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Filling cockpits

The airline industry will soon need a significant number of new pilots to meet global demand. Keith Mwanalushi takes a closer look at how simulator training is aligning with the pilot development process

Over the next 10 years, the International Air Transport Association (IATA) forecasts 4.2% annual passenger growth and a market of 4.8 billion air passengers by 2027. 


A recent report by aviation training specialist CAE identifies a global requirement for 255,000 new airline pilots over the next 10 years to sustain and grow the commercial air transport industry. Rapid fleet expansion and high pilot retirement rates have created a need to develop a further 180,000 first officers into new airline captains, more than in any previous decade.


Clearly, the demand for professional pilots will be colossal, and as CAE stated in its report, this record demand will challenge current pilot recruitment channels and development programmes. New and innovative pilot career pathways and training systems will be required to meet the industry’s pilot needs and ever-evolving safety, competency and efficiency standards.


The above CAE figures mean that over 50% of the pilots who will be flying the world’s commercial aircraft in 10 years have not yet started training.


Simulator training strategies and technologies will inevitably play a key role. TRU Simulation currently has over 300 Flight Simulation Training Devices (FSTD) in service around the world and produces a full range of FSTDs for the major regional and commercial airline transport aircraft types. These range from classroom trainers to FSTDs and Full Flight Simulators (FFS). 


“Currently we are responsible for looking after and operating approximately 60 FFS around the world,” says George Karam, TRU Simulation and Training – Air Transport Division. “In the regional carrier sector of the market we are currently building several ATR 72-600 FFS devices as well as follow on FFS devices for regional jets such as the CRJ900.” 


From a training perspective, Karam says the main changes have focused on the requirements for current training topics to be supported in the FFS, such as upset prevention and recovery training, extended envelope training, stall recovery and competency or evidenced-based training. “There is a growing focus on providing the instructor with more information and tools on the Instructor Operating Station to facilitate these newer training paradigms. 


“From a FSTD technology perspective, the focus is on continuing to reduce cost of operations through simplified architectures, lower power consumptions and reduced skill set requirements for simulator engineers,” Karam states. 


L3 Commercial Training Solutions (L3 CTS) has training capabilities across the UK and around the world assisting carriers to capitalise on the growth in short and medium haul airline travel. “For narrowbody or regional devices, we currently operate two A320 at our site in Crawley, near Gatwick Airport. We also have two A320 at Southampton [England],” says Mitesh Patel,  Vice President – Training Systems UK, L3 CTS. 


In addition, L3 offers devices at its Asian Aviation Training Centre in Bangkok, consisting of three A320, two ATR 72-500 and two ATR 72-600. In the US, training takes place at four sites providing access to the FFS, Las Vegas A320, Dallas A320 and 737, Minneapolis 737 and Orlando A320.


An L3 purpose-built airline training centre and production facility for the manufacture of aircraft simulators is being built in London and is scheduled to open towards the end of 2018. “This will dramatically increase our offering where we plan to have up to eight FFS including A320 and 737 devices. Further plans exist to expand our portfolio of narrowbody training operations across the world,” Mitesh reveals. >>

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