A working day of a private jet versus an airline pilot

Die Unterschiede im Berufsalltag eines Privatjet und Airline Piloten

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Cooperation - Advertisement

Hallo mein Aviator, vor einem Jahr bekam ich das Angebot für eine andere Firma zu fliegen. Den Arbeitgeber zu wechseln und für eine neue Firma zu fliegen, bedeutete nicht nur ein neues Flugzeug Modell fliegen, sondern auch eine ganz andere "Operations" kennen zu lernen. Meine Luftfahrt Karriere als "First Officer" hat auf einem Business Jet Citation XLS begonnen. Jetzt fliege ich das Großraumflugzeug A300. Den "initial line check" habe ich vor drei Monaten bestanden und habe meine ersten 200 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus gesammelt. Wie ich finde, genau der richtige Zeitpunkt um den Berufsalltag eines Privatjet Piloten mit dem Alltag als Airline Piloten zu vergleichen. Finde heraus, was mein persönliches Fazit ist und ob mir eine der "Operations" besser gefällt. 

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Citation XLS + in Dublin

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Mein Arbeitsweg

Private Jet

Als Privatjet Pilot konnte ich meine eigene "Home Base" innerhalb von Europa selbst wählen. Es ist eher selten, dass die Flugzeuge auch mal zu ihrer "Base" nach Deutschland zurückkehren. Für die Operations ist es daher besser, die AirCrew mit der Linie, dem Auto oder Zug zu dem aktuellen Aufenthaltsort des Flugzeuges zu schicken. Am häufigsten bin ich von den berliner Flughäfen Tegel und Schönefeld nach Nizza, Paris oder London "proceeded".

Airline Pilot

In der Regel beginnt und Endet mein Dienst auf dem A300 direkt in Berlin. In seltenen Fällen muss ich auf dem "Jumpseat" bei einem anderen Flieger unserer Flotte mitfliegen. Dadurch habe ich weniger "Proceedings" mit anderen Fluggesellschaften und kann jetzt leider weniger Meilen sammeln, wodurch ich bald meine Status als Lufthansa frequent traveler verliere. Anderseits, gehören die aufwendigen Proceedings nun der Vergangenheit an und ich spare mir viel Zeit.

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Croove - Der neue & persönliche "Carsharing" Anbieter

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Abwesenheit von der Home Base

Sowohl der Alltag als Privatjet Pilot, als auch der Berufsalltag bei der Airline, beinhaltet viel Abwesenheit von Zuhause. Aus diesem Grund habe ich beispielsweise vor vier Jahren beschlossen mir kein eigenes Auto zukaufen, da ich die meiste Zeit nicht zuhause bin um es zu nutzen. Ein Auto brauche ich meistens nur für den Weg zum Airport und zurück.

In so einem Fall nutze ich gerne eine der vielen Alternativen wie z.B die neue private Autovermietung namens  "Croove". Das ist eine private "Carsharing" Platform, auf welcher  die Vermieter Privatpersonen sind, von denen man die verschiedensten Auto Modelle ausleihen kann. Man selbst hat auch die Möglichkeit sein eigenes Auto dort zum profitablen Verleih bereitzustellen. Croove funktioniert super leicht via App auf dem eigenen Gerät. (Appstore / google play) Zudem ist man komplett versichert. Für mich ist der ganze Service angenehm. Ich spare mir das Taxi Geld und nutze ganz einfach den "Valet Service", welcher das Auto bringt und abholt z.B. vom Flughafen.

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Croove - Übergabe des Fahrzeuges

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Dienstplan/ Erreichbarkeit

Private Jet

Im Normalfall bekam ich den Plan für den nächsten Tag, an dem Abend bevor mein Dienst begann. Die Geschäftsfliegerei ist eine sehr unbeständige Branche, weshalb Planänderungen jederzeit stattfinden können - manchmal sogar stündlich. Das ist einer der Gründe, warum die Firma mich mit einem Diensthandy ausgestattet hat, damit ich 24 Stunden für sie erreichbar bin. Fliegen war nur ein kleiner Teil des Berufsalltages als Privatejet Pilot. Der Großteil der Arbeit bestand darin, sich um die Passagiere zu kümmern, Catering zu organisieren und den Transport sowie die Unterkunft für die Nacht zu buchen. Im Dienst mag ich es abwechslungsreich uns ich fand es spannend, nicht zu wissen wohin der nächste Flug geht. Ich erinnere mich genau daran, wie wir einmal in dem kalten, grauen Moskau saßen und ich sagte zu meinem Kollegen:" Ein Flug nach Mallorca oder Ibiza wäre jetzt genau das Richtige!" Zwei Stunden später erhielten wir den Anruf mit der Info, dass wir wirklich nach Mallorca und Ibiza fliegen würden. Ein lustiger Zufall!

