After a 15-year stint flying fast jets for the Luftwaffe, Werner Muehl decided he did not want to become an airline pilot. Instead, he chose a career with fractional provider NetJets Europe.
What sparked your interest in aviation?
During the Cold War, there were seven so called “Low Flying Areas” established all over Germany. Military fighter jets were allowed to fly as low as 250ft within these areas. I grew up in “Low Flying Area 7” and throughout my childhood I witnessed a lot of fast low-flying military jets. They were fun to watch and they sparked my interest in aviation. So it was only logical that I wanted to become a fighter pilot myself.
Tell us about your career so far
I joined the German air force in 1985 as an aircraft maintenance officer to work on the brand new Panavia Tornado. I learned all about the aircraft systems and it was always a dream for me to fly these aircraft. This dream came true for me after as I changed my career and became a fighter pilot. It was fantastic to fly the Tornado, and I already knew the technical side inside out which was a clear advantage for me. After 15 years flying and instructing, my air force career ended at the age of 41 and I applied for a position as first officer with business aircraft fractional ownership company NetJets Europe. I joined NetJets in 2005 on the Hawker 800, was upgraded to captain in 2006 and trained as a line trainer in 2007. Three years later, I took on an additional role as customer service instructor, to train flight and cabin crews in different soft skills like cultural differences, conflict management and stress management. In 2015, I was selected for the position as line training captain in the implementation team of the brand new Cessna Citation Latitude. I enjoy flying this modern state-of-the-art business jet very much.
What have been the highlights?
I feel very blessed that I’ve come from being a maintenance guy to a fighter pilot and now working for NetJets. There were many highlights in my flying carrier. Of course my first solo ever on the Piaggio P149D at the end of the flight screening course. My first supersonic flight; my first lowlevel flight at 100ft above the terrain in Canada; my first Atlantic crossing from Europe to the USA flying with air refuelling support. Living in the USA for four years, instructing young pilots how to fly a heavy fighter bomber and training future instructors on Tornado jets. Since I joined NetJets every flying tour is a highlight. The lifestyle is unique, having six days flying and five days off. I have never considered flying for NetJets as work, it’s rather a passion.
Why did you decide pursue a career in business aviation?
Before I joined NetJets, I met an old friend who was flying for an airline and he told me he was flying the Hamburg to Munich route four times a day. I knew instantly that this wouldn’t be my cup of tea. At NetJets we fly to over 900 destinations in Europe. Almost every tour I fly to an airport where I’ve never been before.
What does your job entail?
Our owners are used to a lifestyle where they regularly enjoy extraordinary service levels. These VVIPs always have high expectations. To achieve those high standards, we employ only very experienced and highly motivated crew members. We have to prove twice a year in the simulator that we achieve the high standards of NetJets and that we comply with the required standards defined by the wider aviation authorities.
What are your main challenges as a NetJets line training captain?
Keeping up the high standards in safety and service is our daily challenge. As a line training captain, I help our crews to comply with our standard operating procedures to enhance safety, and give advice on achieving the highest service levels possible. Our owners link a good first impression directly to a professional attitude and performance of our crew members. Appearance, attitude and professional behaviour define the company culture of NetJets. Surveys with our owners show that they appreciate the high standards of professionalism of our crews. We help to keep it this way.