Iberia : 17 years Flying Airbus Aircraft


2021/06/03 | 680 words | AEROCONTACT | INDUSTRY / TECHNOLOGY
Iberia : 17 years Flying Airbus Aircraft © Iberia

All the flying I learned in gliders, ultra-light planes. and at the National Aeronautics School in Salamanca was the traditional kind, with hours and hours in simulators, thousands of pages of manuals, plus pulleys and analogue instruments, in which the pilot did everything, and the safety of the flight depended on the pilot’s skill, experience, training, and ability at the control wheel “horns”.

After graduating from the Salamanca flying school and a short period flying cargo and ambulance planes, on 1991 I joined Iberia as a co-pilot in the Boeing B-727 fleet, before moving to the mythical Jumbo, that colossus of aviation and every pilot’s dream, despite the immensely complex cockpit controls and instruments.

At that time Iberia’s fleet included aircraft made by Airbus, Boeing, and McDonnell Douglas, but in 2009 we became an all-Airbus airline. I can imagine the complex process of Airbus engineers and pilots testing the new models by the European manufacturer under the most adverse conditions, with the aim of making them the most reliable and efficient in the market.

In aeronautical engineering terms, both the flying capacity and the reliability of the new Airbus planes were simply stunning. The pilot, who is ultimately responsible for the lives of all people aboard, now was backed up by the manufacturer’s enormous technological capabilities.

Airbus models don’t only fly extraordinarily well, but in addition, since they are controlled by computers, they immediately alert you to any possible problem, which enables the pilot to apply the rigorous response protocols quickly and effectively. For, in the words of the pilot and journalist José Antonio Silva, whom I much admired, “In the air, a pilot is almost never given time to think, and the time for a decision is never longer than an instant”.

My first exposure to an Airbus was as captain of an A-320. I was a “Boeing boy” with 12 years’ experience piloting this type of aircraft, and the switch to Airbus came as a real shock. It was a leap into an entirely different way of flying and of experiencing and enjoying my profession. One example was the “fly by wire” system which brought a definitive end to manual flight controls. Now, when I turned around in the cockpit, there was no mechanic sitting behind me!

In professional terms, I can say that I grew with Airbus just as Iberia’s Airbus fleet did, since, after flying all the short- and medium-haul models –the A-319, A-320, and A-321 in 2014 I was promoted to the A-340, and for the past five years I have been an A-330 captain. Airbus’ competitive advantage consists precisely in placing itself in the technological vanguard and using it, as Jean Roeder urged, to devise a family of aircraft which are similar when it comes to performance, maintenance, and piloting.

Our now historic relationship with Airbus continues, as we mark the 40th anniversary of Iberia’s first A-300 which joined our fleet in 1981. In 2018 we incorporated the first of our modern long-haul A-350s, and in 2023 we plan to fly bring in latest star product of the European consortium, the A-321XLR.

The renewal of the Iberia fleet with these new models testifies to the company’s commitment to sustainability, and sets our flight plan for the next few years. As regards the A-350, the use of new material reduces weight, achieving a 25% reduction in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. The new narrow-bodied A-321 XLR will enable us to reach new transatlantic destination and to increase frequencies on transatlantic routes.

I hope and trust that I’ll have the opportunity to fly both these new Airbus models –it’s something I really look forward to!

It’s always a challenge to adapt to changes. We’ll have to continue to evolve, along with aviation itself, which is never “done”. What remains unchanged and will never disappear is the aviator’s spirit!

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