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Time literally flies. In 2010 I began my aviation career as a first officer on a private jet and it is already a half a year ago that I started my new job on the Airbus A300-600. My line training is not yet over and continues for another 40 flight sectors. I take the upcoming Labor Day as an occasion to share my first impressions about the new cockpit job.

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„The bad new times flies the good news you are the pilot“

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Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Last December I revealed my new aircraft type to you and explained my reasons switching to a different employee. As much as I love the General Aviation, I decided to move on and to accept a new occupational challenge with a totally different operation. It was definitely a hard decision but in the end, I have to say that I decided correctly. As I promised to I will compare both types of operation and show you the differences of a life as a private jet pilot and airline pilot.

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Flight hours

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Airline

  • approximately 450 flight hours a year

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Business Aviation

  • 250 – 500 hours

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Usually, airline pilots fly more hours over the year. At my first job in the business jet company I only flew about 250-300 hours a year. This is about the average for this branch. Later I flew about 500 hours in one year on the Citation XLS+. (not common for this type of operation) Now I will fly about 450 hours in one year even though it is an airline. Especially low-cost airline pilots fly up to the maximum of 900 hours a year. This is great to gain flight hours in a minimum of time. The total flight hours entirely depends on the type of operation (private, charter, commercial) the airline is doing.

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Citation XLS+ Private Jet

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Destinations

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Airline

  • network primarily within Europe
  • fixed routes and destinations

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Business Aviation

  • flight primarily within Europe
  • always varying destinations
  • no fixed routes

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As a private jet pilot, I got to know a lot of different airports within Europe. I have been to over 100 different airports. Since the performance of the smaller business jets allow landing at shorter runways you get to approach many more destinations compared to an airline pilot. The customer decides which route he wants to fly and where he wants to land. I think almost every duty block I flew to a new airport I have not been to. The advantage to a have a limited network is that you become much more familiar with the airport, which helps a lot during adverse weather and high workload conditions.

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Sunset at Tivat airport

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Schedule / Roster

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Airline

  • Fix monthly roster with exact flights
  • Duty days stay but flight schedule may change
  • Publication of the new roster one month
  • ahead
  • Off days are your off days
  • Off request system
  • Additional off days over the year
  • Extra duty days are paid
  • Switching flights with colleagues possible

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Business Aviation

  • Monthly roaster
  • No fixed flight only either duty day or off day
  • High flexibility expected
  • Publication of the new roster only shortly prior
  • Off days may be changed last minute
  • Off requests are possible
  • Company phone so they can reach you anytime
  • Ad hoc flights and daily flight schedule changes

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Working in the business aviation requires you to be highly flexible during your duty days. You have to expect Ad hoc charter flight and last minute changes. The schedule itself is usually not as stable as the one of an airline. Now I have a monthly roster which shows me my flights and exact times and destinations. Previously I only had a roaster showing only stating duty or off.  Like in my previous company I am working maximum 7 days in a row. But I know from other business jet company where pilots work up to 20 days in a row. To sum it up you can plan your social life much better with an airline.

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A300-600 cockpit

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Layovers and Hotels

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Airline

  • Hotels and transport organized
  • Fixed crew hotels with discounts on food
  • Hotel room available for your entire stay
  • Usually only one night at a destination
  • Fixed duty check in times

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Business Aviation

  • Hotels and transported organized by crew
  • Had to stick to check in and check out times of the hotel
  • Consecutive nights at one destination
  • Early crew reporting times

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At first, I was a little overwhelmed that everything is already organized for you. Hotel and transport are booked by the company and after a flight, you leave the aircraft already 15 minutes later. This is quite relaxing if I compare to my previous job. After a day of flying, we had to book a hotel within in a budget ourselves.  Not easy during summer at a hot spot location. On the other hand, I liked it to decide in which hotel I was going to stay. This way we could decide if we stay in the city center or stay rather close to the airport to have as much rest as possible.

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Layover in Helsinki April 2017

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Aircraft and Training

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Airline

  • Wide-body Airliner (170t)
  • Complex aircraft
  • Extensive training
  • Extensive documentation
  • Regular Simulator flights

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Business Aviation

  • Small business jet below 10 tons
  • Less complex systems
  • Training on type

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I am feeling honored having the chance to fly the legendary A300-600. The aircraft is complex with its numerous systems. An extensive training including a type rating is necessary to be able to fly the aircraft. The airline puts a lot of emphasis on well-trained cockpit crew. Therefore every pilot goes to the simulator two times a year. I have the impression that the documentation is more extensive and all guidelines are written down.

