Air France is preparing for the arrival of something new and exciting. Its first Airbus A220 has been spotted rolling out of the Airbus paint shop, ahead of delivery to the French flag carrier. The plane, sporting the full Air France livery, will be delivered to the airline in September.
First A220 for Air France
The Airbus A220 is fast proving itself to be an incredible investment for the European manufacturer. Since taking over the program from Bombardier, Airbus has secured orders for 648 of the type, with 164 already delivered to customers.
The biggest customer overall is Delta Air Lines, which has orders in for 45 A220-100s and 59 A220-300. Its biggest customer for the A220-300 to date is JetBlue, with orders in for 70 of the type. However, the second largest order for the A220-300 came from a little closer to home.
In July 2019, Europe’s Air France-KLM Group announced an order for 60 A220-300s, all of which are destined for Air France. The planes will be used to replace its aging A318 and A319 aircraft, having a similar capacity but much better fuel economics, and a more modern passenger experience.
Earlier this year, Air France said that it would take delivery of the first A220 for its fleet in September this year. Today, it has moved a step closer to this initial arrival, with its first aircraft spotted emerging from the paint shop in Mirabel, complete with its Air France livery.
The A220 is registered C-FPBQ for its Canadian test flights but will adopt F-HZUA as its French registration once it’s handed over to the airline later this year.
What’s next for Uniform Alpha?
Before making its way to Europe, the first A220 for Air France will need to undergo some additional checks. It will be subjected to a number of ground and flight tests before a final customer acceptance flight, and then will make its long journey to Paris to join the Air France fleet.
Although it should arrive in a couple of months, it won’t be entering revenue service until a bit later in the year. Air France expects to utilize the aircraft for training purposes for more than a month, during which time crews will familiarize themselves with the operations and capabilities of the plane.
Ahead of this, Air France has already set up two core groups of workers who will lead the training on the new type. One group is made up of pilots, while the other is flight attendants.
On the pilot side, right instructor pilots have already undertaken a training course in Montreal and are currently training another 28 instructors using a full flight simulator. Once the first A220 arrives, around 20 flights in real-world conditions will be completed by these trainee pilots, ahead of obtaining their A220-300 type rating. In time, almost 700 Air France pilots will be trained to fly the A220.
On the flight attendant side, 14 attendants were trained in Zurich on the A220 last year. They are currently finalizing the training content and manuals to be able to deliver the training themselves to a core group of 37 flight attendants. The training will eventually be disseminated out to some 2,500 flight attendants for Air France.
Are you excited about the A220s arrival for the Air France fleet?