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zolagola
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Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Sun Jun 17, 2018 9:41 pm

This is the second of three posts covering our trip to Arizona:

After a pleasant welcome to Phoenix (see previous trip report), the next highlight did await us the following morning when we drove 30mins west from Phoenix to GYR where this sign greeted us:

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Lufthansa had started training pilots in 1955 and quickly established links to US operators, linking with Pacific Southwest Airlines San Diego in 1967. In 1970 operations moved to Goodyear, AZ and since then all Lufthansa pilots came to Arizona for approx. 4-6 months during their training. In 1992 Lufthansa became the sole owner and founded ATCA (Aviation Training Center Arizona), the name by which most still refer to the facilities at Goodyear despite it´s called Lufthansa Aviation Training USA nowadays.

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Two of the first Lufthansa cadets at Goodyear back in the 1970s were our hosts today: Jürgen Raps, former LH chief pilot who was also responsible for the A380 introduction to service at the German airline, and Matthias Kippenberg, also a Lufthansa veteran pilot and the long-time head of the Goodyear flight school.

We sat down in one of the class rooms where on weekdays around two dozens students were receiving their lectures and both gentlemen gave very interesting and entertaining accounts of the history of the flight school, training curricula and personal stories.

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One of the benefits of GYR, apart from the weather conditions which allow year-round-flying classes, is that the flight school owns a deserted airfield in the vicinity where cadets can practise approaches and touch-and-gos

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Then it was time to head to the apron where we could inspect the training aircraft – most of them were parked under sun shades which made exploring them quite pleasant given noon was approaching

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We took a very close look at the brand new Cirrus SR20 which had only recently been added to the fleet. This one even had the regular (I hate to call it ‘old) Lufthansa livery

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Two large screens dominate the cockpit, the huge glass windows offer great exterior views

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LHAT has ordered 25 Cirrus, the first 6 were delivered in November 2017.

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Since LHAT offers flight training to a number of Lufthansa Group airlines (as well as other airlines and the German Air Force), the Cirrus aircraft were painted in various liveries such as this Eurowings theme

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The majority of the cadets are expected to work for Eurowings after completing their training. Whilst initially lower paid, the airline is trying to convince pilots by offering a quicker promotion to Captain (after as early as 5 years whereby within Lufthansa one has to wait approx. 20 years currently)

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SR20 wing close-up

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Plenty of other SR20 liveries

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Austrian currently accounts for the majority of the LHAT students, more than 50% of the 168 students (of which only 6% are female) were sent in by the Austrian carrier

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ANA also has been a long term partner and has sent two dozen students to Goodyear

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At the very end of the apron (intentionally placed there?) we found the only SR20 in the new Lufthansa livery (i.e. without the yellow crane logo)

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The blue used here by Cirrus does not fully match the official new Lufthansa Blue – simply because Cirrus did not have a deep blue, so they used the darkest blue available

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Some SR20, like this one with Swiss livery, were also parked on the open apron

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The other side of GYR is being used as aircraft boneyard. Taking decent pictures during the middle of the day wasn´t possible due to the heat haze

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Most of the aircraft are dismantled but some, like this 1999 built former Alaska B737-400 which taxied to the runway during our visit, are converted into freighters

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Others were less lucky

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LHAT also owns 25 Beechcraft F-33 which are being replaced by the SR20 now

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Despite being used as training aircraft (where they would suffer more wear than a regular plane), the F-33 are thoroughly maintained and will be sold off via auctions

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Today’s students obtain a MPL (Multi-Crew Pilot Licence) whereas in the past an ATPL was waiting at the end of the training. The difference is not only in cost (MPL is supposed to offer cheaper training) but also flight time

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One of the main benefits of GYR are the onsite facilities – more than 200 students can live right next to the airfield which removes the need for lengthy transfers and allows optimal scheduling of courses and flights. A number of Lufthansa pilots remember the time in Arizona as one of the best of their whole training

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At the end of our tour we were shown the three on-site simulators where today’s students spend about 30h (this being one of the aspects why flying times during the training have come down over the years – from ~300h for an ATPL in the 1970s to ~115h for a MPL in 2006)

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After this great tour we headed east again as, after a quick lunch, the next highlight did await us: a tour of Phoenix Sky Harbor airport.

