why should you not become a pilot

Why Should You Not Become A Pilot?

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Dear Aviator,

Being a pilot is a dream job and will always be one. Unfortunately, Covid-19 not only turned our lives upside down but also many branches. The aviation and travel industry has been suffering tremendously from travel restrictions and quarantine safety measures worldwide. Consequently, there are now more pilots than jobs on the market.  Corona has not diminished the dream of becoming a pilot for so many. Should you aim to become a pilot and why should you not become a pilot? Is it a good time to pursue your dream despite the current situation? Here I give you a more extensive answer to help you in the process of finding the right decision for your future. Be prepared for the cold truth.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

The Dream Of Flying

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, is still in its initial phase when considering that the desire to fly freely has always existed. Thanks to great legends and pioneers who helped make aviation what it is today, we can feel quite fortunate that we live in a time where the job as a pilot exists.

A Fast-Paced Industry

Aviation is a moving, but also a really volatile industry, with lots of ups and downs, as Corona has proven. As fast as aviation develops and changes over the years, the job of a pilot has 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 that does not seem so free anymore. I would not say that the job lost its glamour over the years, but it is a different glamour and not all jobs have it.

how risky is flying

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 also has negative aspects. It can indeed be tough, unglamorous and hard work. But in the end, the negative aspects fade behind all the positive sides of the job.

More about the pros and cons here

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 when you complete your 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. My advice is to get into a cadet program of an airline, so you do not put yourself at 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.

becoming a commercial pilot

Why You Should NOT Become A Pilot?

Good salary, layovers, free flights, job security – these are probably aspects of why you may like to become a pilot. But the opposite applies. As I mentioned before, the job of a pilot 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 where you spent one week of a layover in the Caribbean, are also over. In the case of you having a layover, it is now the minimum time required at the destination before your next flight. Low-cost airlines always return to the home base to save money. For me, the pilot job is linked to travelling 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 of discounted or free flights. As the high number of bankruptcies of airlines in the European market has shown, job security is not a given.

becoming a commercial pilot

No Air Travel Like Before Corona 

At the moment it is very difficult to assess how the aviation industry will look in the future. But I am very sure that the general demand for flights will not reach the same level as before the pandemic started. Firstly, lots of people are suffering from the crisis which means they will simply not have the means to go on a vacation. Secondly, the whole business trips scenario will change or has already changed.

Companies will think twice and decide if the budget for the business trip makes sense, or if the meeting can be done online instead. In general, most companies have been weakened throughout the crisis, which means they will have a reduced budget for travel in general. The business traveller who books expensive business class tickets will fly less, which will seriously impact the airline’s revenue.

becoming a commercial pilot

My Honest Advice

Do not enter flight training right now!

If you are leaving high school and you want to become a pilot:

I recommend those who are leaving high school at this time, to get experience in another profession or a degree. Once completed you can reconsider your plans of becoming a pilot. This way you postpone your start date to a time where there will be a  much clearer picture of the aviation industry. Additionally, some pilots will be leaving because of retirement or a new profession. This will guarantee you a full back-up plan, in case you do not manage to get employment as a pilot.

If you have started your flight training already:

I think in this situation it makes sense to finish your course with the pilot school in order to receive your license and use every possible resource to find a job and be open to relocating.

becoming a commercial pilot

Post Corona

The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that air traffic will have doubled within the next few years. The long term trend for 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.

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 becoming a pilot. Downsides exist in all industries – 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.

becoming a commercial pilot

I hope you enjoyed my honest blog post: “Why should you not become a pilot?” Do not forget to like it and leave me a comment below.

Happy and healthy landings

Your PilotPatrick


how to become a private pilot

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

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The dream of flying is as old as mankind itself. I fulfilled my dream of flying airplanes as a pilot and it seems that you have the same desire. In this blog post, I will tell you what it takes to obtain a private pilot license and share with you the steps necessary. How long does it take? How much does it cost and how to become a private pilot FAST? It definitely ain’t rocket science and if you have the same excitement for flying as me you will easily fulfil our dream. (All requirements and regulations are based on the European aviation authority)

how to become a private pilot

Flying The Small Birds

In my latest question and answer videos on my Instagram page, I noticed that so many of you had questions on how to become a private pilot to fly small planes just for fun. I am currently operating piston-engine aeroplanes regularly since I completed my flight training to become a flight instructor. My flight students train VFR flying to obtain the PPL (private pilot license), the LAPL (light airplane pilot license) and the ATPL (airline transport pilot license). You probably have heard of the PPL but the LAPL might sound new to you. It is a way to fly light airplanes faster. I will share more information about this license later in this article.

