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A Brussels Airlines A320 in London (Photo: AirlineGeeks | William Derrickson)

How Brussels Airlines Is Preparing to Restart Flights

Aircraft, like rental cars, are not expected to remain parked for a long period of time. Most importantly, the same concept goes for the people whose job is to fly the plane, the pilots. Commercial pilots and cabin crew members who stopped working due to the reduction in flight operations will be happily returning to the skies, as is the case with Brussels Airlines. The airline will gradually add flights back to its schedule, eventually reaching 59 destinations by August. But that task will not happen overnight. 

As the airline begins to get its aircraft back into operation, after 12 weeks of “hibernation” in the hangar, it also needs to allocate enough time to ensure those aircraft are airworthy. This process can range from testing computer systems and getting the cabin ready, to unwrapping the landing gear and engines. In addition, the flag carrier of Belgium has outlined the training program for its pilots to return to the skies again. Pieterjan De Jaeger, a certified flight instructor and pilot from Ghent, Belgium, is one of those pilots who are eager to get back in the sky after completing the procedures. 

“In normal circumstances, as a pilot, you go through training every six months to keep all procedures fresh in mind. But now that we have not been flying on a regular basis like we used to, we all go through a training program in order to be ready to hit the skies on June 15.” Jaeger said.

Since the pilots have not been in the cockpit for three months, they do not meet the required “three landings in 90 days” specification. The “three landings in 90 days” requirement ensures that pilots are up to date and proficient for safely operating an aircraft with passengers. As a result, the carrier is putting its crew through two phases of training in order to be ready for takeoff. 

The first phase requires the pilot to complete a 45-question theoretical exam, which will analyze how well the individual knows and remembers the flight procedures and information from the manuals. Afterward, in the second phase, he or she is expected to enter the simulator test and successfully complete that portion before receiving additional training about crew resource management, which marks the end of the examination. 

“During the simulator session, we go through a real-life scenario to get a refresher of cockpit procedures and thoroughly test our cognitive and technical skills, as well as our cockpit communication skills, in order to be prepared to get back into the cockpit,” Jaeger added. 

Brussels Airlines wants to ensure that the pilots are ready for flight operations to take passengers back up in the sky whenever the passengers believe it is safe and comfortable to travel again. The cabin crew will also be taking a refresher course in order to apply the new procedures and measures that the airline has put into place to encourage customers to plan and book future travel.

Benjamin Pham
Benjamin Pham
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