Susannah Crabol, Flight Training Solutions Manager, Airbus provides an update on how Airbus has adapted is flight training business to the new normal.

Early this year the world progressively entered into lockdown; country after country began grounding flights as a reaction to the spread of Covid-19. In a very few weeks more than 70% of the world’s air traffic had ground to a halt.

We train for the unexpected, but nothing had prepared the world for this.

It was 16 March 2020 when lockdown started in France, and employees nationwide were asked to adapt to working from home. Airbus Flight Training launched its Covid taskforce to help guide the flight training network through the crisis and begin preparations for the eventual resumption of normal operations.

Despite the uncertain situation, initially two things were clear: 1) We didn’t know where this was taking us, and 2) Like most training providers, we had to ensure operations, but unlike others, as an OEM, our customers and even the industry looked to us to lead and provide solutions for the return to operations and preparation for the future.

Airbus Head of Flight Training Worldwide, Capt Jean-Michel Bigarré, stated: “We had to react quickly to support a reduced number of operations and to guarantee a maximum effort to help the return of our customers to operations at the flick of a switch. Certainly our worldwide centralised Airbus Training Operations greatly helped the situation, with clear guidance, collaborative and innovative solutions via the worldwide network input that could be simply constructed and deployed globally.”

A careful and detailed risk analysis revealed four distinctive and urgent requirements:

  1. Maintain Training Approvals (continuity of authorities’ approvals and preparation for compliance with anticipated new regulations);
  2. Manage Reduced Operations within our worldwide training network for ab initio training through to Type Rating, Recurrent Training & Checking;
  3. Prepare for the Return to Operations to provide support to our customers;
  4. Adapt to the Next Flight Training World – how to anticipate, prepare, and support both our customers and our industry with flight training solutions.

“We were dealing with an unprecedented situation, but thanks to the expertise in our team, we were able to react proactively and support the authorities worldwide,” said Capt Olivier Mazzoleni from Airbus Flight Training International Regulatory Affairs.

In addition to the minimum vital actions such as providing health and safety guidelines, maintaining a core team standardised in each training centre to ensure the return to operations, and providing guidance to national authorities, Airbus Flight Training devised several essential solutions:

  • A process of classroom instruction via video-conferencing was created, written and deployed to immediate approval by authorities, allowing ab initio theoretical training to continue in the flight school network, and introducing the concept to the type rating phase where possible;
  • Increased distance learning in the advanced flight training phase;
  • Renewed Recency programme, better adapted to the new reality;
  • Airbus Pilot Relaunch Program: providing several solutions for training for pilots who have been grounded for an extended period. In particular the APRP allows flexible options for instructors to adapt to the individual and using Competency Based Training & Assessment training philosophy.

Airbus continues to provide support to authorities and customers, and knows full well the crisis is not yet over. However, positive signs of air traffic picking up are promising and Airbus Flight Training is fully prepared and ready to “take-off” again.