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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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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my way into the cockpit

My way into the cockpit + My 10 application tips

The blog posts of how I became a pilot have become to one of your favorite ones. So far I have published four parts in this series and yet there is more to come. In this blog post, I want to move up to one step further. I received a lot of questions asking me how I managed my way into the cockpit. I am going to explain exactly that and additionally, I want to give some general tips when applying for your dream job.

In Dublin with the beautiful business jet Citation XLS+

My way into the cockpit

In the end of 2009, I graduated from flight school. The training at Intercockpit was independent of any airline so I was able to apply at any company I wanted to. Unfortunately, the market situation at this moment was not the best. There were some jobs on the market Germanwings and Lufthansa City Line were searching for first officers at this moment. Those jobs were highly embattled. But for a good reason, I did not have the big desire to work for the Lufthansa group.

Unlike to my fellow flight student, I still was pretty much open to fly either for a big carrier or a small business jet company. But I felt that I was more willing to fly a private jet and to experience this kind of operation. I did not want to be the kind of pilot who does not have any layovers and returns to his home base every night. Moreover, I desired to be away from home to discover new places and new cultures.

Application

I applied at many airlines throughout Europe. Most applications to german operators I send as hard copy in a nice application folder. But the majority I send per email or filled out online which is the standard procedure. I found out that more than 50% did not send any feedback and that most airlines required flight experience on a certain type of aircraft. That became quite frustrating after around 40 applications. After a couple of months finishing flight school, I became impatient, because I wanted to be in the air and not on the ground waiting. In November 2009 I received my CPL(A) license by the authority, but the Muli Engine Instrument rating would already expire in July 2010 again. This rating is required for job applications and would cost around 1.000,-€ to revalidate.

pilot patrick in new first officer uniform in berlin
My new uniform for the career on the A300-600

I thought about doing something else besides writing applications. Unfortunately, I did not know anyone in the aviation branch, who could support me getting a job. So my idea was to get to know somebody who could help me. That is why I visited the aviation fair "Aero" in Friedrichshafen in April 2010. This fair is specialized on general aviation with numerous business jet companies attending. It was the best decision to go since I found my job that way. On a small booth, I got to know my former employer. Then things started to happen very fast.

I was invited to an interview in Berlin and a second time to do some kind of screening on a Cessna 172. The idea behind this was to show my practical flying skills. Everything went well in order to begin my type rating on the Citation XLS in the beginning of July 2010. The only down point was that I had to fund my type rating myself. The costs were around 20.000,-€. Fortunately, the german authority for employment sponsored 50% of the costs. I was lucky to be at the right spot at the right time.

Seven years ago during my first rotation on the Citation XLS in Nice, France

It has become quite common that pilots have to compensate for their type rating in the beginning of their career in the cockpit. In the end, it took me eight months to find a job. This was quite fast considering that 1/3 of my fellow student pilots are not in a First Officer position until now.

Backup plan

It is always useful to have a backup plan. Mine was to go study to the university of applied sciences in Bremen. I was already accepted as a student to start in the winter semester of 2010. I would have done a bachelor in aviation management and system knowledge. Then everything changed with the job commitment.

Links I used in the past to find job offers:
latest pilots job
carrer. aero
pilotjobsnetwork.com

My 10 application tips 

Over the years I gained many experiences writing applications to numerous companies. I am definitely not an expert, but the following tips are useful for any dream job you are longing for.