Check out this blog post in case you are interested in How To Become A Flight Instructor”.

how to become a private pilot
how to become a flight instructor

The Private Pilot License

The license of PPL(A) (EASA-FCL), which stands for Private Pilot’s License European Aviation Safety Agency Flight Crew Licensing. I am glad that we have so many abbreviations in the aviation language. This license allows you to fly two  and four-seater aircraft (such as our Cessnas C-172) in Germany as well as abroad, whereby it is valid only for one-engine aircraft which have a maximum permissible gross of two tons. The license can later be expanded by further licenses or class ratings. (like Instrument flying or multi-engine ratings.)

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

Requirements

  • Sec. 23 para. 2 Air Traffic Licensing Order (LuftVZO): minimum age to start training is 16 (license qualification with age of 17)
  • Aviation medical class 2
  • Declaration of pending criminal proceedings (Sec. 24 para. 3 no. 3 and 4 Air Traffic Licensing Order)
  • Extract of German Federal Bureau of Motor Vehicles and Drivers (Kraftfahrt-Bundesamt) (Sec. 30 para. 8 of Road Traffic Act (StVG))

The following documents are needed in the course of the training:

  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) – (is being acquired in parallel to the flight training)
  • Security background check

My insider tip: Before searching for a flight school in your preferred location, I would do the medical examination first so you know that you are fit to become a pilot.

how to become a private pilot

Find A Suitable Flight School

Finding the right flight school is probably the most difficult task on the way to becoming a pilot. The quality of your training highly depends on the flight school and their instructors. Let Google do the job for you to find flight schools at your preferred location.

My insider tips:  

  • Talk to former flight students and ask them for their opinion on the flight school
  • Visit them personally before signing a contract. Maybe they have an “open day”  to get to know the flight school.
  • Check the size and state of the fleet of aeroplanes. A small fleet could cause your flight missions to be cancelled more often because of technical issues.
  • Take your first flight lesson as a test to see if you like it and feel comfortable with the school.

Pricing for a private pilot license (flight school around Berlin):

how to become a private pilot
how to become a private pilot

Theoretical training

The theoretical part of the training contains 6 training subjects. In addition, there will be the theory for the Radio Telephony Certificate.

  • Technics (aerodynamics, aircraft knowledge)
  • Navigation
  • Meteorology
  • Air Law
  • Human Performance
  • behaviour in exceptional situations
  • Radio Telephony Certificate (BZF) theory

Practical training

The practical part of the training contains 45 flight lessons, 10 lesson hours of which have to be flown without a flight instructor (solo), whereby again at least 5 lesson hours of which need to be cross country flights. One of these cross country flights need to have a minimum flight route of 270 km containing two stops at foreign airports. Furthermore, controlled airports have to be approached as part of the training. On top of that, the training contains instructions in instrument rating and radio navigation. You also practice different airwork flight patterns to get to know the behaviour of the aeroplane in critical flight conditions.

Examinations

The training will be completed by a theoretical and a practical examination. For logical reasons, the theoretical examination will be taken after the student pilot’s first solo-flight, whereby all subjects of the theoretical training will be examined by means of multiple choice. The practical examination will be taken at the end of the training when you will fly together with an examiner for about 60 minutes.

how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)

There are a few ways to become a private pilot a little bit quicker. In general, it takes a minimum of two months for flight training. Once you have passed your examinations you have to apply for the license and your aviation authority in charge. This can take another few weeks. It took the German LBA over 6 months to issue my flight instructor license.  This is definitely not acceptable in our faced-paced aviation world.

  1. Easing of training restrictions

If you have a license for gliding, it is possible to reduce the flying time by 10 %, whereby a maximum of 10 flight hours can be accepted.

