It’s out with the old and in with the new at airBaltic, as the airline says farewell to its Boeing 737 flight simulator. The simulator, which has been at airBaltic since 2010, has been sold to a French company. It comes following the airline’s move to being an all-Airbus A220 operator.
For years the Boeing 737 was a reliable workhorse in the airBaltic fleet. However, times change. The airline had already been intending to retire the Boeing narrowbody when the pandemic struck, and it temporarily ceased all flight activity. When the airline returned to operation, it was without the Boeing 737.
In December, Simple Flying reported that airBaltic had said goodbye to its last Boeing 737 by sending YL-BBX to Magnetic MRO in Ostrava, Czechia. After this, the airline technically still had access to a Boeing 737, albeit a virtual one. Nestled away in a warehouse close to Riga International Airport was a 737 simulator, sat next to one for the Airbus A220.
airBaltic first took the simulator in 2010, and in the past decade, it has undoubtedly proven its worth. Over 50,000 training hours have been completed in the machine, with Simple Flying even getting a go at flying it before, the cabin filled with smoke ahead of a less than pleasant landing.
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Making space for the Airbus A220
In total, 44 companies used the simulator, meaning that 85% of its total available time in 2018 was used for training. Despite its popularity, a new era has begun at airBaltic. The airline could keep the simulator and continue to rent it out to other 737 operators. Instead, it wants to install a second Airbus A220 simulator in its place.
Installing a second A220 simulator makes sense for two reasons. Firstly, the airline wants to operate things that will benefit itself. The 737 simulator doesn’t tick this box. Secondly, and more importantly, airBaltic is trying to position itself as a one-stop-shop for all things Airbus A220.
A one-stop Airbus shop
As airBaltic only operates the A220, it makes sense for the airline to focus on the type. However, for some other carriers where the A220 is only a fraction of the fleet, such as EgyptAir, it would make sense to use another organization for things such as heavy maintenance rather than holding a small pool of such specialist mechanics.
In January, Simple Flying reported that airBaltic would build a new maintenance hangar capable of housing seven Airbus A220s at a time. The aim is to give the airline its own maintenance capabilities while also catering to other Airbus A220 operators in the region.
To complement this, the airline launched a maintenance training division to join its A220 pilot training program. In this program, the airline is training A220 mechanics for itself, but also other operators of the jet. Adding the additional A220 simulator will simply allow the airline to offer extra simulator time to other airlines and itself.
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