MANILA, Philippines [UPDATED] – The Philippines’ most aggressive budget carrier and the world leader in aviation training broke ground on their P1.77 billion pilot training school in Clark on Tuesday, January 24.
The Philippine Academy for Aviation Training, a $40 million to $50 million joint venture between Gokongwei-led Cebu Pacific Air and Canadian Aviation Inc. (CAE) of Canada, is expected to start operating in the third quarter of 2012, according to Cebu Pacific president and CEO Lance Gokongwei.
The aviation academy will be equipped with the “most modern” flight-training equipment and will have the capacity to train over 2,500 pilots annually. It will cater to both Filipino and foreign crew.
In the next 5 years, Gokongwei said Cebu Pacific will need 300 to 400 pilots more in the next 5 years. It currently has at least 500 pilots.
In the next 20 years, the Asia-Pacific region will need “about 70,000 pilots,” he said.
The facility is located in 9,147-square-meter facility in Clark Freeport Zone, northwest of the national capital of Manila. It was designed by CAE’s training facilities team and will be equipped with 2 Airbus A320 FFSs.
The budget airline had said the facility will focus on training pilots to operate Airbus A319, 320, 321 aircraft. However, the facility will be initially equipped with two Airbus A320 full flight simulators. In the future it will house two more simulators.
“We are proud to be part of the establishment of the first CAE aviation training center in the country. We look forward to making the Philippines’ vibrant aviation industry become the hub for highly-skilled, highly competent aviation professionals,” said Gokongwei.
“We are delighted to collaborate with CAE to bring a world-class training facility to the region. This training center will be pivotal to meeting the training requirements not only of Cebu Pacific, but also the region’s pilot and flight training requirements in the next 10 years or so.”
“CAE is very pleased to partner with CEB to serve their expanding training needs,” said Jeff Roberts, CAE’s Group President of Civil Simulation Products, Training and Services. “The new training center will be a one-stop training facility for CEB and a hub for training services for other airlines. We are confident the training provided will enhance aviation safety and operational efficiency in the region.”
Earlier, Cebu Pacific’s rival Philippine Airlines (PAL) announced that it has purchased a $15 million worth flight simulator to train new and existing pilots.
PAL president Jaime Bautista had said the flag carrier bought in 2011 a state-of-the-art Airbus A320 full flight simulator that costs “around $14 to $15 million.”
“It is located in our Nichols property and this is being used now by our pilots, old and new ones,” said Bautista.
PAL pilots, including experienced ones, are required to undergo training to “refresh their skills so they would know what to do when they encounter situations which they are trained to handle.”
“That’s why I am not worried when there are reports on emergency landing because I know for a fact that our pilots are trained for things like that,” said the PAL president.
He said PAL currently has more than 200 well-trained pilots.
PAL maintains training facilities both for its pilots and other crew. This is composed of both the PAL Aviation School, the PAL Technical Center and the PAL Learning Center.
The Philippine airline industry has been plagued by the lack of and the poaching of qualified pilots amid a rapid expansion of local, as well as international, carriers. – Rappler.com