Throughout its history, Airbus has taken an industry-leading role in equipping its aircraft with modern cockpits that reduce pilot workload, ensure optimum stability and provide excellent handling characteristics – all while delivering highly effective operations for airlines around the globe.
Airlines and pilots can take full advantage of the Airbus fly-by-wire technology and its commonality philosophy, making aircraft operations, training and maintenance easier, while reducing the costs associated with pilot training time.
Airbus’ two versions of the fly-by-wire A220 can be operated by pilots with a common type rating, while the other members of Airbus’ product line – from the single-aisle A320 Family to the wide-body A330, A350 XWB and A380 – also are fly-by-wire aircraft that share highly similar cockpit layouts, providing the added benefit of common type ratings and mixed-fleet flying.
The A220 Family’s state-of-the-art flight cockpit was developed to be simple, cost-effective and smart – while also reducing pilot workload and encouraging more heads-up flying. It includes such intuitive on-board equipment as a phase of flight management system (FMS), two-mode fly-by-wire flight controls and sidestick controllers.
This cockpit layout enables pilots to fly the A220 Family’s two versions – the A220-100 and longer-fuselage A220-300 variant – with the same type rating.
The A320 Family benefits fully from the features of Airbus commonality, which airlines have come to depend on for maximum operational versatility, optimal economic efficiency and the best use of flight, cabin and maintenance crews.
Pilots can fly the A318, A319, A320 and A321 with a Single Type Rating thanks to their identical cockpits and operating procedures.
This means that an A320 Family-qualified pilot can step into any of the four aircraft at any time – allowing airlines with multiple Family versions to schedule the aircraft best matched to passenger bookings of a specific route on any day, with a range of seating options from 100 to 240 passengers.
The A330 benefits from the advanced Airbus cockpit design, which receives high marks from the thousands of pilots who fly Airbus aircraft daily.
The A330 Common Type Rating allows pilots to transition from A330 to A350 XWB aircraft in only eight days without full flight simulator sessions. This enables carriers to use a single-fleet flying concept with a pool of pilots qualified for both aircraft, providing increased scheduling flexibility and mobility.
Airbus is building on its cockpit design heritage to innovate and evolve the A350 XWB’s display technology further than the advances made by the A380. Six very large liquid crystal display (LCD) screens replace the 10 large LCDs on the A380, providing ample room to show all the flight and system information needed for modern air travel, with an additional display area available for future requirements.
The identical display screens are fully interchangeable and have the same part number for reduced spares requirements, while the advanced design and mature technology reduce maintenance costs by up to 80%.
While benefitting from Airbus’ industry-leading cockpit design, the A380’s flight deck has been further evolved to incorporate the latest advances in technology for displays, flight management systems and navigation.
The A380 cockpit’s main instrument panel has eight identical large interactive displays, with cursor control provided through a track-ball. These displays provide a much larger screen area with clearer presentations, augmented by a HUD (head-up display) that increases pilot situational awareness – particularly during the approach and landing phase.
Another advantage of Airbus commonality is a pilot's ability to be current on more than one Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft type at a time. This is known as Mixed Fleet Flying, and enables a properly-rated pilot to switch from A330 wide-body operations to single-aisle flights at the controls of the A320 Family. Allowing operations by a common pool of pilots, Mixed Fleet Flying opens new crew scheduling possibilities and provides a mix of flying opportunities that are highly appreciated by pilots.
Common Type Rating and Mixed Fleet Flying concepts also result in significant benefits for airline profitability.