Written by Sheena Pelsy
More than 100 individuals boarded Delta’s inaugural flight from Dallas/Fort Worth to New York, LaGuardia on an Airbus A220-100 aircraft early Thursday morning, Feb. 7. Delta employees, aviation enthusiasts, and travelers joined in the celebration at DFW’s Terminal E.
Brothers Jason and Charles Walrond II are ‘avgeeks’ who try to plan trips around aviation events, which is why they decided to make a quick trip to Dallas from their current home in Georgia.
“I keep up on everything that goes on in aviation,” Charles said. “I knew they had the first flight here, and I wanted to be a part of it.”
“It’s the first for Delta as far as this aircraft, and I believe that Delta is the first American carrier to have this aircraft,” Jason said. “It’s exciting to be part of something that is the first; not only for an airline but for the American airline industry.
“From what they advertised, I think it’s going to be a huge plus for Delta. I think it’s going to draw a lot of attention to Delta and customers will fly it more.”
According to Delta, the A220’s features were created with the customers, like Jason and Charles, in mind. The Airbus’ create a widebody feel while retaining a narrow body jet. The Airbus A220-100, formally known as the Bombardier C Series, offers 109 seats, large overhead bins, wider seats, extra-large windows, and a spacious lavatory with a window.
Customers are not the only ones who have a new experience with this aircraft. Pilots flying the A220 must get acquainted with the technically advanced aircraft with the newer features in the cockpit.
First Officer Charlie Pickett piloted the historic flight. He worked on a team to build the training curriculum for other pilots.
“At some place you have to make a chicken before an egg, and that is what we did,” Pickett said. “Twelve of us went up to Montreal to the Bombardier factory. They trained us in their simulator. We then took that training back to Atlanta and built our training curriculum and two simulators.”
New A220 pilots undergo rigorous training in just one month.
“We are not training people how to fly,” Pickett said. “We are training very experienced pilots how to fly this aircraft. At the end of that month, there will have been 20 simulator periods and approximately 150 hours of training. Then they are checked out by line check pilots that do an additional 15-20 hours of training.”
During training, pilots seem have some difficulty adjusting to the computer aspects of the plane. Pickett states they tend to see the younger millennial generation do better than those who have years of experience on older planes.
Delta’s Airbus A220 is the first one of its kind in North America, and Delta is the fifth airline in the world to own an A220.