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Gut gelaunte AirCrew = happy landings = zufriedene VIP Passagiere

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Airline

Bei der Airline erhalte ich meinen Dienstplan und eine festen Ablauf  einen Monat im voraus. Das ermöglicht es mir viel besser zu planen. Ich weiß somit schon lange Zeit vorher, welche Zielorte ich anfliege und kenne die exakte Ab-und Anflugszeit. Die Luftfahrt steht unter dem Einfluss vieler verschiedener Faktoren, darum sind auch bei der Airline Änderungen immer möglich. Ist das der Fall, so werde ich durch ein Update auf einer spezielle online Plattform informiert, oder bekomme ein Meldung per SMS auf mein Handy. Bei der Airline kann ich mich voll auf meine Aufgaben als Erster Offizier konzentrieren und muss mich nicht zusätzlich mit dem Gepäck der Passagiere, dass eingeladen werden muss, Catering, dass verstaut werden muss oder gar speziellen Passagier Wünschen beschäftigen.

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Online Check des Flugplanes

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Flug Stunden / Dienstzeiten

Private Jet

In meiner gesamten Karriere als Privatjet Pilot habe ich wahrscheinlich mehr Zeit am Boden damit verbracht, auf Passagiere, den Tanker und das Catering zu warten, als dass ich in der Luft war um das Flugzeug zu fliegen. An einem typischen Arbeitstag in der Hochsaison Sommer, bin ich bis zu fünf Legs geflogen, zusammen mit langen Wartezeiten zwischen den einzelnen Flügen. Die Vor- und Nachbearbeitung eines Arbeitstages in der Geschäftsfliegerei sind sehr umfangreich. An einem hochfrequentierten Flughafen wie z.B Nizza in Frankreich mussten wir zwei Stunden vor Abflug am Flugzeug sein, um einen pünktlichen Abflug vorzubereiten. Nach dem letzten Flug des Tages musste das Flugzeug noch gereinigt und manchmal  schon für den nächsten Tag betankt werden. In den meisten Fällen war immer noch etwas von dem Vip Catering übrig, somit konnten wir nach dem letzen Flug ein kleines gemeinsames Essen in der Kabine genießen. In sechs Jahren als Privatjet Pilot bin ich insgesamt mehr als 2.000 Stunden geflogen.

Mehr über den Berufsalltag als Privatjet Pilot, erfährst Du in meiner Serie here

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Mein allererster Tag als "First Officer" auf einem Privatjet

 Muster: Citation XLS

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Airline 

Meldung zum Dienst ist für die Crew eine Stunde vor geplantem Abflug und momentan fliege ich ein Maximum von drei Sektoren pro Tag. Die Abflugzeiten sind hierbei sehr unterschiedlich. Ich musste mich erst daran gewöhnen, sehr früh am morgen und spät in der Nacht zu fliegen. In dieser Art der Operations, werde ich bis zu 450 Flugstunden pro Jahr sammeln. Das ist nicht gerade viel, wenn man es mit der Anzahl der Flugstunden eines Piloten vergleicht, der für eine Billigfluggesellschaft fliegt. Für die Tage im Dienst weiß ich den exakten Ablauf, kenne die Aufenthaltsorte für die Nächte im Voraus und die Wartezeiten zwischen den Flügen sind annehmbar. Im Vergleich zu den Wartezeiten als Privatjet Pilot, wo wir oft lange für unvorhersehbare Zeit gewartet haben, absolut ertragbar. Nach dem letzten Flug des Tages verlassen wir schon 15 Minuten später das Flugzeug.

