I was unintentionally a little offset of the centerline. But the aim is to land exactly on the centerline, so to have enough margin left and right in case of gusts or failures pushing you to one side.  After four landings I finally found the centerline again :-)

In general, it feels different to fly from the left seat. Now all the buttons are on the other side. I had the impression I was seated now in a completely new cockpit. For takeoffs and landings, you use your left hand to steer (yoke) and your right hand to control the thrust. As First Officer, it was 8 years vice versa. The first few landings were a little bit harder and bouncy, but I was able to familiarize myself quickly and to get the right feeling again.

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First flights from the left seat

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Final check

The line training consisted of 25 flights in total. Even though it was a checking environment and I had to overcome some hurdles, I enjoyed it a lot. The training Captains passed on a lot of tips and prepared me well to fly soon with a First Officer.

The entire Upgrade to Commander Course ended with an evaluation flight, to check if I am ready for my initial line check as a Captain.

On the 25th of April 2019, the time has come for the last check to prove my knowledge, skills, and Captaincy on two flights. The specialty here: It was the first time flying with a First Officer. The check Captain was seated on the jumpseat in the cockpit to observe us. Everything flew smoothly and I was asked some theoretical questions during the flight; about fuel management and policies for example. After landing, the check captain, who is the Chief flight instructor of the airline, congratulated me for passing the check flight. He said it was a really good performance. I was the happiest person on earth.

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What will change now?

I will still fly the same routes and land at the same destinations but now I am the boss on board. One of my fellow Captain colleagues described the job quite well:

You are now like the diector of an orchestra. You are delegating and setting the tone.

Besides leading the crew, you have to manage all processes that happen with the aircraft including the communication with the ground crews. You have to keep the time insight to guarantee an on-time departure. You have to look like an eagle on top of the aircraft to observe and to assess the current situation. The so-called situational awareness. The decisions I have to make shall guarantee a safe, economical and efficient flight. It shall also be the best decision for the company as well. As you can see a lot of responsibility but I am looking forward to this new chapter on the left seat.

I am happy about one aspect particularly; it is not the increase in salary :-) Moreover, I am looking forward to passing on my knowledge and experience to new First Officers. Additionally, I will be in charge of the atmosphere in the cockpit. You know which vibes that will be!

 

 

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GIVE AWAY!

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Captain giveaway

So many of you joined my first give away to win my epaulets. That's why I decided to give away a second set of 3 stripes to one of my Aviators. Additionally this time, I will include a pilot shirt (I will buy it in your size) and a personal note.

To join the giveaway

  1. Like this post (heart symbol)
  2. Leave me a comment below this article mentioning "I want to be your copilot #CaptainPatrick" and let me know your shirt size
  3. REPEAT the previous step on today's post on Instagram post!!!

I will randomly choose a winner 12th of May 2019. Good luck!

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GIVE AWAY!

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Subscribe to my newsletter, if you want to receive a message from me when I posted a new blog, video or event!

3 easy steps to subscribe:

  • Save me as contact: +49 152 52651846
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  • Send me the code “Takeoff”

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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should you become a pilot

Should you become a pilot and is it a good time for it?

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Dear Aviator,

first of all thanks for following my request to send me your questions. It was difficult to make an appropriate selection out of thousands of questions for my FAQ video on YouTube. One question, in particular, was asked several times: Should I become a pilot and is it a good time for it? I thought I give you a more extensive answer to help you in the process of finding the right decision for your future. Be prepared for unadorned truth. 

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The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. But the possibility for everyone on earth to fly like an eagle through the skies is only a few decades old. Aviation, as we know it from today, is still in its initial phase when considering that the desire to fly freely has always excited. Thanks to great legends and pioneers who made aviation to what it is today. We can feel quite fortunate that live in a time, in which the job as a pilot exists.

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The aviation is a moving, but also a really volatile industry with lots of ups and downs. As quick as aviation develops and changes over the years, the pilot job as altered as well. We still fly aircraft, but nowadays with a high level of automation, under economic pressure, an increasing number of regulations and a sky which does not seem so free anymore. I would not say that the job lost its glamor over the years, but it is a different glamor and not all jobs have it.

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Would I become a pilot again?

Yes! Yes and Yes. In a recent Instagram post, I stated that you should choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life. For me, it is still the best job in the world and it does not feel like work for me (most of the time). Of course, the job brings long also negative aspects. It can be indeed tough, unglamorous and hard work. But in the end, it counts that all negative aspects fade behind all the positive sides of the job. More about the pros and cons here.

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In case you are interested to get more questions about aviation, travel, and lifestyle watch my latest video "FAQ" on YouTube. Do not miss any of my future videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel PilotPatrick

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What would I have done differently?

I definitely chose the harder way to become a pilot. The entire flight training (about 70,000€) was self-funded and it did not have any guarantee after finishing my training to get a position in the cockpit. This was quite risky because you never know how the demand for pilots will look like when you complete your training. Within two years of training, it can happen a lot in the aviation industry. In my case, I was lucky to start flying as a First Officer on a private jet, but I know about other graduates who did not find a job right away. If I were you I would try to get into a cadet program of an airline, so you do not put yourself into financial risk.

Have a plan B

I would advise that you go to college to further your education and possibly gain a degree. This would enable you to seek further employment, even in the airline industry. Especially in aviation, a plan B is essential since you depend on your license.

