One of the greatest things that happen at Barcelona Flight School, is that at some point in time, all of our students and instructors fly away to join the ranks of fellow pilots at multiple Airlines.
They start either flying passenger planes in executive or corporate aviation, or directly flying the big jets at a number of national and international Airlines. Every time this happens we have mixed feelings, because we are losing a member of our family, but we know it is indeed for good reason.
In fact, we are very proud of all those pilots that were nurtured at Barcelona Flight School, and nowadays are flying out there on the front seat of an airliner, fulfilling their dream of flying at an Airline. That’s the reason why, when we have the opportunity to meet any one of them and hear how they succeeded, we like to share it with the BFS community.
This time, we met with Alejandro Fernández, an ex ATPL student and also ex Flight Instructor at our school, now flying the Boeing 717 for Volotea Airlines. And, of course, we seized the opportunity to ask him a couple of questions that might be of interest to all the people that is looking forward to follow his trail…
Barcelona Flight School – Can you describe what has been your relationship with Barcelona Flight School?
Alejandro Fernández –
Sure, my father was flying in the Aeroclub, so I developed an interest in aviation at a very early age.
I started my studies (PPL) with Barcelona Flight School, then moved on to get an ATPL, and finally got my Flight Instructor Rating.
During this time, to complement my piloting career with a secondary mainstay, I decided to study Law and work as a Lawyer expert in Air Law.
During weekends, at the beginning, and full time after, Barcelona Flight School gave me the opportunity to grow as a pilot working as a Flight and Ground Instructor. I flew there more than 1.500 hours!!!
All the training I received was provided by experienced industry professionals, that share the same passion and enthusiasm for aviation.
All these factors have given me the opportunity to continue growing in the world of Aviation, flying private/corporate airplanes at first, and currently working as a pilot in Volotea flying a Boeing 717-200 across Europe.
The only thing I can say of this time is, thank you, Barcelona Flight School!!!
BFS – You’re welcome Alejandro! Now can you tell us a little bit what is it like to fly the Boeing 717?
Well, I feel really lucky to be able to fly a B-717-200.
The Boeing 717-200 is a perfect short-mid range aircraft with an outstanding performance and very few limitations.
It is based on the MD95 whose root in turn derives from the DC9. It has had exceptional structural and avionics improvements and modifications over its predecessors.
It entered into service as such (Boeing and McDonnell Douglas merged in 1997) in 1999, and ceased production in 2006 to give way for Boeing’s 737 growth. Its use is widespread in the US (Delta, Hawaian), Australia (Quantas) and more narrowly in Asian companies like Turkmenistan Airways. In Europe, SAS, CityJet and the extinct Spanair among others had the 717-200 as a reference aircraft.
At present, Volotea, the company for which I serve as a Second Officer, is the maximum exponent of Boeing 717-200 in Europe with about 19 aircraft.
The A320 and its variants as well as the B737 are the major rivals of the 717, although the latter one is no longer manufactured, and has been relegated to the category of mythical aircraft.
Boeing prioritized and encouraged the expansion of the B737 to compete head-to-head with the A320, and canceled 717 production in 2006.
As for its performance, the B717 has exceptional performances, has very few limitations, can operate on short and narrow runways (many airports category B and C) and above all has a great passenger-consumption relationship.
It is in my point of view the best passenger aircraft for distances between 800-1500 km.
As for the daily operation, the 717 is great and fun, you can fly manually without problem being able to feel the plane (it has pulley controls, unlike Airbus Fly-By-Wire) as well as reliable thanks to its enviable performance derived largely by its weight (maximum takeoff + ~ 54,000 kg) and power (powered by Rolls Royce BR715 engines) ratio, that allows you to maintain ample room for maneuver.
In addition, and for the safety and comfort of the operation, the B717-200 has an exceptionally advanced avionics system with an integrated glass cockpit system.
To give examples of its magnificence at the operational level, the 717 can take off from very short runways with a minimum width, it has virtually no limitations on the use of flaps and slats, we can clime without problem, loaded, with a variometer of more than 6000 feet per minute, no problems also to descent… it is therefore a very noble and manageable aircraft.
Knowing that the aviation market space for the medium-short radius is crowded by airplane families such as the A320 and B737, flying the 717 is for me a pride and I feel lucky to be able to enjoy it.
BFS – Thank you very much for telling us your story, Alejandro!
Alejandro Fernández works as Second Officer for Volotea Airways since January 2017, and has flown 200 hours with the Boeing 717.
He has around 1700 hours total, of which around 1200 are of Flight instruction. He has also flown the Cessna CitationJet (C551) and Beechcraft King Air (B200).