Hi Guys,

I was very disappointing when browsing Reddit earlier as I came across an IAMA from someone claiming to be a Commercial Pilot. It was full of downright lies and bullshit. He was quickly shot down by the Pilot community on reddit and he deleted his post but the IAMA is still up.

It inspired me to do an IAMA of my own so you guys on here could be given proper answers rather than be lied to by a stupid kid.

My Proof: My Commercial Pilot license, along with the A320 type rating endorsement.

http://i.imgur.com/lWVNjrl.jpg

http://i.imgur.com/ptk7Vxp.jpg

Comments: 3756 • Responses: 76  • Date: 

Pig_Becker2965 karma

Have you joined the mile high club?

AirbusA320Pilot4751 karma

Ayyyyy lmao

gogo4glue2397 karma

Do you like your job?

AirbusA320Pilot6833 karma

Whenever we break out through the cloud ceiling and climb away, or conversely when we're in the descent and reach the layer and cloud surf for a bit before dropping through...I can't help but grin. Surfing those clouds at 300 knots is so cool.

OwenTheTyley2192 karma

Have you ever seen anything strange or unusual while flying at altitude?

AirbusA320Pilot5959 karma

Flying over Portugal at night. Hundreds of flashing white lights, spanning miles and miles. It was like being in a stadium with thousands of camera flashes going off. I was completely transfixed, the other guy was completely not bothered.

Turns out Portugal has lots of wind turbines, the tops of which have a flashing white light on them.

Jeager762144 karma

Cheers. My dad was a captain on the A320 back in the day for Northwest. How did you get into flying? Former military or civilian trained?

AirbusA320Pilot2090 karma

Civilian.

I hope he enjoys his retirement!

seamstress801618 karma

The worst flight you've ever flown?

AirbusA320Pilot1523 karma

In terms of what, weather, my performance, delays, failures?

seamstress801444 karma

The one that scores highest in all of the above. The one that made you think "I want to go home".

AirbusA320Pilot1729 karma

The downdraught event in this post.

https://www.reddit.com/r/IAmA/comments/6chejy/i_am_an_airline_pilot_flying_the_a320_across/dhundo3/

At the time I was thinking how to safely manage and get out of it.

It was once I parked up on the ground and thought back to it that I thought "shit that could have been really bad."

MightyBoat58 karma

That must really scary. What do you do in a situation like that? Is it a case of pointing the nose down and gaining speed to generate lift or is there more to it?

AirbusA320Pilot136 karma

It was a case of just keep going until I got past the ridgeline in particular that was generating lots of mechanical turbulence and rotor zones.

Probably lost about 500ft over about two minutes then I got out of it and could climb again.

compelx1409 karma

Will there ever be a point in time where the braking right after touchdown doesn't scare the hell out of me?

AirbusA320Pilot1978 karma

I'd recommend watching some cockpit landing footage on youtube so you can get a look at what's going on during the landing roll, it might help with any concerns you have.

PM_ur_Rump151 karma

Like that one where the exaggerated yoke movements at slow speed make the pilot look like he is calmly wrestling a cobra on PCP? Yeah, that'll help.

AirbusA320Pilot226 karma

But he was calm though

http://imgur.com/BUVNdb3

MegaMagikarp1233 karma

Regarding post 9/11 security on flights, do you and your co-pilot feel 100% safe when flying?

AirbusA320Pilot4505 karma

No one is getting through that door.

In terms of airport security...the UK is probably a world leader. The Department for Transport take these things incredibly deadly seriously.

Could they do more without restricting even more of our liberties? I don't know.

It does make me laugh though that I'M FLYING THE AIRCRAFT and have access to the crash axe etc...but I can't be trusted to bring a Yoghurt through security for breakfast.

MercenaryOfTroy1216 karma

Do you think pilot should be able to show kids the inside of the cockpit? Because that is my all time great memory of flying and wish they would bring it back.

AirbusA320Pilot1772 karma

Unfortunately we can't do it in the cruise anymore.

I love doing it on the ground.

If we're delayed we like getting all the kids up in a row to come talk to us, their parents love it too as it keeps they busy.

Deulski1114 karma

What percentage of the time is the plane on autopilot? Is it different for trans-oceanic flights?

AirbusA320Pilot2273 karma

Autopilot is a bad name for it.