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Why you should NOT become a pilot?

Good salary, layovers, free flights, job security. Those are probably aspects why you would like to become a pilot. But the opposite applies. As I mentioned before the pilot job has changed and the conditions in the airline industry have deteriorated tremendously. In the competition with low-cost airlines, major carriers had to reduce costs in all departments including the salary of aircrews. But the requirements and the complexity of the job has not decreased.

The days that you spend one week of a layover in the Caribbean are also over. In case you have a layover than it is the minimum time required at the destination before your next flights. Especially low coast airlines always return to the home base to save money. For me, the pilot job is linked to traveling and layovers. That is why I could not imagine sleeping every night at home. Even though I work in the aviation industry I do not have the privilege or benefit to fly discounted or even for free. As the high number of bankruptcies of airlines in the European market has shown, job security is not given

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Is it a good time to become a pilot?

How can I say it is still a dream job after listing all the negative aspects, which make this job less appealing. I did not want to discourage you, but rather tell you the truth about the current situation. Fact is that it more and more depends on the airline you are flying for! The working conditions vary tremendously. There are still fantastic cockpit positions out there, may it be with a business jet company or a big airline. The demand for pilots is extremely high at the moment. According to Boeing, there is a requirement of 790,000 pilots in the next 20 years. In case we are not facing a crisis in the world of aviation the shortage of pilots will grow. The reason for this shortage is the job has become less appealing to new candidates. But a shortage is also a good sign because then the aviation industry has to act and airlines have to improve their working conditions to attract new pilots. It is utterly important to stop the ideational and material depreciation of the pilot job because this can in return infringe flight safety.

 

Outlook

International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that the air traffic will have doubled with the next years. The long term trend of the demand for aircrews exists. We as passengers, customers, and staff of the aviation industry have the power to change and shape it for the future.

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Become a pilot if you have the passion and fascination for aviation. It is important to know about the negative as well as the positives when considering being a pilot. Downsides exist in every branch. But with one huge difference, you become part of a world full of energy and enthusiasm which is hard to find in any other jobs.

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Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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how to become a captain

Moving to the left seat - Captain Upgrade Part 2

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Dear Aviator,

I am able to share some good, but also some bad news with you! The good news is that I passed another important step in becoming a captain, but the bad news is that I don't know when my next flight will be! How can that be? In this second part of how I become a captain, I inform you about all the steps it requires and I give you insights about my training. At the end of this article, I have a little, but special give away for you. 

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What has happened so far

  1. In September 2018 I applied as captain with my airline
  2. My application was reviewed and accepted
  3. In November 2018 I passed the assessment in the simulator

Depending on the demand and if I am expandable from the flight operation,  my training to become a captain would start. In the meantime, I continued flying as First Officer on the A300. The last flight on the right side came earlier than expected. Already on the 31st of January 2019, it was my last flight, which took me to sunny Tel Aviv. I recapped my time as First Officer which were 8 years in total and I could not believe that a new era would start soon. Check out part one if you want to find out more about the requirements and the selection process.

 

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Do not miss any of my videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel PilotPatrick

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Upgrade to Commander course

Beginning of February the UTC (upgrade to commander) training started. The first part was a ground course which lasted one week. From this point onwards I was not allowed to fly as First Officer anymore by regulation.

This ground course took place with six other colleagues who were also in the process of becoming a captain. I thought I would be one of the youngest among them, but two other colleagues of mine were even younger than me.

Topics which were covered in the ground course:

  • Laws and regulations
  • Responsibility
  • Performance
  • CRM
  • Low visibility procedures

As a commander, I will be responsible for the aircraft, the crew, the passengers and the cargo on board. When operating the aircraft I have to consider all laws, regulations, and procedures. CRM (Crew resource management) plays also an important role in the safe operation. CRM is a set of training procedures for use in environments where human error can have devastating effects such it is the fact in aviation. It is used primarily for improving air safety, CRM focuses on interpersonal communicationleadership, and decision making in the cockpit. Human error is still the greatest factor for accidents in aviation.

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Not the A300 simulator but a A320 in Berlin

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One of my biggest goals is to become a captain at the age of 30 and as it looks right now it will most probably happen

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Simulator Training

After a free weekend, the training continued in the simulator. I prepared my self as good as possible because I wanted to show my training captain and myself that I am the right candidate for the left seat.

The simulator sessions took place in Berlin which was convenient for me since I could stay at home. The training consisted of six missions and a final check. Each session focused on a different subject. One session was primarily to train the procedures for engine fires and failures. Another session was to practice the low visibility procedures and flight control malfunctions. All had in common to improve the non-technical skills from the left seat. Non-technical means: the flight management, prioritizing tasks, decision making and the communication with the crew. In the beginning, I had to get used to fly the aircraft from the left seat. This was a little awkward because buttons and levers were now on the other side. It was a little bit like driving the car from the right seat.

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Studying hard

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A lot of flight maneuvers and SOPs (standard operating procedures) were new to me on the Captain's seat. Like the rejected take off and the engine fire with evacuation on the ground.

Up to the speed of V1 (Decision speed), the captain decides with the call "STOP" to aboard the takeoff. After this speed, the takeoff has to be continued because with a higher ground speed the runway would not be long enough to brake the aircraft anymore.