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Unter dem Airbus A380

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Aufenthalt/Hotels

Private Jet

Wenn wir am Morgen das Hotel verließen, war oft noch nicht klar wo wir am Abend landen würden. In manchen Fällen war es eine große Überraschung, in welcher Stadt wir dann schliefen. Wie schon erwähnt ist die Geschäftsfliegerei sehr unvorhersehbar, was der Grund dafür war, dass Hotels für die Nacht erst gebucht werden durften, wenn die Firma das "Go" gab. Ich bin der "Master of Hotels" und es war meistens meine Aufgabe eine angemessene Unterkunft für die Nacht zu finden. Einerseits gefiel es mir, dass wir die Hotels als Crew selber aussuchen durften. Anderseits wurde auch viel Zeit damit verschwendet ein verfügbares Hotel zu suchen und zu buchen. Als Privatjet Pilot bin ich die unterschiedlichsten Zielorte innerhalb Europas angeflogen und habe daher sehr viele verschiedene Flughäfen kennengelernt.

Airline pilot

Wie auch als Privatjet Pilot fliege ich bei der Airline hauptsächlich zu Zielorten innerhalb von Europa, jetzt allerdings nur zu bestimmten. Daher habe ich in meinen ersten 200 Stunden auch schon fast das gesamte Streckennetz kennengelernt. Die Hotels und Transporte werden von der Firma organisiert und gebucht.

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Aufenthalt in Barcelona- Spanien

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Was bevorzuge ich und was gefällt mir besser?

Ich kann nur aus meinen ganz persönlichen Eindrücken und Erfahrungen berichten, die ich während der letzten Sieben Jahre meiner Aviation Karriere in beiden "Operations" sammeln konnte. Das Gesamtbild könnte sich durch eine andere Airline nochmal komplett verändern.

Obwohl sich der Berufsalltag eines Privatjet und Airline Piloten von Grund auf unterscheiden, machen mir beide Operations viel Spaß.

Als Privatjet Pilot musste ich sehr viel Zeit mit Warten verbringen und die Dienstzeiten waren langatmig. Ein Airline Pilot sammelt mehr Flugstunden in weniger Dienststunden, weil alles insgesamt organisierter ist und man z.B. keine Zeit mit dem Organisieren von Catering, Hotels und Transporten verschwendet. Dennoch vermisse ich das VIP Catering und die Privaten Terminals- die Privaten Terminals haben immer sehr  bequeme Lounges, auch für uns, die Crew.

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Privatjet Pilot oder Airline Pilot

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Ein Punkt den ich an der Geschäftsfliegerei sehr gemocht habe, ist die Tatsache, dass ich sehr viele verschiedene Zielorte angeflogen bin und dadurch auch herausfordernde Flughäfen kennenlernen konnte. Auf der anderen Seite ist die Geschäftsfliegerei so launisch und daher ist es kaum möglich vorausschauend zu planen. Bei der Airline habe ich jetzt einen klaren Plan für meinen Dienst. Ich weiß wieviel "Rest" ich habe und  kann meinen Aufenthalt jetzt wirklich planen z.B. mit Sightseeing machen oder einfach drauf los erkunden.

Meiner Meinung nach, ist die Geschäftsfliegerei eine gute Vorbereitung. Ich habe gelernt sehr selbständig zu arbeiten und mich gut zu organisieren um die vielen verschiedenen Aufgaben, die mehr als "nur" fliegen beinhalteten zuverlässig zu erledigen. Ich denke aber, die Operations bei der Airline ist sehr viel entspannter. Hier kann ich mich voll und ganz auf das Fliegen und meine Aufgaben als Erster Offizier konzentrieren.

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Wenn Du jetzt ein Pilot sein könntest für einen Tag, wärst Du lieber ein Privatjet Pilot oder doch auch bei der Airline?  Bitte schreib es mir unten in die Kommentare und vergiss nicht Dich mit deiner E-Mail Adresse für meinen Blog anzumelden, für gute News aus der Luft!

Happy landings!

Dein 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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Airbus A300 type rating

My Airbus A300 type rating

In my last blog post, I revealed my new aircraft type I will be flying in the near future. Currently, I am getting trained on a flight simulator of Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin. But what does the A300 type rating actually mean? In this blog post, I want to give a more detailed explanation and an insight view of my training.