At the beginning of my career I did all my checks on ferry flights, so the company wanted to save on expensive simulator flights. But the training effect was definitely not as good as in the simulator. As I mentioned before the weight category of aircraft is important for one’s aviation career. That is why accepted the new occupational challenge on the big Airbus. The A300-600 needs to be flown very precisely. Especially the landing feels different since you sit up much higher and approach the runway at the faster speed.

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A300-600 engines

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Conclusion

I have to emphasize that I am only talking about my personal impressions and opinions. The operation of another airline might sound totally different and fellow pilots would share with you a completely different opinion.

For planning reasons, an airline pilot life is the better choice. Your duty schedule is more consistent and you can plan with off requests days better ahead. This gives your social life a better quality. In the business aviation, I liked the fact that I flew to much more destinations and that I sometimes did not know where will be on the next day. I really loved those surprises.

On the other hand, a much more stable roaster lets you plan your rest time during layovers much better. In 6 years business aviation I only visited downtown London only twice, even though I stayed there 100+ nights. Either there was not much time or I did not know when the next flight was going to be, so I was on standby in the hotel. Now I know my exact departure time which already allowed me to do sightseeing in Paris and London.

There is a lot of waiting time in the business aviation. Either for the passengers, the fuel, for the hotel room, next flight, or the taxi. This can be quite tiring. I liked the fact that you could wait and rest in VIP lounges. The preparation time in the private aviation is much longer and after the last flight, you can not leave the aircraft straight away. You still need to get everything back in shape again and maybe refuel this can take up to an hour. Additionally, in the business aviation, you have to go on many more commercial flights to start your duty where ever the jet is currently located.

In my opinion, an airline makes you a better pilot, since the training is more extensive and the standards are set to a higher level. The operating procedures are laid out in detail so every pilot operates the aircraft in the same way. In the business aviation, I have seen pilots which were not strict about procedures and interpreted regulations their own way.

In my opinion, the life of an airline is much more relaxed since a lot is already done and organized. Honestly speaking I can not tell which operation I favor because they are so different, but I admit that I definitely miss some aspects of the business aviation.

Let’s see how my point of view will be a couple of months later.

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Which operation would you prefer? Airline or Private jet?

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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Die Zeit verfliegt buchstäblich. 2010 begann ich meine Piloten- Karriere als Erster Offizier auf einem Privat Jet. Nun ist es schon wieder ein halbes Jahr her, dass ich meinen Arbeitgeber gewechselt habe und seit dem auf einem Airbus A300-600 fliege. Das “line training” ist noch nicht vorbei, ich muss noch 40 weitere Flugsektoren absolvieren. Ich möchte den anstehenden Feiertag dazu nutzen meine ersten Eindrücke zu meiner neuen Cockpit- Tätigkeit mit Dir zu teilen.

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„The bad news times flies the good news you are the pilot“

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Private Jet Pilot versus Airline Pilot

Letzten Dezember zeigte ich Dir mein neues Flugzeugmuster und erkläre Dir die Gründe warum ich den Arbeitgeber wechselte. So sehr ich die Allgemeine Luftfahrt auch liebte, entschied ich mich zu wechseln und neue Herausforderungen mit einer ganz anderen Operation anzugehen. Es war definitiv eine harte Entscheidung, aber am Ende kann ich sagen, dass es die richtige war. Wie ich damals versprochen hatte, werde ich in diesem Artikel beide Arten des Fliegens gegenüberstellen und die Unterschiede zwischen dem Leben als Privat Jet Pilot und Airline Pilot aufzeigen.