In case of an engine fire on the ground, two checklists have to be read in a structured and coordinated way. In the end, it is the captain's decision to evacuate the aircraft or not.

One duty session lasts six hours in total. One hour briefing before, four hours flying and one-hour debriefing. The simulator was intense with all the emergencies and abnormals, but it was still a lot of fun and I really enjoyed it.

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QRH (Quick reference handbook) Engine Fire and Evacuation checklist

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Check flight and ATPL skill test

End of February I had my simulator check flight which was combined with an ATPL skill test. As a commander, you need the ATPL license (Airline Transport Pilot license). To hold this license you need a CPL (Commercial Pilot License) with ATPL theory credit and a minimum of 1500 flight hours.

During my check flight in the simulator, it was the first time that I flew with a First officer, who was new on the fleet. This was the first time I really could demonstrate my role as commander because the simulator sessions before were flown with a captain aspirant with a lot of experience.

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Simulator check passed

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What's next?

Waiting time is next. Currently, I am waiting on my new license the ATPL, which will be issued by the authority. Once I receive it I will continue flying, but then as Captain. Not yet with four stripes, since the training continues on board of the real aircraft. The first 25 sectors/flights will be under the supervision of line training captain, who is seated on the right.

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Special giveaway

Soon I do not need my three stripes anymore. That is why I will pass the epaulets on to one of my Aviators with a personal note. They accompanied me for a long time, but now it is time for them to follow someone else journey. Maybe you are becoming a pilot and need them or you just want them as a lucky charm.

To join the giveaway

  1. Like this post (heart symbol)
  2. Leave me a comment below this article mentioning #PPstripes and answer: What is in your opinion the most important characteristic of a captain?
  3. Watch the full YouTube video in this article
  4. Like the video and leave a comment mentioning #PPstripes

I will randomly choose a winner 24th of March 2019. Good luck!

Stay tuned for part three!

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Giving away my 3 stripes!

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Subscribe to my newsletter, if you want to receive a message from me when I posted a new blog, video or event!

3 easy steps to subscribe:

  • Add me as contact: +49 152 52651846
  • Open your Whatsapp
  • Send me the code “Takeoff”

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

FOLLOW ME:

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how to become a captain

Moving to the left seat - Captain upgrade Part 1

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Dear Aviator,

happy new year to you! I wish you all the best and many happy landings in 2019. The new year started with amazing news for me. At the end of last year, I already informed you that I applied for a captain position on the A300. The application process took several months and ended successfully with an assessment in the simulator. In this blog post, I want to give you some background information and insights into the application process and how to become a captain.  

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Do not miss any of my videos and subscribe to my YouTube channel PilotPatrick

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How to become a captain?

To become a captain of a commercial jet does not happen from one to another day. It takes several years after finishing flight school before you will able to move to the left seat. Your flight experience plays the most important role, on the way, you also have to pass countless simulator checks, type ratings, skill tests.

Additionally you not only need to meet the legal requirements, but you also have to prove yourself within in the company. You need to have the right attitude and personality for this position.

Read my blog series how I became a pilot for more information about my career path!

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How long does it take to become a captain?

This depends on the airline and the individual. To become captain of a commercial aircraft, you must have logged at least 1,500 flight hours and hold a full Air Transport Pilots Licence (ATPL). However, in reality, most airlines require a minimum of 3,000 hours before considering any pilots for promotion. Before I left the Business Aviation I had around 2400 flight hours and my previous employer already considered promoting me on a private jet. With the age of 27, this sounded pretty compelling, but I was looking for a different occupational challenge.

Requirements

When I joined my current employer two years ago, I have never thought that I will be promoted that quickly. At the moment of the job advertisement, I  met exactly the requirements for the upgrade, (only a few flight hours were missing, which I have by now) In my mind I always had the goal to become a captain with the age of 30. When I switched airlines I thought this will not be possible anymore, but it seems like that I am mistaken.

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Job advertisement of the airline

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Application Form

Like applying for a new job at a different company, I had to apply internally to the position of the commander. At first, I had to check if I meet all the requirements. The next step was to fill out the application form in which I had to mention why I want this position and why I would be a suitable candidate. Find my answers below. Additionally, I had to list my current flight hours.

All applications of the first officers were reviewed by the company. Training captains and the management were interviewed if I would be a suitable candidate.

I received positive feedback so the first step in becoming a captain was passed. 

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Commander assessment

The next step was an assessment in a full flight simulator. During an hour flight in the simulator, I was given a scenario with different malfunctions. Two instructor captains, one seated in the back operating the simulator and one seated in the captain position did the assessment with me. The check was primarily not to assess my flying skills, moreover to observe my flight management skills and my decision-making process. The whole flight I was pilot flying (PF) from the right seat and the captain to the left supported me but did not help me to find any solutions.

I was pretty nervous and really excited, but also really happy that I have this great opportunity. Once in the simulator, I was rather relaxed and I was looking forward to proving my skills and knowledge.

Additionally, I was asked a few questions to the operational procedure and technical aspects of the airplane. I went back home without any result and mixed feelings. The good news arrived in the new year!

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What will change?

I will still fly the airplane as before, but from the left seat with four stripes. As a commander, I will be responsible for the safe operation and the safety for all crew members, passengers and cargo on board as soon I arrive on board until I leave the aircraft at the end of the flight. So even when my colleague messes up something I will be the one who will be blamed for it. Flying means teamwork and finding solutions together, but in the end, it is the captain who orders and makes the final decision.