  • Contact Person: Find out the person, who receives and reads your application. This name should be stated in the cover letter. A direct appellation is better than 'Dear Ladies and Gentlemen'.  To find out the name give them a call and ask. You might even have the chance to talk to the person in charge. In this case, you can assign to this phone call in your cover letter. This gives the application a personal touch.
  • Requirements: Always check you if you meet the requirements of the job offer. If you have any doubts drop a line via email or give them a call.
  • Paper or digital: Check which form the employer prefers. Nowadays most companies prefer the digital form via email.
  • File format: The file format is of uttermost importance. This can already decide if the human resources department prints out your application and if they are even able to read it. I recommend sending your documents as PDF in one single file. Check that the file size is appropriate. Not more than 10 MB.
  • Photo: Use a clear, friendly and professional portrait for your application. It is worth the money to go to a photographer to get a nice shot. Wear clothing which suits your further job. I recommend attaching a full body photo if you have a lot of personal contact with customers.
first officer application tips
Application of 2013. Example of my cover page with my hard facts at the bottom
  • Appearance: The design and the formatting of your application are really important. Use the same font and a common layout throughout the application. Make it special through a design that sticks out. Use the colors of the company and try work with their motto.
  • Cover letter: Keep it short, precise and interesting. You should surprise your reader and you should try to arouse his curiosity, so he is willing to continue to read your application. Remember you are not the only applicant and there is only a little time available to read yours.  Use correct grammar and spelling!
  • Hard facts: Consider writing your hard facts on a cover page with your portrait photo. Mention five to seven facts about which really speak for you. (see picture above)
  • Call: If you have not received any feedback within 7 working days, I would call and ask for it. This shows that you are really interested in that position.
  • Be patient: Sometimes it requires a lot of effort and time to find your dream job. Do not get frustrated when you receive many denials in a row. Always believe in yourself and do not give up!

A dream is like a private jet! It only waits for you!

It is the combination of a good application, perfect timing and a little bit of luck to get your dream job. For all future aviators, I have 10 tips for you when you consider attending a flight school.

Happy landings and good luck!

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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flying a propeller airplane

Flying a propeller airplane

Yesterday I went flying and I could leave my big suitcase at home. Instead of operating a private jet through Europe, I used my time off to go flying in a small Cessna 172 of ARDEX flight school.

Lets go flying - C172S with 180HP and 4 seats

Lucky it was a sunny day in Berlin and the flight conditions were excellent. The newspaper Bild was interested to do an interview with me. Since everyone can do an interview on the ground, I invited the journalists to join me on a flight to do an interview up in the air.

Additionally the interview was live on my official Facebook page @PilotPatrick, so everyone could watch me flying from take off up to landing. For some action I flew a steep turn with 45° bank angle. Use this link or scroll down to the flying interview and watch if the journalists, Anne and Celal, enjoyed it.

Back to Kyritz Airport - Shutdown checklist complete

https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=1220076041391323

Besides holding a valid type rating for the Citation XLS+, I possess a SEP (single engine piston) rating as well. This grants me to fly aircraft, which are driven with one propeller. I did most of my flight training on this type of aircraft. A big part of my SEP hours, I flew by myself without an instructor in Croatia. But like all licenses and ratings in the aviation industry, I have to revalidate the SEP rating every two years with a couple of flight hours.

Visting Ardex flight school for a flying interview in a Cessna C172

But why should I fly a small aircraft besides my job as pilot?

There is a big difference between flying a jet and a small piston aircraft. The flying itself and the input to the control surfaces remains the same. One major difference of course is the speed and altitude I operate at. Yesterday I flew a maximum speed of 180 km/h at an altitude of 650m. In the Citation jet I usually fly a speed of 800 km/h at an altitude of 12.000m. 90% of the flight time of a commercial jet aircraft is operated under instrument flight rules (IFR), whereas a small Cessna is primarily flown under visual rules (VFR) in VMC (visual metrological conditions). This requires a constant look out for other traffic and the navigation is made through visual guidance on the ground.

VFR + GPS chart for navigation (upper left blue circle indicates Kyritz)

A big issue in aviation is that the many pilots loose their manual flying skills over the years. Even when flying up to 900 hours in one year, the high level of automation and company procedures prevent pilots to fly manually more often. Usually only take off and landing are flown by end. But especially those manual flying skills are needed when there happens to be a failure or abnormality of a system. Read this report about it.

That is one reason why I decided to practice my manual flying skills once in a while. Additionally I enjoy flying at a moderate altitude to have a great view of the countryside and to choose the destination myself. I would say it is purer way of flying since everything feels closer without numerous systems and automation aids.

