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Bringing Airbus standards to Philippine pilot training

Learn to fly: The cockpit panel inside the Airbus A320 simulator

MANILA, Philippines - According to recent industry forecasts from Boeing and Airbus, there will be a need for 130,000 pilots to fly 9,000 new aircraft in Asia between now and 2030.

This is the reason why Cebu Pacific and CAE of Canada established their joint venture in Clark, the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training (PAAT). CAE is the world’s largest manufacturer of flight simulators and has the largest global network of pilot training centers with presence in 45 countries around the world. PAAT’s brand-new training facility in Clark was inaugurated last December and offers Airbus A320 type rating for individuals and recurrency and other training for airlines.

PAAT general manager Raoul S. Perez said because of his company’s affiliation with CAE, “PAAT belongs to the CAE-Airbus Training Cooperation. We therefore use the Airbus training footprint and have adopted the course entry requirements of Airbus. We also get all our training materials, such as manuals and discs, from Airbus and all our instructors have been standardized by Airbus.”

Airlines in Asia have recently been increasing their fleet. PAL announced it is procuring 100 wide-bodied aircraft and Cebu Pacific has announced that it has ordered almost 20 more aircraft for delivery from now till 2021. “This requires hiring well-trained and highly qualified pilots who will fly these additional planes.” Perez said.

Perez added, “Since it is part of the CAE-Airbus Training Cooperation, PAAT has adopted the Airbus course-entry requirements in accepting applications for Airbus A320 initial type-rating. Interested students must have a Commercial Pilot License and Instrument Rating for multi-engine and a total of 200 hours flying time with 70 hours as pilot-in-command and 25 hours multi-engine time.”

Multi-engine means an aircraft with more than one engine or a twin-engine, twin-propeller aircraft as against an aircraft with only one engine and a single propeller. “Other type-rating centers do not require multi-engine experience. So you can imagine the huge adjustment needed for a pilot who is used to flying solo on a small single-engine, propeller-driven airplane weighing less than one ton, to then fly a 78-ton jet-driven multi-crew aircraft.” Perez said.

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Although this requirement entails added cost to the student as he has to rent a twin-engine plane to accumulate 25 flying hours to qualify for entry to PAAT’s training program, Perez said this can be reduced to only 15 hours of actual flight and the balance of 10 hours flown in a twin-engine flight simulator.

“Our graduates would be more ready to fly the Airbus because they know the requirements of flying a multi-engine aircraft and have actual experience doing so. Aside from this, our students go through Early Line Training prior to the Airbus type-rating which includes Jet Familiarization and Multi-Crew Cooperation.” Perez added. He also said that PAAT’s instructors are retired line captains of airlines with extensive experience, with some having been instructors at Airbus training centers abroad. Our instructors have also been standardized by Airbus, which sent flight instructors to Clark last November from Toulouse, France, to give the Airbus standardization training to our instructors.”

PAAT’s goal is to improve the training standards in the Philippines and being part of the CAE network, we are able to leverage all the strengths of CAE, which includes not only its experience in pilot training but more importantly its global leadership in flight simulator technology, Perez said.

PAAT currently has two Airbus A320 Level-D full-flight simulators. It purchased one brand-new Series 5000 Airbus A320 Level-D full-flight simulator from CAE with the latest 1.8 standard. Aside from the brand-new one, PAAT has a Classic series Airbus A320 Level-D full-flight simulator. A third one is planned for acquisition next year. Its training center in Clark has two simulator bays with a capacity for four simulators. Aside from the flight simulators, PAAT also has an Airbus Pilot Transition Trainer (APTT). The training center also houses one Computer-Based Training (CBT) room, six classrooms, 10 briefing rooms, two APTT rooms, a pilot lounge, and a cafeteria.

PAAT’s mandate is to offer its training services to all local and foreign airlines. Since PAAT belongs to the CAE training network, other local and foreign airlines already know the training standards used by CAE and consequently the quality of our graduates. However, one advantage of taking the Airbus type-rating training at PAAT is that Cebu Pacific will give priority to hiring our graduates and will exclusively get its new pilots from PAAT, Perez explained.

“For those who are interested in taking our type rating course, we send them to Cebu Pacific for initial pre-employment screening. After which they need to complete the Airbus type-rating course and pass the final skills test before they are considered for hiring by Cebu Pacific.” Perez said. But he explained that their graduates can go to where they want to get employed but Cebu Pacific will give priority to hiring PAAT graduates.

Perez said that it is a good time to become a pilot, given the big demand for pilots forecasted for the future. He said it is the only job that can offer top wages, adding that an Airbus type-rating course can easily be recouped in a few years of flying as an Airbus pilot. An Airbus pilot can earn an approximate average salary of P300,000 a month but this will vary depending on their rank.

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