I started with Virginblue in June of 2000 just before the airlne commenced operations that August. I came from Southern Australia Airlines where I was a First Officer on the BAe146.
I started my career at Virginblue as a First Officer on the Boeing 737-400. With the quick expansion of the company, I was upgraded to Captain after 6 months. Our first Boeing 737-700's and -800's (New Generation) began to arrive in February 2001 and we were trained to fly both B737-400s and B737NGs at the same time. By 2003, the company sold off all of the older -400s and became a one type, Boeing 737NG operator.
The Boeing 737-700 and -800 airplanes both have excellent performance. The main difference between the -400s and newer -700/-800s is the newly developed super critical (more efficient) wing. The wingspan is longer, with added winglets to reduce induced drag, and has slightly more sweep. The NG's also have improved engines and thrust, so we never run out of thrust performance and can easily climb straight to FL410 no matter how full we are.
The cockpit layout and 6 large EFIS screens on the B737NGs are an excellent development. The Primary Flight Displays (PFDs) and Navigation Dispays (NDs) are a lot larger than the -400 and are easier to read giving greater situational awareness. The airplane also has dual GPS updating of the fms which eliminates map shifts etc.
Being only 6 years old, we have a lot of enthusiatic, young, and professional people to fly with. For me, it has been a great place to get modern 'glass' jet experience over 55 tons.
Being a low-fare airline in a very competitive market, we all work hard at Virginblue. A regular month roster has anywhere from 85 - 95 hours flying; with 8 or 9 days off a month. It is great for the log book but often tiring. A typical day is 4 or 5 sectors of 1hr 20 min legs or maybe 2 or 3 sectors of 2-3 hrs each. Some of our flights are longer...more like 5 hours. We fly from east coast to west coast to north coast connecting all of the major centres in Australia; sometimes through the day and sometimes through the night (arriving at destination at 9am after flying all night).
We have two pilot bases; Melbourne and Brisbane.
We work hard and play hard at Virginblue. Because of the people it is a fun place to work. The B737NG is a great airplane to fly. I would recommend working here for the medium term to anyone wanting to quickly accumulate a lot of modern efis jet experience. But be prepared to work a lot and fly a lot, at any hour of the day.
Good luck in your flying career!
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