What autopilot does it more like cruise control in a car.

It doesn't make decisions. It's not sentient. We give it information and it does what it's told.

Fly this heading, climbing at this rate in feet per minute, to this altitude, at this speed. Feed that information in, and then we monitor it to make sure it is doing what it is told. It doesn't always.

Unless they are complicated and thus busy and thus it would be a dick move by putting more pressure on the other Pilot who is monitoring me, I like to hand fly the departures and arrivals so for me, maybe from 5000ft at departure - 3000ft at the other end.

No.

legorig923 karma

What do you do when you're cruising on a longer flight?

Are you allowed to listen to music when the plane's on autopilot?

AirbusA320Pilot1428 karma

Talk to the other Pilot. Some guys have a newspaper.

No.

Mr-Thirty913 karma

How did you get into flying commercially? Did you start in military or privately? And if the latter, how much does that cost? Thank you!

AirbusA320Pilot2238 karma

Privately.

A home remortgage and a significant percentage of my hairline.

elfio894 karma

What's the worst technical detail of the A320 in your opinion? What would you improve in that plane?

AirbusA320Pilot1735 karma

It uses bleed air, or air drawn from the engines, for air conditioning/pressurisation.

I occasionally get a whiff of JET A1 fuel when we're starting the engines.

I'd prefer an electric air bleed system like the 787 has.

KnXtzZ847 karma

What is your most awkward experience while flying?

AirbusA320Pilot3689 karma

Back in basic training I had an instructor who would eat apples with his headset still on, the microphone of which was 'fully manually squelched' i.e. it was hot-miced, so I heard everything.

Trying to fly the aircraft properly while listening to what sounded like Orcs feasting on the flesh of the innocent took a lot of self discipline.

twistedtactics98 karma

Was the instructor intentionally eating an apple in order to create a tense atmosphere as part of your training? Or did he just happen to have an apple with him that day?

AirbusA320Pilot221 karma

Nah he was just an oddball.

Moominballs717 karma

Why are you always asking me to "confirm RADAR-contact/identified" when checking in if I only answer with "BAW-XXX, Good morning"?

I ask because your initial "Identified/RADAR-contact" is valid, and transferred across ATC-units, until someone explicitly states "Identification/radar lost/terminated"... :-).

Cheers
ATC-DUDE.

AirbusA320Pilot746 karma

when checking in if I only answer with "BAW-XXX, Good morning"?

Not me.

Sounds like Nigel being awkward.

Thanks for the all the direct Tos and CPDLC instructions. We love it.

coombeseh48 karma

You planning on doing a display flight in your 320 any time soon?! Think you mean CAP413, I should know, I just read it for lack of anything better to do in the cruise...

Would definitely second the thanks for ATC, although I'd love CPDLC and I can't imagine my fleet's going to get it any time soon!

AirbusA320Pilot56 karma

That's the bugger.

Remember 698 from ATPLs? Urgh.

Hopefully one day they will upgrade the dash to have working oleo struts!

LookoutBel0w644 karma

Hey! Thanks for doing this. I'm an instrument pilot myself working on a commercial license. Sometimes after a long day of training I feel like I never want to get in a plane again. What did you do throughout training to keep pushing yourself through?

Join us over at /r/flying if you haven't already.

AirbusA320Pilot776 karma

I know the feeling chief.

I would be so down when I messed a lesson up. Pilots are predominately Type A personalities (So I'm told!) and we are ambitious, time pressured, tenancy for high blood pressure. We don't like messing stuff up. So when we inevitably do it sucks and we get annoyed with ourselves and hate flying.

There was a great bit of advice from PM/EMPANNAGE a few years ago on /r/flying to a student about hating flying and planes when you had a bad day. It happens to everyone.

Don't compare yourself to other people. We're all learning.

You just have to keep going. When the examiner said I'd passed the CPL the first thing I said to him was "Really?! Are you serious!!?" without any kind of mental filter being able to stop me. The relief is amazing.

And it's a feeling you'll be enjoying really soon. Just keep going and give that little bit more.

lmnshtm548 karma

Is it true that the pilot and the copilot eat different meals before their flight? And is their something you will not eat because it gives you the swoons?

AirbusA320Pilot847 karma

Can't eat the same meal for food poisoning mitigation.

