Is it dangerous to be an airline pilot?

Some time ago I met pilot Suk-Jae Kim, who is on Instagram under the nameCockpit buddyknown, visited my office at Dortmund Airport and asked your and my questions during an exciting live show on Instagram. Questions like "What can you do against fear of flying?" and "What is turbulence?“Were asked just as often as questions relating to the private life, training and everyday life of a pilot. Understandable - after all, hardly any other job is as interesting as that of an aircraft captain. Exactly for this reason you can do this exciting Interview with a pilot read here again in peace.

Interview with a pilot

About the profession of the pilot | About flying

A pilot talks about his job

In this section, pilot Suk-Jae Kim reveals everything you always wanted to know about the profession of pilot.

Suk-Jae, what are the requirements to become a pilot and how long does the training take?

The prerequisites are not as tough as many think. You must be at least 21 years old and have a medical examination certificate to obtain an MPL pilot license. Abitur or advanced technical college entrance qualification, technical knowledge and an understanding of mathematics and physics as well as good English are also prerequisites for the job.

Training to become a pilot is not cheap

Training to become a pilot is not cheap. If you have done this, you have to do a so-calledType rating to be trained on a specific type of aircraft, also called a pattern. That takes about half a year. All in all, pilot training takes around two to four 2 1/2 years. You have to really accelerate and learn a lot. But it's really fun!

Do pilots have a flat-rate salary?

Of course, this differs from airline to airline. With us it is the case that a certain number of flight hours are included in our contract. Anything beyond that is then overtime.

How often are pilots checked for their fitness to fly?

We have to go to medical reviewwhere different things are tested. Every few years there is then a major review including EEG, hearing test and other tests. From the age of 60, medical examinations are even scheduled every six months. Since the Germanwings incident, regular alcohol and drug tests have also been carried out.

How are the flight routes for pilots determined? Can you help decide where the next trip is going and how far in advance can you find out where you're going next?

The flight routes depend on the type of aircraft. I've only been flying the Boeing 747 for a year and a half, heading for many destinations in North America, Asia and Africa. The routes I fly change very often and every flight is a little different, So it never gets boring and I haven't seen everything yet. We get the plan for the next month on the 27th of each month. I can request a tour in advance and specify up to four preferred days on which I would like to have free. The remaining missions depend on where my airline sends me.

How many hours before take-off do pilots have to be at the airport?

At my airline, it is regulated in such a way that we can do long-haul flights about 1 1/2 hoursat least one hour before departure at the airport. We need this hour as preparation time, we have a lot to check, including the weather and the location at the arrival airport.

What's the most annoying thing about your job?

On the long haul, the most annoying thing is the Jet lag. The time difference is exhausting for the body. Of course, you don't have the problem on short journeys. As in any job, being a pilot has advantages and disadvantages.

Do pilots get discounts when they go anywhere privately?

As a member of an airline, you can fly very cheaply, even with airlines other than your own. The whole thing works on a stand-by basis. So you can only fly cheaply if there are free seats on the plane. We are only finally told at the gate whether we are allowed to fly or not. The Spontaneous is not for everyone, but I like it!

How much time do pilots have at the destination after the flight? Do you get a hotel there?

On the long haul it is usually the case that we have either 24 or 48 hours on site. On the short haul, you have a relatively short stay, so you can see little of the destination. I've been around Europe a lot, but haven't seen much of the cities. We get one from the airline I'm flying for Hotel room provided, with other, mostly small airlines, colleagues often have to look for a hotel themselves.

Can the job as a pilot be easily reconciled with private life?

How often you are at home or on the go differs from airline to airline. There are airlines where you are actually at home every evening. I'm with my current airline, for example 10-15 days a month away. You need a stable network and a functioning partnership that can withstand this. Most airlines also offer great ones Part-time models with which job and family can be better reconciled.

Why did you personally choose the pilot's job?

Aviation is a real one childhood-dream from me. I always knew I wanted to be in the air. The first application I failed, but then I had another chance to prove myself and was able to do it Dream of flying actually meet.

A pilot about turbulence, fear of flying & autopilots

Flying is a real fascination for some, a means to an end for others and even a real horror for others. Suk-Jae Kim clears you up Background and procedures when flying and gives tips on how to overcome fear of flying.

A question that many travelers ask themselves is how does turbulence actually arise?

In the end, turbulence is nothing more than Winch. The important thing: an airplane has never crashed due to turbulence.

No aircraft has crashed due to turbulence

Many do not even know that. If you just stay buckled up, nothing will happen to you. With the help of weather maps, we can even identify where turbulence could occur before the flight.Incidentally, I've done several podcast episodes about turbulence, where I go into more detail and clarify many questions.“

What does the autopilot do and what does the pilot do when flying?