We started the tour at the 44th street SkyTrain station and boarded a train that would quickly take us to the terminals. Travel is free and offers a convenient way to get to the terminals or for arriving passengers to get to the cell phone lot on 44th street to be picked up there. The SkyTrain opened in 2013 and one of its striking features is this 30m tall bridge over taxiway Romeo – it´s the only bridge in the world to cross an active taxiway and its height would allow even an A380 pass under it without issues

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From the Bombardier trains (the same that operate at DFW and LHR T5) one has nice views of the apron

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Quite some building work takes place at PHX at the moment with a major remodelling/expansion of the 1979 opened Terminal 3 due to be completed in 2020 (after which Terminal 2 is expected to close)

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After a journey of just 8 minutes, we exited at Terminal 3

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The ATC tower opening in 2007. By 2022 the SkyTrain will run to the Rental Car Center which will make arriving at/departing from PHX even more convenient

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Our tour took us to the Aircraft Rescue and Fire Fighting #19 team at PHX

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Located right next to Terminal 3 and close to runway 07L/25R, this is one of two fire stations within the airport grounds (the other one being in the north near runway 08/26)

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A team of 17 first responders work here in a 24h shift before having 48h off

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In line with FAA/ICAO regulations, they have to be able to reach any part of the airport within 3 minutes

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To this extent, regular drills are being held and the FAA performs an annual audit as well

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Luckily, there has not been a major incident at PHX in recent years but the fire brigade may also called to outside incidents

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The team receives about 3,000 calls annually (which includes requests for paramedics, these are the frequent calls at an airport)

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The very entertaining guides (including a German who had moved to Phoenix years ago but still was easily recognizable as being from Berlin originally) shared plenty of insights of their life as fire fighters and eventually introduced us to this 12m long giant: the Oshkosh Striker 6x6, weighing 42 tones

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Its tanks hold 11,400l water and 1,600l foam – if spraying with full force, tanks will be empty after just 2 minutes!

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From the ARFF building we had good views of the apron and could see taxiing aircraft such as this Alaskan B737-900

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Or this Sun Country 738 which had been flying in Australia for Virgin Blue before

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The fire station offered a nice outdoor deck (perfect for Avgeeks) and whilst standing there, one of the Strikers started a little demonstration

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But it didn´t stop there, all of sudden it approached the outdoor terrace, lifted the roof turret…

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… and started spraying us. Apart from having to quickly secure your photo gear, the refreshment was a welcome one

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Thoroughly refreshed, we could then take a closer look at the vehicle

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An impressive vehicle and an exciting experience with the ARFF team at PHX that day

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On the way back on the SkyTrain, we got a view of the Southwest gates at Terminal 4 (WN is the 2nd biggest airline at PHX, accounting for 1 in 3 passengers during 2017). Aptly, WN had sent ‘California One’, a B737-700 (N943WN), which has been flying in this livery since Feb 2017, to PHX that day

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I returned to PHX two days later to capture the two widebodies arriving from Europe. First BA came in with their classic 744 in Oneworld special livery (G-CIVP)

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Then the 2nd Condor flight landed – and their 767 (D-ABUH) did have the old c/s, as if they wanted to show spotters the full array of their liveries

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I hope you did enjoy reading about these tours as much as we did doing these and I was able to not only share information but also the enthusiasm of those people that guided us on the ground and which we were grateful for.

