Perspectives: Bjoern Krueger
Written by Bjoern Krueger   

Finally I made it to my dream job! My first touch with aviation was when I was two years old and my parents moved to a city near the Frankfurt Rhein/Main Airport. The whole day I stood on the balcony watching the departing and approaching aircraft at FRA. This was the first time when I decided as a young boy not 1 meter high to become a pilot. My stepfather worked for Pan Am and later Delta Airlines in the cargo section. So I had the possibility to get cheap flights. My first flight as a single travelling kid was with 11 on a Lufthansa B727 from FRA-BRE. Aviation had fascinated me more and more. My dream to become a pilot with a major airline never changed again. I was and I am a regular spotter visitor at Frankfurt and read a lot about civil aviation.

Hi, my name is Bjoern Krueger I live in Wiesbaden, Germany what is 15nm away from Frankfurt Airport. I'm 23 years old and earned my ATPL in March 2002.

In July 99 I finished school after 14 years just looking for a cockpit seat. After my year civil service, what is a alternative way to the military service I applied for the Lufthansa Cadet Pilot program. Because I didn't prepare myself for their selection process I failed in the first round which was a two-day knowledge acoustic and visual perception test I failed because of physics English and some of the perception test where slightly below average. Now I had a problem because I didn't calculate that something could fail in my plan to become a pilot.

After a lot of discussions with my parents I decided to try the more difficult and risky way in going to a private flight academy. The problem there is that you have to pay everything on your own and don't earn anything during training. Because my family is not that wealthy I had to take a credit of 55.000€. There is a program by a company called "Albatros" a Lufthansa daughter who is very helpful and highly experienced in that kind of credit. 3 of my relatives had agreed to guarantee for my credit. So my education could start. But first there was the decision on which flight academy I should go to. After visiting 3 I decided for a flight academy in Mannheim. From there I was told that the full time ab - initio program would take between 14 and 18 month if nothing severe would happen.

On the 9th September 2000, I had my first of 700 hours of classroom training. For the German ATPL you need to do a written test in 14 categories which are: general navigation, radio navigation, air regulations, aerodynamic, machinery, aircraft manufacturing, weather, performance, weight & balance, emergency, flight planning, physiology for air crew members, electronics and instruments. My first flight lesson took place 4 days later. I remember that flight like it happened yesterday. In late afternoon we took of in a DA20, I was just sitting there thinking WOW we are rolling. Incredible feeling when I made my first turns little climbs and descents.

A few days after New Years Eve, I earned my PPL. In mid-February, the classroom training was finished. First before the great studies for the written ATPL started I and three of my colleagues went to Florida to built up some flight time we needed to get our CPL/IFR and finally the ATP. Everybody of us had to fly 72:40hrs as Pilot in Command. So we took the opportunity to fly overseas in Florida. These were the best 5 weeks of my complete flight training, we visited the keys several time flew over to Freeport/ Bahamas what was incredible even in a Cessna 172.

Helpful Links:
Lufthansa Flight Training

After our trip I studied a lot for my exam at the LBA what is the German FAA. The exam takes place in Braunschweig in the LBA headquarters and takes three day where all 14 categories will be checked. You have to have 75% to succeed in a category. My first of maximum three tries was only partly successful I had to do a second run in general navigation and performance. This was mid June, so I had my second try beginning august. This time I failed again in general navigation what really bothered me. So on the 24th sep I drove again up to Braunschweig and had my last chance to do it. Finally I made it, if I would have failed I had to take another 700hrs classroom training and write a new complete exam.

During my little problem with navigation I completed nearly my complete CPL part and the half of my IFR flight training. CPL is only VFR flying like in the PPL but a bit more accurate and more professional. The IFR missions where most exciting and fun, because you were treated by ATC as a big bird but flying around @ Flight level 80 with your TB20 at 140kts. IFR training was nearly the same every mission. We took off from our home airport, flew to a airport in the area mostly EDFH, EDSB, EDRZ or EDDS and did between 3 and 7 ILS or NDB/DME approaches. On way back some air work and the LOC/DME approach into our base. I loved every moment of the approach but I hated doing air work. During my complete flight training I filled up two airsickness bags! By flight checks were all very good and I made them always in the first attempt. My CPL/IFR checkride was on 15th Dec 01. To earn my ATPL I had to do the CCC Crew coordination concept. This was a lot of fun riding 20 hours as PF and 20 hours PNF in the B732 simulator. We learned how to work together in a multi crew cockpit handled different emergency like engine fire/failure APU fire and stuff like that.
On the 5th Feb 02 I succeeded my CCC check ride and got my ATPL.

Back in Oct 01 after I completed the written ATPL I applied for Lufthansa CityLine. CLH is kind of a VIP for us who did a private ATPL without a sponsorship by Lufthansa. Their selection works for the entire company including LH passage, LH Cargo and Condor ( now Thomas Cook). So CLH is the only chance to get a foot into LH. Because of 11th sep attacks and the economical downturn and to many applications I had to wait until Jan for my first test. All kinds of reaction, math, English skills where tested there for one day. I was one of the about 40-50% who made the first one. Second part of the selection was a sim ride in the new CRJ700 SIM. Basic IFR flying similar to an IFR Checkride. Airwork, approaches some Questions to your position and that's it. I succeeded with a average performance. I was really angry about the mistakes I made, but who cares I made it to the last round.

The last part is a one day Assesment Center followed by an interview for the survivors on the second day. First day is about group and single discussions. You have to handle different situations as a group or a single person.

One example for the more difficult single tests: You are F/O on the way from Paris to Dusseldorf, on the way you have a generator failure and decide to go down in Cologne and transport the pax by Bus to their destination. Now there is a woman with a very urgent appointment in DUS. She wants to speak to the Captain but the Captain sends you. Now handle the situation! 2 psychologists and 2 captains are sitting in front of you and the woman.

Tough game!

Anyhow I succeeded and got to the interview on the second day. After 35 min of talking about why I want to be a pilot , why Lufthansa CityLine, about school my three tries in general navigation I got accepted. I was so happy! I forgot every word after "Welcome to Lufthansa CityLine" they spoke about 5 min to me but I still can't remember what they said. This was the 15th April 2002.

Now after 6 month waiting time they offered me a F/O seat on the RJ85 and as home base Frankfurt. My type rating will start on the 11th November in Berlin. I'm looking forward to a long and great career with Lufthansa!

Bjoern Krueger
Lufthansa CityLine