how to become a captain

Moving to the left seat - Captain Upgrade Part 2

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Dear Aviator,

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

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What has happened so far

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

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

 

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

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Upgrade to Commander course

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

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

Topics which were covered in the ground course:

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

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

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Not the A300 simulator but a A320 in Berlin

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

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Simulator Training

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

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

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Studying hard

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

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

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

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

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QRH (Quick reference handbook) Engine Fire and Evacuation checklist

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Check flight and ATPL skill test

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

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

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Simulator check passed

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What's next?

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

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Special giveaway

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

To join the giveaway

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

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

Stay tuned for part three!

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Giving away my 3 stripes!

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Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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A working day of a private jet versus an airline pilot

A working day of a private jet versus an airline pilot

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Cooperation - Advertisement

Hello my Aviator, one year ago I was offered to fly for a different company. Switching jobs not only implied to get trained on a new aircraft type but also to get to know a new operation. I started my aviation career as First Officer on a Citation XLS business jet. Now I am flying the wide-body aircraft A300. I passed my initial line check three months ago and I have flown over 200 hours on the Airbus so far. I thought this is a good time to compare a working day of a private jet pilot with an airline pilot. Find out in my conclusion if I finally prefer one type of operation. 

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Citation XLS + in Dublin

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Getting to and from work

Private Jet

As a private jet pilot, I could choose my home base within Europe. The aircraft returned rarely to its home base in Germany, so it was operational wise more convenient to send the crew by an airline, rental car or train to the current location of the aircraft.  Most of the time I proceeded out of Tegel or Schönefled airport to Nizza, Paris or London.

Airline Pilot

Usually, I fly on duty to and from my home base. Sometimes I also have to jumpseat on a flight of my company to get to work or to go home. Unfortunately, I have fewer proceedings flights with other companies. That way I am collecting fewer miles and I will soon lose my Lufthansa frequent traveler status. On the other end, the time-consuming proceeding flights are now past.

 

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Croove - New carsharing service

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Absent from home

Both jobs require being absent from home about half a month. Therefore I have decided four years ago not to own car. Before I only used it to drive to the airport and the rest of the time it was parked uselessly on the street.

In case I need a car there are many alternative means. Like the new carsharing service, called "Croove". It is a private carsharing platform so you rent all kind of car models from private persons. You can also rent your own car profitable when you do not need it. It all works via an application for your personal device (Appstore / google play) and you are fully insured like with any regular car rental service. It is really convenient for me. I can save money on the rental price and I can also use their valet service which brings and picks up the car e.g. at the airport.

 

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Croove - Handing over the vehicle

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Schedule/ Reachability

Private Jet

I usually received the flight schedule for the next day the evening before. The business aviation is a volatile branch and therefore changes can occur hourly. That I why the company provided me with a phone, so they can reach me 24 hours. A working day comprised only a small part of flying. The major part was caring about the passengers, booking transport, ordering catering and organizing a place to sleep. On duty, I liked to be flexible and I found it exciting not knowing where the next flight would take me. I remember one time sitting in cold Moskau and I said to my colleague: "A flight in the south to Mallorca or Ibiza would be nice!". Two hours later we received a call informing us that we fly to Mallorca and Ibiza. That was a funny coincidence.

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Happy crew = happy landings = happy VIP passengers

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Airline

My flight schedule is published one month ahead. This allows much better planning. I know already my destinations and flights with exact departure and arrival times well ahead of time. Aviation is influenced by many different factors that is why changes can occur at an airline as well. In case there is an update I will be reminded my an online platform or via an SMS on my phone. I can fully concentrate on my tasks of a first officer and I do not get distracted from loading passengers bags, receiving catering and taking care of special passengers requests.

 

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Checking my flight schedule online

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Flight hours / duty times

Private Jet

In my career as a private jet pilot, I probably waited longer on passengers, fuel, and catering than I actually flew the aircraft. On a typical working day in the high season, I flew up to 5 legs a day coupled with long waiting periods in between flights. The preparation and the postprocessing are extensive. At busy airports like Nice, France, we often arrived two hours before an outbound flight to be fully ready for the scheduled departure. After the last flight of the day the aircraft still had to be cleaned and maybe refueled for the next day.  Most of the time there was some catering left, so we could enjoy a meal together in the cabin. In six years as a private jet pilot, I flew about 2000 hours.

