Monday, December 24, 2012


Wishing all former, current and prospective pilots a happy holiday season, and looking forward to a brighter 2013 with more hours and opportunities for everyone!

See you all in 2013!!!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The first few days in Susi Air

If you are successful at the interview, you will normally get a positive reply within 4-5 weeks. You will receive an email confirming this, along with other information pertaining to your start date.  The first thing on the list is the business visa application in Singapore. Your intake group will all be given a date to be in Singapore for the visa application. I recommend you buy a one way ticket from your home base to Singapore and then a return ticket from Singapore to Jakarta on one of the low-cost airlines such as Jetstar, Lion Air, Tiger Airways and Air Asia. You will not use the return leg of this ticket, but the immigration services in Jakarta might start questioning you if you don’t have it. Also, its important to book a hotel in advance. Have a look at or the like for cheap hotels near Orchard Road. I spent 1 night in Singapore, but you can do it in 1 day if you arrive very early. I don’t recommend this though! Susi Air reimburse your hotel room with up to SG 100, so be sure to keep hold of your receipts!

The visa application is done in the morning at McDonalds on Orchard Road. You show up at 8 am and hand in your passport and business visa application (which Susi Air sends you) to Mr. Wahab. You cannot miss him as he sits at his “office” with paperwork all around. He is an agent who takes all the passports to the embassy for processing. Arriving at McDonalds is also the first time you meet many of the other guys in your intake. You will be spending the next 6 weeks together so it’s a good idea to get to know each other quick. Mr. Wahab arrives back in the afternoon around 16h00 with all the passports and hands them back. You are then free to head to Changi Airport and catch your flight to Jakarta.

Arriving in Jakarta you are expected to catch a Bluebird taxi to Susi Air accommodation in Jalan Senjaya III or a hotel that has been arranged. Make sure to take only a Bluebird as I have written before. The next day you attend the medical in North Jakarta. The driver picks you up around 6 am and drives you to the medical centre.  Make sure to bring your passport, foreign license and logbook. There is a blood test, urine test, physical examination, eye test, ear test, chest x-ray, ECG and dental check up. All the tests are normally done by 09h30, but you only receive your results around 12h00. Usually a couple of guys will fail on their cholesterol numbers. Don’t stress as this is quite normal and seems to be very arbitrary!

First Aid Course
The day after the medical you usually have to attend a first aid course in Senjaya. It’s around 4 hours and you learn basic first aid, including how to use a defibrillator, give mouth to mouth and how to dress wounds. There is a short test afterwards but it is all very straight forward. After that your are usually free to check out Jakarta on your own until you have to catch your Susi Air flight to Pangandaran and the start of ground school which will last for 4-6 weeks. More on that next time!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

A few interview topics to consider

Lately I have been asking a few of the new co-pilots to help me out in forming a database of commonly asked questions at the interview. Over the coming weeks I will add more and more on the blog, but for now, here are a few common topics that always seem to spring up:

1) Explain why a plane stalls? What happens to the airflow over the wing? Explain the movement of the centre of pressure up to and after an aerofoil has stalled. Why is there a nose dipping tendency? On top of this they also ask you to write out the lift formula L=CL ½ Þ V2 S and explain the stall using the formula.

2) Engine failure after take off. What are the immediate actions (idle, feather, cut off) and what is the best glide speed? What is the minimum height you need to be at in order to commence a 180* turn and make it back to the field? What factors does a pilot need to bear in mind when doing this (wind, stall speed increases in the turn etc)? If you take off at max weight and you have engine problems (read not failure), are you allowed to come back and land straight away?

3) Meteorology. They ask you to define a host of met terminology. Make sure you know your isobars from your isoclinals and your DALR from your SALR. They also might ask you about thunderstorms and weather associated with a big developing CB, i.e. downdraughts, micro bursts, hail etc.

I hope this can be of some help. I will add more questions as I get more information. Happy job hunting!

