Airbus test pilot profile: Karl-Heinz Mai

14 September 2012

For Karl-Heinz Mai, flying the A400M airlifter is more than a job…it’s a passion.

This member of the Airbus experimental test pilot team has a lifetime love for aviation, tracing the origins back to his earliest days.   “My passion literally started at home, as my father was a pilot – so I can say I was born into aviation,” he explained.  “My own interest developed from reading magazines and books, and dreaming about becoming a pilot one day.”

Mai said test flying is a rigorous job – something much different than the glorified view often seen in movies, especially those portraying the early days of aviation. 

“Today, a great deal of my time is spent in design reviews, flight simulator sessions and meetings, with much of this activity occurring years before we actually begin flying a new aircraft such as the A400M,”  he said.  “And once we actually start the test flying, there is a significant amount of time dedicated to advance preparations; while after each flight, there are the reviews, report writing and working with the engineers.”

Mai has piloted everything from microlight aircraft to jet fighters, including heavy transports and maritime patrol aircraft.  Asked what his most favourite aircraft are, Mai said he has most enjoyed flying gliders, as well as the legendary F-4 Phantom fighter…and, of course, the A400M!