Friday, May 23, 2008

Thailand and Vietnam establishing new flying schools

By Leithen Francis

Thailand and Vietnam are taking steps to train more pilots by establishing new pilot training schools.

Bangkok Airways is establishing the Bangkok Flight Academy in partnership with US firm Flight Training Services. The school will be based at Sukhothai airport and will open in December to train commercial pilots for Bangkok Airways and other airlines using a fleet of 25 single-engined aircraft and two jet aircraft.

Capacity will be 400 students a year and the first intake will be 20 students, the carrier says. It adds that the 12-14 month programme will be based on CAPT, an intensive ab initio pilot training programme developed by the USA's Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University.

Atlanta, Georgia-based Flight Training Services now administers the programme, which in the USA uses Cirrus SR20-G2 piston singles and Piper PA-44 Seminole twin turboprops.

Bangkok Airways is the second largest airline in Thailand with a fleet of ATR 72s, Airbus A320-family aircraft and Boeing 717s.

Vietnam is a smaller market than Thailand, but it too has a growing need for pilots. Vietnam's government has instructed national carrier Vietnam Airlines to establish a new pilot training school because it wants to reduce the country's reliance on foreigners.

Deputy director general of the Civil Aviation Administration of Vietnam, Lai Xuan Thanh, says about 30% of Vietnam Airlines' pilots are from overseas and all but one of Jetstar Pacific's pilots are foreigners. Planned new airline VietJet intends to only overseas pilots initially.

The national carrier is to manage the new school, but other airlines will be able to send pilots there, says Thanh, who was unable to say when the school will open or where it will be located because this is for Vietnam Airlines to determine.

No comments: