Pilot's Interview – Like Father Like Son
Stefan and Jan Greub share more than a surname. They are also united by their passion for flying. Jan’s career began as an IT apprentice at Pilatus and now spans the whole world. When Jan visited his father at Pilatus, we took the opportunity to ask them both a few exciting questions. Pilatus Aircraft Ltd
Jan, did you always dream of becoming an airline pilot?
Yes, I’ve always dreamed of earning my living in the cockpit. I wanted to be a military pilot initially, but that didn’t work out, unfortunately. So, I decided to become airline pilot. That’s how my dream came true.
You did your IT apprenticeship at Pilatus. How did you make the leap to pilot?
After finishing my apprenticeship at Pilatus, I did my military service and then registered with SWISS for the six-stage selection process. I completed that successfully and shortly thereafter I began my two-year training course as an airline pilot. The training included theoretical instruction, simulator sessions and practical flight training. But when I graduated, SWISS had no need for new pilots. Instead, the opportunity arose to start with Edelweiss Air. I’ve been flying an Airbus A320 and A340 for Edelweiss since then.
Do you see your father as a role model?
To what extent has he influenced you? Yes, he’s definitely my role model! My father always supported me on the way to my dream job. Whether as a flight instructor during Private Pilot License training with the Pilatus Flying Club, or when I first entered professional aviation.
How does flying an Airbus differ from a PC-24 or a PC-12?
Jan: I’ve very little experience of Pilatus aircraft, unfortunately.
Stefan: In airline operations, the goal is to fly passengers from A to B as safely, efficiently and punctually as possible. As factory pilots, we are mainly concerned with testing the machines before certification and delivery. Our duties also include delivery, training and company flights. We mostly fly alone and have to take care of flight plans, fuel and other administrative matters ourselves. That results in a very broad and varied profile of requirements. But the basic principles of flying and aerodynamics remain the same. The different mission profiles demand a wide range of skills from Pilatus pilots. At Pilatus, we often fly under visual rules, in challenging terrain and in poor weather, whereas at Edelweiss we fly under instrument rules, even in the best of weather. Manual “flying skills” and feel for the aircraft are even more important at Pilatus.
Which Pilatus aircraft do you find most fascinating?
Jan: Having already flown a few hours on jets myself, I can best identify with the PC-24. Its flight performance and versatility are amazing. The same is true of the PC-12. I find it fascinating how Pilatus always tries to move into niche markets – civil or military – where the competition doesn’t dare go!
Stefan: Unfortunately, my favourite aircraft has long been standing on a pedestal in the middle of the Fadenbrücke roundabout in Buochs! If I compare it to a car, the PC-9 is like a formula one with its flight characteristics and weight/power ratio. Pure flying fun with little in the way of digital gadgets!
Stefan, you're a test pilot at Pilatus, which of the Pilatus aircraft do you enjoy testing most?
The PC-24, definitely! I’ve been involved in the project from the start, and I’m fascinated by the Super Versatile Jet. But the question really should be about which kind of tests I prefer doing. And I would say “handling qualities”, without a doubt. As the name suggests, the main focus here is on influencing and testing the aircraft flight characteristics.
What was your most memorable flight experience?
Jan: I’ve had many great experiences in my eleven-year career to date. It’s difficult to choose just one. But I’ll never forget the day we added an A320 to the Edelweiss fleet. I took part in a test flight during which we tested the flight control protection mechanisms (envelope protections). This involved placing the aircraft in attitudes which are clearly not appropriate for passenger transport situations. It was really impressive to see the manoeuvres which can be flown with such a large aircraft.
Are there any other pilot jobs that would interest you?
Stefan: Over the years, I’ve been privileged to fly and experience a wide range of aircraft and operations. I wasn’t so familiar with business aviation until now. Pilatus has now given me a temporary opportunity to fly for a PC-24 customer and experience our products in action on the front line. The knowledge gained can help Pilatus to continually improve our existing aircraft or can be directly channelled into new projects.
How do you spend your free time? Do you have time for family and friends?
Stefan: I’m less drawn to the skies in my free time. I prefer the water! I love being out on the lake in the boat. I also discovered sailing on the sea recently. Besides that, I’ve been an avid sport shooter since I was a teenager. In winter, you’ll find me on the ski slopes or enjoying the après-ski scene. We used to have more time at Pilatus for family and friends as we were rarely called on to work at weekends or on bank holidays. But things have changed and we have to be available 365 days a year now. That’s not always easy and sometimes we miss the odd private event. But our families and friends know how it is and are understanding!
Jan: I did a flight instructor course during the pandemic, so when I’m not working you can often find me at the Kägiswil airfield as a flight instructor. And when our schedules permit, my father and I have also done a few flight trips to Croatia or the south of France. When I get a longer stopover during a long-haul rotation, I like to do something with the other crew members, including road trips in Costa Rica and wine-tasting in Cape Town! My family is already used to my irregular working hours thanks to my dad! Sure, it’s a pity to miss birthdays and other celebrations, but that’s all part of being a pilot!
Jan, could you imagine returning to Pilatus one day?
Since I assume that work colleagues at Edelweiss also read Pilatus Post, I have to give a somewhat diplomatic answer! I’m still at the beginning of my career as a pilot and I enjoy working at Edelweiss very much. But who knows what the future might bring? If the opportunity ever arises, I wouldn’t rule it out!