One of our Chief Pilot, Michael Riesel’s former students has been celebrating his command appointment on the B-737 for RYANAIR. We briefly interviewed Lukas Eberhardt about his training and his route to command.
Lukas, tell us, when did you start learning to fly?
I left school and had 6 months to wait before starting my National Service, so I went to the UK and stayed with a host family to improve my English. As soon as my National Service ended, I started training with Michael. I was 19.
How long did it take you to complete all your training from ZERO to ATPL(A)?
It would have taken 18 months, but I injured myself playing football which affected my progress over a 6-month period. So in total, it took 2 years.
You recently gained command of the B-737; congratulations! How long did this take at RYANAIR?
When I was interviewed, I was told the minimum time required to make Captain was 5 years if everything went to plan. And it took was exactly 5 years to the day from my first ever flight with RYANAIR to my command check flight! It could have even happened a year faster, but COVID created delays. RYANAIR are expanding rapidly, with 50 new aircraft arriving this year and another 50 next year, so there have been opportunities for promotion which I’ve been very happy to exploit!
What did you learn from Michael Riesel that has helped you in your Airline Pilot career?
Michael had an enormous amount of experience to share and such a breadth of capacity in his insights of what makes a good pilot. I think the most important thing was that he instilled in me the importance of always looking at the big picture when flying; to always have a clear overview of what is happening around you, with ATC, at your destination, and – of course – what’s happening in the cabin behind you. This really helped me by identifying that I needed to build my ability and flexibility for dealing with a high-capacity workload in the cockpit.
What’s the most important thing you know now that you would tell your younger self / or others who are thinking about an airline pilot career?
The biggest fear I had was about not being able to get a job at the end of my training. There was a recession in 2014 and my fellow students and I all had concerns that there were not enough jobs for young pilots fresh out of pilot school. So, I’d tell my younger self to not be afraid to start training, just because there’s a concern about getting a job at the end, and not to be afraid to apply to the low cost airlines. It’s important not to believe the ‘horror stories’ in the media about working conditions and the rates of pay. There are jobs out there and low-cost airlines like RYANAIR are a great place to work.
Michael, we know you’re very proud of Lukas. What sticks in your mind most about his training?
I remember when Lukas visited me in 2014 – together with his parents and his sister – to discuss the cost of ZERO to commercial pilot training. After getting to know the family and talking them through the costs and proposed timing of the training, his parents said that they would trust me, and Lukas started his training the next week! Now, 8 years later, he is Captain of a Boeing airliner! I am so happy when I see that this big investment and effort has paid off for the whole family and that we have not disappointed these nice people.
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