  1. Pick the right time of the year

Your VFR flight training highly depends on the weather. If the weather is below VFR minimums, you will not be able to fly so the flight mission needs to be cancelled. So pick a time of the year for your location in which you have the best flying weather. In case you are in doubt, ask the flight school for the best starting time.

  1. Have all your papers and documents ready

Before you start with your flight training, make sure that you have all the papers on board and requirements fulfilled.

  1. Light aeroplane pilot license

The LAPL allows you to become a pilot quicker. The downside is that you will not be able to add class ratings like IFR or multi-engine. Additionally, you are only allowed to fly within the European Union with a maximum of 3 passengers on board in aeroplanes that weigh below two tons. The advantage is that you only need 30 flight hours in total and the costs are reduced by about 25%, so a total of 8,000€ approximately.

My insider tip: GO for the full Private pilot license which allows you to fly globally.

how to become a private pilot

I hope you find my blog post on “How To Become A Private Pilot (fast)” helpful and could clarify some uncertainties. Make sure to like the post and share it with others who might be interested in this topic.

Drop me an e-mail to flightstudent@pilotpatrick.com, in case you are searching for a flight school in Berlin. I am happy to help you out and maybe I will even be your flight instructor.

Always happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


how to become a flight instructor

How To Become A Flight Instructor

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Dear Aviator,

Welcome back on board my blog. It has been a while since the last time I posted here. I have a viable excuse for this. For the last two months, I have been busy with the training to become a flight instructor. The 10 most frequent questions regarding the training will be answered in this blog post. So buckle up, sit back, relax and enjoy my insights into the flight instructor rating. 

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

1. Why did I become a flight instructor?

You never forget your education and skills when working in the aviation business. Obtaining the pilot license sets the foundation for different ratings. Whether it is a type, examiner or in my case, the instructor rating. There are many ways to upgrade your pilot license and your personal proficiency. Becoming a captain was my biggest goal once I started flying as a First Officer. Once this was accomplished, I quickly noticed that I enjoyed passing on my experience and knowledge to my younger colleagues on the ride side. Before getting the 4th stripe on my uniform I was seated in their position and I expected from my superior that he/she would guide and teach me so that I could become a captain one day. 

To be in the position of a flight instructor on a regular flight, which I enjoyed very much, led me to become a flight instructor.

It must be a great feeling to pass on my passion and knowledge and to be able to teach people how to fly!

how to become a flight instructor

2. Which does the flight instructor rating grant?

ATPL(A), Airline transport pilot license: that is the pilot license I am currently possessing. This permits me to fly commercially in a two-man cockpit both as a First Officer or Commander.

The flight instructor for fixed-wing aeroplanes (FI(A)) gives me the qualification to instruct future pilots (flight students) on single piston aircraft to fly VFR (visual flight rules). Basically, when you decide as a pedestrian (that is how aviators call people who do not fly) to get a private pilot license (PPL) I could be your instructor. A PPL as the name suggests permits you to fly private so non-commercially. I am not only entitled to train up in the air but also on the ground during theory courses.

If a flight instructor is licensed according to EASA-FCL, his license will be titled FI(RP) during his first 100 hours of training. This abbreviation means “Restricted Privileges” – one restriction is, for instance, that a FI(RP) is not allowed to declare a flight student to be permitted to perform his/her first solo flight.

 

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Ein Beitrag geteilt von Patrick Biedenkapp | Captain (@pilotpatrick)

3. How long does the training last?

In the aviation business, you always need to be ready for last-minute changes and amendments, which may lengthen the training significantly. Especially when you need VFR flight conditions in Germany during spring, it may take a little bit longer. All in all, it took me 7 weeks to have the entire training including the examination completed.

