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"We are the protagonists of our stories called life, and there is no limit to how high we can fly."

Type rated on A330, B747-400, B747, B757, B767, B737, B727. International Airline Pilot / Author / Speaker. Dedicated to giving the gift of wings to anyone following their dreams. Supporting Aviation Safety through training, writing, and inspiration.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

How To Fly A Jet

From Turbo Prop to Jet... 
A friend just gave me the great news. Not only did he finish his masters, he's just been hired by an airline and will be going from flying an ATR to a B-737. He asked,

"What are the tips to flying a jet?" 

Okay ladies and gents, let's help a fellow aviator with your favorite tips: 

My advice. Learn how to scan with the added data. Depending upon what model 737 you'll be flying, there could be a lot of data to absorb. My first jet was a 727, so there wasn't a lot of data, just learning how to manage the mass. I was told to not waste time on instruments that weren't going to impact the outcome. For example, if my vertical speed wasn't moving, I certainly wasn't climbing or descending. As you gain experience the little portal you are looking through will grow to a large window.

I learned the concept of phugoid oscillations, and stability. Most importantly how to effectively trim the plane. Always trim to a hands off state. This is essential so you can divert attention without the plane going someplace you don't want it to go. I've watched many pilots "fly the trim" ... first forward then back, and forward and back. Avoid this behavior. Put the plane where you want it, and trim away the control forces in increments until you are eventually hands free. My current plane I don't even trim.

Power management. When you want to slow pull the thrust levers to idle. First time I was in a 727 I was told to slow from 300 to 200 knots. I pulled the power back about an inch. Nope. Bring them to idle and slow. Then slowly start bringing it back up about ten knots before the speed you want, so when you are at that speed, you'll have the exact power necessary. Today I have a trend vector that assists with speed managment.

What helped me most was I learned how to manage my speed with the thrust levers, without diverting my attention for power settings. This enabled me to fly any plane. Every training department I've been to, instructors wanted to give the gouge for power settings. They know the simulator and know what it takes for the weight and conditions they put you in. But... what I saw with new pilots was similar to new drivers who looked left and the steering wheel going with them. When they diverted their attention, to set power, they would climb or descend.


If you use thrust while managing airspeed, you never have to divert your attention to engine instruments. Your PFD is the window to your world. Develop a scan. While pilots say they lose their scan on a glass airplane, you don't have to. And you shouldn't.

If you are on a glass plane, spend the time to know what each bit of data on the map and PFD mean, before you get into the simulator.

Memorize your standard operating procedures and flight profiles for two engine and single engine operation. If this comes second nature, all the rest will fall into place while you're flying. If you have to think "what to do" while flying your plane, your flying will suffer.

Own your plane. Don't allow ATC to tell you what to do. You tell them what you want to do. When you touch the mode control panel, make sure you get the results you wanted on your flight display.

Be bold. Be confident. And if you are learning how to fly an A330... read Flight For Safety. You might just learn what not to do! Ha. Ha.

What are your tips for this new Jet Pilot?

If you have not read Flight For Safety yet, it's time. 

My novels are part of the plan to help and industry keep our passengers safe and provide great jobs for future pilots.. Please join me on the journey and remember to leave a comment for Flight For Control and Flight For Safety (the sequel), on Amazon in order for a chance to win a NWA 747-400 model!

Stay proficient. Fly safe. 
Create a jobs we can all be proud of. 
We're all in this together.  

Enjoy the Journey!
XO Karlene 


  1. Matthew BezayiffJuly 15, 2014 at 6:39 PM

    You will find that flying a jet is quieter than a turboprop, and how it reacts to turbulence, but Never forget your stick and rudder skills; cause I hope your screens never go black.

    1. Mathew, Thank you for the comment. The 737 is one of the jets he will use his stick and rudder skills. It's us Airbus folks who have the challenge.

    2. Matthew BezayiffJuly 15, 2014 at 7:39 PM

      I had the opportunity a couple of days ago to fly a Cirrus and I am right handed, so I give all of you a lot of credit flying from the left hand seat, cause it was truly an experience managing something from a non-dominant hand. lol, but don't get me wrong, its was a blast.

    3. Moral of that story... use both hands. ;) And have a blast!

  2. This is an awesome post Karlene! Last week I got to fly an A320 full-motion simulator at a major airline training center. It was not only my first jet "time" but also first multi-engine time. Not a bad way to start I guess! Wasn't loggable because it wasn't company policy I believe though. Oh well, great experience!

    Thanks for another good article,

    1. Swayne, that's so cool!!! That was the best way to start. And remember... you can log it... you just can't count it. I say... keep the memories in that book! :)
      And yes... a great experience.

  3. The tip I'd give is to not to let the jet rob you of your stick-and-rudder skills. Be sure to fly something else periodically. A glider, a light single, etc.

    1. Ron, you know how I feel about that. This is the best comment!! Thank you!

  4. You're so amazing - in addition to being such a generous and fun person, you show such professional dedication - I really admire that!

    1. Jennifer, Thank you so much for the kind comment. I really appreciate the support so very much!!!

  5. Karlene,

    I sent a comment to you a couple days ago but I think it was eaten up by the internet. I am sure the NSA has a copy of it but they wouldn’t respond to the request, so I am starting over. The first comment was brilliant and had everything; everyone would want to know including the winning lottery numbers. This one, not so much.

    Congratulations to your friend for getting a 737. That is way cool. When I transitioned from C-130 to the 727 I was struck by how fast the airplane got to altitude. And now that transitioned from the 727 to the 757, I was shocked at how fast it climbs to altitude. It isn’t uncommon to go from engine start to altitude within 15 minutes. That is crazy fast and many times in the past six months since I transitioned, I was hanging on by the static wick on the rudder. It is a fast climb and the only way to be prepared is to know your flows. You have got to be thinking two or three airspeed gates down the road because if not, then you are behind. You just don’t have the time to wait and think about what is next like you did in the ATR.

    The second thing is what you alluded to in your article. On descent and landing you have got to be thinking 10 miles down the road. No more planning on being 250 at the marker because the airplane will not slow down fast enough. It takes the 757 ten miles to slow from 250 to approach speed in level flight and no drag until the gear extension. The C-130 took three miles and I bet the ATR is the same. They don’t put speed breaks on the Herc and ATR because those airplanes don’t need them. Jets do need boards and you will use them. Sometimes you will need to lower the gear and use max boards to slow down. But that is when you mismanaged your energy and you tried to do 200 to the marker.

    The glass gave me fits and still does. The only way to learn it is to practice it and to know what and where you should be looking. Everything has a meaning but you have to know what it means. The only way to know is to put the time and energy into studying. It will take you a year to learn how to fly the 737, until then being conservative is the only way to fly. Not because the airplane won’t do something, but because you don’t have the experience with the airplane to do it. And two years from now, you will make the 737 sing like you did the ATR.

    1. Rob, Thanks for the great tips! Study. Study. Study. That glass and you will become friends. And not only will that 737 be signing, you'll both be dancing in the skies!


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