Dr. Stefan Krauss - Flying as a family passion

The two lives of Dr. Stefan Krauss

Esther Nestle
11.10.2019
3 pictures
5 minutes

Sometimes two lives are too much. Not so in the case of Dr. Stefan Krauss, who runs a law firm in his first life. His second life starts where planes are brought to life, where they roll off, ascend, fly away. Two lives that at first glance can hardly be reconciled. And yet: on closer inspection and listening, exciting overlaps become visible in an almost unique profile.

Interview with Dr. Stefan Krauss

Dr. Krauss, while your contemporaries celebrated their 25 kilometre freedom on mopeds, you already enjoyed the great freedom above the clouds. Alone!

It was the 6th of September 1980. This date is firmly engraved in my memory. The experience of sitting alone in a glider for the first time was formative, it was outstanding. Nobody behind me whispers instructions into my ear. No one was there to take responsibility for me. I alone bore the full responsibility. From that memorable day on there was only the plane and me.

You were there 15 years young. You were not allowed to drive yet.

Flying is easier than driving a car. Flying is really not rocket science! If the training fits, then almost everyone can do it. In the 34 years that I’ve been training pilots, there were maybe two or three to whom I had to say “listen, it’s better you stay on the bike or learn to play tennis”. I have the same experience as an examiner. I take about 30, 40 exams a year, in all categories. Unlike the car driving test, the failure rate is very low.

The acquisition of the glider pilot license was only the beginning of your personal “flag pole”.

The next logical step was the acquisition of the private pilot license, PPL for short. Holders of this license are entitled to fly aircraft up to a total weight of two tons. This training can be started today at the age of 16. At the age of 18 I held the PPL license in my hands. This was followed by the German Armed Forces, where I signed up as a regular soldier for two years, which gave me a lot of advantages. Thus I was allowed to change in the second year into the academy of sports, obtained during this time the gliding aerobatics licence, trained as a gliding instructor and finally as a gliding aerobatics instructor.

It would have had a certain logic if you had made your hobby your profession?

Actually, that was what I had in mind. I applied to Lufthansa, entered the selection process – and was not accepted. It’s nice that the circle is just closing, because our eldest son has successfully completed his Lufthansa selection procedure and training as a commercial pilot to the delight of all of us. But I took to the legal profession.

Nevertheless, flying would not let me go, not even during my law studies: Thanks to my flight instructor qualification, I was able to stay afloat financially during this time. During this time I gathered many flight hours and gained a lot of practical experience. In 1999 I got my professional pilot’s license with the instrument rating and since 2007 I am authorized to fly twin-jet jets. Since then I have also been regularly in the air for and with my clients in so-called factory traffic and can now look back on over 6,200 flying hours of experience.

Over the years, you have built up considerable expertise in aviation. Do you also benefit from these skills in your work as a lawyer?

Well, flying is different from other hobbies. Here you ALWAYS have to think about what comes out of it. You can’t just stop when things get difficult. Always have to think about it: Which is the safest way? And: What is the safest alternative? If it doesn’t go on, then I turn around – that’s something everyone has to keep in mind! This consequence also helps me in my professional activity as a lawyer. Seen in this light, flying and law have many parallels.

You are a recognized flight examiner, also for instrument flight. In addition you are listed as an expert at the German Federal Aviation Authority in Braunschweig. What exactly are your areas of responsibility?

Those who want to complete the instrument flight training have to practice 30 to 60 hours in the aircraft and in the flight simulator. If they are fit enough, the examinees have to prove what they have learnt in practice: Here we fly the same procedure as in the big planes, just a little slower.

In your work as a lawyer, aviation law has established itself as a second focal point alongside labour law. This is where your two lives meet.

My expertise in aviation provides valuable services when I represent pilots or their relatives in aviation accidents. When pilots come and say “in the accident report this and that is said, but I have experienced it this way and that way”, then I can understand the respective argumentations exactly and can form a judgement.

Do you have an example from your practice?

In the case of one client, the engine failed immediately after the start. Two people died in the emergency landing. I was able to prove that not all the maintenance work was carried out; in fact, not all the items on the engine manufacturer’s checklist were completed. It is obvious that “aeronautical expertise” provides valuable services in the assessment of such cases.

In the second part of this interview, we will talk about aircraft accidents and the current trend towards flying ultralight aircraft. Before the interview comes to landing we will fly a little loop over the territory of aviation law. See you soon!

All pictures © Dr. Stefan Krauss

by Esther Nestle

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