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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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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