Thursday, 20 November 2008

2008/05 IFR training Bremen - Sylt - Helgoland

click on the title to see the video on DailyMotion

Next IFR training trip went to Bremen and Sylt. Bremen is a larger regional German airport with a lot of commercial travel and business jets. It is not a really good location for a cosy lunch stop, but for practise purposes it is of course fine.

You can't walk to the operations office, a bus will take you and bring you back to your plane after all fees are paid. During this ride we had the time to collect some material of the local activity on the airport. Low clouds meant solid IMC conditions on our way to Sylt so again a lot of different circumstances to contribute to the training.

Heading for Sylt along the west coast of this little piece of land that sticks out of the north of Germany brought us over a number of locations and harbours that Marijke had visited before by boat. The first part is not that interesting, later on the coast gets better looking and a number of rather flat islands start to appear.

Sylt is a populair holiday destination for the Germans. It has 2 asphalt runways with more than enough length. From the general aviation platform of the airport you can walk to the center of the nearby city in about 15 minutes. Both times we were there we did not go further than the first descent restaurant on the right. I really think the island is worth to be visited for a couple of days and we will surely return to it.

Back from Sylt to Holland we asked for a low level routing directly over Helgoland, the strange red rock rising our of the North Sea in the middle of nothing. Helgoland has a very short runway, I believe about 470m. The runway is located on a seperate island and a boat will bring you across to the main island where the village is located and the impressive cliffs cover the western and northern coast. It should be possible to land and start the DA40 from it, but we did not even try this time.

ATC proved to have a good feeling of what we would really like and besides giving us a 4000ft cruising altitude approaching Helgoland he gave us al freedom to circle the island so we where able to make a couple of nice images before the battery ran out. The disavantage of the lower height with the SE DA40 is the consequence that an engine failure will force a landing on water for quite a while.

In this period we where confronted with both financial problems at the engine manufacturers Thielert and some nozzle problems resulting in a mandatory engine change in a couple of other DA40 and DA42's. We have never encountered any problem with our DA40, but stories like those don't contribute to a general comfort feeling.
Even though we are really using the plane, because we are the only users the yearly number of hours is fairly limited. We feel pretty sure that before we really get into a situation where we are up for a new engine Diamond and/or Thielert will be able to provide a solution to both new and existing customers.

As long as the engine does not provide direct problems the only really negative impact we have from the current situation is the higher cost for the mandatory 300 hours gear box replacement. When we bought the plane, those costs would be covered by Thielert but in the current situation Thielert does not maintain her garantuee promises. Taking over these garantuees by Diamond and/or the Diamond resellers would directly put them in danger as well, so it might not even be relevant what the real juridical position of the end customers is. Nobody is happy with the current situation, but we are in it together and there seem to be a number of alternative solutions on their way.

Pancake Airlines Crew is trained by Dwarf Powered Gliders ( and Wings over Holland ( Information on the PH-PCA Diamond DA40 can be found on You can click on the title link to see the HD video on DailyMotion.

No comments: