- 1.A Day on the Lufthansa Cityline CRJ900 Flight Deck!
- 2.Senior First Officer: A day as a Lufthansa 747 Pilot
- 3.Airbus A320 Cockpit – MUC to CGN Jumpseat Experience!
- 4.Thunderstorms and a Rare Approach – A Jumpseat Flight to Remember!
- 5.CRJ900 Pilot’s View from Munich to Pisa – Lufthansa CityLine
- 6.SWISS CS300 – Experiencing the World’s Most Modern Airliner!
Good day, fellow aviators. It is certainly not often the case anymore, that a passenger plane leaves me speechless. But that’s exactly what happened on a nice February Tuesday in Zurich. What a day! I was invited to join the flight deck of the world’s most modern short-haul passenger jet. We flew from Zurich to Milan Malpensa and back. And I was able to enjoy probably single best view on the Swiss Alps that I have ever seen so far. All of that in just three hours! In this article, I will take you with me on the jumpseat of the brand new SWISS CS300, manufactured by Bombardier, Canada. Buckle up, and enjoy this unique ride.
SWISS CS300 – On My Way to Zurich: Aboard the A320’s Business Class!
But first things first. Let me briefly introduce you to one of the two pilots of our flights. Sascha D’Angelo! Sascha joined SWISS some years ago as a first officer on the BAe 146/Avro RJ. This plane was often lovingly called the “jumbolino” due to the fact that it has four engines. Over the time, this aircraft was taken out of service at SWISS. Its successor is the all-new Bombardier C Series from Canada. Sascha was one of the first lucky pilots worldwide to fly this beauty!
The CS100 and its longer sister, the CS300, were designed totally from scratch, following a “clean sheet concept“. The result was a state-of-the-art fly-by-wire aircraft, which promised to be less noisy and more fuel efficient than any of its short-haul competitors, like the Airbus A319.
Sascha and I have been in contact for quite some time now, since he already published two guest articles about his life as a pilot on my German aviation blog. After some time, the idea came up, that I could join him in the cockpit one day. No sooner said than done! We reached out to the marketing department of the airline and not even three weeks later, I sat on seat 01A on flight LX1579 from Vienna to Zurich. A nice opportunity to experience the great continental business class product of SWISS!
SWISS CS300 – A Solid Flight Preparation is Essential!
One hour and a half, I touched Swiss ground for the first time in my life. Sascha picked me up at the airport and showed me around the headquarters and training facilities of his airline. After that, we took the chance and had an amazing burger in the city centre of Zurich. I loved the town’s panorama and really hope to spend some more quality time there in Summer. 🙂
Now it was time to get back to the hotel, to catch some sleep! I woke up rather early the next day since I met Sascha in front of the SWISS operation centre at 05:00 am in the morning. We met early on purpose since Sascha wanted to show me around the briefing rooms in detail.
As all of you know, a thorough flight preparation is essential for safe flight operations. Even, or especially, for such short flights like ours to Milan Malpensa. That is why Sascha began to print out today’s route and weather information timely. Nothing too special was awaiting us in terms of weather, however. Despite some overcast over Zurich we were really lucky, because the main part of the Swiss Alps that we wanted to overfly that day were free from any clouds until the Italian border. This promised an amazing view! A quick look on the screen of the “Federal Office of Meteorology and Climatology MeteoSwiss“ once more confirmed this.
Sometime after that, the captain of our rotation showed up. Sven Thaler, Deputy Fleet Chief Bombardier C Series for SWISS. We introduced ourselves and had a little chat, before we met the rest of the crew, namely the three flight attendants, including the purser, who is called Maître de Cabine at SWISS. The Maître de Cabine is the head of the cabin crew and hence acts as a link between the cabin and the cockpit crew.
SWISS CS300 – Let’s get Airborne!
After a quick briefing for the crew, we hopped into the bus which brought us to our aircraft. The SWISS CS300. The flight deck crew prepared the aircraft’s system for take-off and I joined Sven on the obligatory outside check. During this outside check, the pilot inspects the aircraft and hence ascertains its airworthy condition. Since this was the first flight of the day for our aircraft, it was the captain’s duty to execute the walk-around for the so-called “Initial Aircraft Acceptance“. Everything alright. Let’s go!
Sascha, our first officer, was pilot flying on the first leg to Milan. That means that Sven, the captain, was in charge of communicating to the air traffic control throughout the first flight. After all passengers boarded and the crew performed all preparations, we received the clearance to push-back and start our mighty engines. My friend, and SWISS Boeing 777 pilot, Sales Wick, caught us from outside and took some nice photos of us taxiing out to our departure runway 28. Sales runs an amazing blog and a small film agency. Make sure to check out his work.