4. What are the costs of the training?

This depends immensely on the location and the flight school. The cost for a flight instructor course is around 12,000€ in Germany.  Flying is not inexpensive.

how to become a flight instructor

DA20 and C152 for the practical training

5. What are the minimum requirements?

1. Minimum age of 18
2. Valid PPL(A) EASA Part FCL, CPL(A) or ATPL(A) license
3. Valid aviation medical of at least class 2
4. At least 200 flight lessons, including:

  • holding of ATPL(A) or
  • holding of PPL(A) at least 150 hours in command + CPL(A) theory course (e.g. Distance Learning + Classroom instruction) und theoretic CPL(A) test at the Luftfahrt-Bundesamt or another authority
  • at least 30 flight hours on an one-engine aircraft with a piston engine, at least 5 flight hours of which must have been passed within the last six months prior to pre-examination, which is performed by the flight training school
  • at least 10 flight hours of instrument flight training (IR or CVFR), maximum 5 hours of which may be passed on the ground using a simulator or FNPT II
  • at least 20 hours cross country flights being the pilot in command, including one flight, whose flight route is at least 540 km long and which includes at least two landings on airports that differ from the start airport

5. Evidence of CPL(A) knowledge according to EASA Part FCL.915.FI b) (2) i)
(this may be provided by a passed theoretical exam at CPL(A) or ATPL(A))

6. Pre-examination: has to be passed within six months and at the latest one week prior to the start of the training examined by a FI(A) who has been licensed according to EASA Part FCL.905.FI i), based on the proficiency check according to appendix 9.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Outfitted with accessories of Porsche Design by Brics

6. How is the training to become a flight instructor structured?

The training is decided in a theoretical and a practical part.

Theoretical training

125 lesson hours of classroom instruction of the subjects:

  • the learning discourse
  • the process of a lesson
  • basics of training
  • applied learning methods on theory and practise
  • evaluation and examination of flight students
  • development of training program
  • human performance with respect to flight training
  • dangers simulating breakdowns during flight training
  • night rating
  • administrative task during the training

Practical training

30 flight lessons on an one-engine aircraft, 25 hours of which have to be flown together with an apprenticeable FI instructor, including 5 exceptional flight conditions on an aerobatic aircraft. 5 flight lessons being part of a team with another applicant for FI(A). The applicant is flying the aircraft sitting on the right-hand side, the FI-I is simulating the student pilot.

how to become a flight instructor
how to become a flight instructor

Closed Tegel airport TXL

7. Which ratings can you add to the flight instructor license?

FI(A) IR Flight instructor aims to teach instrument flying rules (flying without visual references)

FI(A) ME Flight instructor aims to teach on multi-engine aeroplanes.

IRI (A) – Instrument Rating Instructor aims to qualify you as an instructor for training in instrument flight.

CRI SE SPA – class rating instructor single engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for single-engine airplane training.

CRI ME SPA – class rating instructor multi engine single-pilot aircraft has the aim to qualify you as an instructor for multi-engine aeroplane training.

MCC Instructor – Multi-Crew Cooperation training is to improve the cockpit coordination between the crew members. The MCC training course is the bridge between the ATPL course and the future workplace within the cockpit environment.

Just to mention a few options on how you can upgrade your pilot license. The foundation sets the flight instructor rating.

how to become a flight instructor

8. When are you going to instructor your first flight student?

TBA announced on my social media channels. In particular on my Instagram channel @pilotpatrick. So make sure to follow me and have the notifications turned on.

9. Which aeroplanes do you fly during the training?

It was back to basics. Instead of flying big birds, it was those little birds we trained on. Flying is costly so the training primarily takes place on two-seater piston engine aircraft like the Diamond DA20 and the Cessna C152. This does not only keep the costs down but the environmental footprint as well. As a rule of thumb, the bigger the aircraft the higher the fuel consumption.

10. How does the examination look like?

Once the theoretical and practical training was done, I was ready for the examination. The examination consisted of three parts. In my case, it took approximately 5 hours to complete. 

