Swissair says it will take advantage of its plans to operate a fleet made up of fly-by-wire Airbus Industrie types, to train its pilots for mixed fleet flying (MFF). The move could see the carrier becoming the first major airline with all of its pilot group able to fly every aircraft in the fleet.

Having pilots who can fly short range narrowbody A320s and long-range widebody A330s will contribute to the airline's planned reduction in flightcrew costs by 20%, says Swissair.

The Swiss flag carrier says it will be operating an all-Airbus fleet by 2002. The airline is phasing out its conventionally controlled A310s this year and by 2002 will have retired all its Boeing 747s and Boeing MD-11s, which are being replaced by A340-600s.

Pilots will require separate type ratings for the A320 and the A330, but the airline says the aircraft's sidestick digital flying controls and extensive flight deck commonality make MFF feasible. The four-engined A340 may also be included in the MFF programme, says Swissair.

Cathay Pacific has performed extensive groundwork on MFF, with its A330 twinjets and A340s setting procedural precedents. Crew qualify on one of the types, gain experience operationally, then qualify on the other type. They carry out recurrent training alternately on each type, to keep costs at one-type levels. Airbus says there are 12 airlines operating MFF.

Source: Flight International