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Next steps

Passing the application process and the assessment in the simulator does not mean that I will start my next duty as a captain. The tough part lays now ahead of me. The upgrade course will start in a few weeks and will comprise a ground school, simulator sessions, the line training, and several checks. I will keep you updated!

Please cross your fingers that everything will fly smoothly.

 

Subscribe to my newsletter, if you want to receive a message from me when I posted a new blog, video or event!

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  • Add me as contact: +49 152 52651846
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  • Send me the code “Takeoff”

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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business aviation exhibition

Luxurious jets at the business aviation exhibition in Geneva

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Hello my Aviator, 

welcome on board of the most exclusive branch of aviation: the business aviation. I take you to Geneva in Switzerland to the EBACE, which is an exhibition solely for private jets. Normally only aircrews and their VIP passengers have excess to the cabin of those luxurious jets. But this event grants me to give you an insight view of the business aviation. Are you ready for departure? 

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Cabin of the Cessna Citation Longitude

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Business aviation exhibition

I started my career as First Officer on a private jet. I used to fly the Cessna Citation XLS+, which is a medium size jet for up to 9 passengers. The operation and the daily pilot life is a lot different compared to any airline operation. The flights are tailored to the passenger needs in regard to departure time, catering and even crew composition. Most airports have an own stand-alone terminal which is dedicated for private jet passengers only. So if you do not work either for a handling agent at the airport or as aircrew you will not get any access those business jet.

Except you are the passenger or when the EBACE opens its doors in Geneva. You have the chance to have look inside the cabin and cockpit of all kind of different jets.  If you want to find out more about the Business aviation check my corresponding blog post.

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EBACE static display

I was most excited to visit the static display, but the exhibition also offered a huge hall with all different companies which are connected to the business aviation like handlings, fuel supplier, air charter companies and supplier for technology.

One of my favorite transport manufacturers is Bombardier. You may know this company from the commercial aircraft C-, CRJ- and Q-Series and their trains. But they also build luxury business jets

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static display /source: EBACE

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Cessna Citation Latitude (first Cessna with flat cabin floor)

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Geneva airport exhibit hall / source: EBACE

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Bombardier

When most people think about private jet they come up with the name Learjet. This originates that Learjet was one of the first companies to manufacture a private and luxury aircraft in the 1960‘s. The first jets were built in Switzerland but the production was moved quickly to Kansas in Wichita (USA). The first business jet was born and a whole new era of air travel begun. In the 90‘s Bombardier took over its production.

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Luxury cabin of the Global 6000

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Bombardier Global 6000

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Their portfolio of aircraft ranges from medium size to large jets. I was really excited to visit one of their flagships, the Global 6000. A beautiful jet from the inside and outside. State of the art flight deck and a luxury cabin which feels like a 5-star suite. Up to 17 passengers can fly 6000 NM which is for example from Berlin non-stop to Singapore. At the EBACE they also presented the Global 7500 which is the world's largest and longest-range business jet.

It is really a hard decision if you rather want to be the pilot or the passenger of this jet. Luxury and quality have their price tags. Find it out in my YouTube Vlog and take a look inside.

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The new flagship of Bombardier G7500 / source: EBACE 

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How I became a private jet pilot?

It was definitely not a conventional way how I got my first pilot job. Since I got frustrated writing many applications and not receiving a feedback, I took my application to a personal level. In my new Vlog about the Ebace, I also explain how I become a private jet pilot. You may also find a series of blog posts about "how I became a pilot".

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innovative cockpit with sidestick, head up display and touchscreens

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large business jet / source: EBACE

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The size of jet I used to fly

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Do I miss the business aviation?

Yes and no! The exhibition was some kind of flashback to my time as a private jet pilot. There are a lot of aspects I really miss, like the luxury crew lounges, catering and a diverse flight schedule. But there also many aspects, which I really do not miss like endless waiting times for VIP passengers or cleaning the cabin after a long duty day. One side I have a crying end, but all in all, I feel much more comfortable with an airline. My flight roster is much more stable and I can plan much better in advance and I have more time for my Aviators.

What do you think suits me better the airline operation or the business aviation?

Safe travels and happy landings

Your PilotPatrick

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dream to become a pilot charity

Charity: my bracelet could make you become a pilot

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Cooperation - Advertisement

Hello my Aviator, 

I am really excited to reveal an idea which has been in the planning for a long time. It deals with financial support, the dream to fly and my very first Pilot Patrick accessory. In this blog post, I want to share my potential project with you and I am asking you about your opinion on it. It really is my matter of the heart!

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UPDATE: The #aviatorbracelet is now on sale here!

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Revealing my project

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Charity

A growing audience on social media means automatically more responsibility. People look up to you and you become some kind of role model for them. That means you have the power to share your opinion, advice, and ideals with a huge number of people. For me, it also means that you are responsible to engage in social affairs and be part of a charity project. I have thought for a long time which kind of project I could support, but in the end, I came up with a totally different idea.

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Support

The idea of this project arose from your ongoing support. I soon realized that you are interested in more than just cool photos on Instagram, so I started my blog. For two years now I am giving you insights of my pilot life and my travels around the world. I am also sharing my advice for your aviation career and how you can become a pilot.

