Flight simulator centre and aircraft maintenance capability will be set up in Australia

FlightSafety Boeing (FSB) Training International is to set up a joint-venture flight simulator centre and aircraft maintenance training capability in partnership with Virgin Blue at its Brisbane, Australia base.

The centre will initially provide at least six flight simulators, with room for more. Four are expected to be installed at start-up. The partners have not detailed the simulator types, but sources close to the deal expect that two will be Boeing Next Generation 737s, one will be a 737-300/400/500 Classic, and the fourth a 717. Further capacity will be determined by the airline's long-expected fleet decision.

The venture will relieve Virgin Blue's fast-growing dependence on offshore providers for type ratings and simulator recurrent training, and will provide significant third-party training capacity, targeting nearby Asian carriers. One or two regional turboprop types are also likely to be represented, and the former Ansett BAe 146 simulator operated by the Ansett administrators in Melbourne may also be acquired and installed. Qantas would be a major customer for BAe 146 and 717 simulators.

FSB will manage and operate the centre, and will own three of the four simulators, with Virgin Blue owning the fourth (a 737NG). The Brisbane centre is FSB's fourth in the Asia-Pacific region: others are in Kunming, China; Seoul, South Korea; and Singapore.

The centre will adjoin Aviation Australia's A$10 million ($5.6 million) maintenance and overhaul training facility, which was formed with Boeing Australia managing director David Gray playing a major role. Some observers believe the centre, established and owned by the Queensland government but destined for privatisation, would provide the maintenance training facet of the new FSB/Virgin facility.

Remaining capacity will provide Airbus A320 or 737NG simulation, depending on Virgin Blue's decision on its future single-type fleet.

Source: Flight International