Me personally? I can't stand deep fried batter, like you'd get on fish in a fish and chip shop in the UK. It gives me a headache.

molko123520 karma

What has been your scariest experience?

AirbusA320Pilot898 karma

Getting caught in a downdraught on the downwind side of a Mountain in a light aircraft while in basic training. Full power, pitched up 10 degrees and still sinking. Not nice!

Learnt a good lesson that day about route planning and weather hazard avoidance, specifically this -

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Foehn_wind

TeamRedRocket469 karma

Are you flying right now? And if so, how's the wifi?

AirbusA320Pilot1168 karma

No. My airline doesn't have it :(

A lot of people don't realise that the antennae and stuff that have to be installed on the fuselage to accommodate passenger wifi and SATCOM phone calls and stuff have an aerodynamic drag penalty. Airliners with on-board wifi burn more fuel. Drag penalty plus the weight of the equipment installed inside the aircraft.

The smallest thing can cause a drag increase. We have a document called a CDL or configuration deviation list that specifies the drag and fuel penalty that we have to take into account should there be small components like rubber seals and stuff that are damaged or missing off the aircraft surface. It's surprising how much of an effect a small component actually has.

tashurthan469 karma

Have you ever encountered any inexplicable unidentified flying objects?

AirbusA320Pilot582 karma

Afraid not sorry.

poopellar370 karma

How much sex is involved in your profession?

AirbusA320Pilot1686 karma

Allegedly a lot.

Aviation is a tiny industry and everyone knows each other. I have to be careful with my magnum dong.

Spedz24360 karma

Is it at all possible to come up and chill with the pilots mid flight anymore? If so, what's the best way to do it?

AirbusA320Pilot413 karma

Unfortunately not.

goodmorningfuture255 karma

How often does FiFi do something completely unexpected - and "rebooting" the computer is the only way to fix it?

AirbusA320Pilot652 karma

The A320 is 30 years old. Hundreds of millions of flight hours. God knows how many thousands of pages of computer/electronics certification requirements it had to meet when it was designed.

The computers behind the scenes sometimes do play up and crap out. Not all the time. Not exceedingly rarely. I'll probably see something small and insignificant crap out in 1 in 30 flights?

Sometimes it fixes itself and the caution message disappears after a few seconds. Sometimes it requires us to do the full failure management procedure and get the QRH (quick reference handbook) out to see which circuit breaker needs to be reset. Other times it's a case of spending hours in the cruise looking in the complicated tech manuals for system architecture drawings and descriptions and trying to figure out what the hell a particular obscure caution message actually means.

But the crucial thing is, there are back up systems and computers. There's no single point of failure. It is so so safe and so well designed.

Who_is_I_today164 karma

I assume it's likely a requirement to have paper manuals on board because paper doesn't fail but do they provide electronic manuals loaded on a tablet so you can search for errors / messages quicker and easier? It seems silly to be flipping through pages looking for something rather than typing it into a search box.

AirbusA320Pilot266 karma

Yeah it's electronic. Search function works really well, I was impressed with it.

Moominballs7 karma

I've flown on the jump-seat a lot, and one time the autopilot-thingy stopped working (737). The guy in the right seat was NOT AMUSED as he had to hand-fly the full departure and arrival (he navigated after the horisontal/vertical lines in the artificial horizon-screen(?).... Worked enroute though, so it wasn't more than 15-20 minutes of extra work :-)

AirbusA320Pilot11 karma

Sounds like he was following the flight directors. Not exactly difficult. If he was having to fly raw data with radials and DME distances from navigation beacons and stuff then yeah fair enough, that's very hard work when you're flying as fast an an airliner.

AirbusA320Pilot229 karma

I was very disappointing

Dumbass.

*I was very disappointed!

madcaplarks220 karma

At what level of turbulence is a little nervousness justified?

I've flown a lot, but since a couple of particularly bumpy flights I've found myself pumping with adrenaline and paying attention to every tiny bump and noise.

I stare at the altitude display and direction and monitor every adjustment, if the pilot suddenly raises or lowers the altitude I start to think something must be bad enough to warrant it. I know I'm being a dumb dumb, but it doesn't stop my heart racing and the feelings of dread.

So, next time when I feel the bumps, hear the seatbelt sign bing, notice the changes of course or altitude changes, what do I need to know?

