Final Preparations

Pilots prepare to take the reins of the new Airbus A319.

Airbus has arrived

At American, we’re proud to take delivery of new aircraft as part of our evolution into a more modern, fuel-efficient airline. Recently, we celebrated the delivery of American’s first Airbus A319. This new aircraft has arrived from Hamburg, Germany, to join our fleet, and we can’t wait for you to experience it.

As you might imagine, a lot of planning and preparation across multiple teams was required to integrate the A319 into American’s otherwise Boeing and McDonnell Douglas fleet. While many people at American have been busy selecting the fleet’s interior, menus, entertainment and other important details to ensure an enjoyable travel experience for our customers, my colleagues and I in the Flight Department have been working at length to prepare our pilots for this transition.

Part of my responsibility as American’s Airbus Fleet Captain is to review the manufacturer’s flight manuals and customize them for our pilots. That took about 14 months of working closely with our Check Airmen, Airbus and the FAA to ensure compliance in all areas. We have similar procedures throughout our fleet to minimize change when pilots move from one type of plane to another.

Meanwhile, my colleague and friend John Lohmar, American’s Airbus Fleet Training Manager, developed an extensive program to train our pilots, with the manuals as reference. American’s training blueprint outlines everything from starting the airplane to landing it and knowing in detail the function of every button and screen in the cockpit. The FAA must then approve the plan.

In total, American’s pilots have nearly five weeks of training, and we qualify about 40 pilots (or 20 crews) each month to fly the A319. Our Airbus fleet is also distinctive because we’re the first to introduce Distance Learning, done through a computer-based program and completed prior to classroom and virtual procedures training. Full-motion simulator training is the last step before American’s pilots are qualified to fly our newest silver birds.

So in flight, while our customers relax in leather seats with Wi-Fi, in-seat inflight entertainment and the convenience of individual 110v universal AC power outlets and USB jacks at every seat, our pilots confidently enjoy flying the very quiet, comfortable and technologically advanced Airbus A319.

To learn more about our new Airbus fleet and experience it during your next trip beginning mid-September, visit

Capt. Mark Maestas is American’s Airbus Fleet Captain. After graduating from the United States Air Force Academy in 1984, he served 12 years in the U.S. Air Force and began flying for American Airlines in 1992, piloting various aircraft including the MD-80 and the Boeing 767. Capt. Maestas has been an instructor and course developer for Human Factors and Safety Training, a Program Manager and Technical Pilot on the MD-80 and the Manager of Flight Operations Quality Control.
Capt. Mark Maestas, Airbus Fleet Captain, and John Lohmar, Airbus Fleet Training Manager, stand on the deck of an Airbus flight simulator.

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