More about a day of a private jet pilot here in my series.

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First days as a Frist Officer on the Citation XLS private jet

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Airline 

Reporting time of the crew is one hour before the flight and I currently fly a maximum of three sectors a day. The departure times vary a lot. I had to get to used to fly really early in the morning and late at night. In this type of operation, I will gather about 450 hours a year. This is still not a lot when you think about low-cost airline pilots, who fly up to 900 hours a year. On a duty day, I know my exact flight schedule and I know the location I will be spending the night. The waiting time on turn around is decent. It is absolutely bearable when you compare to passengers who let you waiting for an unknown period. After the last flight of the day, we already leave the aircraft about 15 minutes later.

 

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Underneath an Airbus A380

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Layovers/hotels

Private Jet

The final destination of a working day was not always sure when we left the hotel. Sometimes it was a real surprise in which city we would sleep at night. Since the business is so volatile we were not allowed to book a hotel until we received the "go" of the company. I am the master of hotels and it was usually my job to find an appropriate place to sleep. I liked that we as a crew could choose the hotel ourselves. But on the other hand, we wasted a lot of time, searching for a place to stay.I flew to many different destinations within Europe and I got to know a wide range of airports. I flew to many different destinations within Europe and I got to know a wide range of airports.

Airline pilot

Like as a private jet pilot I mostly fly within Europe but now only to certain destinations. In my first 200 hours, I almost got to know all airports within the network. Hotels and transport are organized by the company.

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Layover in Barcelona, Spain

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Do I have a preference?

I can only speak about my impressions and experiences I gained in both operations in the last seven years of my aviation career. The picture might look totally different with other airlines.

The private jet and airline operation differ a lot. Both are enjoyable.

As a private jet pilot, I spent most of the time waiting and duty times were lengthy. Whereas an airline pilot flies more in fewer duty hours. Everything is more organized and you do not waste time organizing catering, booking hotels and ordering transport. But I am missing the VIP catering and the private terminals, which also offered comfortable lounges for the crew.

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Private jet or airline pilot?

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One fact which I liked about the business aviation was that I flew too many different destinations and I got to know challenging airports. On the other hand, the business is very volatile. That means you can expect changes on short notice. Now I have fixed schedule and I know how much rest I have in the end. I can really plan with the time in between duties to do sightseeing and go on tours.

In my opinion, the business aviation was a really good school because I had to be independent and well organized to complete more than the task of flying the airplane. I still think that the airline operation is more relaxed and I really like the fact that I can now fully concentrate on my tasks of a first officer.

 

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If you could be a pilot for a day would you rather be a private jet pilot or an airline pilot? Please leave me a comment below and do not forget to subscribe to my blog with your email.

Happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick 

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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.

Please subscribe to my newsletter below not to miss any news.

Your Pilot Patrick

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my first 100 flight hours on the airbus A300

Checkflug absolviert- Meine ersten 100 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus

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Hallo mein Aviator, nach einem ausgiebigen Flugtraining auf dem Boden und in der Luft, habe ich meinen ersten "Line Check" auf der A300 erfolgreich absolviert. Vielen Dank für das Daumen drücken! Der Kontrollflug verlief unproblematisch und ich habe ihn mit bravour bestanden. In diesem Artikel über Luftfahrt werde ich von meinen Erfahrungen der ersten 100 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus berichten und erklären wie das Verfahren für eine neue Flugzeug- Musterberechtigung aussieht.

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Erster Schritt: Musterberechtigung (Type Rating)

Mit meiner CPL(A) Lizenz darf ich grundsätzlich alle Flugzeugtypen fliegen, solange ich eine spezielle Schulung auf dem konkreten Flugzeug absolviere. Diese Schulung wird auch Musterberechtigung (Type Rating) genannt, findet in einem sogenannten "Full Flight Simulator" statt und kostet ca. 60.000€. Meine erste Musterberechtigung habe ich 2010 auf der Citation XLS absolviert. Damals musste ich ungefähr 20.000€ für die Schulung investieren, um als Erster Offizier auf dem Privatjet starten zu können.