Friday, September 28, 2012

Time between sending the application to getting an interview

Many of you have asked me how long it takes from sending the application to being called for the interview. The answer, as anything else in Indonesia, is very arbitrary. Depending on the needs of Susi Air, sometimes guys are contacted within 1-2 weeks. This is especially so if they are looking for guys with high hours and you fit that category. Expect anything from 3 weeks to 3 months.

Also, after completing the interview, it may take up to 1 month to get an answer. I have heard of guys who were told at the interview that they had passed and that they were hired on the spot. This is very rare though! So don't get your hopes up too high! If you have any questions then drop a comment and I will be happy to answer them.

Saturday, September 8, 2012

A few pictures of Susi life

 MAF Caravan
 Papuan locals grabbing what they can get
 Waiting under the wing
 East Nusa Tengara
 Pre-flight oil check
 Flying cargo
 Volcano enroute
 Active volcano
 Refuelling during turnaround
Parked at Cilacap

Monday, September 3, 2012

First Officer Terms and Conditions

Upon employment a refundable bond of US$ 2500 is payable to the company in order to cover training costs and license conversion. You sign a contract and a non-competition agreement that states that you are not allowed to seek employment with any other competing Indonesian company within 24 months of leaving Susi Air. The payscale is as follows:

Monthly Salary as First Officer:
US$ 750.-  until reaching 500 total flight hours 
US$ 900.-  with total flight hours between 501 - 750 
US$ 1.100.-  with total flight hours between 751 – 1.000
US$ 1.250.-  with total flight hours above 1000

Additionally, depending on base allocation:
Papua incentive pay: US$ 20.- per day additional. 
Malinau/Tarakan/Ketapang incentive pay: US$ 15.- per day additional

Salary is net as the company pays tax. It also includes 3 meals a day, accommodation during weeks on duty, transport to/from airport and laundry. The normal roster is 3 weeks “on” and 1 week “off” or 6+2 weeks, again depending on the base. No holiday in during the first 6 months of employment. Expect to spend a year as First Officer before your upgrade to Captain if you arrive with 200 hours total time.

The actual interview and what to prepare

The Susi Air interview has changed a lot during the past few years. Gone are the days where you could be in and out in 1 hour and just have to talk a little about yourself and your career. These days it is more like an actual airline interview and can be really tricky. Susi Air says that only 50% of the guys who go for an interview get the job. This really depends on what the requirements within the company are at the present time and is not always set in stone. If you are good enough you will get the job!

The interview is spread over 2 days as follows:

Day 1: Arrival in Pangandaran. You wil be given a room either at the Susi Hotel or one nearer the beach. There will be a short introduction to the company by the Director of Training and an outline of what to expect during your time in Pangers. Then you will be asked to sit the Compass Test and a psychometric test. They are both computer based and take around 3-4 hours total to do.

The compass test tests your hand-eye coordination (rudder and yoke), memory, motor skills, mental maths, multi tasking and rational thinking. There is a section of 25 questions of pure algebra which you have to complete in 20 minutes. It is basic addition, subtraction, division etc. No calculators are allowed! Below are a few diagrams showing what you can expect, but to be honest you can’t really study for the Compass Test, just do it!:

The psychometric test profiles you by asking the same type of questions over and over again but in different wording every time. There are 255 questions in total. An example could be: I work best alone or I work best in a group etc. Not only are your answers recorded, but the time it takes you to react and answer is also noted. Insider tip! It is only the middle third of the 255 questions that are recorded and used to profile you!

Day 2: After breakfast you will sit the first of 2 written tests. The first is mainly technical questions on C208B systems. There is no time limit. I have made the flight safety C208B Caravan manual available on Dropbox via this link:, make sure you read it through a few times and get a fundamental grasp of the fuel, oil, electrical systems and the PT6 engine. Also, make sure you now the different speeds, Vx, Vy, Vne Vs0, Vs1 as these will be asked. Here are some example questions:

Describe Lift?

