lauantai 13. toukokuuta 2017

Final Entry

Here we are, this is the final post I'm going to write into this blog and it's already 2017..! :)

I'm writing this post sitting in a hotel room near my home base as I have standby rostered for today and that certainly led me into being bored enough to finally decide to write something here..

As you might have guessed, I have now managed to get what I so much wanted during the years in flight school: A job as an airline pilot. I am now a First Officer flying a Bombardier CRJ-900 regional jet mainly in the regions of Scandinavia and Northern Europe. I have been an employee of the company for over a year now, been flying for about 10 months and currently have about 500 hours on type and a total time of a bit more than 1000 hours.

In addition to working very hard during the whole flight school to an extent that I really can say that I'm proud of myself, I have also been very lucky. The times were just starting to get a bit better during the last phases of my pilot education, and this led to nice opportunities from the start. A flight instructor course started in autumn 2014 in the same flight school I was enrolled in, and I decided to attend the course since there were no obvious other opportunities available at the time.

The course went nicely and everyone of us got a freelance-instructor job from the same school. I started flight instructing on PPL-level and this also led to an opening in our school's parent company, were I started flying the King Air commercially every now and then, flying mainly cargo flights between Finland and Sweden, but also some charter and ambulance flights.

My first year after graduating went by like this, instructing at my previous school and flying the King Air maybe once or twice a month. I gathered about 100 hours of instructing and about 60 hours flying the King. Then I heard about a random email address regarding a possible new regional jet operation in Scandinavia through the grapevine of our company/school, sent an application and a CV with absolutely no connections or information, and here I am now. That's how strange and unpredictable life is :)


So, that's it! I hope you have enjoyed reading my blog and I hope that some of you find the information and stories here interesting and motivating if you are considering this profession or are already studying to become a pilot. I sure have enjoyed writing this from the beginning and as I have mentioned, I have written this as much to myself as for you all. This is a great way to look back on those few flight school years, that go by more quickly than what I'd never imagined!

I can truly recommend this job for all who are interested in aviation. For me, this job is exactly what I thought it is. If you expect the right things and and are truly interested in the core of the job itself and are prepared to work hard, this is a very nice and good way to make a living. There definitely are downsides, but for me the upsides make up for them.

Remember not to expect unrealistic things to come out of this. Sometimes it all gets very tiring. At times, you would very much rather stay at home than go flying and believe me, seeing the sunrise from above the clouds, how beautiful it may look, definitely isn't worth waking up at 4am. In my opinion, no job is better than being home with family, friends and personal hobbies. I've always known this and now that I do what I truly want to do for the rest of my life, it's all more clear.

I have the best job in the world :)

lauantai 16. toukokuuta 2015


So much has happened in between the King Air course last autumn and today.. The final phases of my flight school didn't really go as I though they would, and in a very, very good way I've been thinking all this time that my flight training ends in the MCC course after the King Air training and then I'd just suddenly be home sending job applications to airlines. This was certainly not the case, but I'll tell you more about it in my next post, that I plan to write after it has been a while after graduating as a suitable end for this blog :)

But for now, the MCC course:

The final part in a professional pilot program is the MCC course. Up until now, I've always flown with single-pilot procedures and every flight has been essentially a single-pilot flight whether the instructor has been on board or not. The student is the one controlling the airplane and handling all in-flight planning, communications and management. The instructor is there just to instruct.

As we know, all modern airline operations are being flown with a crew of at least two pilots, usually a Captain and a First Officer. This is why pilot training must include an MCC course, with MCC standing for Multi-Crew Cooperation. During this course, the goal is to learn the basics of the multi-crew procedures that are used in all airlines, with some variations of course.  The whole training is done in a simulator only and real flying with an aircraft is not included at all in the course.