An aircraft is always started manually by the pilot. The landing is similar, with a few exceptions. In fog, for example, the autopilots have to land. In the air, the pilots then decide whether they want to let the autopilot fly the aircraft or not.

Are flight attendants briefed for medical emergencies?

Yes, the colleagues are very well trained for emergencies, as they have to take a first aid course every year. We also have on board loads of equipment from defibrillators to various drugs. Speaking of which: If you are in poor health, I advise you not to fly.

I've heard that even with a simple cold, it is better not to fly?

If you have a cold, you should definitely go to the doctor before the flight and have them checked whether you have the Pressure equalization still manage. As a young pilot, I am once myself flown with a runny nose and my eardrum burst. The healing took forever. So if you're not feeling well, better leave it! In addition, alcohol and medication have a much stronger effect in the air.

Many people suffer from fear of flying. What can you do about the fear of flying?

I am a fear of flying coach myself and already have numerous Podcast episodesand published an ebook on the subject. Fear of flying is one in my eyes bad habit. Fear is real, but the likelihood of being killed in a plane crash is negligible. If you are afraid of flying, your head is simply wrongly programmed.

If you are afraid of flying, your head is simply programmed incorrectly

But you can do something about it. The first thing to do is become aware of the issue and see the real probabilities. Then the Reprogramming the head start. In my coaching sessions, I help people get rid of their fear of flying within just a few weeks. The mindset just plays a big role.

Why is the light in the cabin switched off and why do the shutters on the windows have to be open during take-off and landing?

In an emergency, an aircraft must be evacuated within 90 seconds. In order for this to work, the eyes have to be drawn to those outside the aircraft Lighting conditions get used to. That is why the lights are switched off during take-off and landing. The panels on the windows are also about that security. The flight attendants must always keep an eye on their surroundings and be able to assess possible dangers.

What happens if the landing gear does not extend?

An aircraft has at least two systems that allow the landing gear to be extended before landing. There is also a third Emergency system. The tires are stowed in such a way that you only have to pull a pin to pull the tires out. If that still doesn't work, you still could land on the belly of the airplane.

Are pilots allowed to sleep in the cockpit?

On long journeys there are three of us in the cockpit, then we take turns sleeping. We have a small room with a cot on which we can sleep. Although there are only two of us in the cockpit on short journeys, we are still allowed to do so take turns sleeping. This is called napping and has to take place while sitting. In addition, we are only allowed to do this when we are at travel altitude and there is not much going on.

Why do cell phones need to be switched to airplane mode?

It used to be a concern that cell phone signals could interfere with radio traffic. The concern is unfounded, there technically no danger originates from the device, but it is not permitted to use the mobile phone without flight mode. Many passengers do not want to be telephoned on board and besides, one is usually upstairs anyway no signal.

What is a black box?

A black box has two functions: On the one hand, it takes flight data and parameters such as Altitude and speed on one hard drive and on the other hand, the black box contains the cockpit voice recorderthat records every conversation in the cockpit. No matter what we say up front - it will be recorded.

And what do you talk about while flying?

The phase in which we fly below 10,000 feet is called sterile cockpit, in which we actually only talk about flying. During this phase, colleagues in the cabin are only allowed to call the cockpit in an emergency. At an altitude of over 10,000 feet, we sometimes talk about other things that always depend on which colleague you are sitting with in the cockpit.

What was your best experience on a flight?

One of the nicest experiences I had on a night flight from Vancouver. We had really nice ones there Northern lights, the whole sky was full. I was about to wake up the whole plane because it was just so magical.

Have you ever experienced a really embarrassing situation in the cockpit?

Yes, they already existed. On my first flight, I was allowed to radio for the first time and directly radioed into the passenger cabininstead of the pilots. It has happened to me the other way around. Then there was a lot of applause from the colleagues on the ground. That was of course a bit embarrassing.

... And what was the most dangerous situation that you have ever experienced?

I have not yet experienced really dangerous situations and I have really flown in wind and weather - for example during the Hurricane Kyrill. I've also flown with just one engine before because I had to set one engine to idle and nothing happened. An airplane can, too with only one engine continue flying without any problems. Even what is often referred to as an emergency landing in the media is one of the most trained situations for us pilots.

How do you like it when passengers clap?

So I'm happy about applause, even if I rarely get it these days, let alone hear it. The applause has to pretty loud so that the pilots in the cockpit can hear him. After all: the flight attendants let us know when the passengers clap after the flight.

Exciting insights into the everyday working life of a pilot

Thank you for giving us such exciting insights into your professional life, Suk-Jae! I wish you and youalways happy landings!

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The fascination of flying