Answer: Lift is the phenomenon generated by an aerofoil due to pressure differences above and below the aerofoil. An aerofoil is cambered on its topside and flat on its bottom side. Therefore, the airflow over the top of the aerofoil has to travel farther and thus faster than the airflow below the aerofoil. This causes the pressure blow the aerofoil to be greater than above, creating a pressure difference, which results in an upward lift force.

What is dihedral?

Answer: Dihedral is the upward inclination of a wing from the root to the tip.
How many Nav lights does a C208 Have?

A. 1
B. 2
C. 3 

The GCU controls the starter-Generator and serves what functions?

A. overspeed protection
B. speed sensor
C. starter cut out
D. Voltage regulation and protection from high voltage + reverse current
E. all of the above
Describe Isac Newtons Third law of motion?

Answer: For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. So, to relate this law to lift we can say that the wing causes the air moving past it to curve downward, creating a strong downwash behind the wing. As this mass of air is accelerated downward, the reaction force pushes the wing up.

The second written test is also multiple choice like the first one. This one is mainly principles of flight mixed with some meteorology and IFR procedure questions. All of them CPL level, so if you have just finished your flight training you should have no problems. Remember that for at least the first written test you might be asked to back up your answers with a diagram, i.e drawing the forces acting on an aerofoil when it produces lift. A few sample questions can be seen below:

Frost covering the upper surface of an airplane wing usually will cause:

A. the airplane to stall at an angle of attack that is lower than normal. 
B. the airplane to stall at an angle of attack that is higher than normal.
C. drag factors so large that sufficient speed cannot be obtained for takeoff.

On a wing, the force of lift acts perpendicular to, and the force of drag acts parallel to the

A. flightpath.
B. longitudinal axis.
C. chord line.

What will occur if no leaning is made with the mixture control as the flight altitude increases?

A. The density of air entering the carburetor decreases and the amount of fuel increases.
B. The density of air entering the carburetor decreases and the amount of fuel remains constant
C. The volume of air entering the carburetor decreases and the amount of fuel decreases.

True airspeed is best described as calibrated airspeed corrected for

A. altitude and non-standard temperature. 
B. installation or instrument error.
C. non-standard temperature

A common location of clear air turbulence is

A. near a ridge aloft on the equatorial side of a high-pressure flow.
B. in an upper trough on the polar side of a jet stream.
C. south of an east/west oriented high-pressure ridge in its dissipating stage.

After the written part of the interview, they then decide to throw you into the simulator. It will either be a C172 G1000 (very nice) or a Piper Arrow generic (Microsoft flight simulator, not so nice) sim. You are expected to intercept and fly a radial inbound to a hold, execute a hold entry, fly a hold with correction for wind and shoot an approach (normally a VOR/DME or a VOR/ILS). It’s pretty basic stuff and the only tricky thing is to get used to the G1000 if you are not already.

The final part of the selection process is the personal interview. Normally it is with the Chief Pilot, the Head of Training and the Head of HR. They will start off by looking at your CV and asking questions about your flying career so far, your ambitions, what you plan to do after Susi Air etc. They will also ask questions about your personal life, do you have a girlfriend/wife etc? It can be beneficial to your chances to say no to this as having a spouse is seen as a hassle. They then ask you technical and scenario based questions. Examples:

“You are over high terrain with lots of cloud around and your Captain wants to start descending to the destination airport. What do you do? How do you inform him that it is a bad idea? Help him understand the terrain and the danger of CFIT. If he still does not understand, maybe use the phrase “Captain you must listen” and then take control.”

You are given a company (Susi Air) GPS approach plate and asked if you would do the approach and if there is anything missing. The answer is NO because  a) it is not an official approach plate and b) there is no MSA.

