Airbus has begun pre-delivery tests for the initial A380 to enter commercial service, which will be delivered to Singapore Airlines this October. In parallel, the first pilots from this Asian carrier are completing their qualification to fly the 21st Century flagship.
Singapore Airlines' no. 1 A380 is now back in Toulouse, France, after returning from Hamburg, Germany where it was ferried to be painted and fitted with its cabin interior. The aircraft was assembled at Toulouse, the home to the A380 final assembly line.
Airline pilot training courses for the A380 began in June, with eight Singapore Airlines pilots starting the ground phase of the standard type rating course at their Singapore headquarters facility. Completion of the training is being done at Airbus Training in Toulouse using the flight simulator and the aircraft itself.
Airbus has received validation from the European, American and Canadian civil aviation authorities for its first three A380 pilot training courses, which were approved after an evaluation process that began on 16 April.
The courses include the A380 standard type rating for pilots with no previous Airbus fly-by-wire experience, and two cross crew qualification (CCQ) courses for pilots transitioning from the A330 and the A340. A team of four pilots from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Transport Canada Civil Aviation (TCCA) acted as evaluators, while 10 pilots representing the authorities tested out the training.
One crew evaluated the A330 to A380 CCQ, another crew tested the A340 to the A380 CCQ, and three crews tried out the standard type-rating course. The team found that the A380 had very similar handling characteristics to the A330/A340, and crews had no difficulty in flying the aircraft. The main differences were in the pilot interfaces, i.e. the onboard information system and the flight management system, which are covered in detail in the training.
Feedback received during evaluation will allow Airbus to continue to offer the best possible course for pilots. Development of the courses began in January 2004, and the civil aviation authorities were involved from the very beginning of the process.
Also read our Feature story about Airbus' Hamburg facility, where an extended runway will allow for A380 acceptance flights and the creation of a new delivery centre.