Sunny day in autumn with temperatures around 2 degrees - on the way to Runway 14 Live interview with BILD up in the air via Facebook live stream

ARDEX Flight School

This was definitely a special day of flying in my career, which I will remember for a long time. Thanks again to the flight school ARDEX for sponsoring and making this event happen. In case you want to become a pilot or want to charter a plane, this family owned business is situated only one hour from Berlin. They offer courses to a acquire a private or even a commercial license so you may become my first officer some day.

Flight School ARDEX in Kyritz (close to Berlin)

Have you flown in a small aircraft before? Please comment below.

Postive mind, positive life and happy landings!

Your Pilot Patrick

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The Bild interview in full length:
https://www.facebook.com/video.php?v=366609890348612


what is in my bag

What's in my bag? - My packing tips

In my last blog post I shared my experience in Lufthansa’s Business Class to Cape Town with you. On this flight I was allowed to have four pieces of luggage. But who takes so much on a journey? You will be surprised about the number of pieces private jet customers take on a flight. One person with eight suitcases is no exception. In this blog post I will show you what is in my bag and additionally I will reveal my packing tips.

My home is where my suitcase is!

My Rimowa luggage 'Topas' in front of the Private Jet Citation XLS

Now I want to show you what I have in my bags and give you some advices when packing!

Through my profession as private jet pilot I became a professional traveler, who knows who to pack correctly. I am usually on duty for about seven days in the row and I sleep 15 days in a month in different hotels. Everyday I have to unpack and pack, unload and load and carry my luggage from one place to another. That is why the quality and the weight of my suitcase it vital.

Travel in style - aluminum case during a stay in Wildlife Reserve in South Africa

I am really convinced of the products of Rimowa. It is a German company founded in 1898. They put a lot of emphasis on the quality and practicability of their luggage. Especially their products with four wheel are handy. I currently use two products of the ‘Topas’ series, which are made of aluminum. They are little heavier than the once out of polycarbonate, but I prefer this design and they are almost indestructible.

In my hand luggage:

My travel essentials

My checked luggage:

  • Clothing (essential clothing which are easy to combine)
  • Wash bag (organic products of Lavera and Speick)
  • Two pair of shoes (one for sports)
  • TRX suspension trainer (perfect tool for a quick workout in the hotel room)
  • Cocktail shaker to prepare rice protein shakes
Home is where my suitcase is - What's in my bag?

My packing tips:

  • Use the space between the handle bar on the bottom of the suitcase, perfect to place socks or underwear.
  • Do not put valuables in your checked luggage to prevent them from theft. For example electronics, which can be easily detected by the x-ray.
  • Put important documents and essentials for the first day in your hand luggage in case your suitcase gets lost.
  • When taking shirts, I suggest to put them folded in a plastic or fabric bag. This way they stay flat and you do not need to iron them again
  • Put your wash bag in a plastic bag, so in case something leaks your clothing stays clean.
  • I take testers instead of heavy perfume flacons to safe weight.
  • I fill up small containers with the organic shampoo from home so I do not have to take the whole bottle.
  • When packing a suit I recommend to carry it in a clothes bag so the fabric does not get crumbled. An additional small personal items, like a purse or clothes bag, is usually free in economy on all major airlines.
  • Always put your items in the same spot. This saves time when packing and searching.
  • Use a suitcase with an international TSA lock when traveling by plane.
After landing in Rostov an Don with the Citation XLS

My bags

Besides my two silver cases I have a food bag for my journeys. In which you will find fruits, nuts, humus, carrots, couscous salad, coconut water, whole wheat bread and boiled eggs most of the time. Some colleagues think I am crazy, that I carry all this food with me. But this way I can have good food while on duty and I can omit the unhealthy catering on board and in hotels. Read in my blog post “I am a Foodie pilot” more about my healthy eating habits.

Me packing my small Rimowa - healthy food always on board

Happy landings and a well-packed suitcase for your next journey!