Time to switch to the aircraft’s heart. The cockpit. The jumpseat was amazingly comfortable and I was able to enjoy the view through the large-sized windows of the SWISS CS300’s cockpit. As we aligned with the 2,500 metres-long strip of concrete, I felt like a child, again. I was more than excited for my first departure inside this modern beauty.
Just a few moments later, the air traffic controller’s voice announced: “SWISS one one eight lima, wind 040 at 4 knots, cleared for take-off runway 28“. My favorite moment on every flight.
The thrust levers were pushed forward and the two PW1524 engines, with almost 24,000 pounds of thrust each, accelerated our plane more than rapidly.
After reaching the rotation speed, Sascha pulled back the stick and we soared into the cold morning sky in Zurich Kloten.
SWISS CS300 – Low-Passing the Alps
After getting airborne I noticed something. The lack of noise! The geared turbofan engine with a bypass ratio as high as 12:1 (more than the giant Boeing 777’s GE90!) makes the CS300 more quiet, compared to older generations of regional jets. After gaining some height, we banked to the south. This offered a gorgeous view on the Swiss Alps to us. This was when our very low cruising altitude of just 15,000 feet came paid off amazingly well. It almost felt like I could touch the mountain peaks. The panorama was nothing but breath-taking. Views like these will never fail to amaze me. This is exactly what I love about flying.
We came closer to the Italian border and started our descent towards MXP. The Alps-panorama was replaced by some thick cloud layers and fog. That is where the CS300’s head-up-display (HUD) comes in handy. This HUD displays all important flight parameters within the pilot’s field of view, so that he can easily maintain visual contact with the outside world without losing situational awareness. This is particularly of help in poor visibility conditions!
Sascha followed the ILS of Malpensa’s runway 35L smoothly and brought down the bird manually like a champ. Italy welcomed us with some good amount of rain, as Sven took over the control of our CS300 to taxi to the gate.
SWISS CS300 Cockpit – Five Large Displays, and Ergonomics par Excellence!
Time to get to know the features that make the cockpit of the new Bombardier C Series so modern and easy to work with for the pilots. First and foremost, five large LCD screens are dominating the flight deck of the CS300. The crew can display any information on any of those screens, just as the situation requires it, namely the Flight Management System (FMS), the navigation displays, fully-electronic checklists, as well as all other parameters. In normal operations, however, the primary flight displays (PFDs) remain at the outboard screens.
Even a layout of the airport’s apron is displayed as a moving map! This is called the Surface Management System (SMS). This facilitates taxiing on larger airports or in foggy nights tremendously! There is – almost – no need for paperwork anymore.
Another neat feature is the Control Tuning Panel that controls the radio frequencies and the transponder settings. It is, in opposition to other aircraft like the Airbus A320 family, located on the glare shield and hence at the pilot’s eye sight. The Series flight deck thus enables pilots to execute most operations while looking forward.
Time to do the outside-check once again, before we take-off to Zurich again. This time with a photo of myself in front of the SWISS CS300 we flew with. HB-JCB, freshly delivered in August 2017.
SWISS CS300 – Back to Switzerland
On the second leg, it was captain Sven’s turn to fly the aircraft. We taxied quite a while before we reached our departure runway 35R. We lined up and rocketed out of Milan Malpensa, straight ahead to the north towards Switzerland.
On our way back, the clouds vanished, again, and cleared the way for another astonishing view on the beauty of the Swiss Alps. The time went by (too) quickly, and we approached the airport of Zurich.
Captain Sven turned off the autopilot and auto-throttle and managed to let the SWISS CS300 touch down smoothly on runway 14. This is how two more than exciting flights onboard one of the world’s newest jets came to an end. To my pleasure, my first visit in Switzerland did not end at this point, however. SWISS pilot Sales and his girlfriend Laura, who works as a long-haul flight attendant for the same airline, invited me to their place to have lunch with them and offered me the best cheese fondue I have ever tried. An exceptional example of Swiss hospitality, that topped off my short adventure in Zurich.
Dear readers. There are, most certainly, moments in everyone’s life that will never be forgotten. The first day of school. The first ride in a car. Or moments like those I witnessed on board this airliner. I am very sure, indeed, that I will never forget these two flights I was allowed to experience in my lifetime.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this article as much as I did enjoy my 24 hours in Switzerland. A big thanks to SWISS, Sascha, Sven and Sales who made my stay unforgettable. Feel free to subscribe to my email newsletter for free.
Have a great day,