A PROVEN CONCEPT
Airlines around the world are benefiting daily from Airbus’ unique commonality, which results from the company’s pioneering use of fly-by-wire technology, along with its application of standardised cockpit layouts and operational procedures.
Fifteen of Airbus’ aircraft models – from the 100-seat A318 to the world's largest airliner, the 525-seat A380 – feature similar flight decks and handling characteristics. This commonality across the Airbus product line enables the multi-qualification of pilots and reduced pilot training times, while bringing significant savings through streamlined operational procedures.
With Airbus’ Cross Crew Qualification concept, fly-by-wire qualified pilots are positioned for an easy transition among the single-aisle A320 Family, the twin-aisle A330 and A340 aircraft, as well as the A380 through straightforward and rapid differential training – rather than full type rating training. For instance, transition training from A320 Family to the A330/A340 is 27 days, compared to a full course A330/A340 training duration of 49 days.
Such streamlining results in lower training costs for airlines and considerably increased crew productivity, with annual savings in training and payroll costs of 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 Airbus-qualified; for pilots, this benefit provides greater mobility and better prospects for employment.
A MIXED-FLEET APPROACH
Building on Airbus’ operational commonality, a growing number of airlines are implementing Mixed Fleet Flying operations. With 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 very long-haul flights on the A330 and A340.
Everyone benefits from the Mixed Fleet Flying operations, beginning with the long-haul pilot, who is provided more takeoff and landing opportunities – eliminating the need for currency training and reducing sleep-cycle disruption. Short-haul crews switching to long-haul flights experience less fatigue from high-cycle operations. For airlines, the increase in revenue hours flown due to reduced standby results in significant productivity increases.
Mixed Fleet Flying also enables airlines to interchange differently-sized aircraft on short notice without crew-scheduling difficulties, allowing them to better match aircraft capacity to passenger demand. This has become a routine practice with carriers operating several members of the A320 Family, who can quickly interchange their A319s, A320s and A321s based on actual capacity booked per flight – all while using the same pool of pilots.