Commercial airline recapitalization efforts have trickle down effects on the air carrier’s training enterprise. While new aircraft orders may not be accompanied by concurrent announcements for new training devices and even additional pilots, cabin crew members and maintainers to support the orders, those and related issues are on the minds of airline leaders and decision-makers.

This March 21, Japan Airlines (JAL) helped move the needle a bit on new 2024 aircraft orders by announcing the decision to introduce a total of 21 Airbus A350-900 aircraft from Airbus, along with 11 A321neo aircraft, and 10 Boeing 787-9 aircraft from The Boeing Company, as part of its fleet renewal plan. Maggie Kuwasaki, corporate spokesperson at JAL Public Relations, provided CAT with early decisions and actions needed to harmonize its pilot, maintenance personnel and cabin crew training programs with the requirements generated by these new aircraft.  

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In terms of pilots, JAL does not have plans to hire additional personnel specifically to support these new aircraft. Details have not been finalized on training JAL pilots on the new A321neos and Boeing 737MAX. “For 787 and A350 pilot training, training facilities and equipment are already in operation,” the spokesperson said, and added, “Flight simulators and other training equipment are currently operated by JCFT (JAL CAE Flight Training Co., Ltd.) a Joint Venture holding company, and future introduction of training equipment will also be considered, including the use of Joint Venture.” 

Maintenance Personnel 

Similarly, JAL does not have plans to hire additional maintenance personnel specifically in response to these orders. “Regarding the training for the new equipment to be introduced, we will primarily receive training provided by the manufacturer, but specific decisions have not yet been made.” While Kuwasaki noted the implementation of new technologies, such as VR, in maintenance training will be considered in the future, the spokesperson added, “The decision to invest in new training devices to support the new fleet additions will be considered during the process of building the training structure, and further discussions will be conducted.”

Cabin Crew

As JAL does not hire new cabin crew personnel for this purpose, “it is difficult to say” how many new of these personnel may be required to support these new aircraft. The airline spokesperson continued, “As of now, the number of cabin crew who have obtained the qualifications for A350 is approximately 1,140 Japanese and approximately 120 overseas-based. The number of A350 instructors remains unchanged. In terms of training devices required to enable training for these airframes, JAL envisions various types of emergency equipment based on purpose of use and method of use – for instance, preflight checks of emergency exits and their structure and usage, and the operation of emergency exits during emergency landings and water landings by way of evacuation from escape slides and the follow-on use of rafts. No decision has been made on buying this materiel. Kuwasaki briefly digressed to add, “For the introduction of the A350-900, door training devices and mock-ups were introduced. However, there were no new devices introduced for the A350-1000. We don't have information about A321neo yet.”

An Early Snapshot

Less than 30 days after announcing a major recapitalization plan, JAL is making deliberate decisions to allow its training enterprise and workforce to efficiently introduce 42 new aircraft into its fleet. CAT looks forward following JAL’s progress in this effort.

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