Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Azwan meets Al Capone

I’ve got to write this in English. Not only because friends and colleagues in Abu Dhabi have asked, begged and encouraged me to do so several times. It’s simply because Azwan doesn’t speak any German, thus making it impossible for him to understand any of my usual writing.

And Azwan plays an important role in this post. Some of you might remember him from earlier entries, especially in my initial Blog Wüstenspuren (Desert traces). He and I joined Etihad Flight Safety pretty much at the same time, consequently becoming team members in the small Flight Data Monitoring group. After our boss André Zbinden was diagnosed with brain tumor in early 2009 it was Azwan who took over his duties and continued to do so until today. Born and raised in Malaysia he used to fly for Malaysian Airlines before joining Etihad in 2005.
Together with his wife and the four kids he lives in the exact same building in Delma Street where our family spent the fifth and final year in the UAE. Azwan also happens to be a Boeing 777-Captain, who – besides running the Flight Data Monitoring Department – is more than happy to go on a flight every now and then. Chicago is one of his favorite Destinations. And by pure chance Azwan and I got rostered for the same destination at the very same day. That’s close. And even closer: his 777 touched down only 3 minutes after our A343 did, however, not on the same runway. After all O Hare International offers 7 different options. 
The Etihad flight was also a bit longer than ours. 14.40 hours compared to 9.15 hours seems like adding an extra lap to an already annoyingly long flight.
Anyway - had we tried to plan this, we probably would have failed…

Azwan and I never stopped exchanging our rosters and thus realized the coincidence already a few weeks ago. After sending out a few text messages while the bus driver was trying to escape the dense evening traffic into the city, arrangements for the evening were made. The fact that Etihad and Swiss crews are staying in the same hotel made it very easy to meet.
Getting off the bus at the hotel I already bumped into two Etihad pilots belonging to the outgoing crew who were smoking in front of the entrance. Lots of “Heys, hellos and how are yous” were thrown around. Surprise, surprise – “Something is different. What uniform are you wearing…?”

Only minutes later Azwan and his crew arrived as well. Good for me; Finally I was able to get rid of my plastic bag full of Swiss army knives and gold bars. All made of pure chocolate. What a combination of our allegedly traditional values: Wealth and chocolate!
Then we started focusing on rather American specialities: Burger, BBQ Chicken, Fries. And beer of course: however, not for everybody.

I enjoyed an evening in the company of Azwan, his British First Officer, a Bahraini Captain as well as the Algerian Cabin Manager (He was a she!). It felt like I was thrown back to my Etihad years: a mixture of different English dialects, a clash of five different nationalities and cultures. We got along well.

On the way back to the hotel I took a little detour and stopped at the Cheesecake Factory on the bottom of the John Hancock Building to get my mandatory slice ofWhite Chocolate Caramel Macadamia Nut Cheesecake. The real one. I carried the little plastic box with the tempting content with utmost caution to my room. Having arrived there I switched on the TV, made myself comfortable on the Kingsize bed and plunged the brown plastic spoon deep into mountains of whipped cream, layers of cheesecake and tons of calories…

The cake was heavy, still I managed to eat an omelet and some pancakes for breakfast the next morning. It was just Azwan and me, sitting at the corner table in the Pancake House, only a few blocks away from the hotel. Between old stories and shady rumors, reality and fiction, past and future (where the hell is the hear and now...?) we managed to get a bite every now and then. We flushed the food down with American coffee which, in a way, tasted like water or any American light beer: thin and watery. Nothing more than a stomach teaser, being forgotten within seconds. Like a bad joke but unlike our amicable meeting in the city being linked to the famous Godfather: I think it was the very first time that I saw Azwan wearing a sweater or a coat.

After all – Chicago is not Abu Dhabi. And I am not Al Capone.


  1. Dä Plausch!

    Greetings to Azwan from a fan of Eppler's blog.

    Always expect the unexpected...-;;.).,`>)

    Great meeting in chill Windy City, described by elaborate Dide.


  2. ..."had we tried to plan this, we probably would have failed"...

    Let nature do the job as controllers always say and most of the time this really works perfect ;-)

    Great pleasure, also in english!

  3. "Great pleasure, also in english!"



  4. Great entry and brings back our good old memories. We should do this every now and then. Take care my friend.


  5. Thanks everybody for the encouraging feedbacks.
    And yes, TWR Mädel, nature does a good job indeed. But sometimes there is no harm in pushing it just a tiny little bit...

  6. Hallo Herr Eppler,

    wieder einmal ein super Blogeintrag.
    Bitte entschuldigen Sie einen interessierten Swiss- Bewerber einige Fragen zu den LX OPS und Procedures ;)

    Und zwar:
    1.) Ist es bei der Swiss vorgeschrieben, bei der Landung die A/THR an zu lassen (habe ich in div. LX CKPT Videos gesehen)?
    2.) Bei dem A340: Bei z. B. ENG 3 FAIL, lässt man bei manueller Betätigung der Schubregler dann den ENG 4 Lever einfach bei einem festen Wert? Die drei verbleibenden Engines zu steuern scheint mir sonst etwas hinderlich, da der 3er Regler ja im Idle bleibt (?)?
    3.) Wäre es möglich, einmal das Layout der Dispatchunterlagen anzuschauen? Kenne nur die Lido Pläne von der LH ;) Wäre mal interessant, auch wenn der Inhalt wohl sehr ähnlich ist...

    Vielen Dank für Ihre Hilfe und den tollen Blog, fliegerische Grüße,


  7. Hallo Florian, mir gefällt dein Interesse an der Fliegerei und ich beantworte deine Fragen sehr gerne. Du brauchst deswegen kein schlechtes Gewissen zu haben.


    1. Der A/thrust ist mehrheitlich eingeschaltet bei der Landung, dies ist aber keine Vorschrift. Es gibt Situationen, zB starke Turbulenzen oder Engine failures, wo es von Vorteil sein kann, auf die Automatik zu verzichten. Letztlich bleibt es aber dem Piloten überlassen, ob er den Schub manuell oder automatisch regeln will. Mit Ausnahme von automatischen Landungen (Autoland bei CAT2/3 Bedingungen). Dort muss der A/Thrust zwingend eingeschaltet sein.

    2. Bei einem Engine Failure werden die übrigen Triebwerke auf einen bestimmten Wert (Max Continuous) gesetzt. Die ist jedoch nur dann von Bedeutung, wenn der A/Thrust eingeschaltet ist. Bei manueller Schubregelung stehen die Leistungshebel eben dort, wo sie den gewünschten Schub liefern. Der Hebel des ausgefallenen Triebwerks kann nach Abarbeitung der Abnormal Checkliste wieder auf die gleiche Position der übrigen Thrust lever gesetzt werden. Er bleibt also nicht im Idle.

    3. Wenn du mir eine email-Adresse angibst, kann ich dir gerne mal ein Beispiel schicken.

    Hoffe, das hilft...

    Weiter viel Spass und Gruss

  8. Ja, vielen Dank ;) Frage 2 bezog sich tatsächlich auf die manuelle Schubsteuerung.

    Bitte einmal an ,," schreiben, da gibt's dann die richtige Mailadresse ;)Hoffentlich ist die Datei nicht zu groß..

    Vielen Dank nochmal :)

    Many happy landings, Florian

  9. Hallo,

    ohne Drängeln zu wollen (vllt sind Sie ja noch nicht dazu gekommen), aber bisher kam keine Mail ;) Nur zur Erinnerung, bitte nicht falsch verstehen!

    Vielen Dank nochmal,


  10. Hallo Florian, du drängelst keineswegs - ich schlampe...

    Sorry, email is on the way