It made me really sad to hear that many of you would like to become a pilot, but do not have the means to pay for the flight training. Times did not get easier! More and more airlines do not offer a sponsored cadet program anymore, so it became a popular to self-fund once training. The costs are immense. You minimum have to spend 70,000€ for a commercial pilot license. I was in the lucky position that my parents paid for my entire training 10 years ago.

Now I would like to support you in your dream to become a pilot.

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Take off thrust set

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Would you buy the Pilot Patrick bracelet for 30€?

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Project

I want to support one person to becoming a pilot. I not only want to be the mentor for this future aviator and help him to pass the flight school successfully. Additionally, I want to support this person financially maybe even pay for the full training.

But how will I be able to pay for that? 

I designed my very first Pilot Patrick bracelet. So far I only produced one single version. The unisex bracelet would be available in navy blue and pink. The strap is out of parachute material and the small aircraft with my logo is out of carbon.

I don't want to make money with it, but I want to use my reach to spread my project and to sell it to all my Aviators. The entire profit will go into the flight training. The person could be anybody and I would implement a selection process.

Watch my latest YouTube video to see me wearing the bracelet.

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UPDATE: The #aviatorbracelet is now on sale here!

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It is my matter of the heart. That way we can realize ones dream to become a pilot together. It now depends on you. This project is only possible with you and your feedback. What do you think about it and would you buy the Pilot Patrick bracelet for 30€? It would be available worldwide.

As always safe travels and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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pilot pros and cons of a dream job

Ten years being a pilot: Pros and cons of a dream job

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Hello my Aviator,

I am now working ten years in the aviation industry. Exactly one decade ago, I signed the contract with the flight school to become a commercial pilot. I take this anniversary as an occasion to recap my time as a first officer. Being a pilot is still a dream job for me. On my social media everything might look perfect, but this job also downsides, which I will reveal in this blog post.

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office above the clouds

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But let's start with the aspect which annoys me the most of being a pilot. Security checks. As a private jet pilot, I had the privilege to skip security controls at many destinations. But now I have to pass security every time without any exception.

At the airport the Paris security they treat pilots like a potential terrorist.

This is so ridiculous when you take in to account that all crew members have a valid background check. Recently they wanted to see my turmeric powder in my food bag. They checked it for liquids?! In front of the security staff, I had to taste the spice to proof this it is not an explosive. You can take it only with humor!

 

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Flight school

After I graduated high school I started right away preparing for the assessment to become a flight student for Lufthansa. I failed the first step of the selection process. One reason for that was my nervosity at that time.

Back then I was really sad about this but now I see it from a whole new perspective and I am actually happy that I failed the test.

I took the more difficult way to become a pilot. The flight training was self-funded, which made me put even more effort into it. I had to find a job after graduating. It was also tough to start my aviation career as a first officer on a Private Jet. The "Lufthansa way" would have been the easy way but would definitely not made the person and pilot I am today.

Pros: You have the time of your life with lots of studying and flying.

Cons: No job guarantee with a self-funded training. It is high risk to take of not getting a job.

 

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Airbus A300 prior departure

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Pilot Licence

It is not an easy and inexpensive path to obtain the license to fly commercial airplanes. But in the end, it is "only" a license and not an occupational education nor a degree. Health restrictions could cause that you are not able to fly, thus you can not pursue your profession. As a back up I got a loss of license. This insurance costs me 150€ a month and pays in case I am not able to fly anymore.

Cons: If you lose your medical you lose your license and you cannot fly anymore. In case you did not study you are left without any education.

Pros: You are in control of a powerful machine

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Job security

Aviation is a volatile business with great ups and downs. As an employee, you are dependent on the profitability of your airline. If an airline cannot cope with a crisis or suffers from bad management (airberlin) pilots are not needed anymore.

Cons: You are only needed as long there are flights and aircraft. This profession is highly specialized you can only fly aircraft and you are type rated on one special aircraft.

Pros: No office day is the same. You can enjoy the good reputation of being a pilot and you get paid to fly.

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Hamburg airport photo by Pando Hall

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Salary

The days of making a fortune as a pilot are over. A good availability of pilots on the market causes that working conditions and salary to drop. Especially as copilot, the current time is not easy. My net salary was around 2800€ when I started in 2010. Luckily, I did not have to pay for my flight training, because my parents took care of it. Imagine if have to pay back the costs of the license (70.000€) plus the type rating costs (20.000€) it would take ages and would not leave any money left to save.

Salary is not the same and highly depends on the company you work for. In the meantime, I earn as much as a captain does at my last employer. I paid back my costs for my type rating and I don't have any debts.

Pros: The captain salary enables you to have a good life. Some of the perks your salary are tax-free, which increases your net salary significantly.

Cons: Pilot salaries differ greatly. Even "Pay to fly models" exist where pilots have to pay the airline to fly. You have to invest a lot and work hard to boost your income.

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Mid air selfie

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Social life and free time

Do you have a social life? I have been getting asked this question many times. Of course, I do like everyone else.

But it requires good organization and planning to see friends and family.

I often have free time during the week when the majority has to work and has no time. But one part what I like most about my job, I do not take work home with me.

Pros: I have more than ten off days in a month. (German law requires a minimum of eight) Sometimes it is even half of the month that I am not flying. Between duty days I can at least enjoy four off days in a row without taking leave. In which kind of job do you have this?