  1. Check flight: An examiner checks your flying skills, knowledge about the aeroplane and the regulations. Overall he checks your capability to operate a single-piston aircraft from the right seat and your competency as an instructor. The examiner simulates engine failures, aborted take offs, navigation through landmarks, simulated emergency landing in a field, airwork like steep turns and stalls. Even though it was a check flight, I saw those flights also as training, and there is always something another experienced pilot can pass on to you.
  2. PPL theory: The examiner checks if you are familiar with the entire knowledge a private pilot should possess. He/She may ask you questions about aerodynamics, navigation, meteorology and so on.
  3. Theory class: The examiner checks if you are capable of holding a theory class in front of flight students. He/she basically wants to see that you have the ability to convey knowledge comprehensively.

how to become a flight instructor

Overall I am very happy that I followed my excitement of becoming a flight instructor and I can absolutely recommend getting this rating as well. I could upgrade my airmanship and my proficiency in flying small aeroplanes a lot. I hope you enjoyed my article on how to become a flight instructor. Please do not forget to like the blog post.

It would be fantastic when one of you will be my flight student in the future.

Happy and healthy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


becoming a commercial pilot

Should You Still Consider Becoming A Commercial Pilot?

Dear Aviators,

Flying has always been a job with many ups and downs. But what the world and the aviation industry is facing now is unprecedented. We are not talking about a turbulence which will be over again, sadly it is a down we have not experienced since the terror attack in 2001 and the world finance crisis in 2008/2009. This down is more intense and even more unpredictable. Nevertheless the corona virus has not diminished dreams and ambitions to become a pilot. Since the pandemic started I received a lot of questions asking me if I would still recommend becoming a commercial pilot. In this blog post I will be 100% honest with you.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

It is time to remove your pink glasses

and leave the fairytale with unicorns and airlines searching desperately for pilots. Nobody, including me, wants to discourage ambitions and dreams but it is important to talk about how the industry is now and what it might be in the next few years. Even an outlook into the near future is difficult since times are so uncertain. 

When will there be a vaccine available? How will travel restrictions change in the long term? What preventive measures will airlines follow? Which airlines will exist in the future? When will tourist travel come back? Will we ever reach the before corona level?

The list of questions goes on but all answers decide on your question: “Will I get to be a pilot if I start flying training now?”

The current situation is a true nightmare. Approximately 10,000 commercial pilots are currently unemployed solely in Europe and the UK. Thousands of pilots are still fearing they may lose their job because of the pandemic and those who still have their jobs are on reduced pay or on part time hours.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Florian (Professional photographer & Videographer)

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

Stagnation of Pilot Recruitment for Years

According to the British Airline Pilots association (BALPA) there will be no meaningful recruitment for about two years. Finding a flying job will be extremely difficult. Especially with the high competition from experienced pilots looking for a cockpit job as well. Pilot training takes approximately two years, so you might be done after the pandemic is over and things have normalized again. However even if this means the demand rises again, an airline would prefer to choose the experienced and type rated pilot first. Nevertheless, I do not want to discourage you because my story proves that ambition and hard work pays off. When I completed flight training in 2010 the job market situation was not really the best. I applied with numerous airlines without any success. I visited an aviation fair, which led to me getting hired – with a little bit of luck, good timing and going the extra mile.

“Where there’s a will there’s a way”

I want you to avoid paying lots of money for your pilot training and then finding out that there is not a single job available. It definitely makes sense to wait at least until mid 2021 to see how the situation is then and if airlines have a more precise recruitment plan. The challenges and risks are currently too high.

pilotpatrick book

Get my book to read about my story: becoming a commercial pilot and more aviation insights.

No air travel like before Corona 

At the moment it is very difficult to assess how the future in the aviation industry will look. But I am very sure that the general demand for flights will not reach the same level as before the pandemic started. Firstly lots of people are suffering from the crisis which means they will simply not have the means to go on a vacation. Secondly the mentality to go on business trips will change or has changed already.

Companies will think twice in the future and decide if the budget for the business trip makes sense, or if the meeting can be done online instead. In general, most companies will be weakened through the crisis which means they will have a reduced budget for travel in general. The business traveller who books expensive business class tickets will fly less, which will seriously impact the airline’s revenue.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Florian (Professional photographer & Videographer)

My honest advice and recommendation about becoming a commercial pilot

Do not enter flight training right now!

If you are leaving high school and you want to become a pilot: I recommend those who are leaving high school at this time, to get experience in another profession or a degree. Once completed you can reconsider becoming a pilot. This way you postpone your start date to a time where there will be a  much clearer picture of the situation. Additionally, some pilots will be leaving because of retirement or a new profession. This will guarantee you a full back-up plan in case you do not manage to get employment as a pilot.

