ESTABLISHING AN INDUSTRY STANDARD
Since the company’s beginning, Airbus has emphasised designed-in commonality across its family of modern jetliners – which makes training, operations and maintenance easier and less expensive for the global customer base.
This focus began with physical commonality, as Airbus’ derivative of the milestone A300 widebody jetliner – the A310 – shared a common airframe configuration and systems. As Airbus began introducing new technologies, both the A300 and the A310 were equipped with the same Forward Facing Crew Cockpit, allowing highly efficient two-member flight crews to transition easily from one aircraft type to the other.
The commonality concept was advanced significantly during the 1980s with Airbus’ A320 and its pioneering introduction of digital fly-by-wire controls for the civil air transportation industry. Benefitting from the similar handling qualities provided with fly-by-wire, along with the identical cockpits and operating procedures were applied to all of the A320 Family’s versions, pilots are able to fly the A318, A319, A320 and A321 with only a single type rating.
In addition, fly-by-wire qualified pilots are positioned for an easy transition between the A320 Family and Airbus’ larger A330, A340, A380 and A350 XWB aircraft through straightforward and rapid differential training, as part of Airbus’ Cross Crew Qualification concept. With this commonality concept, pilots are more versatile and productive for their airlines, while keeping their skills sharp by flying a greater variety of routes.
MORE EFFICIENT OPERATIONS
Building on the commonality of Airbus jetliners, many airlines are implementing Mixed Fleet Flying operations. As a result of this process, a pilot can be current on more than one fly-by-wire aircraft type simultaneously, and – for example – regularly transition from short- and medium-haul flights with A320 Family jetliners to long-haul flights on the A330 and A350 XWB.
Airbus commonality extends from the flight deck into the passenger cabin as well, with a maximum use of similar systems, control panels and procedures within the various aircraft families. As a result, cabin personnel benefit from the familiarity aspects on various Airbus types, while aircraft maintenance is eased with the high inter-changeability of systems and parts.
CCQ is a unique concept developed by Airbus, which gives pilots the possibility of transitioning from one Airbus FBW-equipped type to another via difference training instead of full type rating training. The transition training from A320 Family aircraft to the A380 takes 13 working days, from A330/A340 Family aircraft it takes 12 working days, while a pilot with no Airbus FBW experience requires 24 working days to complete the A380 standard type rating course. These time savings lead to lower training costs for airlines and considerably increased crew productivity. The annual savings in training and payroll costs through improved productivity from the reduced transition time can be up to $300,000 for each new Airbus aircraft added to the fleet. It is also more economical for an airline to recruit new pilots who are already Airbusqualified. For pilots, this benefit provides greater mobility and better prospects for employment.