Wednesday, June 4, 2014

The Jumpseat Experience: Inside the Cockpit of A330-300

Cleared for take-off.

Last May, I availed a free flight to Davao from Tacloban (via Manila) through our yearly DFR (Domestic Familiarization Route) privilege. For those who didn't know, Philippine Air Traffic Controllers are entitled to have two free domestic trips plus one emergency every year. Well, at least we have this cool privilege from giving air traffic services to airlines.

As a new ATC of the country, it was a humbling experience to be there.

The first leg of my trip was quite short. The Tacloban-Manila flight wasn't full thus I was given a seat assignment. Upon arrival at NAIA Terminal 3, I went straight to the standby counter and had myself listed on my preferred flight to Davao, Cebu 8975, an Airbus A330-300 flight. The A330-300 flight mattered to me so much since I've been longing have an A330 experience with Cebu Pacific Air. I have tried PAL's A330-300 a few years ago, and it was a great experience nonetheless. Well, I have a thing for widebodies. Heh.

The lady at the standby counter told me that the flight is full but, she promised that I'll be the first one to get a vacant seat if there are still vacant seats. So, I roamed the terminal for a while, ate a hearty breakfast and went back to the counter at around 10:30AM. Cebu 8975 was scheduled to depart at 11:10AM. I was really hoping that the lady would give me a seat. Lo and behold, since the flight was REALLY full (yep, all 436 seats were taken), the lady told me that I'll be sitting in the cockpit of the A330-300! She had already informed the captain regarding my status. After signing some papers, I ran all the way to Gate 116 with a brief pitstop at the final security check-in.

I informed the cabin crew about my status and was really kind to accompany me to the cockpit. The captain and the first officer were so kind and nice.

Control panel. Yung aircon and light lang alam ko rito. LOL

Flight briefing.

I believe this is the island of Bohol.

Entering the island of Mindanao.

After giving an orientation about the safety procedures of the cockpit (location of the nearest oxygen mask, life vest, and etc), the pilot contacted the ground control to request for a start-up and push-back clearance. Runway 06 was the active runway that time and we were the third aircraft waiting at taxiway Charlie. The airspace was a bit congested and we waited for another 25 minutes before Manila Tower gave us a take-off clearance.

The ride was smooth and everything was encoded in the flight computer, well except for the take-off procedure. I got surprised by the cockpit's technology! Amazing. Much wow! Despite the automated technology, the pilots continuously monitor the progress of their flight, double check each and every controls of the panel periodically, and listen to the frequency for any clearances.

It was such a great experience because I have finally witnessed how pilots work whenever we give them clearances and instructions such as climb or descend, or turning left or right during approaches or departures. It gave me a whole new perspective of how I should control my air traffic MORE effectively. Thank you Capt. Mendoza, and First Officer Omar for the wonderful experience. It surely was an honor to be with you on board! Thank you for sharing some of your insights about flying, in general.

And here's the video of my A330-300 cockpit experience. Hope you guys like it!


  1. Panalo 'to!! Haissst, alam kong maraming ang nahihilig sa mga eroplano pero shocks, kiss to heaven ang mapaupo mismo sa loob ng cockpit. Hindi ko alam may seat pa pala sa loob maliban sa sa pilot's seat. At hindi ko alam na pede pala magpapasok sa loob ng cockpit during flight maliban sa mga piloto, i think (im not sure) it is mandated by CAAP.


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