Our simulator for the week

The most essential concept of multi-crew operation is that of the Pilot Flying, PF, and the Pilot Monitoring PM (or Pilot Not Flying, PNF). This means that there is always just one pilot who flies the airplane and is directly responsible of the lateral and longitudinal state of the aircraft at all times. This can be done from either seat, of course. The other pilot, PM, is a monitoring pilot whose primary duty is basically everything but flying the aircraft: Monitoring the flying pilot and helping and supporting him/her in all ways, filling the paperwork, handling the radio communications, operating certain systems on the PF's command (such as landing gear, flaps etc.), and many other duties.

Of course there is much more to MCC, but this is the core concept :)

EFIS displays with a PFD and an MFD

Our MCC course was held in Strausberg, Germany, which is located near Berlin. There is an airfield called EDAY, which seemed to be a popular sports airfield and flight school area. Our flight school there was Aerotours Flight Training, that also operated some sight-seeing flights. They had a King Air 200 GTX, FNPTII simulator that we used for the duration of the training.

The first day we had a theoretical ground course covering the basics of MCC and the flight school SOP's and other procedures. Most of it was about the same that we had already done in Finland, but the company anyway wanted to have their own version of the training anyway. This was okay, since it was good to learn the local differences in philosophy and of course the type-specific things and SOP's that Aerotours wanted us to use.

Some GPWS training near steep terrain

After the initial ground training, our days consisted of a four-hour session, with two hours as PF and two hours as PM. Usually the training started very early in the morning, so we had a lot of free time during the course and could visit Berlin for a few times and hang around at the airfield or in my room watching Netflix. Of course we did some studying too.. :)

The flying consisted of many different scenarios related to MCC, like diversions to alternate airports, decision-making due to technical issues, some TCAS procedures and of course a lot of engine failure procedures, as always is the case with multi-engine airplanes. I don't really have that much to say about the training, since it all started to be very familiar after the first couple of days.

30 degree bank

At times it even felt that the program was a bit too repetitive, and I would have liked to focus more on creative decision-making rather than the "clear as CAVOK" procedures like go-around's and engine failures during initial climb, or TCAS RA procedures, that have their challenges of course but that don't really require you to think. You only need to do what has to be done, and do it correctly.

In the final simulator flight we tried the Hudson River scenario just for fun and I actually managed to make a nice ditching landing into the river. My course mate was much more creative, and realizing that a King is much lighter and more nimble than an Airbus, he just turned around and landed back to the airport..!

Final sim session behind us!

With that, the MCC course was finished and this naturally meant that my whole flight training was done. After getting the necessary paperwork done, I was now a fully graduated commercial pilot!

torstai 6. marraskuuta 2014

Flying the King

I'll just say this right now for starters: The King Air phase has absolutely been the best time I've had during my flight school! Now this is the real deal :)

The Beechcraft King Air C90, this one with a lengthened nose

Departing from Helsinki-Vantaa
The first flights we flew from Helsinki-Vantaa and went to a few places inside Finland, but most of the whole course was flown from Eskilstuna, Sweden. It's a nice little place about a hundred kilometers inland from Stockholm and served well as a training airport because of the low volume of traffic and easy procedures. Basically we could just talk to the guy in the tower and tell what we wanted to do that day. No need for slots or PPR's or anything like that.

Eskilstuna Airport

I hope this has been done with some sort of irony at least :)

We flew the whole course along with two other students, so every third flight I was in the cockpit and the rest sitting as a passenger trying to rest a bit before it was my turn again. This was actually quite nice since one got a lot of time inside the airplane and also more than enough time to just sit and chat a little with the other one while one of us was flying. This also led to an amazing course-atmosphere among us.

Approaching Bromma once again

Stockholm-Bromma Airport. A Braathens Saab 2000 parked at the gate.

We slept in a godawful building at the airport during the course. A flight school called Lid-Air had been there previously, but we also found out that the place had clearly been some kind of hospital or dentist's place previously. At least it was very near the apron, so we didn't have to wake up too early to get ready before our instructor arrived each day.