Anfang diesen Jahres wechselte ich meinen Arbeitgeber. Ich musste mich einer umfangreichen Schulung unterziehen, um eine Lizenz für den Airbus A300 zu erhalten. Dieses Mal zahlte mein Arbeitgeber für die Kosten der Schulung bei der Lufthansa Aviation Training. In einem meiner früheren Artikel habe ich im Detail beschrieben, wie diese Schulung aufgebaut ist. (Derzeit nur auf englisch)

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Simulator in Berlin bei der Lufthansa Aviation Training

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Starts und Landungen

Nach Abschluss der Musterberechtigung im Simulator musste ich neun Starts und Landungen mit dem Flugzeug absolvieren. Um wirtschaftlich zu sein sollte ich auf der Bahn landen, das Flugzeug neu konfigurieren (Landeklappen sowie Trimmung) und ohne zu halten direkt wieder durchstarten. Für gewöhnlich wird dieses Training unter Sicht in einer Platzrunde geflogen. Bedauerlicherweise war das Wetter an diesem Tag so schlecht, sodass wir gezwungen waren blind nach Instrumenten zu fliegen.

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Erste Landung während des "Base Training" auf der A300

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Im Simulator zu sitzen fühlt sich beinahe real an, aber zum ersten Mal in der echten Maschine zu fliegen war ein überwältigendes Gefühl. Bis zu diesem Zeitpunkt hatte ich lediglich Flugzeuge mit einem maximalen Startgewicht von 10 Tonnen geflogen. Jetzt fliege ich Maschinen mit 170 Tonnen Startgewicht. Bei meinem ersten Start bekam ich Gänsehaut. Die Hälfte meiner Landungen an diesem Tag waren gut, über die andere Hälfte wollen wir lieber nicht sprechen. ;-)

Übung macht den Meister!

Diese Landungen sind vom Luftfahrt- Bundesamt (LBA) vorgeschrieben und müssen absolviert werden, bevor man kommerziell mit Passagieren an Board fliegen darf. Während meiner Zeit als Flugschüler in Zadar hatte ich die Möglichkeit während eines Base Trainings an Board einer Lufthansa Maschine zu sein. Während eines Anflugs durfte ich sogar im Cockpit sitzen. Dies war definitiv eines meiner Höhepunkte der Pilotenausbildung. Ich erinnere mich, dass die Landung eines Flugschüler so hart war, dass die ein Teil der Kabinenverkleidung herabfiel.

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Zadar 2008 als Flugschüler

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Flüge als beobachter

Nach dem erfolgreichen Abschluss der Musterberechtigung sowie der Starts und Landungen wurde der Antrag zur Ausstellung einer neuen Lizenz zum LBA geschickt. Um diese Zeit zu überbrücken wurde ich als Beobachter auf vier Flüge geschickt. Zusätzlich zur regulären Cockpit Besatzung saß ich auf dem "Observer" Sitz. Der Gedanke dahinter ist, dass man vorab schon mal einen Einblick ins Arbeitsleben und die Vorgehensweisen des Linienflugs bekommt. Es hatte zwar spaß gemacht den Kollegen bei der Arbeit zuzusehen, aber ich wollte so schnell wie möglich wieder selbst ans "Steuer".

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Anzeigen Lichttest während der Flugvorbereitungen

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Linien Training

Es dauerte um die sieben Arbeitstage bis ich meine neue Lizenz erhielt. Die Wartezeit hatte ich nicht nur mit den Beobachter- Flügen überbrückt, sondern auch mit einem Urlaub in der wunderschönen Karibik. Dies war der Perfekte Ort um dem Winter zu entfliehen und eine kurze Auszeit zu nehmen.

Mein erster Flug war am 01. März. Zunächst ging es nach Vitoria und anschließend nach Sevilla in Spanien. Die nächsten 80 Flüge fanden unter einer sogenannten Supervision statt. Dies bedeutet, dass ich nur mit speziell ausgebildeten Kapitänen fliegen durfte. Zusätzlich fanden die ersten acht Flüge mit einem weiteren Ersten Offizier statt, der mich bei meinen Aufgaben unterstütze.

Du fliegst das Flugzeug und nicht das Flugzeug Dich!

Im Flugsimulator zu trainieren ist eine Sache, aber im echten Flugzeug zu fliegen ist eine komplett andere Welt. Anfangs hatte ich Schwierigkeiten mit den vielfältigen Aufgaben vor dem Flug zuerecht zu kommen. Aber von Flug zu Flug wurde ich immer vertrauter mit der Flugvorbereitung im Cockpit und mit dem händling der Maschine.