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Flugstunden

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Airline

  • ungefähr 450 Flugstunden im Jahr

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Business Aviation

  • 250 – 500 Flugstunden im Jahr

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In der Regel fliegen Airline Piloten mehr Stunden über das Jahr. Bei meinem ersten Arbeitgeber (Business Jet Charter) flog ich lediglich 250 bis 3oo Stunden im Jahr. Das ist eigentlich durchschnittlich für diese Branche. Bei meinem nachfolgenden Arbeitgeber flog ich 500 Stunden im Jahr auf der Citation XLS+. (Dies ist untypisch für diese Art der Operation) Jetzt werde ich voraussichtlich ca. 450 Stunden im Jahr fliegen, obwohl ich für eine Airline arbeite. Vor allem billig Airline Piloten fliegen bis zum gesetzlichen Maximum von 900 Stunden im Jahr. Das ist vor allem großartig, wenn man viele Flugstunden in kurzer Zeit aufbauen möchte. (Boykottiert solche Airlines, denn sie sparen am Personal und an der Sicherheit) Die Gesamtflugzeiten hängen also ganz von der Art der Operation der Airline ab. (Privat, Charter oder Kommerziell)

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Citation XLS+ Private Jet

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Reiseziele

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Airline

  • Netzwerk in erster Linie innerhalb Europas
  • Feste Routen und Ziele

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Business Aviation

  • Flüge größtenteils innerhalb Europas
  • immer verschiedene Ziele
  • Keine festen Routen

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Als Privat Jet Pilot habe ich viele verschiedene Flughäfen in Europa kennen lernen dürfen. Es waren sicherlich weit mehr als 100. Da die Flugeigenschaften der kleineren Business Jets den Anflug auf kürzere Start- und Landebahnen ermöglichen, kann man im Vergleich zur Airline viel mehr Ziele anfliegen. Der Kunde entscheidet welche Route er fliegen und wo er landen möchte. Ich meine mich zu erinneren, dass ich bei jedem Umlauf mindestens einen neuen Flughafen angeflogen bin, den ich vorher noch nicht kannte. Der Vorteil nur eine begrenzte Anzahl von Zielen anzufliegen ist, dass man die jeweiligen Flughäfen besser kennt. Das hilft gerade bei schlechten Wetterbedingungen und großer Arbeitsbelastung ungemein.

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Sonnenuntergang am Flughafen Tivat

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Dienstplan / Roaster

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Airline

  • Fester monatlicher Dienstplan mit exakter Anzahl an Flügen
  • Die Dienstzeiten sind fix, aber die Flugzeiten können abweichen
  • Dienstplan wird ein Monat im voraus ausgehändigt
  • Freie Tage sind tatsächlich frei
  • Off request System
  • Zusätzliche Freitage über das Jahr
  • Zusätzliche Diensttage werden vergütet
  • Flüge können mit Arbeitskollegen getauscht werden

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Business Aviation

  • Monatlicher Dienstplan
  • Keine fixen Flüge, ausschließlich Dienst- oder Freitage
  • Hohe Flexibilität wird vorausgesetzt
  • Dienstplan wird meist immer nur kurz vorher ausgehändigt
  • Freitgage können kurzfristig getauscht werden
  • “Off requests” sind möglich
  • Firmentelefon auf dem Du jederzeit erreichbar bist
  • Ad hoc Flüge und tägliche Änderungen am Flugplan

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Das Arbeiten in der Business Aviation erfordert hohe Flexibilität während der Dienstzeiten. Du musst jeder Zeit mit Ad hoc Flügen und Änderungen in letzter Minute rechnen. Der Dienstplan an sich ist nicht so stabil wie der von einer Airline. Jetzt habe ich einen monatlichen Dienstplan, der mir Flüge, exakte Zeiten und Zielflughäfen anzeigt. Vorher hatte ich einen Dienstplan, der mir lediglich Dienst- und Freitage vorgab. Wie bei meinem vorherigen Arbeitgeber auch, arbeite ich maximal sieben Tage am Stück. Jedoch weiß ich von anderen Business Jet Firmen, dass die Piloten dort 20 Tage am Stück arbeiten müssen. Zusammenfassend kann man sagen, dass man sein Privatleben bei einer Airline viel besser planen kann.

