The commonality feature of Airbus’ fly-by-wire jetliner families is marking 25 years of operations, providing benefits that range from enhanced fleet deployment, improved efficiency and better scheduling for airlines to greater productivity, proficiency and job satisfaction for pilots.
Airbus’ A320 was the first fly-by-wire airliner to enter commercial service, providing a cornerstone in the company’s forward-looking approach that brought cockpits and flight controls into the modern era.
The commonality results from Airbus’ continuous application of similarities in cockpit layout and functionality – along with shared aircraft handling characteristics and similarity in systems – across its product line of fly-by-wire aircraft.
Today, Airbus commonality covers everything from the single-aisle A320 Family (composed of the A318, A319, A320 and A321) to the widebody A330, A340, A350 XWB and the double-deck A380.
Within the twin-engine A320 Family, flight crew members can perform Single Fleet Flying – easily shifting among the various aircraft models, thereby flying multiple versions with the same type rating.
And while the long-range A330 and next-generation A350 XWB have different type certificates, their handling characteristics are so similar that they have been granted a Common Type Rating from the airworthiness authorities.
To transition from an A330 to the A350 XWB, pilots use laptop-based systems and ground-based trainers, eliminating the mandatory need for expensive full-flight simulators and a full type rating check ride.
The pilots can then be assigned to both the A330 and A350 under terms of a single licence endorsement – another example of Single Fleet Flying that results directly from Airbus commonality.
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