Aeroflot is capitalising on similarities with the Airbus A320 to aid training of its initial batch of Sukhoi Superjet 100 pilots, in the absence of a full-flight simulator.

The Russian flag carrier is expecting to have six qualified Superjet instructor pilots when a month-and-a-half training scheme at Moscow Zhukovsky is completed shortly.

They will handle the first Aeroflot airframe, 97008, on the initial passenger services plus training of line pilots to the new type. In lieu of a full simulator, a flight-training device has been used to pre-train experienced A320 pilots who have then progressed to flying the Superjet prototypes.

More than 50 flights have been made with Sukhoi test pilots sharing controls with Aeroflot trainees.

Aeroflot cockpit crew training head Aleksander Miroshnichenko says he is not concerned by the lack of simulator training since the selected pilots are seasoned A320 instructors, and the Superjet has similarities with the Airbus.

"Both aircraft have a sidestick and a glass cockpit on LCDs. Thanks to the similarity of these types, A320 pilots will master the Superjet 100 with no problem. I say this without any hesitation."

Aeroflot will need 11 pilots per airframe and the second phase of crew training will see the six instructors teaching less-experienced pilots.

This will not take place at Zhukhovsky but at the Ivanovo aerodrome and, off-peak at night, at Moscow Sheremetyevo.

Conversion for pilots coming off A320s will take 2.5 months. "Many things are now done on real aircraft since the flight simulator is not ready yet," says Aeroflot Aviation School director Stanislav Tulsky.

Aeroflot was scheduled to take delivery of the second Superjet simulator in late 2011, behind Superjet International in Venice, but after a revision is likely to receive the first - possibly around August.

"Until the simulator is in place, we will continue to populate Superjet cockpits with experienced A320 pilots," says Tulsky. "We are prepared and have everything to prepare enough pilots so that newly delivered Superjets will not stay grounded."

Source: Flight International