PilotsEYE.tv: Shanghai

October 21st 2012, 14:25 | Written by Konstantin Koll

After flying through ZRH this summer, I've treated myself to another DVD from the PilotsEYE.tv series: ZRH-PVG-ZRH with Cpt. Thomas Frick, Swiss' A330/340 chief pilot.

One cockpit—Two pilots—Six cameras

Since almost seven years, PilotsEYE.tv creates high-quality documentaries directly out of the cockpit of airliners—in HD quality using six cameras mounted behind the cockpit windows and on the glareshield. To date, PilotsEYE.tv is well-known for accuracy and high quality productions.

This DVD is an exception to the series, as it actually covers two flights about 6 months apart: the first attempt in November 2009 had to be aborted due to an overheating engine. The second (and full) rotation was recorded in May 2010. This divides the DVD into four parts: the flight ZRH-PVG, the crew layover including a visit to the World Expo 2010 and the T8 Restaurant & Bar (a very classy and fancy restaurant), the inbound flight back to ZRH, and bonus footage of the full procedure to deal with the overheating engine on the previous flight.

The outbound flight to Shanghai is a great documentary with some stunning takeoff footage. As Russia did not grant Swiss the neccessary overflight rights at the time, the routing through Armenia, Kazakhstan and Northern China is rather interesting. Cpt. Frick explains this routing in detail, including the 90° turn over Beijing and the approach into PVG.

As the World Expo 2010 was taking place, the crew visits the Swiss pavillion during their layover, explaining the installation and taking the chairlift ride to the roof (which is designed like a small mountain range from Switzerland). The crew is dining at the T8 Restaurant & Bar, which makes a very good impression on me as a gourmet.

The return flight to ZRH takes off with maximum weight, as it is 100% sold out. You get acquainted to Chinese ATC first-hand, with controllers keeping the crew busy by issuing lots of altitude changes and even a right-hand orbit at cruising altitude to get the separation right (this maneuver takes 5 minutes and consumes about one ton of fuel—in other parts of the world, ATC directs planes just a bit off-track). You also get to see some great footage of the slowly disappearing Aral Sea.

In addition, the DVD contains a recording of the whole engine overheating procedure, beginning with the first ECAM advisory. Reducing the load on the engine's IDG (Integrated Drive Generator) and even physcially disconnecting the unit don't reduce the oil temperature much, so the engine had to be shut down to prevent any further damage. The flight is then returning to ZRH after dumping excess fuel.


I really like this PilotsEYE.tv episode, as it features one of my favorite airlines and a destination which is unknown and exotic to me. It focuses very much on aviation, which I like, but also pictures the crew as professional, charming, and very happy with their job. This is aviation documentary at its best, and well worth the 30 Euros!

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