Australiaå‘s low fare carrier, Virgin Blue, has signed a prestigious contract to train pilots who crew the VIP aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force.
Virgin Blue pilots will fly alongside the RAAF pilots, instructing them in the art of flying 737 Next Generation aircraft following the RAAF’s decision to introduce Boeing Business Jets (BBJ) to its Executive Fleet.
The aircraft is the same type operated by Virgin Blue, with the only significant difference being the internal fit out of the BBJ compared to a commercial 737 aircraft.
Virgin Blue’s Director of Flight Operations, Captain John Raby, said, We are delighted to extend our training program to the RAAF pilots and are confident both parties will benefit from our new relationship.
Captain Raby continued, It confirms our opinion that the Virgin Blue training program is second to none in Australian and even worldwide. It was developed by our Flight Operations team with more than 100 years of domestic and international flying experience between them and focuses on exceptional safety, performance and operating standards.
The Deputy Chief of Air Force, Air Vice-Marshal Chris Spence said, We are very impressed with Virgin Blue’s level of professionalism and the open, friendly attitude of the Virgin Blue crew it’s an ideal training environment.
The RAAF pilots are rostered as normal Virgin Blue crew members, flying alongside training Captains for 6 weeks before returning to the Air Force.
They will then be responsible for crewing both domestic and International flights for high profile Australian VIP’s including Prime Minister John Howard,
Virgin Blue’s pilot training schedule for the RAAF pilots also includes its own Crew Resource Management and Customer Focus training.
The only key point of difference is the RAAF pilots wear their own uniforms on Virgin Blue’s domestic flights as opposed to the Virgin Blue pilot’s uniform.
While we are very excited to be taking on the RAAF VIP fleet pilot training, we are a bit worried the RAAF guys may try and copy our spiffy new uniform leather jackets, laughed Captain Raby.
Virgin Blue is hopeful this new relationship will provide a solid foundation for future training partnerships between the Royal Australian Air Force and Virgin Blue.
Virgin Blue currently services every State and Territory in the country with its fleet of 16 aircraft, including the brand new Next Generation Boeing 737 aircraft. Virgin Blue was recently named Best Low Cost Airline Australasia in the Skytrax Airline of The Year 2002 survey, the industry’s leading passenger survey.