Shanghai A340

Engine Overheat

Flight description

Turn this plane around! In addition to the captivating aviation documentary viewers have come to expect, this PilotsEYE.tv episode features a special „highlight“: a rare technical malfunction, forcing the crew to abort their flight from Zurich, Switzerland, to Shanghai and return to the airport.

The DVD and Blu-ray offer German language with English and French subtitles.
Shop: https://petv.co/amzpvg

The Video on Demand Version caters 24 languages.
VoD: https://petv.co/vodpvg

Engine off – and back home

Trained in a flight simulator every three months but rare in real life. Shortly after take-off from Zurich, the oil temperature of Engine 3 is showing twice as high as allowed. For the next fifteen minutes, Flight Captain and Fleet Manager Thomas Frick and First Officer Manuela Durussel devote their full attention to getting a handle on this critical situation. To no avail. Co-pilot Manuela: “I’ve been flying for 17 years now and today is the first time I’ve had to turn around.” Luckily the passengers are able to transfer to another plane and PilotsEYE.tv meets the crew six months later to fly the same route – this time successfully. This unique insight into an “abnormal procedure“, an unscheduled incident, is part of the feature film. The bonus material shows the entire procedure, including the original checklists.

Fly and flirt

Private communication is strictly forbidden on the official radio frequencies. For this reason, co-pilot Manuela is all the more surprised when a man’s voice calls “Manu” out of the speakers. They quickly share a few friendly words knowing that probably a couple of hundred colleagues on other airplanes and on the ground are grinning broadly. The flight captain jokes “Never fly with women – they always flirt with the entire airspace” which shows that despite all the stress, the crew still enjoys their work.

1,000-mile detour

Due to ongoing treaty negotiations, Russia cannot be flown over this day. The alternate route sends the crew south over Romania, Georgia and Kazakhstan to China. The additional fuel for the 1,000-mile detour is still cheaper than the fee Russia charges for flying through its airspace. But this is just an everyday occurrence for the crew of HB-JMD “Liestal”, named after a town in Switzerland.

There is always an egg timer in the cockpit

A special feature of all Swiss cockpits is the egg timer built into the overhead panel, which is particularly helpful with time-sensitive tasks. Thomas Frick demonstrates how it works calling it an “analog monster among all the all-digital switches and displays.” Those interested in more first-hand information can select audio track 2 and listen to the captain’s commentary for each scene – in addition to the main audio.

The autopilot sees better

In simple and clear explanations this PilotsEYE.tv episode shows the way pilots land an aircraft calmly and precisely in a minimum-sight situation. During this “monitored approach” co-pilot Hans-Conrad Stamm keeps the autopilot turned on until the plane reaches 100 feet above the runway. Then the “pilot flying” Thomas takes over the side stick control to land manually. The pilots’ silent concentration gives the viewer a feeling for this moment of tension.

Ski-lift over the roofs of Shanghai

“I’m in a ski-lift over a lush Swiss meadow with a view of the Pudong district accompanied by an oil tanker on the Huangpu River,” is the picture Thomas Frick paints. It’s a once-in-a-lifetime situation – at EXPO 2011, taken from the rooftop of the Swiss pavilion. It’s even higher on the world’s highest visitors platform (474m, 1,555ft) at the WFC, the “Shanghai World Financial Center”, also fondly named “bottle opener”. And finally, there is dinner at one of the best restaurants in the city, the T8, managed by Swiss friend Walter Zahner, who is looking forward to the Buureschüblig sausages and Migros caramel yogurt that Thomas has brought along.

800 kph (500 mph) holding pattern

Shortly after take-off from rainy Shanghai, Chinese air control orders the crew to fly a so-called orbit, a full circle, to ensure the proper distance to adjacent aircraft. A very rare procedure that consumes approximately another ton of fuel.

Escape routes for pressure loss

If the cabin pressure drops, the plane would have to descend to a level below 10,000 feet very quickly. Due to the high mountains between China and Kazakhstan, the route needs to be planned carefully. This “escape route”, a corridor to descend to, is programmed into the navigational system as an alternative route. Thomas Frick explains the exact procedure with the help of Lido maps and visualized on Google Earth.

The Aral Sea – or what’s left of it

It’s a beautiful and at the same time sad view – the salty rings around the last puddles of the sea, once the fourth-largest inland sea in the world. PilotsEYE.tv gives a snapshot of one of humankind’s greatest environmental disasters. Dying waters – waving a heart-shaped goodbye.

Adrenalin on the final approach

Only a couple of minutes left for the Airbus A340 with the call sign HB-JMA now as it approaches the airport when the TCAS, the “Traffic Alert and Collision Avoidance System”, alerts the crew to another aircraft taking off. This aircraft has come so close that pilots are distracted from their approach procedures. Even with an advance warning, the “traffic-traffic” alert guarantees a shot of adrenalin.

Detailed documents for re-experiencing flights

From airway to zero-fuel weight, from loadsheet to flight plan, from weather map to the handwritten notes of the pilots: For the first time, you can download the entire written documents of the flight for free: http://pilotsEYE.tv/downloads Not only simulator captains will appreciate the PEFB (PilotsEYE Flight Briefing), which makes the adventure of flying a bit more authentic.


The DVD and Blu-ray offer the German language with English and French subtitles.
Shop: https://petv.co/amzpvg

The Video on Demand Version caters 24 languages.
VoD: https://petv.co/vodpvg

DVD:     ISBN 9783940358035    EAN 4260139480036    ASIN B005V28XA6
Blu-ray: ISBN 9783940358134    EAN 4260139480135    ASIN B005V28X9C

Flight data & Crew

  • Flight no.: LX 188/189
  • Aircraft: Airbus A340-313
  • Run time: 120 min
  • Captain |
    Thomas Frick
  • Captain |
    Manuela Durussel
  • Captain |
    Hans-Conrad Stamm





  • Full orbit (holding pattern) at cruise level
  • Swiss precision with cockpit egg timer
  • Monitored approach in Shanghai
  • Flirting and flying at flight level 230
  • Join the crew at the EXPO 2011
  • Rapid decompression escape routes
  • The Aral Sea – or what’s left of it
  • Bonus: Observe the full ‘Abnormal Procedure’