Airlines and pilots can take full advantage of the Airbus commonality concept, making aircraft operations, training and maintenance easier while reducing the costs associated with pilot training time.
Cockpits across the company’s product line – from the smaller A320 Family to widebody A330, A350 XWB and A380 – are highly similar, and at their heart is the fly-by-wire system, whose digital electronic flight controls improve handling and stability while reducing pilot workload.
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 per cent.
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 widebody 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.