Yesterday, we had an AMA “Ask Me Anything” with Lufthansa061 where the members in our Workshop got a chance to ask him questions.
He is a member of the entry into service team for Lufthansa’s new B777X and B787, Senior First Officer on B747-400 and 747-8i, SEP for C172, PA28-161/-181, FW44, Piper Cup, former Firsr Officer on B737-300/-400/-500 and Airbus A300-600, A310-300, 609FH on Boeing 707-369C??.
In your opinion what is the hardest or most challenging thing of being a pilot brings to the table for you?
To have a job where you are away from home for 15 days and have a family with a wife and two sons.
Can you explain your jump-seating privileges? What benefits do you get? Do you have to pay at all?
Jump seats are exclusively for flight crew members. Benefits, we get a 90 percent discount on 90 percent of all plane tickets world wide.
How does crew scheduling work at Lufthansa?
I do a request every month and at the 15th of every month, a computer system looks over it and decides its legal or not. If it says not legal I can complain in person at our ops desk.
What is your favorite destination to fly to and why?
My favourite destination is Buenos Aires, and when the 747 is scheduled for, LAX and SFO.
What aircraft that you have flown would you say was your favorite and why?
The favourite aircraft of a pilot is always the one which he is actually flying. I flew the 737, the A300-600 and the A310-300 and all where great powerful aircraft, especially the A300-600. Now it is of course the 747 just because it is so easy to fly and you feel that it feels uncomfortable on the ground but once in cruise flight, there is the environment where she feels at home.
What makes Lufthansa a great airline to you?
What I like with Lufthansa is that the company has not once, since 1955, fired one employee because of financial trouble. Even in 1993 when we were bankrupt with a loss of more then 1 billion, not one employee got fired. We have 140,000 employees and it is a big family.
What’s your favorite part of working at LH?
The favourite part is as mentioned above that this company feels like as if you are a part of a big family.
If you had to switch to a different airline, what would it be?
If I had to switch to another airline I would without thinking a second choose, United Airlines.
What has been your least favorite aircraft at Lufthansa?
The least favourite aircraft at Lufthansa for me is, hard to say, the A320 NEO.
Are you excited for the 777X?
I am not really exited about the 777x. First of all, it will be the aircraft that will retire the 747-400, and second, it is an old plane with old technology and as I’m very often now in everett and charleston for the Dreamliner and 777X I can see the production going on.
There are three Lufthansa 777X’s built so far, two test aircraft and the first one that goes directly to Lufthansa. But the 777 is a good aircraft no doubt just a little bit old school.
What planes did you fly before ending up on the Boeing 747?
I flew the 737, A300 / A310 before and will go into captains training in September for the A320.
How do you think the future for the 747 and the A380 looks like with regards to what’s happening to the aviation market right now?
As we can see the time for the A380 is over. It is a masterpiece of modern technology, something the world has not seen before. It is a good (but ugly) aircraft but it has one problem, it is overweight and needs 320,000 liter of expensive fuel for a distance a 747 needs just 200,000 liter with fewer passengers. The 747 will be gone in the near future, at least the 747-400. Our oldest 747 has more then 130,000 flight hours! They really have done the job for us, they were built at a time when Boeing thought everything should be double the size or double the thickness just in case.
Is there any aircraft you would like to fly but cannot?
I would love to fly the Concorde.
I just read you flew on a 707 as well. Looking back, did you prefer to fly on the old planes or now the newer ones?
That was kinda an adventure where I took unpaid vacation for a year because I got the chance to fly the 707 out of Sao Paulo, with Skymaster Airlines. I fell in love with PT-MTR, the 707-369 C, built in I think it was 1969 or 1967? Imagine the 707 has no hydraulic systems for the ailerons and elevator, the only hydraulic system is for the rudder. Balance tabs helped to assist you. Flying this bird from Sao Paulo to Manaus Amazonas, 5 hours one way without autopilot and just muscle power, that was something I will never forget.
Do you prefer flying short-haul or long-haul routes?
I prefer long haul routes, just because I only have three flights in a month.
How often do you end up performing a go around?