My career as a first officer started six years ago on the Citation XLS+ business jet. During this period I gained a lot of experiences of operating a jet engine aircraft, I flew to many challenging airports and transported thousands of VIP passengers. In total, I have flown over 2000 hours on this private jet. As I informed you in my blog post "Big changes in 2017" I recently switched my employer. Since the new airline operates a different type of aircraft it was mandatory to undergo a so-called type rating to be able to fly the Airbus A300-600.

Welcome to my new Airbus office (simulator)

My A300 type rating

The theoretical phase of the type rating ended with a skill test about the systems of the aircraft. The entire December I read the manuals of the aircraft and studied with computer-based training (CBT). Do you know what the alpha floor protection means? This protection sets automatically maximum power when reaching a high angle of attack. The angle of attack is the angle between the relative wind direction and the wing chord line. Lift varies with angle of attack. Increasing angle of attack increases the lift coefficient up to the maximum, after which lift coefficient decreases again, leading to a stall condition.

I also had to attend ground courses about the performance of the aircraft. As a pilot, I am required to determine e.g. the take off performance to find out whether the runway is long enough for a certain take off weight and under certain meteorological conditions. Before the simulator training started, I was trained with a mock-up cockpit. This helps to familiarize with the location of the buttons and the operating procedures.

Mock-up cockpit to learn the location of the buttons

Full flight Simulator

I remember playing the Windows flight simulator when I was a kid and now I am flying the most realistic simulator I could imagine. Those full flight simulators (FFS) are built to exactly replicate the respective aircraft type with its performance. All the checking and training take place in those big boxes. This extends the life of the real aircraft and saves fuel, thus protects the environment.

Full flight simulators with motion systems

From the inside, the simulator looks like the real aircraft cockpit with one additional seat in the back. From this position, the instructor can control the setup of the simulator. The whole simulator is built on a platform which can be moved by a motion system to any realistic attitude. When flying the simulator it is fascinating how real everything feels. From the vision, motion, up the acoustics, everything is build to imitate a real flight.

I was nervous and I was looking forward to my first simulator flight at the same time. The first three sessions consisted of normal operating procedures, after that we were introduced to abnormal procedures. All kinds of scenarios can be trained, which could not be replicated in real flight conditions. In modern flight simulators, up to 500 malfunctions can be programmed in the system, for every malfunction, there is a checklist with a special procedure to cope with the situation.

My training highlights so far:

  • Reverser unlock: flight with one engine and asymmetric drag
  • Both engine flame: Cockpit becomes dark and only standby instruments work
  • Emergency descent: After a decompression of the cabin quick descent wearing oxygen masks
  • Dual hydraulic failure: coping only with one hydraulic system remaining
  • Slats and Flaps stuck: Landing without high lift devices the approach speed needs to be increased by over 110 km/h
  • multiple engine failures: making a safe landing and handling of asymmetric thrust

A300 simulator cockpit wearing the quick donning oxygen mask (practicing procedures)

Most of the malfunctions are not independent, which means the cause secondary failures. For example, a problem with the hydraulic system causes the flaps not to be operational and for the approach, the landing gear needs to be extended by gravity with a hand crank.

I have completed session eight and there are five more to come. Every session is basically a check flight, from which I learn. I put a lot of pressure on myself to be successful and not to make any mistakes. But this is almost impossible since you do most of the procedures and abnormals for the very first time. The Airbus is a complex aircraft and I am really impressed how advanced the system are, keeping in mind that the design is from the 1960s. I am not used to flying an aircraft with an auto throttle and an auto flight system with extensive modes. This gave me a hard time at the beginning of the training.

Full flight Simulator A300 (in Schönefeld since 1990)

Practice makes perfect

Flight simulators are the best possible device to train pilots well in a most efficient way. The costs for an A380 simulator are about 1,8 Mio €. That is why the price for a type rating is in a range from 15,000 to 50,000€ depending on the aircraft type. The full flight simulator I am currently training at is almost as old as I am (check my FAQs for my age) and also quite historic. It used to belong to the DDR airline Interflug when Germany was separated between east and west.

I am looking forward to flying the real aircraft soon and I am already excited to let you know how it feels like to control a jet with a maximum takeoff weight of 170,5 tons. Check out my Instagram stories, where I give you an insight view of my training.

What is your favorite Airbus airplane?

Your Pilot Patrick

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revealing my new aircraft type

Revealing my new aircraft type

HAPPY NEW YEAR MY AVIATORS!

