how to become a captain

Moving to the left seat - Captain upgrade Part 1

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Dear Aviator,

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

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

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How to become a captain?

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

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

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

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How long does it take to become a captain?

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

Requirements

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

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Job advertisement of the airline

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Application Form

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

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

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

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Commander assessment

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

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

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

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What will change?

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

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Next steps

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

Please cross your fingers that everything will fly smoothly.

 

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Safe travels and happy landings!

Your PilotPatrick

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business aviation exhibition

Luxurious jets at the business aviation exhibition in Geneva

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Hello my Aviator, 

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

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Cabin of the Cessna Citation Longitude

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Business aviation exhibition

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

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

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EBACE static display

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

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

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static display /source: EBACE

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Cessna Citation Latitude (first Cessna with flat cabin floor)

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Geneva airport exhibit hall / source: EBACE

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Bombardier

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

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Luxury cabin of the Global 6000

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Bombardier Global 6000

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

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

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The new flagship of Bombardier G7500 / source: EBACE 

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How I became a private jet pilot?

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

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innovative cockpit with sidestick, head up display and touchscreens

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large business jet / source: EBACE

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The size of jet I used to fly

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Do I miss the business aviation?

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

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

Safe travels and happy landings

Your PilotPatrick

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private jet pilot versus airline pilot

Private jet pilot versus airline pilot

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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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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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pilot life vs private life

Pilot life vs. Private life How does this work together?

In my last aviation related blog post "How I became a pilot part II" I told you about my first flight training phase in beautiful Croatia. Now I want to show you how a pilot life and private life work together. 

Pilot life vs. private life

In the past many of you wondered how I can have a social/private life as pilot when traveling so much and being absent from home a lot. Especially those of you who strive to become a pilot in the future asked me this question and told me their concerns-

Here are examples of two snapchat users.

This solely depends on you dude. But do not worry if you want, you can have both options. ;-) 

It is true that I am absent from home for about half of the month. Usually I am on duty for a  maximum of eight days in a row. The operation in the Business Aviation requires to overnight at those locations wherever the last flight of the day takes you to. Whereas the flights of many low cost airlines end at their home base, which equals basically to a 9 to 5 job. At this moment I would not be a fan of this kind of operation since one reason for me of becoming a pilot is to travel and get to know new places. But I could imagine that an operation, which allows you to sleep at home every night, can be a big advantage once you want to build a family.

As you can see it really depends on the type of operation and airline how many days in a month you actually spend at home. A minimum of 8 days are granted by the aviation authority.

I have arranged myself with the absence from home quite well. I have a social life with friends and private activities like everyone else. Unfortunately I can not attend all events (like birthdays, concerts, parties and family events) but due to good organization skills I get the best of my free time and I never have a big feeling that I miss out on something.

Enjoying my off days! Here on top of Montserrat mountain in Catalonia, Spain

Pros and Cons of my pilot life:

PROS

  • Getting payed well to travel, to see new places and to fly airplanes
  • I leave work behind in the airplane and so I can use my off time at the fullest 
  • More than 3 days off in a row without taking leave (sometimes even 6 days)
  • Per diem are paid for every hour I am being away from home
  • I do my paper work during my work so I can enjoy my off days without distraction
  • Hotel gyms are free of use and I do not have a contract for a gym at home
  • I have more off days than a full time job (about 12 days)
  • Some passengers pay a tip to the crew for the flight and inflight service

CONS

  • Great flexibility expected and the schedule might change at last minute 
  • I only have either Christmas or New years off at home
  • For important events and appointments I have to take leave 
  • I can not attend classes or courses which take place on a regular basis
  • Irregular working hours and sometimes only little sleep during busy months
  • It is hard to keep a special diet while traveling 
  • Especially in the Business Aviation there is a lot of waiting time

Those are my subjective impressions about my life as a First officer and other pilots would definitely mention different aspects.

Ready for boarding the VIP passenger at the pole position in Olbia

As much as I enjoy being at home, after a couple of days at home my wanderlust kicks in and I want to go on a journey again. Striving for a position of a crew member you have to make sure that you have this desire as well. If not you might not be happy in the long term.

Which aspect would you do not like being a pilot? Comment below.

Please have a look on my aviation related Links, which may you find helpful!

Your Pilot Patrick

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private jet pilot

A day of a Private Jet Pilot III

Welcome back on board and enjoy the last blogpost of this series "A day of a Private Jet Pilot". Make sure you have read Part 1 and Part 2.