After around 1 hour the interview concludes. Some guys are told straight away that they got the job while most are told after 2-3 weeks via email. The most important thing is to relax, answer as truthfully and to the point as possible and if you don’t know an answer just admit it instead of guessing! After the final day of interviews, make sure you head to Jacko's by the beach and have a few cold Ankers! Ellen even gives pilots a bit of a discount!

Over the coming weeks I will gather as many questions as possible and try post them on the blog. Good luc and hope this all helps!

Thursday, August 30, 2012

So you’ve been invited for the interview...

Congratulations, you are one step closer! Now the hard work begins! First things first, you have to figure out how to get to Indonesia, let alone Jakarta. It can be quite a financial outlay as Susi Air covers none of the costs for its interviewees, only the accommodation while in Pangandaran. The rest is up to you. Expect to pay around USD 1500 for the plane ticket, another 300-400 dollars for hotel in Jakarta before and after the interview in Pangandaran, a decent amount for food, taxi and of course beer! Just for the interview you are looking at USD 2000 plus! Then if you are so unlucky as to actually get the job, you have to pay it all over again, unless of course you stay in Indonesia and backpack around as many people do. Don’t sweat though as you will be able to recoup this money if you get the job and stay on for a few years.

The interviews are usually conducted during midweek of 2-3 days. This is normally on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. This does vary though. Be sure to arrive in Jakarta at least 24 hours before you are to take the Susi Air flight from Halim (the airport Susi Air operate out of in Jakarta) to Pangandaran and schedule your return ticket home at least 24 hours after the last exam or test. Susi Air pays for the Halim-Pangandaran flight, don’t worry!
Pangandaran - Home of Susi Air
With regards to hotels in Jakarta that are safe and decent , I can recommend the following: Max One Hotel in Sabang – around USD 45 a night, Amaris Hotel (there are several in Jakarta), Formula 1 near Menteng or if you are on a budget then try any of the backpacker places along Jalan Jaksa. There is also a lot of cheap hotels in Blok M (the red light district), but I would stay away until you work for Susi Air!  Have a look at,, or even for really cheap deals.

People will also tell you that you are only to take Blue Bird taxis while in Jakarta. This is correct to a degree, although I would also recommend Express and Gamya, I have had no problems with them. Once you arrive in Jakarta and get landside, head straight for the curbside at the terminal where there are lots of signposts for different taxi companies. The Blue Bird one should be easy to spot as it is the one that is most crowded. Make sure you get a numbered piece of paper from the guy in the Blue Bird uniform, this is your sequence in the queue. Now wait, sometimes it takes up to 1 hour before it is your turn! Make SURE you know your bahasa numbers (satu, dua, tiga, empat etc).

On the way to town you have to pay for the toll road (Rp 12,500) and also an airport surcharge of Rp 10,000 and then of course the meter sum when you arrive at your hotel. Whatever you do, do not agree to talk to anyone who walks up to you and says “Blue Bird mister”, it’s just a random guy wanting to charge you overprice!
Blue Bird taxi
For food while in Jakarta, definitely stay away from any street vendors as the last thing you would want is the runs when you are at the interview! There are plenty of good malls with food courts that are cheap and safe. Just of the top of my head I can think of Senayan City, Grand Indonesia, Plaza Semanggi, Taman Anggrek Mall and Pondok Indah Mall. There are a few good places to eat which are cheap. I recommend Solaria, Gado Gado Boplo and Warung Tekko. A main dish will set you back around Rp 25,000 (USD 3). Not too bad.
Downtown Jakarta
Now that you have all the logistics down, it’s time to focus on why you are here in the first place. The interview and all that it encompasses will be covered in my next post!

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Susi Air: History and background

Susi Pudjiastuti and her husband Christian Von Strombeck started Susi Air back in 2004 with initially only 2 Cessna Caravan. These aircraft were purchased in order to ferry lobster from South Java to Jakarta for export, seafood being Susi’s main business at the time. In the aftermath of the terrible Indian Ocean tsunami in 2004, these aircraft helped out in the relief effort, flying equipment, medicine and staff in and out of the hardest hit areas. As such, Susi Air started operations. A base was set up in Medan in 2005 with 3 aircraft and both scheduled and charter flying began.