Cons: You are not home. About half of the month I am not at home, so I can not attend all family and friends events. It is not possible to attend weekly courses (like a language course)

Watch my YouTube video about my off days at home in Berlin. Please subscribe.

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Layovers

The past 10 years I have been to hundreds of different locations in Europe, North Africa and Russia. As a private jet and as an airline pilot I am having layovers outside of my home base. The time I get to spend at one destination ranges from minimum rest (10 hours) up to two days. As a private jet pilot, the destinations were varying all the time and I really liked that I got to choose the crew hotel myself. You can imagine that I did not stay in the worst place. ;)

Pros: I have a fixed flight schedule and I know how much time I have at one destination. I can really use my rest time to do activities.

Cons: The network is limited so I get to stay in the same destination more often. A good example for this is Sevilla. It is almost my second home. After a while, this can become less exciting.

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Layover in Sevilla photo by Rocío

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Working hours

The pilot profession has probably the most irregular working hours. Aviation does not know weekends or public holidays. Some days you only have one flight the other day maybe three flights and instead of four hours duty 11 hours. Fortunately, I do not have to cope with jet lag, since I am flying within Europe. As a private jet pilot, I mostly flew during the day since VIPs do not like to get up early. But now I am flying also at night, which is a lot of stress for your body and you have to fight against fatigue.

Pros: I like the irregular working hours. I do not have to get up at the same time every day. Some flying days are long some are short. The work remains on board and when I have off I have off.

Cons: Due to the irregular working hours I have to take good care of my body. That is why I have a healthy diet and do regular body exercises to stay fit.

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Flying from sunrise to sunset

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Crew life

Becoming a pilot means you become part of a big family. Crews all share the same passion and a safe flight requires the crew to work in a team in a small environment. I think that is why you won't find this energy and enthusiasm in other jobs. Crews take care of each other and support each other. The well being of each crew member ensures the safety of each flight.

Pros: Colleagues can become friends. To share the flight experience and to spend the layover together is double the fun.

Cons: During work, I am not staying at a nice location with my beloved once. It still remains work. Every crew member has their own daily routine so it happens that you only spend time together in the cockpit and the rest of the time everyone does their own thing.

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Upgrade

I recently completed a total of 3000 flight hours. One aspect I really love about my job is that you are constantly learning and improving your skills. Aviation requires you to be up to date about new procedures and regulations. Even after flying an aircraft for thousands of hours you will find out something new about it.

With the first day of your first officer career, you start your training to become a captain one day.

Before I left the business aviation one and a half years ago, my former employer told me that I will become a captain in one year. Switching companies implied that I have to build up my seniority again. I fulfilled the requirement of 1500 flight hours to become a captain, but I still require flight hours within the new company. It also depends on their demand. Earliest time for me to become a captain is in about 1,5 years.

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!

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What would I have done differently?

I would have done everything exactly the same, except one point. Before starting with the flight training I would have studied to get a degree or at least study in parallel to the flight school. I am trying to study business administration alongside with the job and my social media, but currently, there is no time left for that.

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As a pilot, I am experiencing so many of awe-inspiring moments that I am left with no choice but to fly! This dream jobs also has downsides. But which job doesn't? The pros are vastly superior otherwise I would not continue to fly.

Which downside would you like the least?

Please subscribe to my newsletter with your email below and become an Aviator on my YouTube channel as well.

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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busting aviation myths and answering your top questions

Busting aviation myths and answering your top questions

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Hello my Aviator,

time flies! My blog is now online for already one year. It has been an exciting journey to share my adventures, tips and travels with you. At an early stage, I noticed that you are interested in more than just cool photos and videos on my Instagram. Therefore I launched www.pilotpatrick.com. The biggest motivation is you, my Aviators. I am not only an inspiration for you but also you are an inspiration for me. To celebrate the anniversary of my blog I will give away an original A380 model of Airbus. Additionally, I will answer the most common questions. On top, I will bust some myths about pilots and aviation in general.

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Oh! You are only the First Officer. When will you fly the plane?

I love to hear this statement. Imagine all First Officers would not be allowed to fly. How are they supposed to become a captain one day without having the experiences of flying an aircraft? Before each flight, the decision is made which duties each pilot has. This is split apart in Pilot flying (PF) and Pilot not flying (PNF). PNF means to do the radio communication and to support the PF in his task of flying. The responsibility has the commander at all times even when the first officer is operating the aircraft. The first officer is allowed to take off and land the aircraft like the captain from the beginning on. Restrictions apply when the weather is marginal or other circumstances like special airports require the commander to fly.

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Boeing 747-800 of Lufthansa in Frankfurt (FRA)

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Can travel the world for free as a pilot!

I wish I could! In my past seven years as a pilot, I paid for all my flight tickets the regular price. So far I never had the privilege of staff traveling. It would be great to have the possibility to book ID tickets. This way I would be even more spontaneous to travel to new places. The fare is much cheaper than the regular ticket price. For example, a flight in Business class from Germany to New York (round trip) would only be around 500€. The tickets are only standby so there is the risk of not getting a seat, but on the other hand, they grant you great flexibility.