The engine instruments and all kinds of switches might distract from it, but this is basically a Piper on steroids in terms of flying

Purple moment. I had fun in the cabin taking pictures through the double-layered polarized windows, which lead to nice color effects when misused :)

Flying itself was challenging, but fun. The King Air clearly handles very well, like a much smaller plane. It feels almost as light as a Piper. Of course all the additional systems and switches were a handful in the beginning but I soon learned to concentrate on the basic flying and not worry about all the instruments, knobs and switches around me. After all, the King has the same basic six instruments you'll find in every conventional airplane and that's where most of the focus should be on, anyway.

Morning in Eskilstuna

Another take through a polarized window.. :)

Handling the engines of course was something different than what I've been used to. A PT6 turbine works very differently than a piston engine and especially the start up procedures were quite a lot of work for me in the beginning with the almost complete lack of automation. Starters, generators, levers of all kinds and so on :)

Back at Helsinki-Vantaa after the skill test!

As always, everything ended in a skill test where we flew from Helsinki-Vantaa to Tampere and back in a wintery weather. Of course there was some minor things to improve on but all in all everything went well and I (and the other two) passed nicely with above average scores.

maanantai 6. lokakuuta 2014

King Air Ground Course

After the IR course, it's time for the King Air Type Rating course. A professional pilot training always includes a multi-engine training phase near the end of the program. The point of this training is to teach the student how to handle an operate a multi-engined aircraft under both VFR and IFR rules.

My desk on Day 1 of the type rating course

Especially the aim is to learn how a multi-engined aircraft reacts when flying it with the other engine inoperative, since this naturally causes an unbalanced situation and leads to many challenging aerodynamic effects that a pilot must learn to overcome. This is why we are going to fly a lot with the other engine either shut down (we are going to try an airborne restart once for real) or more often, just purposely put to idle thirst for practice purposes.

Checking the undersides of the main landing gear system

Usually a multi-engine rating is done with a multi-engine piston airplane such as a Seneca, the Baron or a Diamond DA42, but in SL Flight Training, the training is conducted with a Beechcraft King Air C90, which is an 8 to 10 seat multi-engined turboprop aircraft used usually in smaller business, cargo and ambulance operations worldwide. Our airplanes belong to the parent company of our flight school, that operates the previously mentioned type of flights with three of these King Airs. Thus, it is a great privilege to be able to do the training in this kind of aircraft, that is both a turbine and much more powerful and larger than any of the usual multi-engine pistons.

This leads to the fact that we won't, in fact, get a MEP-rating at all but rather a BE90/99/100/200 Type Rating.


The ground training for the King Air is now finished. It included classroom studies about the performance, mass & balance and technical specifications of the airplane as well as practical exercises and training in the real aircraft, such as walk around-training. We also got to look at the engines, the cockpit and all other details up close in the hangar. This all was very interesting and I guess many of us, myself included, were very much looking forward to flying this  'Final Boss' aircraft that seems so large compared to anything previous :)

The PT6 engine

Inside the hangar rehearsing some flow patterns and checklist items with a course mate

keskiviikko 17. syyskuuta 2014

IR Flight Training Complete

Yesterday I passed the IR Skill Test!

Time has gone by very quickly during the short flight training section of the IR(A) course and all in all it has been a great experience. Our main instructor was very relaxed and so we got the opportunity to turn even the more "boring" flight lessons, like maneuvering exercises into interesting ones by combining them with cross-country flying. Thus, almost all of the flights during the IR course were cross-country flights for us.

What was particularly interesting was a flight that we made to Bromma Airport in Stockholm. Flying abroad is a bit different than just staying inside Finland and provided for a nice extra challenge in terms of phraseology, flight planning, route planning etc. We managed fairly well in the end, I think.

Some pictures from along the way:

Fueling at Mariehamn

Taxiing to our stand at Stockholm-Bromma Airport

A whole set of traditional paper airway manuals on board!

