San Francisco A380

The final flights of JR

Flight description

The 12th episode shows for the first time the entire round-trip flight in an A380-800 during the final flights of the highest-ranking Lufthansa pilot, Jürgen Raps.
Thanks to ash cloud an hour faster

The eruption of Icelandic volcanoes usually means the disruption of the entire European air space. Not the “Grímsvötn”. When it erupted on this day only the lower layers of the atmosphere to the northeast were affected. This meant that the route to the US West Coast had to be shifted far to the north at the last minute – gaining an hour – past the ash cloud that could be seen in the distance.

Two mice and no cheese

Part of the film is devoted to innovations in the “sanctum”, in what is presently the newest and most modern cockpit in the world, which only a few people have been allowed to set foot in up to now.

The first thing you see are the numerous screens and two “palm stones” that resemble ostrich eggs – which turn out to be computer mice especially designed for pilots. They make it possible to move the cursor properly even when there is turbulence. PilotsEYE.tv shows the flagship cockpit, the pride and joy of the pilots.

Stopping on a dime

BTV stands for “brake to vacate” a newly developed system that reduces wear and tear on the brakes and which at the same time provides better passenger comfort. How these first-ever “power brakes” calculate in advance the braking distance and determine how far the plane will roll before it comes to a stop is explained in this episode in a way that anybody can understand.

Water fountains and fanfares

A special ritual at airports is saying goodbye with the so-called water salute in which approx. 50-meter high arches of water are sprayed over the aircraft by two fire trucks. In the background you can hear the overture to “Tannhäuser” by Richard Wagner, Raps’ favorite composer.

The seventh eye on the tail

At the highest point on what is currently the largest passenger airplane in the world, on the fin, is the ETACS or tail camera. This mini camera gives the pilots a bird’s eye view of the plane. This is absolutely essential for moving on the ground as an Airbus A380 measures almost 80 meters across. For the first time PilotsEYE.tv was allowed to tap the camera signal.

This Airshow is not just a bunch of hot air

Who hasn’t at one time or another cursed the information they were getting on how much longer the flight was going to take. The so-called “Airshow”, the display of all relevant locations and times, has been completely overhauled and improved by Lufthansa in the last few years. Portions of this combination of satellite pictures and real data are integrated into a PilotsEYE.tv film for the first time.

What even pilots can only dream of

“Just once in my life I’d like to get out of the plane, hop on my motorcycle and drive home across the apron.” A wish that was maybe once granted a long time ago to the “magnificent men in their flying machines”. However, today this is not possible due to the hundreds of stipulations and safety and security regulations – that is, it wouldn’t be possible if it weren’t for helpful colleagues and a healthy portion of good will. The ride of the passionate Harley rider “is and will remain a one-time exception in the history of the San Francisco airport,” says the proud airport director.

Engine fire – simulated reality

Parallel to the construction of the first A380s in the hall next door, the type rating, the examination of the first pilots licensed for the A380, is running at full speed. The Airbus instructor has one of the left engines catch fire after being hit by a bird and viewers are witness to an “abnormal procedure”. They see how the pilots go through their checklists, fully focused and calm, and land the plane back on Runway 13L at New York (JFK), the originating airport. With the engine fire extinguished of course.

Just once on top of an A380

A place where you will rarely run into the captain is the top of an airplane, which is inspected on the day of the visit to the assembly hall, as is the cockpit, which shortly before being completed still has normal desk chairs in it. The manual operation of the rudder is amusing to watch. Looking into the bare passenger section of the fuselage that has not yet been fitted out or comparing the size of the landing gear to the people next to it leaves you speechless.

Live your dream, don’t dream your life

“I have never regretted a single day in the 41 years of my professional life. Every day and every mission was as exciting and interesting as I had always wanted it to be,” says Jürgen Raps with a tear in his eye. From the day he began training as a pilot to the very personal well-wishes of people who have accompanied him along the way, including supervisors, the movie sketches the most important stages in the career of one of Germany’s most well-known pilots: “From trainee pilot to the Board of Management”.

Once in my life under the Golden Gate

As far as dimensions go, you could do it with the A380. But the wish refers to the boat excursion that Jürgen Raps treated the 60 friends traveling with him to. We would like to know how a flight captain celebrates with his closest friends. We accompany him on the golf course, on board a catamaran and to dinner on the cliffs overlooking the sea outside the city, located in the middle of the movie.

The Golden Gate – not a cloud in the sky

San Francisco is known for the fog banks that drift over its hills from the sea and conceal the city’s landmarks most of the time. The weather must love Jürgen Raps. On every day of shooting the bridge revealed itself in all its glory especially on the day of the direct flyover in 600 meters for which special authorization was granted. That was a retirement present from NorCal TRACON, Northern California air traffic control.

Greenland, land of beauty

The unusual route permits a rare view of the northernmost active volcano on earth, the Beerenberg volcano on the island of Jan Mayen. The film offers endlessly expansive views when crossing Greenland along the 75th parallel such as e.g. a view of the beautiful Keyser Franz Josef Fjord.

Swinging runway

An aviation left-right combination awaits the crew on the approach to Frankfurt. Over Bischofsheim the plane is reassigned to Runway 25 Left. But just when all the data has been re-entered into the system, it is assigned back to 25 Right. Maybe just to give Jürgen more time to really savor his final minutes at the controls?

Detailed documents for re-experiencing flights

For simulator fliers and fans who want to explore the subject in more depth, PilotsEYE.tv provides the entire set of documents from the flight, some of them handwritten. From the flight plan to the weather map, including the most important ATC messages and the Google route. The PEFB, the “PilotsEYE Flight Briefing”, is available free of charge here (PDF): http://pilotsEYE.tv/downloads

What does the man himself think about all of this?

Jürgen Raps had the privilege to be the first to see the final film but only with a microphone and only by promising that he would comment on every scene. This means that all his thoughts and background explanations can be found on Track 2 – along with the original soundtrack. That should leave no questions unanswered…

The enabler

It was Jürgen Raps, too, who made it possible eight years ago for PilotsEYE.tv to shoot a film with several cameras in a cockpit for the first time worldwide, at that time in an A340 also en route to San Francisco (Series No. 01). We have now come full circle from our beginnings to the end of his career as an active pilot.

Thank you, Jürgen, for this unique opportunity!

That’s Jürgen today (2018) after 6 years of retirement.

DVD: EAN 4260139480227  ISBN 978-3-943781-22-9  ASIN B008426JFQ
BD:   EAN 4260139480326  ISBN 978-3-943781-32-8  ASIN B008426JG0

Flight data & Crew

  • Flight no.: LH 454/455
  • Aircraft: Airbus A380-800
  • Run time: 140 min
  • Captain |
    Jürgen Raps
  • Captain |
    Robert Jülicher
  • Captain |
    Harald Tschira





  • The Golden Gate – not a cloud in the sky
  • Once in my life under the Golden Gate
  • What even pilots can only dream of
  • Engine fire – simulated reality
  • Just once on top of an A380
  • The seventh eye on the tail
  • Greenland, land of beauty
  • Swinging runway
  • The enabler
  • Stopping on a dime
  • Two mice and no cheese
  • Water fountains and fanfares
  • Thanks to ash cloud an hour faster
  • Live your dream, don’t dream your life
  • Detailed documents for re-experiencing flights
  • This Airshow is not just a bunch of hot air
  • What does the man himself think about all of this?