Middle East Careers: Teaching on the A380

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Capt Paul Declercq is an A380 training captain instructor with Emirates. Born in Belgium and brought up in South Africa, he joined the Dubai airline in 1998 and has worked his way through the Airbus fleet, moving on to the superjumbo last May

What does your job involve?

Most of my flying entails line training other pilots. I spend half the month on aircraft and the other half doing ground school or in simulators. For annual line checks, I will sit in the jump seat and observe the pilot. With line training, I sit in the operating seat.

What is your background and how did you graduate to your current role?

I came to Emirates after being a corporate pilot in South Africa for 10 years. I have flown the A310, A330 and A340 and been a training captain on the A330/A340 for nearly nine years, before getting the chance to move on to the A380 last year.

What is it like being an instructor?

It can be a challenging environment that requires a great deal of preparation. Obviously, I know the roles I am training, having been a first officer and captain, but as well as understanding them, you have to have the skills to be a good teacher. Airbus cockpits are very automated, so it's a question of teaching procedures as well as an appreciation of what is going on behind the scenes.

What about the A380 itself?

The main challenges are its size and the ground operations that go with that. Once you are airborne, it's really like any other Airbus except when it comes to approach and landing. Aircraft behind and in front of us have to be spaced further away because of wake turbulence. But the exciting bit is that it is a new aircraft with new technologies, and Emirates is using it to open new destinations. As individuals, pilots love something new and bigger and it is something we all aspire to.

What do you like about Dubai?

Dubai has got everything, really. It's busy with lots to do and a great environment to live in. I have a wife and three kids and they love it here. We enjoy the sea, the beach, camping in the desert. What other countries can offer that, along with safety? The summer can get very hot, but thankfully there is air conditioning everywhere. It has got better over these 13 years, too. When I arrived, there were limited choices when it came to schools. Now there is a huge choice. My children, who are 15, 13 and five, go to a British school.

And Emirates?

I think it's the opportunities. I don't think I would have been an A380 captain at my stage of career with any other airline in the world.

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©Emirates
Declercq: came to Emirates from corporate aviation in 1998