CATHAY Pacific Airways has become the first Asia-Pacific airline to receive regulatory approval for cross-crew qualification, allowing the same pilots to fly both Airbus Industrie A330s and A340s. The Civil Aviation Department's approval allows pilots qualified to fly one of the two types of aircraft to train for the other on a shortened transition course. Cathay, which took delivery of its first Airbus aircraft in October last year, is the only airline operating both the wide-bodied twin-engine A330 and the longer range, four-engine A340. Cathay's cross-crew qualification course takes about five days including ground school, simulator time, check training and base training. The first transition courses were held last month, with eight A340 line pilots qualifying on the A330 and four A330 pilots qualifying on the A340. A full type rating course for pilots transferring from a different aircraft type normally takes up to 30 working days. 'Mixed fleet flying gives them the possibility of gaining more handling experience, and therefore, greater skills,' said Cathay's A330-A340 fleet manager, Captain Rick Fry. The airline's A330s are flown on regional routes including those to Bangkok, Seoul, Singapore and Taipei. Brisbane, Cairns and Perth will follow next year. The A340s are used on routes to Nagoya, Osaka, Rome and Zurich. Toronto is to be added at the end of this month.