Eurowings performed 2310 flights in North Rhine-Westphalia only on the first summer holiday weekend. Julia Werner, Airbus A320 captain at Eurowings, was also on duty and flew her passengers to Stockholm, Prague, Vienna and Mallorca among others. Julia tells us in an interview why she always looks forward to the holiday start, how she assesses the technology in the cockpit and tells us about her most curious experiences on board.
The first days of the summer holidays are the busiest of the whole year. Is that always something special for you, too?
Yes, when I see that so many holidaymakers are on the move in the terminal, the joy shortly before departure is particularly great. It's just a great atmosphere. On weekends, many families with children were on the move. We tried to finish all the preparations as quickly as possible so that we could let children into the cockpit before take-off to explain our work to them. That's a lot of fun. But nothing changes about the basic processes in the cockpit - such as entering the route to be flown into the flight computer or calculating the weight.
How did the first weekend go?
The procedures on the ground were perfect - and we always closed the doors on time because the passengers were also well organized. Only on the way from Düsseldorf to Vienna last Friday did we have to avoid a large thunderstorm cell that stretched from Bergisches Land to Frankfurt. There we had to fly a detour to the Main and got into a corridor, in which we could not climb to our cruising altitude and fly over the clouds due to much air traffic.
Cockpits look extremely complicated because there are hundreds of buttons and switches. How difficult is it, for example, to fly an Airbus A320?
Of course, many passengers say: "Man, this is complicated! How do you find your way there?" Since all switches are labeled and arranged in groups like electric or hydraulic, it is much easier than it looks at first sight. Imagine you have several light switches in one place at home and you don't know which one is for the kitchen and which one is for the hallway in the dark - then you have to label them. That's why the switches in the cockpit are labelled precisely. All we have to do is take a look and immediately know what function the individual parts have. This relieves the strain and gives us the capacity to react to weather events or the like.
Nowadays, flight computers take over more and more of the pilot's tasks. Is that sometimes scary for you?
No. I have confidence in the technology of the Airbus A320 Family. I am very well trained on the aircraft, know the systems and their updates. We pilots and the airline are always informed about innovations by the manufacturer. That is a constant learning process. For example, the autopilot supports us as part of the automation in the air, so that we are free for other things. This in turn increases safety because we can more quickly address less predictable factors such as the weather. That's why I can no longer imagine my job without automation.
Julia, you've been a pilot for over 20 years. What were your most beautiful or curious experiences?
It used to be especially nice to have children in the cockpit during the flight - to Mallorca, for example. How proud the little ones were when they were allowed to take a photo with a real pilot. I particularly remember that. Nowadays, unfortunately, it is unthinkable. Another great memory for me was my switch from the Bombardier CRJ900 to the A320 in 2015. A dream came true because I love how the Airbus flies. And of course there are also some curious anecdotes, for example about various bachelor farewells to the Balearic Islands, where some people in the plane could no longer keep their food for themselves. So it never gets boring with us on board!
Thank you very much, Julia, for the interview.