AirbusA320Pilot103 karma

/u/lazlokovax said what I was going to.

WolfmanJaaack202 karma

What is your favourite plane to fly?

AirbusA320Pilot518 karma

Of the ones I've flown, the A320. I can fly 6 miles above the surface of the Earth at 600mph. Sick.

I'd love to fly a Tornado or Typhoon though.

miss_meep51 karma

What sort of additional training would you have to do (if any) to fly newer gen aircraft like the A350 for example?

AirbusA320Pilot129 karma

Airbus have this design philosophy where the cockpit and systems design is very similar across the fleet. No new type rating for every new model.

It would take about three weeks at most for me to get typed on the A350.

RehabilitatedLurker200 karma

What's your take on the United Airline situation? I have heard media coverage and everyone with a Facebook account, but I've not heard directly from a pilot. Why does stuff like that happen?

AirbusA320Pilot851 karma

Airlines overbook seats because it's rare for everyone who's booked a ticket to actually show up.

We have to a procedure to recalculate the mass and balance and take off performance of the aircraft when the dispatcher gives us the final loadsheet after the gate closes...because pretty much every flight people don't turn up for whatever reason.

So airlines make more money by overbooking, banking on the statistical probabilities that they'll get away with it.

What happened to Dr Dao was extremely unacceptable. But you must understand that tickets and stuff are issues that have very little to do with the Pilots. On the ground it is the dispatcher and gate agent who run all these things. I read some criticism of the Captain of that flight and I couldn't understand it. Were people expecting him to go back and be a conflict resolution advisor? He would have been sat in the cockpit calculating take off performance and running through various procedures. It's not like he was sat watching down the aisle with Popcorn.

jimthesoundman191 karma

Did you see the 2012 movie "Flight"? Any grain of truth in that movie?

AirbusA320Pilot426 karma

It made me laugh, particularly the dramatic sound effect of the engines spooling up when it nose dived towards the ground...after we see a shot of Denzel pulling the thrust levers to idle.

The drugs thing. No fucking way.

Noclue23188 karma

Is being a pilot and knowing how things actually work make it frustrating to watch movies or shows that involve unrealistic plane scenes? For example what did you think of the movie flight with Denzel Washington? Edit: a word

AirbusA320Pilot223 karma

Haha God yes.

It made me laugh.

logic_bear185 karma

Do you fly a specific plane? Or just what happens to be free when you get to work? if specific, whats the flight number, id like to track you on flight tracker :D

AirbusA320Pilot402 karma

Airlines like mine that have large fleets tailor certain aircraft, with certain seating configurations and equipment, to certain routes. It's all quite intricate and clever.

My base has about 30 A320s based here. The one I get allocated to for the day is random but sometimes dependent on the route. I don't know for sure but the aircraft are allocated weeks in advance, it's all done by the operations/rostering department. Really complicated. The software they use to manage it all is really niche and probably cost millions.

For example we fly to Charles De Gaulle and are always busy on that route so it's always an A320 with a denser seating configuration (i.e. more seats)

I'd rather not disclose my Airline sorry :( I'm sure they'd feel the same way haha.

notapantsday95 karma

The one I get allocated to for the day is random but sometimes dependent on the route.

But do you always make it back home in the evening or could you find out in the morning that you'll be spending the night in Paris, Frankfurt or Milan?

AirbusA320Pilot183 karma

I know what I'm doing weeks in advance when the roster for the next month is published. There are/should be no on the day surprises.

emelyknows184 karma

My dad wants to know: what happens to compass on the plane when you fly over Ecuador?

Silly question. I know.

AirbusA320Pilot241 karma

We don't use compasses.

Our navigation equipment uses really complicated gyroscopes that have frigging lasers in them (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ring_laser_gyroscope)

to detect and display pitch/roll/attitude/heading.

The aircraft corrects for magnetic variation and consequently nothing unusual happens.

The A320 does have an old school compass in it though as a last resort...good question.

The errors compasses are subject to would reverse as they act in the opposite direction in the southern hemisphere.

https://www.decodedscience.org/aircraft-acceleration-errors-the-magnetic-compass/4696

miltonjackson183 karma

I would like to know the current rules, after the Germanwings Flight 9525 Suicide.

