Lufthansa Airlines is relatively comfortable with having cameras in its cockpits. As a result, we get some great video, like one above, from Lufthansa flight 456, which at the time of this recording was a Boeing 747-400 flying from Frankfurt to Los Angeles.
Some of the best parts of the video are also the most mundane. The two pilots spend a lot of time making wry comments in English and German about the flight. You’ll also notice that the pilots effortlessly switch between the two languages. English is the language of international aviation, so most of the official parts of the flight – like checklists and radio transmissions — must be conducted in English, even though German is the national language.
This is one of a series of in-cockpit videos produced by Pilots Eye TV. Another one, which I posted on the blog earlier this year, showed a Lufthansa A380 landing in San Francisco.
Perhaps better than any other airline, Lufthansa understands the power of social media. And the airline’s instagram account is about as good as it gets – at least for people who like to know what happens behind the scenes at a major worldwide carrier.
I’ve compiled some of the airline’s recent shots, many of which were taken by a pilot on the Frankfurt to LAX route. Sometimes, the photographers go a bit heavy with the filter. But it’s cool stuff, nonetheless.
Here we go:
- Beautiful inside and out: One of Boeing 747-8’s new raked wings. We’ll explore more #FRAspots tomorrow. Stay tuned #youthhotspotsgermany
- Ever wondered who’s the man behind the airport announcements? Meet Heino! His Chinese sounds great #FRAspots #youthhotspotsgermany
- One might think that’s a subway map – but it’s only a little section of the baggage control center’s display. #FRAspots #youthhotspotsgermany
- My lunch enroute over #Greenland #pilotdiary
- 35,000 feet over the North Atlantic #pilotdiary
Curious about the approach into San Francisco International Airport?
Pilots Eye TV put camera on the cockpit of a Lufthansa A380 and created a great video, which you can watch above. It’s an all access pass to what really happens inside the cockpit — the sort of thing passengers rarely get to see. It even includes back and forth with air traffic controllers. And who doesn’t love those great German accents?
What do you think? Landing an airplane is pretty complicated, right?
There’s been a lot of interest recently in my Q and A session with Marcus Pabst, a flight dispatcher with Lufthansa German Airlines. Some readers have been surprised — as was I — that airlines must pay “overflight charges” to governments to fly over most airspace.
The overflight charges on the flight I detailed, Lufthansa flight 456 from Frankfurt to Los Angeles, weren’t so pricey. They added up to a little less than $9,000 for a trip that went through Germany, Irish and Canadian airspace, among others. The general idea is to reimburse countries for the aviation-related infrastructure required to handle international flights.
But some countries are considerably more expensive than others. And when it’s feasible, airlines will avoid them. Take Lufthansa’s daily flight between Frankfurt and Buenos Aires. Sometimes, Pabst told me, the plane will fly slightly out of the way.
“We can choose a route over the Atlantic avoiding two important airspaces,” he said. “First is the Canary Islands. Those are Spain, and Spain means Euros. Very expensive. And also Cape Verde. It’s expensive. The normal route, for one flight, is $2,400 for the Canaries. And the same, or similar for Cape Verde. So for one flight, (if both countries are avoided), we can save $4,700.”
Sometimes, the new route takes a bit longer. But much of the time, Pabst said, it’s worth it.
“Obviously, if we fly 10 minutes longer, we need 10 more minutes of fuel,” he said. “And comparing the prices, sometimes it’s cheaper to fly 10 minutes longer, as long as we come on time to the destination.”
Lufthansa, of course, is not the only carrier that uses this approach. Last week, I was speaking with a senior executive at another airline who told me his carrier also tweaks its routes from Los Angeles to South America in order to avoid certain countries.