Captain Becker, Which do you prefer flying, an Airbus or a Boeing?
I was fortunate enough to fly Boeing aircraft for 17 years and Airbus models for 20, and I felt perfectly at ease in both. In the case of Airbus, my generation of pilots had the chance to get to know new technologies and very different cockpit layouts. That was particularly interesting.
Do you have a favorite plane?
Every pilot likes “their” plane best, and that’s fine because we all need to feel comfortable in what we’re flying and appreciate its capabilities. So never ask an Airbus captain if he prefers the Boeing 747, and by the same token, don’t bring up the Airbus A380 with the captain of a jumbo jet. But joking aside, all of these aircraft are safe and handle well in the air.
Yoke or sidestick – are they still a world apart?
There was lots of discussion when the sidestick first arrived. Thirty years ago, many people thought everything on Airbus aircraft was automatic and that the pilots just sat back and watched as they flew, which was not true, of course. Today, things are pretty much the same in both, and Boeing also uses electronic steering.
How do different types of aircraft differ most?
Not so much in their technology, but in their range and endurance. Long-haul planes can stay in the air for 14 hours. Short- and medium-haul aircraft are only in the air for four to five. For a pilot, the biggest difference lies in the airplane’s weight and size.