In general, airline pilots are type rated on specific jets, which means they’ve been trained to fly specific planes. That makes sense because piloting is a highly technical job that necessitates extensive training and experience.
Not only do planes handle differently, but pilots are also prepared to manage any emergency situation that may arise on a certain plane.
However, in some circumstances, planes have a common type rating, which means that pilots can often fly various types of aircraft:
Most airlines allow pilots to fly any variant of a specific aircraft type; for example, a pilot may fly the Airbus A320 family of aircraft, which includes the A319, A320, A321, A321neo, A321LR, and others.
Pilots can sometimes fly otherwise distinct types of jets where there is significant cockpit commonality; for example, the 757 and 767, as well as the A330 and A350, can have a single type rating.
When it comes to common type ratings, Airbus has just pushed it to the next level.
All Nippon Airways introduces mixed fleet flying for pilots
All Nippon Airways (ANA) pilots will begin mixed fleet flying (MFF) with the Airbus A380 and A320 in the near future. The plan has been approved by Japan’s Civil Aviation Bureau (JCAB). ANA will be the first airline in the world to fly a combined fleet of A380 and A320 aircraft.
To put it another way, a pilot might fly an Airbus A380 one day and an Airbus A320 the next. While traveling between fleet types isn’t uncommon (as I described above), the A380 and A320 are vastly different aircraft. The A380’s maximum takeoff weight is roughly 10 times that of the A320. Wow!
The advantages to airlines are enormous:
Because you have a bigger pool of pilots who can fly either plane rather than just one, scheduling becomes much more efficient; this means you require fewer reserve pilots, hours can be more easily optimized, and so on.
This is especially useful at the moment, since much of ANA’s A380 fleet is grounded, leaving pilots with little experience and fighting to stay “current” on their ratings; they may now start flying the A320.
In principle, this allows airlines to better match capacity to demand at the last minute; for example, if a trip isn’t particularly full, a smaller plane with the same pilots may be swapped, but I doubt this will happen very often between the A380 and A320.
I’m curious as to how pilot compensation works in this situation. Many airlines have different pay packages depending on the size of the plane you’re flying, and then seniority influences which plane you fly.
Will pilots be paid more for flying an A380 than an A320 while flying a mixed fleet, or will there be steady pricing somewhere in the middle?