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Virgin’s WA pilots swap training in London for Perth

written by Adam Thorn | June 23, 2023

Virgin Australia pilots will no longer be flown to London for simulator training after the airline’s staff began using CAE’s training facility in Perth.

The airline announced the deal to use the 737 NG simulator in August last year and said on Friday that having access to the facility would increase its domestic training capacity by 25 per cent.

It’s also hoping to use the simulator to help its regional brand, VARA, transition from Fokker 100 aircraft to a 737 Next Generation fleet.

CAE’s Perth centre opened in 2014 and is located 20 minutes from both the city’s CBD and airport, while Virgin itself has 200 crew based in WA.


Virgin Australia’s COO, Stuart Aggs, said, “The simulator has the potential to support more than 5,000 hours of flight crew training in its first operational year, delivering greater efficiency and yielding significant cost savings in our training program with less travel required of Perth-based pilots completing their initial and recurrent training.

“We are delighted to be partnered with CAE, who share our commitment to upholding the highest standards of aviation safety and operational excellence.”

The centre also contains a simulator for the Fokker 100 and A320 alongside briefing rooms with large screen displays.

CAE’s group president of civil aviation, Nick Leontidis, said, “We are happy to expand our partnership with Virgin Australia with access to the latest technology B737NG full flight simulator to train their pilots.

“An important part of setting up optimal learning conditions for pilots is being close to where they work, and opening this capacity at our Jandakot training centre will do just that for the 200 Virgin Australia flight crew based in Western Australia.”

The news comes as Virgin prepares to welcome the first of its upcoming fleet of 737 MAXs, Boeing’s successor to the 737 NG.

Australian Aviation reported earlier this month how Virgin would take delivery of ‘Monkey Mia’ – registered VH-8IA – in weeks despite concerns it could be significantly delayed.

“‘Monkey Mia’ will leave Seattle for Brisbane by the end of June, and once routine regulatory approvals are completed, the aircraft will enter the Virgin Australia network on our brand-new Cairns-Tokyo (Haneda) route,” Virgin said.

“The arrival of Monkey Mia is a significant milestone in our fleet renewal program and broader transformation. This aircraft will be followed by a further seven 737-8s, which will deliver an elevated experience to our guests as well as support Virgin Australia’s sustainability targets.”

VH-8IA was spotted in a test flight from Renton in Washington state – adjacent to Boeing’s Renton factory – to the planemaker’s facility at Grant County International Airport on Monday, 22 May. Images circulating on social media pages showed the plane already painted in Virgin Australia livery.

As well as eight MAX ‘8’ aircraft, it will also later receive 25 MAX 10s.

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