there’s a common type rating between planes, meaning that pilots can often fly multiple types of aircraft:
At most airlines, pilots can fly any variant of a particular type of aircraft; in other words, a pilot might fly the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, and that include the A319, A320, A321, A321neo, A321LR, etc.
When there’s enough cockpit commonality, pilots can sometimes also fly otherwise different types of jets; for example, the 757 and 767 can have a common type rating, as can the A330 and A350
Well, Airbus has just taken it to the next level when it comes to common type ratings.
Pilots at All Nippon Airways (ANA) will soon engage in mixed fleet flying (MFF) for the Airbus A380 and A320. This follows approval for the plan by Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB). ANA will be the first airline in the world to introduce mixed fleet flying between the A380 and A320.
In other words, a pilot might fly an Airbus A380 one day, and then the next day might fly an Airbus A320. While flying between fleet types isn’t unheard of (as I explained above), the A380 and A320 are very different planes. The maximum takeoff weight of the A380 is nearly 10x as much as that of the A320. Wow!
The benefits to airlines here are huge:
This allows a lot more efficient scheduling, since you have a larger pool of pilots who can fly either plane, rather than just one plane; that means you need fewer reserve pilots, hours can more easily be optimized, etc.
This is especially valuable at the moment, when ANA has grounded much of its A380 fleet, meaning those pilots don’t have a lot of flying, and for that matter are struggling to stay “current” on their rating; they can now start flying the A320
In theory this also allows airlines to better match capacity to demand last minute; in other words, if a flight isn’t very full then a smaller plane could be substituted with the same pilots, though I doubt that will be happening much between the A380 and A320 😉
So, What is MFF?
According to Airbus, MFF is unique to Airbus aircraft. As a result of flight deck and aircraft control systems it enables pilots to be certified to operate more than one type from the Airbus fly-by-wire product line on a regular and concurrent basis. At ANA this will enable crews to fly a mixed pattern of short and long haul services.
Airbus commonality extends from the flight deck into the passenger cabin as well, with a maximum use of similar systems, control panels and procedures within the various aircraft families. The unique level of technical commonality between Airbus fly-by-wire aircraft also streamlines maintenance procedures, resulting in significantly reduced costs.
“MFF offers airlines increased flexibility and cost-efficiency and has become one of the keys to Airbus’ success. For airlines, the increase in revenue hours flown by pilots due to less standby and downtime results in a significant improvement in productivity.” According to Stéphane Ginoux, Head of North Asia region for Airbus and President of Airbus Japan.
MFF also enables airlines to interchange differently sized aircraft at short notice without crew-scheduling difficulties, allowing them to better match aircraft capacity to passenger demand.
What do you think about the MFF between A320 and A380? Comment down below!