Does your Airline enforce the 2 people cockpit rule? Because i read that "Lufthansa" wont enforce it anymore.

AirbusA320Pilot285 karma

Yes.

The thing about the 2 person cockpit rule is you now have a scenario where somebody who may have just recently passed cabin crew training is now present in the flight deck with 1 Pilot.

Becoming an airline Pilot takes years.

Becoming a member of the cabin crew, and with all due respect because they work really hard and are there for your safety, they are really well trained and take it incredibly seriously, takes a few months.

Is this safer than leaving the lone Pilot?

That's the position of some of my colleagues. Are we introducing a less safe environment by allowing the cabin crew member onto the flight deck with one Pilot?

RainbowSixSweege175 karma

If you were to introduce one thing to make your job easier, what would it be?

AirbusA320Pilot355 karma

That's a good question.

I'm not really sure to be honest.

A 3G connection so we can get weather and loadsheets and stuff on our tablet devices would be great.

wahyu915165 karma

What's the best airline food you've eaten so far and what's the worst?

AirbusA320Pilot413 karma

Emirates in economy. Morrocan Tagine chicken or something. Holy shit was delicious.

I had an egg salad sandwich once that I suspect dissolved most of my tastebuds. It was like eating vinegar from Brian Blessed's fupa.

ilogik156 karma

I'm flying for the first time in my life on Wednesday in an A320.

I'm slightly nervous about it... Should I be? :)

AirbusA320Pilot319 karma

Absolutely not.

It's incredibly reliable. Over engineered. Safe.

jvjordanvapes131 karma

What made you want to be a pilot?

AirbusA320Pilot337 karma

My local airport when I was a kid had a car park right by the boundary fence, right next to the runway threshold. I used to go and watch airliners land when I was about 4. I guess it just stuck with me, I've always wanted to do it.

ash549k123 karma

During training, how did you feel about flying a plane for the first time ? And what's the hardest thing about flying ?

AirbusA320Pilot279 karma

Flying a light aircraft for the first time?

Exhilarated. Vindicated after spending so long studying and wanting to do it.

There are a lot of unusual pressures and stressors being an Airline Pilot. Fatigue. Having the threat of losing your medical hanging over you until you get closer to the end of your working life and you are financially secure.

Flying in Europe can be difficult. Somewhere very busy like Charles De Gaulle. Mixture of French and English on the radio is terrible for situational awareness. They bring you in high and fast above what your ideal descent profile would actually be. On a bad day it takes a fair amount of mental exertion to stay in the loop. And we have always got to stay in the loop.

Don't get me wrong, it's not dangerous or anything. But on a busy day with poor weather it can be a good mental work out.

CutthroatCat118 karma

If you weren't a pilot, what would you want to be doing with your life?

AirbusA320Pilot187 karma

Emergency medicine.

Hammer149116 karma

Ok my question - Is it possible for a Commercial Pilot to forget to extend flaps before takeoff? For some reason I'm always worried someone will forget and I'll die! Can someone explain if this is possible ? Warning lights or audible reminder etc?

AirbusA320Pilot297 karma

No.

Flaps are in the checklists several times.

The A320 has a take off configuration warning that is loud and angry as fuck if the flaps and slats aren't set when take off thrust is applied.

mrs_snrub94 karma

What is your 'at home schedule ' like? Do you feel like it's easy to get back into a sense of routine or are you back in the air too quickly to even bother worrying about it? I imagine long haul pilots just sleep for days when the get home.

AirbusA320Pilot301 karma

I'm short haul.

I might do 4 days on, 3 days off.

I'm young and don't have kids yet so I lounge about all day watching Silicon Valley.

It suits me. I'd hate a rigid 9 to 5.

Raptordt199189 karma

As a Gate Agent for multiple european airlines here in the US, I have 2 questions.

1) In Europe, are you allowed to board passengers while fuelers are hooked up or no? Each captain i get give me different answers on the legality of it and we differ to them.

2) What was your worst experience with a Pax gate crew?

AirbusA320Pilot81 karma

Yes.

With very strict procedures. Aircraft doors open. Line of sight with the refueller. Ryanair, I think, make the F/O stand by the nose gear wheel well connected to the interphone with the ground handlers heatset to monitor the fuelling directly.

Not had much go wrong yet. Fingers crossed.