Welcome on board of a new year full of new challenges, adventures and hopefully many happy landings. I am really sorry, that I have not published a blog post for a while. But I have a really good excuse for that. As I mentioned in my previous post "Christmas greetings with big changes" I started 2017 with a new aircraft type and a new employer. This has been keeping me busy for the last couple of weeks. In this blog post, I will reveal my new aircraft type I will be flying in the near future.

Hard decision

You got to know me as a first officer for private jets. In 2010 I started flying for a german VIP charter company on the Cessna Citation XLS +. I became a big fan of the exclusive operation since the everyday work was always very diverse. During the last six years, I met really interesting and famous people and got to stay in many different cities throughout Europe, Russia and North Africa. The working atmosphere on board was great and it sometimes felt like being on tour with friends.

With the Citation Business Jet on Malta

After six years of flying a small jet, it was time for a new occupational career. In the first place, it meant for me to fly a bigger aircraft type. In the end of 2016, I received a job offer by a big german air carrier to become a first officer on their A300-600 fleet. At the same time, my former employer wanted me to upgrade on the Legacy 650 aircraft. At this point, I had to decide for one or the other. This was a really hard decision for me. One the one hand I could stay in the private operation, flying a big business jet around the world and on the other hand, I got the one and only chance to fly the legendary A300. (read more about this type of aircraft below)

In the end, I decided for a new employer with a very good reputation and the bigger aircraft. Many pilots are a big fan of the A300 because the level of automation is less than on other modern jet aircraft. Flying this jet takes me back to the roots of aviation and the flight hours on this type of aircraft will allow me to operate on any other aircraft in the future. As much as I love the General Aviation, I decided to move on to accept a new occupational challenge with a totally different operation. But I do not spurn that I might return back to the business jet operation as a Captain on a private jet.

Welcome to my new office! Currently in Simulator training at Lufthansa Aviation Training

Revealing my new aircraft

The A300 is a twin jet airliner and is the first aircraft ever manufactured by Airbus. Development of the A300 began during the 1960s as a collaboration of different European nations. Its first flight was already on the 28th of October 1972 and was at that time the first twin wide-body aircraft of the world. (two aisles in the cabin) It typically seats around 266 passengers with a maximum take-off weight of 170,5 tons. This is 17x the takeoff weight of the Citation Jet I used to fly.

The production ceased in 2007 with 561 aircraft built. Another world first of the A300 is the use of composite material to reduce overall weight and improve cost-effectiveness. When it entered service in 1974, the A300 was a very advanced plane. Its state of the art technology influenced later airliner designs. As far as I can tell from the simulator the handling capabilities are excellent for such a big aircraft. I am fascinated by the advanced  I am already looking forward to flying this oldtimer, which sure is already a legend in aviation.

My new aircraft type: A 300-600 copyright: widebodyaircraft.nl

Flight training

In December I started with ground courses and online based training for my new employer. I studied hard to pass the technical skill test last week. All efforts paid out because I passed the exam with 94%. That qualified me to continue with the practical flight training. All complex aircraft require so-called type rating to become familiar with the systems and how to operate the aircraft according to the books.

I currently get trained at Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin in a full flight simulator. The type rating started one week ago and will last until the first of February. Yesterday I finished session number four. It is quite demanding, but also a lot of fun. I am totally in love with the new "old school" cockpit and I am really looking forward to flying the real aircraft soon.

Flight Simulator at Lufthansa Aviation Training in Berlin A300 cockpit of the full flight simulator

I am looking forward to sharing my future adventures with the Airbus A300 and to write about my first impressions. It will be really interesting to compare both operations to find out their advantages and disadvantages.

I know you have been waiting for the next part my series "how I became a pilot", but I am really busy acquiring my new type rating. Please stay tuned!

Are you an Airbus or Boeing fan?

Your Pilot Patrick

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dream to fly

My dream to fly + why I fly

In my last blogpost "A brief vita" you already learnt a little bit about me. In this article I will tell you about my dream to fly. Exactly 22 years ago I had my first day of school. Back then I would not have thought about being a pilot of a private jet who travels the world. This was beyond my imagination.

