Yesterday on November 16th I spent a day in Berlin. The flight from Frankfurt to Berlin was over on board the LH
A321 D-AIRF. The return flight was planned to depart on 17:25 LT
at Tegel airport. Unfortunately the Quick Check-In machine showed up an expected delay of one hour when I inserted my ticket. The pilots later told me they lost the green hydraulic system on rwy18 in Frankfurt, needed to shut down the engines (with their engine driven pumps for the corresponding system) and asked for a tow truck back to a parking position. An aircraft change was initiated and therefore only 60mis delay seemed like a wonder for me.
Everyone who ever was in Berlin knows that the waiting rooms a rather small at this airport. There was another flight coming from Frankfurt at 18:15. This A321 had a broken circuit breaker that needed to be replaced in Berlin. Therefore a total aircraft shutdown was necessary. No electricity means no light, no cleaning, no loading and no fueling. So this second flight also built up a delay of ca 30min. Meanwhile the third A300 arrived from Frankfurt. Lufthansa couldn’t find a gate position for this one due to the two already blocked gates. An apron position was assigned and three loads of passengers were crowding the waiting room. 2/3 of them had no seats…
The A321 with the broken CB
was the first to depart also it had been the second to arrive. My A300-600 D-AIAX was ready after refueling and a really quick servicing and catering. The crew was very polite and enabled me a jumpseat ride in the front office. We had a short way to the active and were asked for an immediate takeoff on 25L.
We had a nice race with an AirBerlin A320 landing on 25R. We won! We made a space shuttle like takeoff with 8 tons of fuel and a full cabin. Our angle of attack was shortly at +21°.
When we requestd a shurtcutt we were quickly transferred tio MUC
We were cleared to FL
280 from the Bavarians. They control the airspace up to Magdeburg! What a huge area! I took the opportunity to compare the AutoFlight system with that of the 737 which I’m trained onto right now. The pilots were very cool and explained a lot during the flight. They showed up quite some differences when inserting directs (shortcuts) in the FMC. The A300-600 automatically turns to the next waypoint while the A321 and A340 don’t. You would have to confirm that on the new Airbuses. That’s why my pilot once flew straight ahead instead to the next waypoint.
It is also possible to preselect a new altitude before reaching the top of descent. The new altitude will activate automatically then. If no lower altitude is inserted prior to reaching the TOD
the autothrust system will reduce power to fly the aircraft at minimum clean speed (flaps , slats and gears up). Another interesting thing was the battery indication on the overhead panel that illuminates brighter when a battery is being charged. Also the fault lights in the fuel pump pushbuttons come on if the tank is empty and go off after a while due to a time delay that avoids a for a long time dry running fuel pump. According to the captain the fault light shouldn’t come on because the time delay is just normal and doesn’t interest any pilot as long as it is working. But he knows that problem since he is flying this aircraft. For some 30 years he added laughing.
Food was served shortly before entering the airspace of Frankfurt. While the pilots were eating salmon with melon and cakes I was trying to get a few shots of the moon, Frankfurt and the instruments. Fly me to the moon...
Some knobs, button,s, levers, clocks, levers, bulbs...
After we were cleared to enter the ILS the PIC wanted to make a bet that a runway swap will be requested by ATC. He won again! At 1600 feet Frankfurt tower asked us to swap to 25R to give space to another aircraft elbowing from behind. Our empty A300 had 130 knots IAS on final! All others were faster. That’s why we had to make place for a company ship. It didn’t overtake. That’s not allowed in FRA
because the runways are too close to each other. But by swapping we could at least keep the distance for each runway on it’s own.
We managed to leave the runway via taxiway Golf which by far needed some aggressive breaking. It was great to see how the pilots managed to catch up some time. Never the less they went to bed one hour later that day after their return to Berlin. After the flight they told me that 5 of 11 A300s are for sell right now. One is already gone. It was sold to a company in England where it was scrapped and used as a spare spart spender. Cannibalizing an A300… Even Lufthansa is supposed to have bought spare parts from their own sold jet. And Lufthansa Italia is forming as well. They are looking for pilots at Air Berlin to fly Lufthansa Italia aircrafts. Cannot believe this. The pilots and their union couldn’t either.
Thanks to everyone who worked on our aircarfts this night. It's good to see that problems are fixed quick and by well trained mechanics and that pilots are still lucky if anyone cares about their jobs (that's rare today!).
The delay was quite huge but the cockpit ride was worth it!