TO support the expansion plans of Cebu Pacific Air, the company got into a joint venture with global aviation training company CAE to put up a specialized training facility for Airbus aircraft at the Clark Freeport Zone in Pampanga.
The Philippine Academy for Aviation Training (PAAT) belongs to the CAE Airbus Training Cooperation, adopting standard Airbus training. The instructors are standardized by Airbus flight instructors from the airplane manufacturer’s base in Toulouse, France.
CAE is a known provider of simulation and modeling technologies and integrated training solutions for commercial and business aviation and defense. It has 100 sites in 30 countries and employs 8,000 people.
Formally inaugurated in December, PAAT general manager Arvi Perez said their type-rating program started last May. They are currently training 11 pilots, seven of whom are foreigners, for the initial type rating course.
While Cebu Pacific now intends to get its pilots exclusively from PAAT, Perez assured that their graduates are not required to work exclusively for the airline. Citing a high demand for pilots in the Asia Pacific region in the coming years, Perez said PAAT not only aims to cater to the demands of the Philippine aviation industry but to the entire region.
He cited a pilot outlook for 2012 to 2031 that forecasts a demand of 460,000 pilots all over the world for 2031, with 40 percent of the demand coming from Asia Pacific.
Between 2012 and 2021, 4,505 Airbus aircraft are slated for delivery in the Asia Pacific region while another 5,113 are expected to be delivered between 2022 and 2031.
Perez said PAAT’s training bags, manuals and other materials are all sent directly from Airbus headquarters while their facility comes with two Airbus full flight simulators, costing $11 million each. The full flight simulator integrates the mechanical, electrical, hydraulic and digital processing systems to realistically represent real-time operations of the Airbus aircraft.
The simulated aircraft compartment is an exact replica, with instruments, controls, air supply, lights and stowage compartments. The runways for landing are based on real airports and the simulators come with settings for different weather conditions and time.
Journalists from the Visayas and Mindanao were given a tour of the facility last Friday and were allowed to experience the flight simulator by training head, Capt. Ronaldo Mendoza.
The entire facility is estimated to cost $50 million, which includes the full flight simulators, an Airbus procedures transition trainer, computer-based training room, classrooms, briefing rooms, lounge and cafeteria. They intend to add two more simulators, with one of these scheduled for delivery by 2014.
The initial type rating program is composed of early line training, jet familiarization and multi-crew cooperation. It is designed to familiarize students with the jet aircraft and multi-crew operations, to get used to operating a plane with jet engines from propellers and fly a plane with a co-pilot.
Perez said being part of the CAE network ensures their graduates of positions, even with foreign carriers. The school also has partnerships with Robinsons Bank and Mayfair Bank to offer financing for pilots seeking to further their skills with PAAT.
Because their program is standardized by Airbus, Perez assured that the difference in instructors will not hinder the training of students.
In the future, PAAT also hopes to offer trainings for cabin crew and dispatch and ground handling and become a main hub for aviation training services in the region.