my first 100 flight hours on the airbus A300

Checks completed - my first 100 flight hours on the Airbus

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Hello my Aviator, after an extensive flight training on the ground and in the air, I finally had my initial line check on the Airbus A300. Thanks a lot for crossing your fingers for me. The check flight ran smoothly and I passed it very well. In this aviation related article, I am sharing my experience of the first 100 flight hours on the Airbus and I inform you how the training to acquire a new type rating looks like.

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First step Type Rating

With my CPL(A) license, I am basically allowed to fly all aircraft type as long as I am specially trained for the specific type. This training is called type rating and takes place in a full flight simulator and can cost about to 60,000€. The first type rating I did was on the Citation XLS in 2010. Back then I paid about 20,000€ to receive the training and to begin as a first officer on a private jet.

In the beginning of this year, I switched companies. I had to undergo an extensive training to be licensed to fly the Airbus A300. This time the employer paid for the costs of the type rating at Lufthansa Aviation training. In one of my previous articles, I explained how this training looks like in detail.

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Simulator in Berlin at Lufthansa Aviation Training

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Touch and Gos

After the completion of the type rating in the simulator, I had to do nine take offs and landings on the real aircraft. To be more economical the procedure is to touch down on the runway, then configure the aircraft again (flaps and trim) and to take off again without stopping. Usually, this base training is flown visually in a traffic pattern in the proximity of the airport. Unfortunately, the cloud base was too low on that day so we were forced to fly under IFR conditions.

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First landing during base training on the A300

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Flying the simulator feels almost like the reality but flying the real machine for the very first time was an overwhelming feeling. Up to this point, I had been flying an aircraft with a maximum take off weight of 10 tons and I was about to fly an aircraft with 170 tons. The first take off gave me goose bumps. Half of my landings on that day were nice, but about the second half, I do not want to talk about;-)

Practice makes perfect!

Those landings are a requirement of the aviation authority and have to be completed before flying commercially with passengers. During my time as flight student in Zadar, I had the chance to be aboard of a Lufthansa aircraft, which did touch and go training. I even sat in the cockpit during one approach. This was definitely one of my highlights as a flight student. I remember that one landing of a flight student was a little bit too hard, so a small panel inside the cabin came off.

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Zadar 2008 as flight student

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Observer flights

After the completion of the type rating and the touch and gos, the application for the issue of a new license was sent to the LBA. To bridge the waiting time I was scheduled as an observer on four flights. Additionally, to the regular crew, I was sitting in the cockpit on the observer seat. The intention behind is to get to know the working life and the line operation. It was fun watching my colleagues flying but I wanted to get behind the controls myself again.

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Annunciator light test during preflight preperation

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Line Training

It took about seven working days until I received the new license. I not only bridged the waiting time with the observer flights but also with a vacation in the Caribbean. This was the perfect spot to flee the winter and to have a short time out.

The first flight was scheduled on the 1st of March. The first leg was to Vitoria and the second to Sevilla in Spain. The next 80 flights were under supervision which meant I was only allowed to fly with qualified line training captains. Additionally, the first eight flights were with a safety first officer to support me in my tasks.

You fly the aircraft and not the aircraft you!

Flying the simulator is one thing but flying the real aircraft is a completely different world.  At first, I had difficulties managing the numerous task in a structured way before each flight. But from flight to flight, I got more confident and structured with the set up of the cockpit and the handling of the aircraft.

My first approach into Sevilla felt like I was flying supersonic. Everything was going so quick! Even with my experiences of 2000 flight hours, everything felt so new. Of course, I did my best to impose my knowledge and skills to the new operation.

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First layover in Sevilla

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Supervision

The type rating in the simulator was the first step to obtain the skills, procedures, and knowledge to operate the A300. In the supervision phase of 80 sectors, the training continued on the real aircraft:

  • Every flight is evaluated and during a debriefing reviewed
  • Captain shares his experiences and knowledge about the aircraft
  • Improve standard operating procedures
  • Discussions about aircraft systems, procedures, regulations
  • Use of electronic flight bag (approach charts and manuals)
  • Simulated automatic landings

The line training ended with the initial line check. I had to prove that I am operating according to the aircraft manuals and the standard company procedures. The check flight comprised of two parts. One as pilot flying and one a pilot non-flying. I am now released to "fly the line" but this does not imply that the training has ended. There is still lots to learn about the Airbus.

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Initial line check grading

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My 100 flight hours on the Airbus

The Airbus is compared to the Citation XLS a more challenging aircraft. This is not only because it is a more complex aircraft with more systems, but also because of the sensitivity of the control wheel. Minor inputs into the control wheel have a great effect on the control surfaces. The A300-600 is equipped with powerful Pratt and Whitney engines and through the wing mounted position they produce a pitch moment during power changes. This means you have to counteract this moment with your controls. Additionally, the set up of landing gear makes it difficult to do smooth landings.

In relation to my 1800 hours on the Citation, I already experienced a lot during my 100 flight hours on the Airbus:

  • Thunderstorms with lightning strike in front of my cockpit window
  • My first crosswind landing with about 25 km/h wind from the side,  it was easier to handle than on the small Citation Jet
  • Hard landing due to gusts at touch down and wind shears during final approach
  • St Elmo’s fire on the cockpit front windows due to a charged atmosphere

I am looking forward to the upcoming flights and challenges on the Airbus.

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St Elmo's fire on the cockpit window

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Have you been on a flight which did not run as smoothly as usual? Maybe you were flying in adverse weather or something extraordinary happened on board. Please share your experience with me below in the comment section.

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Your Pilot Patrick

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my first 100 flight hours on the airbus A300

Checkflug absolviert- Meine ersten 100 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus

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

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Erster Schritt: Musterberechtigung (Type Rating)

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

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

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Simulator in Berlin bei der Lufthansa Aviation Training

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Starts und Landungen

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

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Erste Landung während des "Base Training" auf der A300

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

Übung macht den Meister!

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

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Zadar 2008 als Flugschüler

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Flüge als beobachter

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

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Anzeigen Lichttest während der Flugvorbereitungen

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Linien Training

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

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

Du fliegst das Flugzeug und nicht das Flugzeug Dich!

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

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

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Erste Übernachtung in Sevilla

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Supervision

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

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

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

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Beurteilungsbogen meines Checkflugs

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Meine ersten 100 Flugstunden auf dem Airbus

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

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

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

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

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St. Elmo´s Feuer auf der Cockpitscheibe

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

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

Dein Pilot Patrick

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Airbus A300 type rating

My Airbus A300 type rating

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

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

Welcome to my new Airbus office (simulator)

My A300 type rating

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

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

Mock-up cockpit to learn the location of the buttons

Full flight Simulator

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

Full flight simulators with motion systems

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

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

My training highlights so far:

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

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

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

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

Full flight Simulator A300 (in Schönefeld since 1990)

Practice makes perfect

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

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

What is your favorite Airbus airplane?

Your Pilot Patrick

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revealing my new aircraft type

Revealing my new aircraft type

HAPPY NEW YEAR MY AVIATORS!

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

Hard decision

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

With the Citation Business Jet on Malta

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

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

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

Revealing my new aircraft

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

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

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

Flight training

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

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

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

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

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

Are you an Airbus or Boeing fan?

Your Pilot Patrick

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