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A300-600 Cockpit

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Übernachtungen und Hotels

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Airline

  • Hotels und Transfer werden organisiert
  • Feste Crew Hotels mit Rabatten auf Essen
  • Hotelzimmer steht über den gesamten Aufenthalt zur Verfügung
  • Für gewöhnlich nur eine Nacht Aufenthalt
  • Feste Dienstzeiten

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Business Aviation

  • Hotels und Transfer werden von der Crew organisiert
  • Muss man selbst auf die Check in und Check out Zeiten des Hotels achten
  • Mehrere Nächte Aufenthalt an einem Ort möglich
  • Frühe Crew Reporting- Zeiten

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Zunächst war ich etwas überwältigt davon, dass alles für einen organisiert wird. Hotel und Transfer werden von der Firma gebucht. Man verlässt das Flugzeug bereits 15 Minuten nach der Landung. Das ist sehr entspannt wenn ich das mit meiner vorherigen Tätigkeit vergleiche. Nach einem Tag fliegen mussten wir uns selbst um die Hotelbuchung, innerhalb eines vorgegebenen Budgets, kümmern. In angesagten Locations war dies gerade im Sommer nicht immer einfach. Auf der anderen Seite liebte ich es selbst zu entscheiden in welchem Hotel ich schlafen möchte. So konnten wir selbst bestimmen, ob wir lieber in der Innenstadt oder in Flughafennähe übernachten, um so viel Erholung wie möglich haben zu können.

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Übernachtung in Helsinki im April 2017

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Flugzeug und Training

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Airline

  • Wide-body Airliner (170t)
  • Komplexes Flugzeug
  • Umfangreiches Training
  • Umfangreiche Dokumentation
  • Regelmäßige Simulatorflüge

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Business Aviation

  • Kleiner Business Jet mit weniger als 10 Tonnen
  • Weniger komplexe Systeme
  • Training auf dem Flugzeug

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Ich fühle mich geehrt die Chance zu haben die legendäre A300- 600 zu fliegen. Das Flugzeug ist sehr komplex mit seinen vielen Systemen. Ein umfangreiches Training inklusive eines Type Ratings sind notwendig um das Flugzeug zu fliegen. Die Airline legt viel Wert auf eine gut ausgebildete Cockpit- Besatzung. Deshalb geht jeder Pilot zwei Mal im Jahr in den Simulator. Ich habe den Eindruck, dass die Dokumentation umfangreicher ist und alle Richtlinien niedergeschrieben sind.

Zu Beginn meiner Karriere musste ich alle Trainingsflüge auf Leerflügen absolvieren. So wollte die Firma Kosten für die teuren Simulatoren sparen. Der Trainingseffekt war jedoch definitiv nicht der selbe! Wie ich schon zuvor erwähnt habe, ist das Gewicht des Flugzeuges entscheidend für die Karriere in der Luftfahrt. Das war einer der Gründe warum ich mich für den neuen Arbeitgeber mit dem großen Airbus entschieden habe. Die A300-600 muss sehr präzise geflogen werden. Besonder die Landung fühlt sich anders an, vorallem weil du viel höher sitzt und die Landebahn schneller anfliegen musst.

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A300-600 Triebwerk

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Fazit

I have to emphasize that I am only talking about my personal impressions and opinions. The operation of another airline might sound totally different and fellow pilots would share with you a completely different opinion.

For planning reasons, an airline pilot life is the better choice. Your duty schedule is more consistent and you can plan with off requests days better ahead. This gives your social life a better quality. In the business aviation, I liked the fact that I flew to much more destinations and that I sometimes did not know where will be on the next day. I really loved those surprises.

On the other hand, a much more stable roaster lets you plan your rest time during layovers much better. In 6 years business aviation I only visited downtown London only twice, even though I stayed there 100+ nights. Either there was not much time or I did not know when the next flight was going to be, so I was on standby in the hotel. Now I know my exact departure time which already allowed me to do sightseeing in Paris and London.

There is a lot of waiting time in the business aviation. Either for the passengers, the fuel, for the hotel room, next flight, or the taxi. This can be quite tiring. I liked the fact that you could wait and rest in VIP lounges. The preparation time in the private aviation is much longer and after the last flight, you can not leave the aircraft straight away. You still need to get everything back in shape again and maybe refuel this can take up to an hour. Additionally, in the business aviation, you have to go on many more commercial flights to start your duty where ever the jet is currently located.

In my opinion, an airline makes you a better pilot, since the training is more extensive and the standards are set to a higher level. The operating procedures are laid out in detail so every pilot operates the aircraft in the same way. In the business aviation, I have seen pilots which were not strict about procedures and interpreted regulations their own way.

In the end, the life as an airline pilot is much more comfortable. A lot is already done and organized for you. It is difficult to compare both operations since they are really different.

Let’s see how my point of view will be a couple of months later.

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Welche Operation würdest Du bevorzugen? Airline oder Privat Jet?

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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