Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

Air New Zealand and Australia's Ansett Airlines are studying innovative ways of making flight operations and aircrew training more efficient, and are looking to include Singapore Airlines in some of the initiatives, taking advantage of the three-way alliance they announced in July.

Under the Ansett/Air New Zealand plan, the Boeing 767 crews of one airline would fly the other carrier's aircraft on those routes between Australia and Asia which are operated by both carriers on a less-than-daily frequency.

In a typical scenario where an Air New Zealand crew would fly from Brisbane, Australia, to Taipei, Taiwan, and to crew an Ansett 767 on the return flight the following day, the airlines say that crew utilisation would be improved, accommodation costs reduced, and crews would get more home-base time.

To launch the project, the two carriers will exchange senior 767 captains for a period on attachment, to allow them to observe one another's operating procedures with a view to standardisation.

As an initial step, the plan proposes a "straight swap" of flights on the same routes. The airlines recognise that standard operating procedures (SOPs) have to be harmonised while meeting licensing and regulatory requirements.

In a unique standardisation initiative, Ansett expects to save about $7.5 million annually by removing flight engineer (F/E) stations from five of its ten 767-200s. It has been the only airline with F/Es on 767s since1983, when former managing director Sir Peter Abeles gave in to union pressure to install F/E panels on the newly acquired aircraft. More recently, Ansett has acquired several new or used two-crew 767s, but this has meant that pilots had to be separately trained for two- and three-crew operating procedures.

Singapore Airlines is also to exchange senior pilots with Ansett in preparation for a full review of all flight training. The study is likely to assess the optimum mix of line and simulator flying training and the potential for a rationalisation of simulator resources, and it will also evaluate the use of the "tailored training" system already adopted by Ansett.

Source: Flight International