As a pilot, I have to commute to my home base and the location of the aircraft a lot. Especially during my time as a private jet pilot, I traveled with airlines a lot. For those flights, I am wearing my uniform as well. Most of the time I can use the fast track at security checks or I get free drinks and food on board. I even have been upgraded to Business Class several times. Aviation is like a big family and crews help each other out and make traveling as much as comfortable as possible.

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You are a pilot. You must have good eyes!

Contrary to popular belief, you can fly commercial aircraft wearing glasses or contact lenses, as long as your vision is correctable to 20/20. For the initial Medical class examination, you have to meet a lot of different requirements. In case you are wearing glasses, they need to be in the cockpit and you also need a to bring a spare one. Each year you have to revalidate your examination and proof that your vision is unchanged.

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Pilots earn a fortune! What do you do with all that money!

Pilots make a fortune and for their job, they get paid too much. This is not correct! Especially the first years as a first officer are not paid well. For example, I started as a private jet pilot and for a full-time contract, my wage was 2,800€ a month. I would not consider this a fortune! A big benefit of being a pilot is the extra allowances. I get paid extra for being a way from my home base. Some of the surcharges are tax-free, so it helps to boost the net salary. Just so you know in Germany you have to pay about 50% tax on your salary.

Over the last years, a lot of airlines practiced some kind of loan „dumping“. To be able to offer cheaper flight tickets and to be more competitive they save on the costs of staff. There has been an oversupply of pilots for a long time and that is why companies reduced the salary of their crews. They even developed a „pay to fly" models, which means that the pilot pays for his work and not the employer the employee. I also know about a pilot of a big German charter company, who still lives at home with her parents because she can not afford moving out. With the upgrade to a captain, the world can look different. Most of the times the salary is almost doubled.

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Welcome to my office!

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Do aircraft have a horn?

I alway thought they do not have a horn but they actually do. But this horn is not used to alert other aircraft, it is used to inform the ground crew that the cockpit asks for communication. In the Airbus this button is called „Mechanic call“. Once the engines are operating you will not be able to hear this horn anymore. The private jet I used to fly did not have this feature.

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What do you do during a long flight?

My longest flight so far was from Teneriffa to London. We had a strong headwind and the aircraft was heavy. The flight was almost 5 hours and this is about the maximum the Citation XLS can do. This flight felt like an eternity because there is not much space in the cockpit. Honestly, I do not know what pilots do when they fly 10 hours straight. On short flights below one hour, you are busy from the beginning to the end of the flight. In cruise flight, the workload is really low. The auto pilot flies the aircraft and the crew monitors the systems. The PNF (Pilot Flying) fills out the flight plan and does fuel checks. The PF (Pilot Flying) checks the weather en route and of the destination. Besides such tasks, I fill out my pilot log book, eat, drink read and take some short snaps for you.

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What do your three golden stripes mean?

The stripes state the rank of a crew member. Three stripes are for first officer and four for captains. At some airlines, first officers also fly with two stripes to indicate their junior status. There is no difference between gold and silver!

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Below the wing of an Airbus A300

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How did you become a pilot and how much did the training costs?

At the European flight academy, formerly called Intercockpit, I became a flight student in 2008. I chose an integrated route which is a full-time course othat takes a student from complete beginner to a position of becoming a pilot at an airline. The course was really intensive at there was not much free time in between practical and theoretical flight training. The training facility organized everything for you and provided you with a monthly schedule. The theoretical phases were quite enduring, which made the practical flight phases even more exciting.

The ground courses took place in Frankfurt and my flight training in Florida and in Croatia. Even though the time was quite stressful and paired with a lot of pressure, I had one of my best times in my life. Already after 18 months, I completed the training. Like everything in aviation, flight training is expensive too. In total, I paid 64,000€ to the flight school. (This did not include housing transport administration fees at the authorities) In case you are interested in an extended version of how I became a pilot, I suggest to read my series on this blog.

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Do pilots sleep during flight?

The simple answer is yes. Certainly not on all flights. In pilot terms, sleeping is called controlled rest, which is taken in the operating seat. Of course only one pilot at the time. This procedure has been proven to improve safety because it improves alertness. The idea behind is that a pilot gets a sleep up to 30 minutes like a power nap and to be more fit afterwards! 

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Do aircraft have a key like a car?

Smaller aircraft do big once do not. The Citation XLS+ has a regular lock and I had a key for every aircraft in the company. You probably think that those were super fancy for a 12,000,000€ private jet. It actually looks like a simple key of a locker. The major reason why smaller aircraft or business jet has a lock is that you could enter the aircraft from the ground without any aids. On a big airliner, the picture looks different since the door is so high up that it is sufficient to remove the stairs to guarantee that no unauthorized personnel gets access.

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Give away of an original A380 model of Airbus (1:400)

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To celebrate the first anniversary of my blog, I am giving away an Airbus A380 model in the size of 1:400.

To have the chance to win the model you need to:

  • Be a follower either on my Instagram/ Facebook
  • Subscribe with your email to the newsletter of my blog below
  • Leave a comment below with the questions which is aviation, travel or lifestyle related. I will answer your questions in a later blog post.

I am looking forward to sharing my adventures as a pilot. Good luck and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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my first 100 flight hours on the airbus A300

Checks completed - my first 100 flight hours on the Airbus

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Hello my Aviator, after an extensive flight training on the ground and in the air, I finally had my initial line check on the Airbus A300. Thanks a lot for crossing your fingers for me. The check flight ran smoothly and I passed it very well. In this aviation related article, I am sharing my experience of the first 100 flight hours on the Airbus and I inform you how the training to acquire a new type rating looks like.

