V Australia flights from Dec 15

Wednesday, August 13, 2008, 15:15 by Aviation Correspondent

V Australia (officially called V Australia Airlines), Australia’s latest long-haul international airline, is to start flying from December 15, 2008. V Australia is owned by Virgin Blue Holdings Limited, the Australian low-cost ailrine founded by British businessman Richard Branson’s Virgin Group.

In a statement, Virgin Blue confirmed that its new international arm, V Australia, is “continuing its steady march towards its scheduled December 15 takeoff” with the first group of cabin crew trainers “having already been put through their paces.”

There have been speculations that Virgin Blue Holdings may not fulfill its commitment on launching V Australia.

The 11 cabin-crew trainers and development managers, the company statement went on, are demonstrating V Australia’s cabin crew training course to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) of Australia to gain certification to begin training the first group of new cabin-crew recruits.

The first cabin-crew training course will begin on September 1, 2008, with 26 new recruits. Once trained and certified, these crew would be the launch crew for V Australia.

V Australia is scheduled to fly direct from Sydney in Australia to Los Angeles in the United States.

V Australia’s flights from Brisbane, Australia, to Los Angeles are expected to start in March, 2009.

The new airline will get its first Boeing 777-300ER in October 2008, a month after the first Airbus A380 Superjumbo of Qantas, Australia’s national airline, arrives in Australia.

David Joyeux, training manager of V Australia, was quoted by the Australian media as saying: “When it comes to vocational and technical training on board a 777-300ER aircraft, multitasking is the name of the game. Aside from the safety demonstration and meal service duties, cabin crew recruits from V Australia are required to master the skills needed to manage the most extreme emergency situation – an evacuation ditch drill. This is where we train our crew to deal with the situation we hope will never, ever happen.”

At least 390 passengers can be evacuated in just 90 seconds, once inflatable slide life rafts attached to the aircraft doors are deployed during an emergency “ditching,” Joyeux added.

The life rafts, capable of carrying up to 85 passengers each, are inbuilt into 8 of the 10 onboard emergency exits.

The cabin-crew training demonstrated to the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia included a dip in a 2.1-metre plunge pool designed to equip new recruits with water survival techniques needed during a “ditch drill.”

David Joyeux remarked on the training: “I doubt many people really register that when they are in the air, their cabin crew are the police, ambulance and fire fighters.”

During the course, V Australia’s 26 cabin-crew recruits will receive practical fire-extinguisher training, where they will have to find their way through a smoke filled purpose-built compression chamber, wearing a smoke hood.

The 6-week training course, being held at V Australia’s training facility based in Mascot, Sydney, includes all aspects of cabin-crew training. It will cover all aspects of in-flight service and safety as well as familiarising the crew with the V Australia’s in-flight product and facilities in all three classes – International Business, International Premium Economy, and International Economy.

The training of pilots is going on at V Australia’s Silverwater training centre, where the new Boeing 777-300ER simulator, costing $14-million, is being used around the clock for pilot endorsement training, David Joyeux said.