My last go around was in the simulator was because always there is this stupid white car that drives on the runway just when we cross the numbers of the runway in about 50 feet.
Can you choose which aircraft type you want to be trained for and then fly, or do you just have to follow what the airline says?
It was at the time like this, you could choose the A320 or 737 after flight school. If you choose the 737 it meant that you go to fly the 747 after five years or that you go to the A300 and then to the 747 with steel cable controls. if you choose the A320 then you went to the A330, A340 and then the A380.
The A320 will be the first fly by wire aircraft I will have as a pilot, which means the copilots will have more flight hours on type then me.
How has the COIVD-19 outbreak affected you? Has it been a bigger effect then you originally thought or smaller and has it pushed any goals you may have had for 2020, within your airline, back?
Well I have to admit that I never thought it will become this serious.
Lufthansa is parking 75 percent of its fleet, there is not one moment when I thought now it will be worse for Lufthansa. Our ceo told us in an intern speach: “You all have this one question: how long will Lufthansa survive such a scenario? The answer I can give you all today and now is, much longer then every other airline”.
Why is that so? Because? Lufthansa owns 89 percent of all of their aircraft. Other airlines have a fleet that is 90 to 100 percent leased. The leasing rate for a 787 is around 1.2 million dollars every month.
Now think about you have thirty 787s, thirty 777, or hundred and fifty A380s. These are hundreds of millions of dollars every month that have to be paid like the rent for an apartment.
What is one thing that you would want to tell an aspiring pilot?
I think there is a big advantage when it comes to the question. We all would like to be or already are a pilot, choose this job not because of money or status, we choose it because it is the best thing in the world when you push the throttles forward (which I have never done because we are not allowed to do so on a Lufthansa aircraft other then the pilot school aircraft) for take off or when you just look out of the window somewhere over the desert or North Atlantic and see the world from above. It sounds kinda corny but it is just great. So what can I tell the guys and girls; the one thing that is hard is the financial aspect. You will have a lot of debt and if you have something where the aeromedical doctor says “thats it with flying” you might sit there and think, and now?
I would like to tell everybody to study something or make an education just in case, so you have something in your hand should the dream of flying be over sooner then expected.
Have you ever had a family member onboard?
Yes, very often especially during school vacations. more often friends of mine come on a trip with me which is always annoying, just joking.
How much time is needed to prepare before a flight?
We meet 1 hour 40 minutes before take off for the briefing. There I meet the first officer and the captain who always comes last. While we copilots prepare the flight check the weather and calculate fuel, check the notams and the status of the aircraft and the amount of passengers and how much water for the lavatories, the captain always meets an old buddy and then they talk about the times where the 707 was our flagship.
When he finally makes his way to us we say hello to each other and always at Lufthansa we use our first name. Then he looks over everything we prepared and signs all documents.? He has the final word regarding fuel. If he has something “important” to do you will see an uplift of a few tons so we can fly faster. About one hour before take off we go over to the cabin crew and shake everybodies hands.
Then the captain tells the cabin crew the flight time (always exact by the minute, like 10 hours and 23 minutes) , when to expect turbulence, the route we are flying and then he asks 2-3 flight attendants some safety procedure questions.
Around 45 min before take off the crew bus drives all of us to the aircraft. Everybody goes on his position and starts preparation for the flight. In the cockpit we copilots start putting the route into the FMS, order the fuel and prepare the aircraft for the flight. In the meantime the captain, after he put his pilot case in its position, always says, “I am outside”.
He then leaves for the outside check. After he comes back he always says, “I am at the gate”. He then goes to the gate and talks the check inn ladies, decides about which standby passenger he takes with him and so on. While the passengers are boarding the captain is also coming back. He finally sits down, orders his water with or without bubbles, puts on his headset on and says, “I am with the passengers”, making his announcement. In the meantime all passengers have boarded, doors closed, the loadsheet has been checked, trim is set and captain turns around to us, saying, “Clearance please”.
Of course captain, here comes the clearance. “Lufthansa 520, you are cleared to destination Buenos Aires via ANEKI 5 departure route”.
And the captain is having some water and sits there in his chair with his four stripes and thinks, “what a great job”.
“Request pushback, please”, sure, captain.