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Monday, September 10, 2012

“Excuse me, are you the pilot or the co-pilot?” (My sky-high life)


First Officer Thierry Beyeler

“Excuse me, are you the pilot or the co-pilot?”

“I’m the First Officer, also known as co-pilot, who, however, is also a pilot”

“What?”

That is a question I was asked by one of our honourable passengers yesterday. And I’ve been asked this question many times before. Trying to explain the difference is not that simple. People are confused about this issue. They think that there is only one pilot. There are two. If you say you’re the co-pilot they think you can’t fly the plane, which is obviously wrong. For the benefit of our blog readers, I would like to give a brief explanation of the difference:

Two pilots
Our Airbus must be flown by two pilots. There is a Commander (left seat) and a First Officer (right seat) in the cockpit. Both of them are pilots. But the rank is different. The Commander has the main responsibility for the aircraft. He is the “chief”. We have a flat hierarchy in the cockpit, but we do have one.

One shared task
What do the Commander and First Officer do during a flight? We share tasks and we check each other’s actions. A simplified example: The First Officer is flying to Barcelona. This means that they manual conduct the take-off and landing and during the flight they manage the autopilot. The Commander then takes care of radio communications, flight planning, fuel check follow up, etc. And as we fly back, tasks reverse, i.e. the Commander becomes the pilot flying and the First Officer will do fuel checks, radio communication, planning, etc.

One team
It is clear that where difficult decisions have to be made, the main responsibility lies with the Commander. However, we are a team. Both team members in the cockpit participate in the creative solution-finding and then agree on the decision to be made. And at a certain stage the team also includes the cabin crew. It goes without saying that appreciation is greatest when the whole team (Commander, First Officer, Cabin Crew) stands behind a decision.
Last but not least, the passengers will be part of this team during the flight. We are all in the same “tube” and if a decision is being executed it affects everyone.

I hope I have succeeded in making things a bit clearer. And next time you hear the Commander saying “Our First Officer will fly you to Barcelona” you know that it is indeed a pilot steering the airship.



28 comments:

  1. WHERE is the "right seat" and "left seat" from what view ?

    ReplyDelete
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  2. @Anonymous
    It's like in the car; look into direction you drive/fly.

    Best regards,
    Christian

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  3. hehe i've known this before but nice to read ;) and yes the most people think so that the co-pilot can't fly the plane...another question from me to this topic is how long it's need to be a co-pilot to get captain?

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  4. so where does the 3rd pilot fit in on long haul flights?

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    1. When everything else physical and mental seems to diminish, the appreciation of beauty is on the increase.

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  5. No one can land a airbus/airplane better than a Swiss pilot. Always so smooth. Just enjoyed a round trip ZRH- LAX! Swiss is the best airline to fly!

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  6. Auf deutsch wäre sehr schön. Schliesslich eine schweizer Fluggesellschaft.

    ReplyDelete
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    1. Ja, aber deutsch ist keine Weltsprache mehr und als schweizer Fluggesellschaft könnte der Post (sic) auch in französisch oder italienisch verfasst werden und was machen wir dann?
      Fazit: Englisch als Sprache in einem Blog der Swiss (sic) ist einzig sinnvoll.

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    2. Bien d'accord ! Ce serait de la discrimination d'écrire en Allemand et pas en Français ou Italien alors que, comme tu le dis, c'est une compagnie Suisse !
      At least in English, it's neutral :P

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    3. We are learning, too, that the love of beauty is one of Nature's greatest healers.

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  7. The first officer flies the plane and the captain talks to the passengers ;-). I wondered that a captain can talk to the passenger when the plane is descesing to the airport (the first minutes). Or before the plane takes off, the captain speaks to the passengers. It's new for me, because the other captains of the other airliners doesn't do that.

    It's wonderful and from the return flight from Malaga to Zurich, the captain speaks Spanish, too. A great service.

    Swiss is wonderful.

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  8. I am agree but why people ask this question again and again? yeast infection no more

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  16. Commander need to be alert all the time simply because he is the main responsible person as you mentioned earlier,though the other team members can afford to relax for a minute or two. Great explanation for the gaining knowledge.GCSE coursework | order coursework | pay someone to do your coursework

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