Positioning an empty aircraft

Hi my friends!

I am very sorry that I haven't updated the blog for a while but the summer schedule has kept me very busy.

I am also working on a surprise for you guys. The only thing i can guarantee is that you wont be disappointed when I reveal it. :)

I would however encourage you to get yourself a pair of VR googles soon if you haven't already. You can find a sturdy, simple version here on the website or you can get the more advanced "Merge VR" ones as well.


Today I will talk about something that few passengers ever think about. I will be talking about positioning flights!

From time to time it is necessary to move aircraft around the network without passengers. It might be due to technical malfunctions in other aircrafts, where we need to help the p[passengers get to their destination or it might be repositioning the fleet for tactical reasons. In any case these positioning flights have to be done and I got to do one the other day.

I had finished my instructor week in our training centre in the UK and I had positioned as passive crew back to Barcelona. Since I had started my week from Girona I now had my car there and I had landed in Barcelona, 110 KM away from my car.

Normally this means that my company hires a taxi or a rental car for me to get back to my home base. On this occasion they had a much more dignified transportation in mind. 

I had been rostered to fly an empty Boeing from Barcelona to Girona, a flight that could potentially take around 15 minutes to do. :)

My first officer had been positioned from Girona to Barcelona and we met up at Burger King and went to the crewroom to print and check the needed flight-plans and paperwork to do the flight. 


After we had prepared everything (which was quite quick to do :) We contacted the ramp agent who came and picked us up. Since we were travelling alone there was no need for cabin-crew so it was just me and my FO. 

We proceeded with completing the normal preflight with the added items of having to check that all trollies in the galleys were secured properly and that the forward slides were armed and crosschecked. There have been incidents in other airlines where the crew have forgotten to secure the trolleys and they have been coming rolling down the centre isle, during the landing roll.

Every time there we do something different it is a potential for errors so we need to be extra careful and properly discuss any extra items we need to think of. 

You might think that it is easier to fly without crew and passengers but the reality is that pilots like when everything stays close to the normal procedures. Anything out of the norm tends to leave an un-easy feeling, a feeling of having forgot something.

Thats because everything we do is so rule bound and tied to scan-flown and normal procedures.

Having said that, I really enjoy doing these types of things. It brakes the routine a bit and make me feel alive!


When all was done we started our engines and taxied out for Takeoff at Barcelona runway 25L.

It is about 15 minutes of taxiways and an aircraft designed for weighing around 65 tonnes does not taxy very well at 42 tonnes. It sits to high on its dampers so it vibrates a lot and accelerates even at idle thrust.

My First officer was Pilot Flying for the leg and we took off and steered north west. Due to the complex routing structure around Barcelona we couldn't fly straight to Girona but had to fly a big circle around Barcelona, overhead Girona airport and through a procedure turn to join the ILS for runway 20.

This meant that the total flight-time was close to 30 minutes at the end.

Another thing that is very different with a very light aircraft is the approach speeds. They were around 20 kts slower than normal and the aircraft behaves a bit strange at those speeds. The energy level is low but its a bit sluggish in the controls and not as nice to fly as when it is heavy.

Anyway, we landed in Girona where the weather was beautiful and turned the aircraft over to the engineers who was waiting to do its inspection for the coming days flights.


Have a fantastic day my friends and remember to download the app "mentour 360" from the website. If you have already downloaded it, I would really appreciate if you could go in and give the app a review and a grading on the appstore. It helps the visibility of the app and makes more people find it.

Until next time, have a great day!!



Write a comment

Comments: 3
  • #1

    Daniel Doyle (Monday, 03 October 2016 14:29)

    Good read as usual , I wouldn't be able to resist , I would be singing down the speakers :) the singing pilot

  • #2

    Sankalp (Monday, 03 October 2016 17:46)

    Hey mentour!!
    As always, pleasure to hear from you. Excited for your mentour cadets project. I
    was just curious your airline (I know your airline) has one of the biggest fleets of boeing 737s in the world and is still expanding, did you ever get a chance to get a new aircraft's delivery right from seattle ? Please describe the experience in a video or a blogpost.

  • #3

    Lukasz (Friday, 07 October 2016 02:01)

    Great post Petter. Keep writing more of these. Why not do a really long one with a detailed description of your entire flying day? All the best from Warsaw.