I´ll be working on part 3 but in the meantime, feel free to leave comments below or check out some of my other trip reports:

2018
Arizona Avgeek Trip – Condor inaugural Frankfurt-Phoenix

2017
In Ethiopian C to paradise: OSL-ARN-ADD-SEZ
First Class East Coast Easter with LH and BA 747
Lufthansa A350 Inaugural Flight MUC-HAM-MUC

2016
European Regionals (incl. CS100)
Round the world (Part 3): Arabic A380 Apogee (Etihad Apartment)
Round the world (Part 2): Skipping a day
Round the world (Part 1): a First Class start
Air Berlin across the pond – AB Y+ & C on DUS-MIA-DUS
A South American Teaser – LAN C 787 on FRA-MAD
Testing The Swiss Triple Seven In C FRA-ZRH-GVA

2015
Tudo Bom! - To Brazil In BA First & Club World
Lost In India – BOM-DEL-DOH-DME In AI+QR C
Meeting The Singapore Girls – ZRH-SIN-BOM In SQ C
At Putin’s Show Room - Maks Airshow 2015
New, Newer, Qatar Airways – A350, A380 & B788 In C
Siam Birds - Nokair & Bangkok Airways

2014
Quick Trip Across The Pond To NYC (SN & UA In C)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P3)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P2)
The Kim-Dom Calling-avgeek Heaven North Korea (P1)
Beijing And Back In C: LH A346 Vs. CA B773
A visit To Kingman & Mojave Boneyards With LX & LH
Northwest In Style - FRA-SEA-FRA In LH F (old)
Living The Dream(liner) – LAN FRA-MAD-FRA In Y

2013
Sleep Like An Egyptian:BRU-CAI-BKK-CAI-FRA In MS C
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P2)
Endangered Species - A Weekend Trip To Russia (P1)

2008
The True Berlin Airport - Last Trip To THF
 
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TS-IOR
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Joined: Mon Oct 08, 2001 9:44 pm

Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Mon Jun 18, 2018 6:41 pm

How lucky to meet Herr Jurgen Raps.. such an eternal aviation professional and enthusiast. PHX is very friendly.. they have the pretention to be US friendliest airport. One time i was there in July and the customer service woman just expressed care (or pity) for me looking for some sunbathing at the garage roof :)
 
777PHX
Posts: 731
Joined: Tue Oct 13, 2015 4:36 am

Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Sun Jun 24, 2018 9:21 pm

I'm glad you enjoyed Sky Harbor. Who operated this tour?
 
ULA340
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Joined: Sun Jun 28, 2015 12:47 am

Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Sat Jun 30, 2018 10:19 pm

nice report.

Do you know why they established training centers in America? Why not Germany if at all Europe?
ATR72,L1011,MD80
319,320,321,332,333,343,380,
735,737,738,744,752,77A,77E,77L,773,77W

UL, QR, AI, UA, SQ, CX, JL, AA, MH, AZ, EY, TG, IT, WY, QF
 
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asuflyer05
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Tue Jul 03, 2018 3:14 am

Great report! I used to live in Phoenix, worked at PHX for a bit and did my flight training out there as well.
 
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zolagola
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Joined: Wed Jan 02, 2013 10:34 pm

Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Thu Aug 02, 2018 10:26 pm

TS-IOR wrote:
How lucky to meet Herr Jurgen Raps.. such an eternal aviation professional and enthusiast.


Agreed, he had some interesting stories to tell and it was one of the highlights of the entire trip. Interesting: after he retired, he stopped flying. Well I guess, riding a Harley can give you a similar feel of freedom :)

TS-IOR wrote:
PHX is very friendly.. they have the pretention to be US friendliest airport.


And that´s what we truly experienced when we were there!

777PHX wrote:
I'm glad you enjoyed Sky Harbor. Who operated this tour?


It wasn´t a public tour but we had organised it with the airport and Condor.

ULA340 wrote:
Do you know why they established training centers in America? Why not Germany if at all Europe?


Weather is the #1 reason. Whilst we have Arizona like temperatures in Germany at the moment, this is not the case year-round. So having a flight school in the Phoenix area allows you to offer courses throughout the whole year and reduce the days you can´t fly because of poor weather conditions to almost zero
 
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zolagola
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Re: Arizona Avgeek Trip – Lufthansa Aviation Training & PHX Sky Harbor Fire Department

Sat Aug 04, 2018 1:22 am

Part 3 is now online: viewtopic.php?f=9&t=1400645

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