Mein erster Anflug auf Sevilla fühlte sich an als ob ich mit Überschall fliegen würden. Alles ging so schnell. Obwohl ich bereits über 2000 Flugstunden hatte, fühlte es sich so an, als ob man zum ersten Mal fliegen würde. Selbstverständlich tat ich mein bestes das neu erlernte Wissen und die Fähigkeiten anwenden.

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Erste Übernachtung in Sevilla

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Supervision

Die Musterberechtigung im Simulator war lediglich der erste Schritt, sich das Wissen und die Fertigkeiten zum Fliegen der A300 anzueignen. In der sogenannten Supervision Phase, die sich über insgesamt 80 Sektoren/ Flüge erstreckte, ging das Training auf der echten Maschine weiter. Anfangs macht macht man natürlich noch einige Fehler, aber dafür hat man einen Kapitän, der einen korrigiert.

  • Jeder Flug wird ausgewertet und in einer Nachbesprechung resümiert
  • Die Kapitäne teilen ihre Erfahrungen und ihr Wissen über das Flugzeug
  • Verinnerlichung von Verfahren und Abläufen
  • Unterredungen über die Flugzeugsysteme, Prozeduren und Regularien
  • Anwendung der elektronischen Anflugkarten und Boardbücher
  • Automatische Landungen unter guten Sichtbedingungen zu Schulungszwecken

Das "Linien Training" endete mit der ersten von jährlich stattfindenden Überprüfungsflügen. Ich musste beweisen, dass ich in der Lage bin, das Flugzeug gemäß der Handbücher und der firmeneigenen Standardverfahren zu bedienen. Der Checkflug bestand aus zwei Teilen. Auf einem Flug muss man seine Fähigkeiten als aktiv fliegender Pilot beweisen und auf einem weiteren als nicht fliegender Pilot. Ab sofort bin ich berechtigt ohne Einschränkungen im Linienflug zu operieren. Dies bedeutet allerdings nicht, dass ich nun ausgelernt habe. Es gibt selbst nach Jahren noch Dinge über einen Flieger zu lernen, die man vorher nicht kannte.

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Beurteilungsbogen meines Checkflugs

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Meine ersten 100 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus

Der Airbus ist im Vergleich zur Citation XLS um einiges Anspruchsvoller in der Bedienung. Dies liegt nicht nur an den komplexeren Systemen, sondern auch an dem sensibleren Steuerhorn. Selbst minimalste bewegungen am Steuerhorn haben eine großen Effekt auf die Steuerflächen des Flugzeugs. Der A300- 600 ist mit äußerst leistungsstarken Triebwerken der Firma Pratt and Whitney ausgestattet. Diese befinden sich unterhalb der Tragflächen und bewirken einen großen Neigungsmoment bei Veränderung des Schubes. Dies hat zur Floge, dass der Pilot diesen über das Steuerhorn ausgleichen muss. Hinzu kommt, dass der besondere Aufbau des Fahrwerks eine sanfte Landung der Maschine zusätzlich erschwert.

Im Vergleich zu den 1800 Flugstunden auf der Citation XLS habe ich in den ersten 100 Stunden auf der A300 schon sehr viel erlebt:

  • Gewitter mit einem Blitzeinschlag direkt an meiner Cockpit Frontscheibe
  • Meine erste Seitenwind Landung mit einer Windgeschwindigkeit von 25 km/h, dies ließ sich einfacher zu händeln als auf der kleinen Citation
  • Harte Landung nach Windscherungen im Anflug und Böen bei der Landung. Dadurch war das linke Hauptfahrwerk zuerst aufgekommen. Es gab glücklicherweise keine Beschädigungen
  • St. Elmo’s fire an der Cockpitscheibe durch eine statisch geladene Atmosphäre

Ich freue mich auf weitere spannende Flüge und Herausforderungen auf dem Airbus.

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St. Elmo´s Feuer auf der Cockpitscheibe

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Warst Du schon mal ein Board eines Fluges, der nicht reibungslos ablief? Z.B. bedingt durch schlechtes Wetter oder einen besonderen Vorfall?! Bitte teile mir Deine Geschichte unten im Kommentarfeld mit!

Verpasse keine Neuigkeiten mehr und trage Dich in mein Newsletter ein!

Dein Pilot Patrick

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