Over the years more Caravans were added to the fleet and more bases opened up across the Indonesian Archipelago. As of August 2012, the company operates in and out of the following bases: Jakarta, Pangandaran (training centre and HQ) Medan, Bengkulu, Ketapang, Balikpapan, Tarakan, Malinau, Kupang, Biak, Nabire, Manokwari, Wamena and Sentani. The flying is a mix of scheduled and charter routes, with many of them being government subsidized flying into very remote locations. A feeder program has been set up with Garuda Indonesia in order to reach the farthest corners of the country. Susi Air now conducts over 200 flights a day, making it one of the biggest part 135 operators in Indonesia.

Today the total fleet stands at around 50 aircraft, of which around 35 are Caravans, most with the Garmin G1000 avionics suite. These are flown with 2 crew in a multi-crew environment adhering to strict company SOP’s. The company also owns and operates 3 Piaggio Avanti for corporate and medivac flying, 6 Pilatus Porter for mountain flying in Kalimantan and Papua, and 2 helicopters based in Jakarta. More Porters and Caravans are on their way, and rumours of 3 Dornier 228’s arriving soon, persist.

Susi Air has been going through a tough year with the unfortunate loss of 3 aircraft and 4 crew members due to a variety of unlucky factors (weather, runway incursion, dangerous mountain ops etc). As such, a major restructuring of the company has been underway and new management and safety measurements (including internal and external audits) have been put in place to analyze and enhance the safety culture within the organization in order to live up to international standards.

With over 200 pilots working for Susi Air, most of them foreign due to the ongoing pilot shortage in Indonesia and the fact that most locals get snapped up by the airlines as soon as they graduate flying school, Susi Air is a very multi-cultural and diverse workplace. It is a great place to get hours quickly and to learn the CRM and multi-crew skills that are needed once entering the airlines. If you feel like this might be something for you, then please browse through this blog to find all the information you need.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Applying for a position with Susi Air:

All applicants when applying for a position with Susi Air must satisfy the following criteria:

  1. Hold a valid ICAO CPL(SE)+IR which is accepted by the Indonesian DGCA. Holding a multi-engine rating is a plus.
  2. Hold a valid ICAO Class 1 Medical with no restrictions.
  3. Have at least 200 hours total time (this varies according to operational requirements, sometimes guys with 200 hours are overlooked).
  4. All other licenses and documents must be current.
  5. Previously an age limit of 23 was enforced, but this seems to be quite vague as recently many guys have been hired who are younger than this.
  6. Holding a flight instructors license can be an advantage, but do bear in mind that if you state this, there is a good chance that you will be hired to help out in the training department eventually.
Send your application, along with a simple resume (no more than 1-2 pages stating your flying background) and a cover letter to one or all of the following emails:

It usually takes a while for them to get back to you, expect anywhere from 3-6 weeks. They will then send you a document package that you are required to fill out. Based on that they will then invite you to the interview in Indonesia. More on that later!

Introduction to the Susi Air Blog

Good afternoon everyone!

Susi Air has long been a great opportunity for low hour CPL pilots fresh out of flight school and even as a stepping stone for pilots with a few more hours. Flying new Cessna Grand Caravan C208B G1000's in and around Indonesia in a multi-crew, full SOP environment has meant that many Susi Air pilots have become very attractive to airlines once they leave Susi Air. As such it is a great stepping stone and a good kick starter for any young pilot's career!

 I am setting up this blog due to the constant stream of emails and Facebook enquiries I get every week from young wannabees looking for a job with Susi Air. I figured that by making a blog and cramming as much information about the company, its recruitment process, life as a Susi Air pilot, terms and conditions, many guys will get the answers they are looking for all in one place.

 Good luck and I hope you find what you are looking for in your flying career :-)