With Airbus announcing its new SOPs and Checklists back in late 2021, airlines are progressively implementing the procedures in real life by early 2022. We have talked about the major changes of the SOP and Checklist in a previous article, to read more click here.

Today, we will cover how departure briefings are made in accordance with the new philosophy of Airbus (Whilst the Arrival Briefing follows the same ideas and flow, we will focus on the departure briefing for the purpose of giving our readers a more concise idea of how a briefing is made.)

Why scrap the old Briefing?

The previous briefing recommended by Airbus was a detail-orientated informative briefing that covered most aspects of the departure. It consists of mainly 2 parts: normal and abnormal briefing. The normal briefing would cover everything that concerns a normal operation including but not limited to aircraft status, NOTAM, weather, SID, cleared altitude and taxi route, etc. Emergency procedures that are dedicated to the departing runway will be given in the abnormal briefing section which also lists the engine failure after the takeoff procedure and the plan to return to the airport. The briefing will be conducted by one crew member (Pilot Flying) who would have primary control of the preceding flight. The entire departure briefing could take up to 10 minutes as a lot of information is cross-checked and verbalised.

This raises a problem of redundancy, as a portion of the information would have been covered before the briefing as part of the cockpit preparation procedure. The full briefing has been reported to add unnecessary workload to Low-Cost Carriers especially when operating 4 sectors with very limited turn-around time.

AirAsia A320 neo
Low-Cost Carriers such as Air Asia are expected to benefit from the streamlined procedures and briefing. | © AirAsia

An Interactive and Conversational AIRBUS Briefing

Whilst the previous briefing focuses more on informative outlines, the new briefing would put more emphasis on the importance of Threat and Error Management (TEM). According to Airbus, the 2 main objectives of a briefing is to mitigate threats and for the pilots to identify deviations from a routine flight. The briefing is now divided into parts where it would seem more like a conversation as both pilots are required to participate in the identification and mitigation of external threats.

Airbus wants pilots to “think out of the box”, so a good briefing would have a bird-eye view from above to identify potential threats that are out of the ordinary. The new briefing should be “interactive”, “conversational”, and stimulate questions for further discussions. Briefing for routine operational information is scraped and the verbalisation of the engine failure after takeoff procedure is no longer mandatory. In short, the new briefing is shorter, less repetitive, and more situational.

shows layout layout similarity
The new SOPs and briefing would enhance the implementation of Mixed-Fleet Flying, complimenting the highly similar cockpit layouts between Airbus fleets. | © AIRBUS

Getting ready for the Briefing

Before conducting the briefing, as part of the cockpit preparation procedure, preparation to gather data from dispatch and ATC units should be sufficient. Latest weather, ATC clearance, NOTAM, and preliminary loading data should be available and entered into the MCDU. The briefing should be initiated when the cockpit preparation procedures are completed. Cockpit doors are advised to be shut to avoid any disruptions from ground staff and cabin crew.

Now you’re set for the briefing

The briefing will be initiated by the pilot monitoring (PM) stating the departure information such as:

  • Takeoff Runway,
  • SID designator,
  • First cleared Altitude,
  • Minimum Safe Altitude(MSA),
  • Extra time, and fuel.

The pilot flying (PF) will respond by confirming the followings:

  • Taxi hotspots,
  • Stop margin for rejected Takeoff,
  • Return and diversion considerations, and
  • Non-standard or special procedures.

The informative part of the briefing is complete and the pilot monitoring (PM) will initiate the threat and error management discussion of the briefing by identifying threats. The pilot flying will respond by identifying other potential threats that him/her thinks are applicable. The crew will then engage in a discussion on how to mitigate the potential threats. The last part of the briefing would be complementary of miscellaneous non-standard procedures such as supplementary procedures and the recall of potentially applicable memory items e.g. Windshear procedures in gusty weather conditions.

In the below video, Airbus demonstrates departure and arrival briefing in accordance with their new philosophy. The video utilises 4 examples to cover the situational nature of the new briefings:

Airbus Briefing Demonstration

The philosophy of the new briefing standard without a doubt streamlines the departure process in daily operation. However, there have been talks on the difficulty in the initial adaptation since the old one has been a staple in airlines operations for almost a decade. Concerns such as the overly trimmed items will require pilots to perform perfectly the set-up of the aircraft as it takes away a final chance for both crews to crosscheck the preparation. The elimination of the verbalisation of engine failure procedures may also deprive inexperienced pilots of a chance to refresh themselves in the case of an emergency. As mentioned before, the new SOPs and procedures are the products of ongoing feedback and evaluation between Airbus and airlines. It will be interesting to see the feedback and opinions of Airbus pilots worldwide after a few months’ time. Do you think Airbus is heading in the right direction with this? Let us know below.

Disclaimer: The above information presented herein is for reference only; it reflects only the author’s view and must not be used in any commercial operations.

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