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First step Type Rating

With my CPL(A) license, I am basically allowed to fly all aircraft type as long as I am specially trained for the specific type. This training is called type rating and takes place in a full flight simulator and can cost about to 60,000€. The first type rating I did was on the Citation XLS in 2010. Back then I paid about 20,000€ to receive the training and to begin as a first officer on a private jet.

In the beginning of this year, I switched companies. I had to undergo an extensive training to be licensed to fly the Airbus A300. This time the employer paid for the costs of the type rating at Lufthansa Aviation training. In one of my previous articles, I explained how this training looks like in detail.

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Simulator in Berlin at Lufthansa Aviation Training

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Touch and Gos

After the completion of the type rating in the simulator, I had to do nine take offs and landings on the real aircraft. To be more economical the procedure is to touch down on the runway, then configure the aircraft again (flaps and trim) and to take off again without stopping. Usually, this base training is flown visually in a traffic pattern in the proximity of the airport. Unfortunately, the cloud base was too low on that day so we were forced to fly under IFR conditions.

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First landing during base training on the A300

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Flying the simulator feels almost like the reality but flying the real machine for the very first time was an overwhelming feeling. Up to this point, I had been flying an aircraft with a maximum take off weight of 10 tons and I was about to fly an aircraft with 170 tons. The first take off gave me goose bumps. Half of my landings on that day were nice, but about the second half, I do not want to talk about;-)

Practice makes perfect!

Those landings are a requirement of the aviation authority and have to be completed before flying commercially with passengers. During my time as flight student in Zadar, I had the chance to be aboard of a Lufthansa aircraft, which did touch and go training. I even sat in the cockpit during one approach. This was definitely one of my highlights as a flight student. I remember that one landing of a flight student was a little bit too hard, so a small panel inside the cabin came off.

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Zadar 2008 as flight student

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Observer flights

After the completion of the type rating and the touch and gos, the application for the issue of a new license was sent to the LBA. To bridge the waiting time I was scheduled as an observer on four flights. Additionally, to the regular crew, I was sitting in the cockpit on the observer seat. The intention behind is to get to know the working life and the line operation. It was fun watching my colleagues flying but I wanted to get behind the controls myself again.

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Annunciator light test during preflight preperation

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Line Training

It took about seven working days until I received the new license. I not only bridged the waiting time with the observer flights but also with a vacation in the Caribbean. This was the perfect spot to flee the winter and to have a short time out.

The first flight was scheduled on the 1st of March. The first leg was to Vitoria and the second to Sevilla in Spain. The next 80 flights were under supervision which meant I was only allowed to fly with qualified line training captains. Additionally, the first eight flights were with a safety first officer to support me in my tasks.

You fly the aircraft and not the aircraft you!

Flying the simulator is one thing but flying the real aircraft is a completely different world.  At first, I had difficulties managing the numerous task in a structured way before each flight. But from flight to flight, I got more confident and structured with the set up of the cockpit and the handling of the aircraft.

My first approach into Sevilla felt like I was flying supersonic. Everything was going so quick! Even with my experiences of 2000 flight hours, everything felt so new. Of course, I did my best to impose my knowledge and skills to the new operation.

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First layover in Sevilla

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Supervision

The type rating in the simulator was the first step to obtain the skills, procedures, and knowledge to operate the A300. In the supervision phase of 80 sectors, the training continued on the real aircraft:

  • Every flight is evaluated and during a debriefing reviewed
  • Captain shares his experiences and knowledge about the aircraft
  • Improve standard operating procedures
  • Discussions about aircraft systems, procedures, regulations
  • Use of electronic flight bag (approach charts and manuals)
  • Simulated automatic landings

The line training ended with the initial line check. I had to prove that I am operating according to the aircraft manuals and the standard company procedures. The check flight comprised of two parts. One as pilot flying and one a pilot non-flying. I am now released to "fly the line" but this does not imply that the training has ended. There is still lots to learn about the Airbus.

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Initial line check grading

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My 100 flight hours on the Airbus

The Airbus is compared to the Citation XLS a more challenging aircraft. This is not only because it is a more complex aircraft with more systems, but also because of the sensitivity of the control wheel. Minor inputs into the control wheel have a great effect on the control surfaces. The A300-600 is equipped with powerful Pratt and Whitney engines and through the wing mounted position they produce a pitch moment during power changes. This means you have to counteract this moment with your controls. Additionally, the set up of landing gear makes it difficult to do smooth landings.

In relation to my 1800 hours on the Citation, I already experienced a lot during my 100 flight hours on the Airbus:

  • Thunderstorms with lightning strike in front of my cockpit window
  • My first crosswind landing with about 25 km/h wind from the side,  it was easier to handle than on the small Citation Jet
  • Hard landing due to gusts at touch down and wind shears during final approach
  • St Elmo’s fire on the cockpit front windows due to a charged atmosphere

I am looking forward to the upcoming flights and challenges on the Airbus.

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St Elmo's fire on the cockpit window

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Have you been on a flight which did not run as smoothly as usual? Maybe you were flying in adverse weather or something extraordinary happened on board. Please share your experience with me below in the comment section.

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Your Pilot Patrick

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