Western Australia's First Boeing 737NG FFS Ready for Training

9 August 2023

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Image credit: Virgin Australia

Training has started for Virgin Australia pilots in a Boeing 737NG full-flight simulator, the first of its kind in Western Australia. The simulator acquisition means the airline will now be able to increase its domestic training capacity by 25 percent, providing for the first time, a local training facility for more than 200 pilots based in Western Australia.

This simulator will also play an integral role in Virgin Australia’s training program for VARA flight crew as they transition from F100 aircraft to operate a 737NG fleet. This comes as the airline continues to grow its Western Australian resources sector and contract flying business.

The simulator is available through a long-term partnership with CAE and is located in CAE’s training facility in Jandakot. Until now, Virgin Australia has been using its east-coast-based simulators approximately 20 hours a day, and flying pilots as far away as London to undertake training in order to meet simulator demand.

Virgin Australia Chief Operations Officer, Stuart Aggs said Virgin Australia’s investment to strengthen its training capacity in Western Australia presents significant benefits to both the airline and the state, with more opportunities for local pilots to undertake essential flight training closer to home.

“This is another important milestone for Virgin Australia that underscores our ongoing commitment to our people, fleet and infrastructure as we continue to build and position the business for sustainable growth into the future,” he said.

“Our operation in Western Australia is a fundamental part of our success, not only is it home to our regional airline, VARA, Perth is also our fourth largest port by capacity and frequency with up to 17 routes operating in and out of Perth across the country throughout the year.

“The establishment of this training base reflects a major investment in building our training capability in the state, while also contributing to the development of aviation talent across the country.

“The simulator has the potential to support more than 5,000 hours of flight crew training in its first operational year, delivering greater efficiency and yielding significant cost savings in our training program with less travel required of Perth-based pilots completing their initial and recurrent training.”

Western Australian Deputy Premier and Transport and Tourism Minister Rita Saffioti said, “I want to congratulate Virgin Australia for this initiative and helping more pilots train locally. We all know there is a great need for more pilots, and having a new training operation within Western Australia will help to encourage more people enter the industry. Our government is focussed on supporting the aviation industry with key initiatives like our Regional Airfare Zone Cap scheme making flying cheaper than ever before for regional residents, while we continue to drive new international connections through our Aviation Recovery Fund within the $195 million Reconnect WA package.”

This comes as Virgin Australia prepares to welcome eight additional Boeing 737-8 aircraft to its fleet, taking delivery of the first aircraft in June.

The new Boeing 737-8 will support capacity increases in-line with Virgin Australia’s broader growth strategy bringing the total Boeing 737 fleet to 92 (consisting of 737-700s, 737-800s and Boeing 737-8s) an increase of nearly 60 percent since relaunching the airline in November 2020.


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