This is why the pilots of the Special Air Mission Wing bear a particularly high level of responsibility. They belong to the Federal Ministry of Defence and are part of the German Army. They undergo the same basic training as commercial pilots to obtain the civil aviation licence, then acquire the type rating for a particular aircraft type at Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT) before they learn the practical aspects in extensive line training. The German government has now given this responsible task in the hands of Eurowings.
The main mission of the Cologne-based Special Air Mission Wing is the worldwide transport of soldiers and equipment in long-haul aircraft, the transport of political and parliamentary leaders, and the execution of flights to support humanitarian aid and disaster relief operations.
Eurowings has recently become the official instructor for the pilots of the Special Air Mission Wing on the Airbus A320. “The procedures are practically identical at Eurowings and the Special Air Mission Wing. For example, we use the same checklists, wordings and task assignments. This enables the Special Air Mission Wing pilots to receive their flight training from us“, explains Uli Schmidt, Vice President Crew Training at Eurowings.
The first pilots just started with three weeks of theoretical training at the Eurowings base in Düsseldorf, Germany, as well as one week of simulator training. They practice all flying manoeuvres in the cockpit including approach procedures, landing training and emergency scenarios.
This was followed by flying lessons. The practical training covers 80 routes, which are flown within the Eurowings route network comprising 210 destinations. The Eurowings team of instructors – a total of 46 captain colleagues – professionally accompany the Air Force pilots for the duration of their training at Eurowings.
“During the practical training, the pilots fly up to four routes a day. This means that the required 125 flying hours in flight training can be completed in only two months. A passenger aircraft has a much tighter schedule than a government plane – this reduces the duration of the practical phase to a quarter“, explains Uli. At the end of the training the so-called “final check” takes place. Once this check flight has been successfully passed, the training at Eurowings ends and the First Officers return to service within the German Army.
The cooperation is initially scheduled for two years. The pilots of the German army are trained at Eurowings on the A320 aircraft type for the first time. In the course of a fleet rollover, the Air Force is now successively acquiring new aircraft.