Drkxero1378 karma

Are you the King of the Netherlands?

AirbusA320Pilot124 karma

Don't tell anyone.

MatyasStrelec57 karma

Do people flying with you clap when landed? If so, can you hear it in the cabin?

AirbusA320Pilot115 karma

I can't hear stuff from the cabin due to the thick door/headset.

No idea!

achami0652 karma

Do you eat airline food?

AirbusA320Pilot126 karma

Yes.

It's not that bad. I have my favourites. Moussaka awwww yisssss.

ElColombo47 karma

What are some memorable times where your experience as a pilot have come in handy outside a flying environment?

AirbusA320Pilot230 karma

Tinder haha.

philzillv28 karma

Hey, how old is your A320? I build galleys for these things, wondering if some part of your plane isn't made by me? I wouldn't fly in that shit hahah

AirbusA320Pilot43 karma

Earliest MSN is around the year 2002 I think. Newborns compared to some airlines.

FresnoBob_900013 karma

What's your feelings and thoughts about MH17?

AirbusA320Pilot33 karma

I don't know what happened.

We never will until they find it and the report is finalised.

I can't 'monday morning quarterback' and pass comment on things I don't know...because I wasn't there. I wish the press would follow the same thought process instead of character assassinating the Captain about a week after it crashed. We have no idea what happened.

Slapstick5512 karma

What is something about pilots that most people think wrongly about?

AirbusA320Pilot25 karma

The aircraft flies itself. Nah.

This bizarre notion that we're all alcoholics. Nah.

My favourite one is cartoons and movies that depict us sitting in the cockpit flying the aircraft still wearing the jacket, with our headsets perched above our uniform hats - https://youtu.be/1sfMTdJCZW0?t=3

veertamizhan2 karma

how often do you train in the simulator,

is it fun sleeping in new hotel rooms?

how much do you make...

AirbusA320Pilot5 karma

We're back in the sim a few times a year for license renewal.

I quite like it. Not as much as the suites British Airways Captains would get to themselves back in the day though....

A first year captain at my airline could be on over £100,000 gross.

A training captain at my airline could be on £160,000 gross.

It's not so good at First Officer level but it steps up every year.

OptimisticTurtle2 karma

The A321 is much better for passengers. Is there much difference for the pilots?

AirbusA320Pilot3 karma

Bigger. Heavier. More inertia. Tailstrike threat as it is basically a flying pencil.

Wh0rse1 karma

Do you use trim on approach?

AirbusA320Pilot6 karma

Pitch control on the A320 is done via load factor demand, it trims the THS itself when flying in normal law.

KE551 karma

We hear about the extensive use of simulators in pilot training. Just how good are modern simulators? Do they really feel like "the real thing"?

AirbusA320Pilot2 karma

They aren't very good on the ground. Taxxing in a sim makes everyone inside mega nauseous.

The flight dynamics are pretty good.

You really feel it if you bang it in on the landing in the sim. As in my arse actually hurts.

all4reddit1 karma

How do you rate Sully Sullenberger's 'Miracle on the Hudson'?

AirbusA320Pilot4 karma

Not bad.

The NTSB aren't that evil in reality. Accident investigations are deliberately designed to find blame or a fall guy.

They got a few technical details wrong but on the whole the only aviation movie I've ever seen with decent accuracy. I love travel montages in movies when the character takes off in a twin engine 737 or something and the next shot is of a landing quad engine 747, or if they're doing an intra-USA domestic flight and the aircraft footage the editor has decided to use is of an Air France A380 or something. Fucking come on.

SchwiftyEllie1 karma

How often do you fly? Do you ever have long stops in other countries, if so, which was your favourite country to visit?

AirbusA320Pilot2 karma

Maybe 15-20 days a month.

I'm short haul flying across Europe, we don't do many layovers unfortunately.

I'd love to stop over in Switzerland though. I like the whole alpine Village lit up at night with a cup of hot chocolate thing.

MagicSPA1 karma

Could someone please direct me towards the fake pilot thread? Sounds like interesting reading.

AirbusA320Pilot9 karma

He is a real Pilot but is an instructor flying light aircraft at a training school, he was trying to pass himself off as an Airline Pilot and said some stupid insulting things about us all being alcoholics. Silly overexcited kid.