King of Netherlands has a double-life as a commercial pilot


There’s no trade-off. A pilot with thousands of hours of flight time (unless he’s past retirement age) will always be preferable to someone with few hours. If the King of Netherlands had been in Sully Sullenberger’s position, he would’ve royally lawndarted the plane with 155 fatalities. Do you also prefer “hobbyists” when you seek medical attention or legal advice?


Prince William used to be an air-sea rescue pilot with the RAF, and now he flies an air ambulance chopper.


Bruce Dickinson is also a member of the RAF Reserves


Commercial jets are flown by teams, not individuals, and are highly regulated. If twice a month is enough to keep his hand in (and half my family’s in the industry, and that sounds about right to me), then so be it.


If by “hobbyist” you mean someone with the same training then, depending on the circumstances, it can be a good idea.


He is fully trained and rated for the types he flies. So not a hobbyist but a pro that works part-time.
Like one of my doctors, come to think of. And the legal counsel at my last job.


It’s not “incompetence” we’re talking about, it’s relative levels of experience. Someone who has tens of thousands of hours of experience will have had occasion to be exposed to, or have familiarity with, more of those exceeding rare situations where seconds cannot be wasted. To return (again) to Sully: when they tried to recreate in a simulator what Sully did, experienced pilots crashed the plane again and again when they chose an alternate “solution.”

Additionally (I dont know the specifics of the King’s schedule) but if he is taking off/landing at many different airports, that’s another risk factor. A pilot with tens of thousands of hours will likely have great familiarization with every airport he lands at. If you watch Mayday Air Crash Investigation, there are several episodes involving pilots (experienced ones, no less) arriving at an airport configuration for the first time, not adequately familiarizing themselves with the particulars, with disastrous results.

Is it really so remarkable to prefer to not have a “hobbyist” as one’s airplane pilot?


I think I would trust Willem-Alexander to fly an aircraft that I’m on more than I would trust Bashar Al-Assad to perform surgery on my eyes.


I’m surprised nobody here has connected this with the recent controversy about the purchase of the new Dutch government plane.

The old plane (a Fokker 70, occasionally piloted by the king) is mostly used to fly members of government around, but is getting old, hard to maintain, and the range is too short to fly non-stop to many countries, which is obviously a rather important role for the plane. So the government needs a new plane with better range. The Airbus ACJ319 is a perfect fit, and 15 million cheaper and more modern than a Boeing 737. The government has still decided to buy a 737 instead, because the king was already training to fly a 737.

I was wondering why he didn’t simply switch to training for the Airbus, but apparently this is the reason. I suspect KLM has plenty of 737s for him to fly, and not the right model Airbus. So the government is basically paying 15 million extra to support the king’s hobby.


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