Finally a better weather for true IMC training

It's very hard to put this into words what I mean, but let me try. At some point during the airline pilot training there comes a transition (or at least should come) that you start to think less about yourself as a student and become more focused on pre-developing a suitable version of yourself for the professional career ahead.

For me, this happened bit-by-bit along the whole school time but the most major turning point for me was the IR course. Before this course, flying has been more or less the same that I've gotten used to during my years of sports flying. Of course, the planning has become much more comprehensive and professional, as have the OFP's and the whole SOP culture that we have used in flying. Still, we have flown VFR flights with small single-engine planes, having a chart, a compass and a clock on board.

Instrument flying training is something different. You step outside of that familiar world of VFR, and for me at the same time came a realization that can only be summarized as "this is it". This is more or less what flying will be from now on. It won't just exponentially get more amazing, and I mean this only in a good way. You start to see the first glimpses of what your actual everyday job is going to be in the future, and that's a nice feeling.

sunnuntai 7. syyskuuta 2014

The final Cessna flight

Today I finally managed to fly my last Cessna flight. As I've mentioned, we need to gain 200 hours before the King Air phase and 50 hours cross-country before the IFR evaluation flight. I've already gained these hours from flights outside school but still had about 45 minutes of prepaid Cessna-hours to fly. So today I took a friend with me and we went for a short trip to watch some night-time scenery over Helsinki. I decided I wanted to fly this flight in the night since it's so much more fun and gives a certain different feeling to the flight :)

Helsinki by Night

OH-AWB in the dark..

keskiviikko 3. syyskuuta 2014

My very first IFR-flight!

Today I flew for the first time under IFR and it was a great experience!

The schedule today was to fly from Malmi to Tampere and then stay airborne for a while and do some ILS approaches at Tampere. After that it would be my flight-partners turn to fly a 2-hour local exercise. Then I'd fly a 1-hour basic instrument flight and finally my schoolmate would fly us back to Malmi.

I arrived to Malmi at 7 am and was lucky to get everything ready when at 9 am our instructor arrived. IFR flight planning is a bit different and still doesn't go as smoothly as it will hopefully go in the future, when I've done it more. There's a bit more things to consider than in VFR, like the weather minimums, alternate aerodrome planning and more thorough fuel calculations. However, some things are more simple, like route planning and plotting headings and tracks. You don't really need to know what random neverheard-village is below you :)

We got about ten seconds of IMC-time furing the flight..

We took off from Malmi and got a clearance to initially maintain runway heading (180) and climb to 3000 feet, which after Helsinki Radar vectored us straight over Helsinki-Vantaa to our planned route (RNAV Route P854) and cleared us to FL080. To my slight disappointment, the weather was perfect and I only got to go through a very thin layer of clouds. For the first time in my aviation career, I hoped that the weather would be worse.. There was some broken clouds at 600 feet to be expected at Tampere but of course it was just the remainders of morning fog and disappeared quite fast leaving behind a dull CAVOK message from all nearby weather stations.

Backseat luxury

I realized that it is actually somewhat easier to fly under IFR than under VFR. Not considering all the problems arising from being in actual IMC with some troubles and difficulties, in normal operations it truly is much easier to fly IFR than VFR. You get much better service, someone always tells you exactly what to do, who to contact, what altitude to maintain and what heading to fly, and if not, you just follow the magenta line in the GPS and don't really have to worry about anything. At least until the approach segment starts..

ILS to EFHK RWY 15 whichafter VFR to Malmi

The flight went quite smoothly and so did the approaches at Tampere. We were under radar vectors for the whole time and the workload was low so we even had time to discuss different subjects with the instructor  and my flight-partner. Our instructor is what I consider one of the best in our school since he is a master in creating a relaxed and happy atmosphere and this gives you maximum performance during flight.

All in all, the day was awesome and I very much look forward to flying more IFR-flights!