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Etihad Pilots Now Certified to Fly Both A350 and A380 Aircraft

The airline becomes one of the first to allow its pilots to interchangeably operate both aircraft types.

Etihad pilots with an A380 (Photo: Etihad Airways)

United Arab Emirates-based Etihad Airways announced on Wednesday that its pilots have received regulatory approval and completed training to operate both the Airbus A350 and A380 aircraft interchangeably. This achievement positions Etihad as one of the first airlines globally with pilots certified for both aircraft types.

The certification process involved “rigorous” approvals and comprehensive training programs for pilots, the airline says. This new capability allows for seamless transitions between the two widebody jets, potentially enhancing operational flexibility and network resilience.

“This achievement will enhance the resilience and flexibility of the airline’s network and is [a] testament to our commitment to continuously push the boundaries of efficiency, innovation, and customer satisfaction, and at all times ensuring safety is Etihad’s number one priority,” said Etihad’s Chief Operating Officer Mohammad Al Bulooki in a press release.

Other Mixed Fleet Programs

Etihad has a history of implementing mixed fleet flying programs, having previously qualified pilots to operate various Airbus and Boeing models interchangeably. These include the Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft, A330 and A340, and its Boeing pilots to fly the 777 and 787. The airline says this practice sets “new standards for fleet commonality.”

Pilots can be assigned to either aircraft type based on operational needs, potentially improving crew scheduling and resource utilization.

Not a Common Practice

The vast majority of major carriers certify pilots on a single equipment type for multiple reasons, including operational simplicity, labor contract stipulations, and local regulations. However, under certain conditions, pilots may be certified to fly two similar equipment types.

At Etihad, pilots are allowed to operate two similar aircraft types through a dedicated program approved by the aircraft manufacturer and the UAE’s Civil Aviation Authority. This sort of program is called ‘Mixed Fleet Flying’ or ‘MFF’ for short.

In 2021, All Nippon Airways (ANA) received similar approval from Airbus and Japanese aviation regulators for its pilots to interchangeably operate the Airbus A320 and A380. At the time, ANA was the first and only carrier to introduce Mixed Fleet Flying for both the A320 and A380.

Ryan Ewing
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  • Ryan Ewing

    Ryan founded AirlineGeeks.com back in February 2013 and has amassed considerable experience in the aviation sector. His work has been featured in several publications and news outlets, including CNN, WJLA, CNET, and Business Insider. During his time in the industry, he's worked in roles pertaining to airport/airline operations while holding a B.S. in Air Transportation Management from Arizona State University along with an MBA. Ryan has experience in several facets of the industry from behind the yoke of a Cessna 172 to interviewing airline industry executives. Ryan works for AirlineGeeks' owner FLYING Media, spearheading coverage in the commercial aviation space.

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