Private Jet Pilot

Inflight having a healthy meal

The Approach

45 minutes prior our expected time of arrival (ETA) I start to prepare the approach, receive the actual weather and do an approach briefing. Runway 13 in use in Malaga (130 degrees magnetic orientated) Summerly weather conditions with only some clouds and temperature over 30 degrees. The approach is quite turbulent since the flight route takes us overhead a mountains area and thermic conditions are prevailing.
Citation XLS+ in sunny Malaga
At 17:25 after 3:05 hours flight time we reach our parking stand. The handling service informs us that the driver of the passengers told him that they will arrive in approximately 30 minutes. That means we need to hurry up to prepare everything for the next and last flight to Naples. We need the full package. Fuel, catering and fresh documents. Together we check the weather again of our destination and alternate. It looks that major parts of the thunderstorms will have moved southbound. Good news! While the captain is inside waiting for the passengers to arrive Victoria and me prepare the rest. Just in time for our passengers to board the aircraft. The couple is really happy to meet the crew since the flight was not confirmed four hours ago.
I feel good - important to stay hydrated

Flight to Naples

The flight is again really smooth. After Victoria has served a dinner for the passengers she dims the cabin lighting and helps the passengers to move the seats into a flat position for a little rest. We can see an amazing sunset overhead the Mediterranean Sea.
Sunset on top of the clouds Why I fly - sunset up in the air
Last approach of the day. Now it is really important to stay focused and concentrated. It has been a really long. As expected the weather has calmed down. We are cleared for a straight in approach which means that no big turns are required to align with the centerline of the runway. Ciao! Cleared to land advices the tower.

The landing

Watch out laser beams! Someone is pointing on us from the ground. We lower hour heads and turn of the lightning of the aircraft. Strong laser beams can harm us and cause intense reflections in the cockpit. There is the chance to loose the controls of the plane because of temporary blindness. Why and who does something like this?! It can be so dangerous for air traffic and it is a criminal offense with high punishments.
Cockpitview approaching LIRN at night
Shortly prior landing I can see fireworks on the right side. On block at 21:05 after 2:16 hours flight time. After the passengers have left the aircraft we start with our post flight duties. Finish the paper work, clean up the cabin, unload the luggage and install the red protection covers again. This takes another 30-45 minutes to be done.

Finally done

We are finally done for today. For the record: over 6.000 km flown and 8:29 hours up in the air. I think this is my new personal record! It is 22:30 by now when we finally reach the hotel. I am happy to get out of my uniform. 10 minutes later we meet as crew again to have dinner. We reflect the day and talk already about the upcoming flights.
Back in my hotel room. I answers some of my private messages and immediately fall asleep after closing my eyes!
I hope you have enjoyed flying with me. Good night from Naples!
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Private Jet pilot

A day of a Private Jet Pilot I

In my last blogpost I explained what I exactly mean with the Business Aviation. Now I want to tell you how a busy day of flying in this aviation branch can look like.

Welcome on board of a day of a private jet pilot

Hilton Hotel Luton Hotel 05:00 my alarm goes off. Time to get up! I question myself why so early? I snooze and sleep for another 10 mins. First thing in the morning I check my messages, my instagram and then I refresh my flight schedule. Unfortunately the take off is still early at 08:00 to Malta. I check the weather at the destination, alternate and en route. Smooth flying conditions during cruise and we might encounter some turbulences during the descent to Malta airport.
I catch a glimpse outside the window. It is still dark and it looks cloudy. The fact that I will see the sun in a couple of hours and that I will cruise at Flight level 430 (approx. 13.100m) motivates me.

Before I do anything else I turn on music on my portable Bose speaker to wake me up. I pack my suitcase, iron my fresh pilot shirt, take a shower and I jump in my uniform.

First breaky

Fortunately this hotel starts quite early to serve breakfast. Me and my crew captain Sven (32 years old) and flight attendant Viktoria (28) meet up at 06:00 to have breakfast before our taxi picks us up at 06:30. Today we are quite young crew. Through this job I managed to be hungry no matter what time it is. On this morning I have some hash browns, eggs and cereal with fruits (I always take my own almond milk) I drink a green tea with honey.

Even that early the atmosphere is really good. We talk briefly about the upcoming day of flying. Three legs with two different clients. It will be a long day! We depart from London Luton (EGGW) to Malta (LMML). Then after a quick turnaround to Malaga (LEGM) ferry to pick up passengers to fly them to Naples (LIRN). Final landing is scheduled to be at 19:30 Local time.