My interests

I started early to be interested in technical stuff and I wanted to know how things work. My grandpa had garage and he used to work on cars, motorbikes and so on. I joined him many times to help him. I favored facts and figures. That may have been the reason why my grades in mathematics physics and geographic were better. But I also have a very creative side on me. I love drawing and designing new things. Back in school I used to draw cars and planes the whole time. To become a car designer was my back up in case the piloting would not have worked out.

Excurison with my mother and grandmother My first day of school

Childhood and planes

During my childhood I remember that we did lot of excursions on the weekends. Either with my grandparents, which both still live very close, or with my parents and my younger brother. Growing up in a small town close to Frankfurt am Main in Germany there were lots of outside activities to do. They could not be thrilling enough for me. Roller coaster were not high and fast enough. We often visited small airports close by when they had a special events on their airfield. I was always super excited to go. But it was also sad on the same time, because I wanted to be up in the air and not on the ground watching the small planes fly by.

One day I was the luckiest boy ever. I won a free local flight in a small propeller plane. My fascination was now even bigger and this may eventually have triggered me to become a pilot. Too satisfy my fascination we did a lot of family trips visiting technical museums and airport to watch planes. I truly can recommend the museums in Speyer and Sinsheim. You can not only visit a Concorde from the inside but also an old B747 of Lufthansa. That was back then too cool for me. Unfortunately I can not remember my first flight because I was only two years old at that time. The whole family including my grandparents went to Palma de Mallorca for vacation. After that a lot of flights to destinations in Europe and the US followed.

First flight to Palma in 1990

This all led up to the point when I decided to become a pilot during high school at the age of 18. Even tough I have never flown myself before I knew I will love it. The question "why I fly" is easy to answer it has become my passion. The flying requires good technical knowledge and constant learning since aviation is a fasted paced branch. Additionally I get to travel the world to explore and discover new places. Another reason "why I fly" is because of the support of my family. Without them I would not have this dream job today.

Stay tuned for my upcoming blog: how I became a pilot

Your Pilot Patrick

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brief vita pilot patrick

A brief vita

This is your First Officer Patrick speaking. Welcome aboard! Now sit back, relax and enjoy my brief vita!

I am a First Officer and from 2010 to 2016 I have worked for a german Business Jet. Up to that point I was flying the Citation XLS+, on which I have over 2000 flight hours. In total I have over 2500 flight hours. My home base is currently Berlin.

For my first pilot job I moved to Berlin in 2010 and in August 2016 I took a time out of three month in Barcelona. During work I have been to Barcelona many times and it was love at first sight. I decided to move there to improve my Spanish skills and to enjoy good weather and a beach at home. But then a switched companies three months later, which changed everything agin. The new employer grants me to live outside Germany as well, but since the extensive type rating on the A300-600 took place in Berlin, I decided to move back. About my time in Barcelona I wrote a blog post.

Growing up close to Frankfurt I attended high school and finished my A-levels with the age of 18. The german government used to require either to join the military or do a social year after school. Due to the fact that I prefer love over war, I decided to work at a Kindergarten in Friedrichsdorf. Fun fact here the telephone was invited by Philipp Reis in my home town.

During my social year I was accepted at a flight school to begin training. Luckily I was allowed to interrupt the social year, so I could start right away with my flight training to become a commercial pilot. The next two years of training were a lot of fun, but also quite intense and hard. I was putting a lot of effort into my flight training thus graduating with excellent results. In my series of "How I become a pilot" I share the full story. Never the less it took me about one year to find a cockpit job. I was open to all branches in aviation but I always preferred to commence my career with an executive company flying VIPs from A to B.

pilotpatrick_vita
A300-600 cockpit

Since February 2017 I have been flying the wide body aircraft A300-600 at a renominated German Airline. Currently I am in the supervision phase, which means that my training continues during the daily flight business. The conversion from a small private jet to a big aircraft with a maximum take off weight of 170 tons was not easy. But my occupational experiences helped me a lot to adapt to the new operational procedures easily.

Besides my job as First officer I study business administration at a far distant university in Germany. In my free time I love to meet my friends. I like to prepare healthy meals and to got to the gym. I work out regularly in a Crossfit studio. My wanderlust never ceases, so during my leave I spend vacations around the world. On my bucket list are Brasil, Australia and Iceland.

Read in my first blog post: "My dream to fly and why I fly"

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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