Which personal items do you always pack when you going on a journey? I always pack swim shorts. ;-)

Please do don't forget to subscribe.

Your Pilot Patrick

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how I became a pilot

How I became a pilot II

In my first part of the blogpost "How I became a pilot" I told you about my way to become a flight student at Intercockpit Pilot Training Network.

How I became a pilot

Another requirement to be accepted as flight student is the initial medical class one examination. This examination is standardized for all pilots and needs to be revalidated every year. For detailed requirements please have a look here) For this examination I went to a special Aviation Doctor at Stuttgart airport. Of course I was a little nervous at this stage, because the outcome will decide about my future career. Not only did I pass it very well, but I also met Fabian, who later became a friend and a fellow flight student.  

Training facility of Lufthansa Flight Training (LFT) in Frankfurt

First day of school

My first day of school at the facilities of Lufthansa flight training was in April 2008. I remember it was a really exciting day, because it meant a new stage of life. The Intercockpit course E308 consisted of 20 guys and one girl. After the introduction of the team we were handed out all the training material, that we would need for our studies. I think it were around ten big binders. At this stage quite intimidating. Additionally we received a black pilot bag. Back then, I was really proud to have it.

Intercockpit course E308 in 2008

Theory classes

For the next two months we attended several theory classes to reach the knowledge of a PPL Pilot (Private Pilot License) to be prepared for the first flight phase in Zadar, Croatia. Additionally we had to pass the AZF (flight radiotelephone operators certificate), which grants the permission to communicate with ATC (Air Traffic Control). Why did the flight training take place in a foreign country? Mainly, because of the weather and the lower operating costs. Especially for VFR (visual flight rules) flights, that require a certain cloud ceiling and visibility, the weather in Croatia was definitely better than in Germany over the year.

First theory part in Frankfurt (8 weeks)

The entire flight training was scheduled to last about 18 months, depending on one's personal performance. Since the planning was really tight there was only a couple of off days in between. As this was an integrated training you had to learn continuously to be ready for the exams. It sure was a tough time, but it was worth the effort in the end. Time management was super important. I found it helpful to set weekly goals concerning learning to have a good feeling and to monitor my progress.

First time in Zadar

In June it was time to head down to Zadar for the first practical flight phase. Accommodation and transport had to be organized by ourself. Most of the course stayed at the same location of a croatian women, who rented prevailing to flight students from Germany. I shared an apartment with my friend Fabian. The place was not special at all, but it was only a short walk away from the waterfront.

The historic old town of Zadar is really beautiful. It is located right at the Adria, where we enjoyed amazing sunsets. The landscape of Croatia is unique with many small islands (66 inhabited) stretching along the coastline of 1800 kilometer and the high Biokovo mountains in the back. It did not take long until we got to see the beautiful landscape from above. After a couple of days of introduction in a basic fixed simulator the first flight in a DA20 aircraft with a instructor was due.

PA44 flight school aircraft of Intercockpit in Zadar

I was super excited and also a little scared. Not of the flying itself, rather if I really like it and could imagine to do it for the rest of my life. All sorrows were gone, when I lifted off the ground for the first time by myself. I remember, that everything was going so fast. It felt like I was flying a fighter jet. Today I can grin about it, since I take off with the Citation XLS+ at a speed, which is 2,5 times faster.

Structure of the training:

  • 8 weeks of PPL theory classes in Frankfurt
  • 10 weeks of flight training in Zadar, Croatia
  • 30 weeks of ATPL theory classes in Frankfurt  (ATPL = Airline Transport Pilot License)
  • 8 weeks of IFR flight training in Vero Beach, Florida  (IFR = Instrument flight rules)
  • 4 weeks ME IFR flight training in Zadar, Croatia  (ME = Multi Engine)
  • 1 week MCC course in Frankfurt  (MCC = Multi Crew Coordination)

Read in my next part about the rest of the flight training in Zadar, a drink offer after landing in Slovakia and the ATPL theory part back in Germany. I am working on more photos of my flight training.

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