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Wings wanted

As the global pilot shortage continues to grip the aviation industry, airlines and academies are busy ramping up training capacities, as Keith Mwanalushi finds
In November last year, Ryanair announced it had partnered with SKY4u Aviation training Services based in Berlin, Germany to deliver a Ryanair Airline Pilot Standard (APS MCC) programme in Berlin and Vienna. The partnership will ensure Ryanair continues to attract highly trained professional pilots to support its continued growth across Europe. This new EASA approved enhanced MCC programme gives trainee pilots a structured path to achieve training and reach a standard where they are ready to join the Ryanair Boeing 737 Type Rating programme.
Pilots on the programme are being trained by SKY4u instructors, using Ryanair procedures, as they take their first steps towards becoming Ryanair pilots, and over the course of the next four and a half years, up to 450 new pilots from across Europe will be recruited and trained by SKY4u, it is anticipated. At the time of the announcement, SKY4u’s Head of Training and CEO, Captain Kay Wachtelborn said this was a unique opportunity for students to become commercial airline pilots. “Ryanair has an industry leading training department with an unrivalled safety record, and we are proud to be associated with them. This is a new approach to pilot training, and one that we welcome enthusiastically,” he said. 
Several other airlines have recently announced new training partnerships to raise the numbers of pilots coming through. In January, Indian LCC IndiGo, said it had chosen UK-based Skyborne Airline Academy to train up to 100 pilots a year over the next five years, as part of the IndiGo Cadet Pilot Programme. Reportedly, the Indian budget carrier, is cancelling dozens of flights every day over the next two months, as it struggles to find enough skilled pilots.
The 18-month programme will enable selected cadets to train for a US FAA and Indian DGCA Commercial Pilots Licence and Airbus A320 Type Rating, before advancing into employment and flying the line as a First Officer with the Indian carrier. Lee Woodward, CEO at Skyborne, feels that forging partnerships with pilot training academies is a fantastic way for airlines to secure the next generation of industry professionals, and leads to an increased number of applications.
“Cadet pilots are taught to fly the way the airline requires them to, and tend to go on to feel a true sense of loyalty towards the airline they were recruited and trained for,” he says. Some of these partnerships include a Letter of Intent to Employ (providing cadets successfully complete the training programme), and this level of security about future employment should certainly be attractive to aspiring pilots.
“Airlines are getting involved much earlier in the pilot creation process,” says Nick Leontidis, CAE’s Group President, Civil Aviation Training Solutions. “They are looking for training to their unique professional standards from day one. Airlines are not just looking for first officers to fill the right seat, but they’re looking for candidates with the potential to become captains within their organisations.”
CAE works with over 300 airlines, and trains more than 135,000 pilots annually at every phase of their career, and Leontidis assures that the demand for the profession is high, with more than 300,000 new pilots needed over the next decade. Based on the most recent ICAO standards for professional pilot competencies, Leontidis observes that new assessment systems have emerged, promising the selection of candidates that not only can become competent first officers, but have what it takes to be successful captains.
More objective assessments as pre-requisite for ab-initio training are being enabled. Complementing ICAO’s standard for pilot competencies, the industry is also moving towards the inclusion of the unique operators’ cultural reality as selection criteria, enabling candidates to be even more successful in their assigned environment. L3 Airline Academy has invested strongly in expanding its capacity to be able to meet the growing international demand for new pilots. In 2018, this included opening a new European Airline Academy in the Ponte de Sor, Portugal.
This yearL3 will be opening a new London training centre. The facility will include classrooms and briefing rooms, as well as an extensive range of high-end training devices, proving a contemporary and progressive training environment for both aspiring and experienced pilots. The site will also house a production facility capable of manufacturing 30 full flight simulators per year. L3 has a long history of working in close partnership with a wide range of airlines across the globe. 
“These partnerships are positive, as they provide aspiring cadets with a clear career path,” comments Geoff van Klaveren, Vice President of L3 Airline Academy. “They are therefore likely to increase the volume of applications. Over the years, these programmes have proven very popular with our cadets, and continue to do so. One of the key reasons for this, is that the airlines provide conditional job offers to the cadets before they embark on their training.” >>

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