Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates: Soaring global demand for airline pilots, and the growing popularity of Airbus A320 and Boeing 787 aircraft, have jointly sparked major growth in the pilot training division of Abu Dhabi’s Etihad Airways.
In the past year, Etihad has won contracts to train pilots
for more than 40 clients, over half of them airlines in the Middle East,
Europe, Africa, Indian sub-continent and South East Asia. One
year ago, it supported only three other operators.
“Air travel is booming, and so is demand for pilots and
other aviation professionals,” said Captain Paolo La Cava, Managing Director of
Etihad Aviation Training. “The number of passenger journeys on the world’s
airlines is expected to double within 20 years, and the aircraft manufacturers
Airbus and Boeing are both predicting that total aircraft numbers will also
double to accommodate this growth,” he said.
Captain La Cava said training for new pilots from ‘ab
initio’ stage was a growing activity of Etihad Aviation Training, which
currently has over 100 cadet pilots and 22 training aircraft, including four
Embraer Phenom 100 jets, all based at Al Ain, in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
But by far the fastest-growing segment of the business has
become retraining pilots to fly new aircraft types, particularly the Airbus
A320-family of narrowbody jets and the wide-bodied Boeing 787 Dreamliner, two
of the most in-demand types.
“As airlines and private operators introduce more of these
jets, demand is increasing significantly to transfer pilots from flying other aircraft
types,” said Captain La Cava.
“Many operators simply don’t have the facilities or
capacity to retrain the number of pilots required for these planes. But we do,
and demand for our services is growing. In the first half of this year, our
volumes have exceeded expectations by 30 per cent. A key reason for our success
is that our instructors are also active pilots with Etihad Airways, operating
the aircraft types on which we are training other pilots.”
Captain La Cava said Etihad Aviation Training was equipped
with 10 Full Flight Simulators including three Airbus A320 devices, three
Boeing 787 units, two Boeing 777s, a single unit for Airbus A330s/A340s, and
one A380 simulator, as well as 12 fixed-based Airbus and Boeing training
devices. An Airbus A350 simulator will be introduced later this year, as well
as an A320 fixed base training unit.
In addition to training pilots to operate these aircraft
types – all of which Etihad operates, has previously flown, or will introduce -
Etihad Aviation Training provides courses for flight instructors, examiners and
senior examiners, as well as cabin crew and aircraft maintenance personnel. Its
credentials were strengthened late last year when it became the first aviation
business in the UAE to receive accreditation as an Approved Training
Organisation by the European Aviation Safety Agency. This approval, EASA 147,
is connected to the Etihad Engineering Maintenance, Repair and Overhaul
facility, providing exposure to operational aircraft and instructors.
“From small beginnings just over a year ago, we have built
our training business in Abu Dhabi to become the largest such facility in the
Middle East, and one of the largest independent providers of training in the
aviation industry,” said Captain La Cava. “Etihad Aviation Training is
providing real solutions to emerging issues in our industry, and we are
confident that we will continue to grow our global client base as airlines and
other operators continue to expand their own businesses.”