Beautiful sunrise at the airport

Pick up

A short taxi ride takes us to the VIP Terminal of Signature Handling in EGGW. After having our passports get checked, we proceed to the crew reception and lounge without any security check!! We have an espresso, print our flight documents and do a flight briefing to get everyone in the loop.

Now it is one hour prior departure and we walk over the parking position of our Citation XLS. It is only a hundred meter walk. Those short ways are awesome in the business aviation. I open up the entry door, stow our luggage in the aft hold and remove all red covers, which protect the engines and flight sensitive areas of the aircraft. The sun slowly rises and the temperature is pleasant. Luckily no rain!

The VIP catering of Air Culinaire is being delivered together with hot water and freshly brewed coffee. Rush hour in Luton. This airport is used both by low cost airlines and high cost airlines, the Private Jets ;-) The airport situated further outside the city than Heathrow. But since the ways on the airport are really short, you safe time in the end.

Early bird - Waiting on the passengers to arrive

Flight preparation

After the completion of the outside check of the airplane we start the APU (Auxiliary Power unit) which provides electricity and air conditioning without the main engines running. While I set up the flight deck and do all required cockpit checks, Victoria prepares the cabin and creates a nice boarding atmosphere for our two passengers.

The captain is inside the VIP terminal waiting for the passengers and informs me that we received a slot 30 minutes after our filed flight plan. That means we have a time window of only 15 minutes. Only within this period we are allowed to take off. A delay on the first flight of the day is not helpful. Good news the passengers arrive on time so we might manage to make the slot.

Boarding complete! While the Captain does a passenger briefing in the cabin, I request our clearance for the route and the approval to the start the engines. Start up approved. Let's go!

A lot of checklists have to be read before we are in a queue of aircrafts waiting to depart. We are currently number five to depart, which means a minimum of 10 minutes to wait. Finally reaching holding point 26 I call ready for departure. Only two minutes left until the slot expires.

Read my next blogpost "A day of a Private Jet Pilot Part 2" to find out if make the slot!

Your Pilot Patrick

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general avaition

What is the General Aviation + what do I exactly mean with Business Aviation?

I have been asked many times for which airline I am working for. Unfortunately I am not allowed to tell you the exact name of the company, but I am more than happy to let you know what we are doing. There is a big difference to the major airlines you maybe know.

General Aviation

General Aviation (GA) is easy to explain. It is basically all traffic which is non-scheduled. In this case all major airlines like Lufthansa, Air Berlin, Swiss, etc. do not belong to the GA because they operate on a fixed flight schedule. Airlines and most of the GA traffic fly according a flight plan which as to be submitted prior to flight execution.

The GA exists of many different types of operation. This could be the hobby pilot operating his own small Piper or the flight student flying a glider he just chartered. The Business Aviation also belongs to the GA since it depends on the demand of the passengers when they fly. Thus there is no fixed flight schedule they operate accordingly. This does not mean those aircrafts are automatically smaller. Private Jets or Business Jets can be a small as a 4 seater or even as big as a Boeing 747 VIP. The major difference is that you fly alone or take those persons on board you like to.

Citation XLS +

I am flying for a german Business Jet charter company. Everyone is eligible to charter a plane and can fly with us. Once you have booked a flight you are automatically treated as a VIP. You choose your type of aircraft, the route, the times, the catering and the people who travel with you. This service is quite expansive when you compare it to a regular ticket with an airline. But keep in mind you get the most exclusive flight experience.

As a commercial airline we have to obey the same regulations and rules from the LBA (German aviation authority) and the EASA (European Aviation Safety Agency) like a big airline company. We are always two pilots in the cockpit. One Captain one First Officer. Additionally we have a flight attendant on board, but she is not required by regulation to fly with us.

Most owner put their aircraft to a management company to take care of it. They organizse crew, schedule maintenance and charter the plane to others when he does not need it. Just to tell you a number: yearly costs to operate a Gulfstream (fix costs) are about 400.000€ without one minute of flying.

Citation XLS +

Our daily flight schedule can consits from 0-6 legs. Usually we fly different customers on one day but it can happen that we only fly one customer to different destinations in one day. For example Business men who have a tight meeting schedule.

Who flies private with me?

Unfortunately I can not tell you exact names because discretion is most important in this industry. But I can tell you that I have flown international superstars, politicians, sports men and those you can afford a flight hour of more than 3.000€. Of course it is really exciting to have someone really famous on board but this does not change anything on my job I am doing up front. I always try to give my best and everyone is treated equally.Remember: A Private Jet is like a dream. It waits only for you!

Your Pilot Patrick

Next blogpost: A day of a Private Jet Pilot

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