If you have started your flight training already: I think in this situation it makes sense to finish your course with the pilot school in order to receive your license and use every possible resource to find a job and be open to relocate.

becoming a commercial pilot

Photography by Manu (Professional photographer & plane spotter)

Every personal situation is different, so you need to access the risks and benefits. Be realistic, but still follow your ambitions and dreams. To have a Plan B is advisable for any one of us. I wish I had better news for you, but my intention was to be honest in answering the question if you should consider becoming a commercial pilot right now.

Leave me a comment below your thoughts about this topic and do not forget to like the blog post! Thanks to Florian for the photos of me and Manu for the amazing aircraft photos. Maker sure to check out their work. 

Safe and healthy travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


pilotpatrick book

Top secret project revealed: I wrote a book for you

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Dear Aviator,

you won’t believe how excited I was to share with you the big news. I really had a hard time keeping this project secret for a very long time. Now I am a little bit relieved that I can finally tell you. You were excited to find out about this secret and I was curious to see your reaction. I still cannot believe it but I wrote a PilotPatrick book.

pilotpatrick book

Why did I write a book?

About two years ago I came up with the idea to write a book. I am used to writing blog posts which comprise about 1000 words but writing a whole book would definitely be on a different level. How would I get started? Where would I sell it? How to structure it? I had so many questions and ideas in my head that I was a little bit overwhelmed by it. It was not a matter of writing material and stories I had to tell, I was concerned where I would find thee time to write my book.

Even though I am “only” 32 years old I already experienced a lot in the aviation world. I wanted to talk about it in more than just a caption on Instagram or an article on my blog. Serious topics which should reach more than “just” my Aviators. The dream and desire to have a book emerged but I had to put it on hold when my Captains upgrade kept me busy. My plan was to keep working on it once I feel comfortable on the left seat of the cockpit.

I guess the publisher Riva knew somehow about my intention when they reached out to me and asked don’t you want to write a book with us?”

How long did it take?

Due to Covid-19 lockdown, I was able to use the time productively for my book. It took about one year from launching the project with the publisher Riva until holding the first printed version in my hands. It might seem like a long time but considering what it takes to write a book it is not really that long. It was an interesting journey until now and I learnt a lot about books in that time. 

 

What is it about?

My glamorously unglamorous life as a jet-set pilot“. I take you on board of my turbulent aviation career with tricky maneuvers and curious passengers. Besides stories you will not believe actually happened, I tell you how I became a pilot and why I became one in the first place. You will get insights into the glamorous world of the rich and famous I have flown around the world  but aviation has also an unglamorous side. Grievances plague an industry which seems to be so glittery. There is also a secret about myself which I have kept below radar and the time has come to talk about it.

READ ABOUT MY TURBULENT AVIATION CAREER SOON AND FIND ABOUT MY BIGGEST SECRET.

When will it be available?

You can already order it on Amazon. The official sales launch is the 13th of October. Book shops like Thalia and Hugendube feature my book as well.

 

In which languages will it be?

The book is available in English and German!

 

Where can I order it?

It is available on Amazon. In case the link does not work in your country, just search for “Pilot Patrick Book” Hugendubel and Thalia have it also available in their online shops and bookstores in Germany. 

 

Will it be available worldwide?

Almost. You can get it in every country which offers Amazon. In case it is not available in your specific country and you desperately want to have it then please send me an email to book@pilotpatrick.com and I will forward it to my publisher.

My project of the heart is revealed and I hope you like the fact that I released a book for you! Trust me the biggest secret is not yet revealed. Order my book now!

Leave me a comment below once you have ordered your piece and do not forget to like the blog post! 🙂

Safe and healthy travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick


differences between Captain and First Officer

What are the differences between Captain and First Officer?

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.

 

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
  • Open your Whatsapp
  • 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.

Subscribe to my WhatsApp 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

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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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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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  • Send me the code “Takeoff”

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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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
  • Open your Whatsapp
  • Send me the code “Takeoff”

Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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