Avi­a­tion acad­e­mies aim sky high

BE­ING A PI­LOT HAS BE­COME VERY AP­PEAL­ING FOR YOUNG PEO­PLE, BUT NOT MANY OF THEM ARE LUCKY ENOUGH TO EN­TER FLY­ING SCHOOL

The Jakarta Post - Magazine - - Contents - THE JAKARTA POST/JAKARTA

The per­ceived glitz and the glam of a pi­lot’s life can be in­cred­i­bly se­duc­tive for young minds — and use­ful for a govern­ment that is at­tempt­ing to boost the num­ber of homegrown pi­lots to meet de­mand from the grow­ing avi­a­tion sec­tor.

The in­crease in the num­ber of air car­ri­ers, es­pe­cially bud­get car­ri­ers, in re­cent years has re­sulted in a sharp in­crease in de­mand for pi­lots in the coun­try. Ac­cord­ing to a Trans­porta­tion Min­istry es­ti­mate, with an­nual avi­a­tion in­dus­try growth be­tween 10 and 15 per­cent, In­done­sia needs at least 600 fresh pi­lots a year.

Fly­ing schools are mush­room­ing across the coun­try. Avi­a­tion schools in In­done­sia of­fer cour­ses for Pri­vate Pi­lot Li­censes (PPL), Com­mer­cial Pi­lot Li­censes (CPL) and the ad­di­tional In­stru­ment Rat­ing (IR) for prospec­tive pi­lots who wish to meet in­ter­na­tional stan­dards.

Sev­eral schools also of­fer a Multi-En­gine Rat­ing (ME). The re­quired flight hours range from 50 to 100, de­pend­ing on the li­cense, in ad­di­tion to sev­eral months of ground school­ing and sim­u­la­tor train­ing.

While fig­ures vary, the Trans­porta­tion Min­istry’s web­site cites there are 16 avi­a­tion schools across the coun­try, in­clud­ing the pres­ti­gious state-owned In­done­sian Avi­a­tion In­sti­tute (STPI) in Cu­rug, Ban­ten.

Es­tab­lished in 1952, STPI is one of the old­est avi­a­tion schools in Asia and has five teach­ing fields that ac­com­mo­date a max­i­mum of 200 pi­lots each. The academy ac­cepts around 120 stu­dents each year. Other no­table avi­a­tion schools in­clude the Bali In­ter­na­tional Flight Academy and Alfa Fly­ing School. Be­ing a pi­lot has be­come very ap­peal­ing for young peo­ple, but not many of them are lucky enough to en­ter fly­ing school, not only be­cause the schools lack ca­pac­ity, but also be­cause they are very ex­pen­sive.

Stu­dents pay at least Rp 90 mil­lion (US$6,800) for two years of train­ing at the state-owned STPI. That is quit cheap com­pared to be­tween Rp 400 mil­lion and Rp 600 mil­lion stu­dents have to pay at pri­vate fly­ing schools.

PT Mi­tra Avi­asi Perkasa CEO Septo Sudiro, who is him­self pas­sion­ate about fly­ing, said de­mand for new pi­lots had de­creased to around 400 this year, partly due to con­sol­i­da­tion in the avi­a­tion in­dus­try.

How­ever, he saw in­creased in­ter­est from high school grad­u­ates wish­ing to en­ter, due to the hefty start­ing salary promised to be around Rp 20 mil­lion to Rp 25 mil­lion. His avi­a­tion school, Perkasa Flight School, has pro­duced 87 pi­lots since it was es­tab­lished in 2013, and en­rol­ment is in­creas­ing ev­ery year.

Up to 60 per­cent of en­rolling stu­dents had rel­a­tives who are cer­ti­fied pi­lots, while the re­main­ing ei­ther had child­hood dreams of be­com­ing a pi­lot or were tempted by the prospec­tive salary, he said.

“There were 98 stu­dents in 2015 and around 70 stu­dents in 2014. This year, we are tar­get­ing to ac­cept 120 stu­dents, as we will be open­ing an in­ter­na­tional class for prospec­tive stu­dents from the Mid­dle East, In­dia and ASEAN coun­tries to en­roll,” he told

The Jakarta Post re­cently. Septo, whose father was a cer­ti­fied pi­lot, said the num­ber of stu­dents ac­cepted to Perkasa Flight School was lim­ited to 120, be­cause the academy cur­rently had only 20 air­craft, con­sist­ing of the Cessna 172 Sky­hawk, the Piper War­rior and the Piper PA-44 Semi­nole. “How­ever, we plan to buy 10 more planes this year so that we can be­come one of the largest avi­a­tion schools in the coun­try. We plan to buy the 2006-2007 mod­els of the Piper Archer III,” he said.

Perkasa Flight School has four train­ing bases: Tung­gal Wu­lung Air­port in Ci­la­cap, Cen­tral Java; Nu­sawiru Air­port in Pan­gan­daran, West Java; Raja Haji Fis­abilil­lah Air­port in Tan­jung Pi­nang, Riau Is­lands; and HAS Hanand­joed­din Air­port in Tan­jung

Pan­dan, Bangka Beli­tung.

Ap­prox­i­mately 95 per­cent of stu­dents at the school make it through to grad­u­a­tion, and Septo said many found jobs with car­ri­ers un­der the Lion Group — such as Lion Air, Batik Air and Wings Air — and air­line Sri­wi­jaya Air.

De­spite the govern­ment’s in­sis­tence that there was ris­ing de­mand for pi­lots in the avi­a­tion sec­tor, Der­aya Flight School’s pub­lic re­la­tions of­fi­cer, Eka A. Clausen, said in re­al­ity many do­mes­tic air­lines were clos­ing their doors to fresh grad­u­ates.

Eka ex­plained that in the past cou­ple of years, sev­eral lo­cal air­lines had shut down due to bankruptcy or had re­duced the num­ber of new pi­lots they ac­cept. Fur­ther­more, many lo­cal air­lines now had their own pi­lot schools, such as Lion Group’s Angkasa Avi­a­tion Academy, and pri­or­i­tized hir­ing in-house grad­u­ates.

“Se­cond, the num­ber of pri­vate avi­a­tion schools has sky­rock­eted, which means there are many more grad­u­ates than ever be­fore. In the past, all grad­u­ates from pri­vate avi­a­tion schools would get jobs, but in the past two years, there has been less re­cruit­ment,” the Der­aya Flight School spokesper­son said.

Der­aya Flight School is one of the old­est pri­vate avi­a­tion schools in the coun­try, es­tab­lished in 1972, with train­ing bases at Halim Per­danakusuma Air­port in Jakarta and Adi Su­marmo Air­port in Solo.

The school boasts 16 air­craft and a Frasca 142 flight sim­u­la­tor, along­side 28 cer­ti­fied flight in­struc­tors. The academy also prides it­self on its 20-month course to en­sure well- qual­i­fied grad­u­ates, much longer than the typ­i­cal 12-month course at other schools.

Thirty stu­dents have grad­u­ated from Der­aya Flight School re­cently, most of them mov­ing on to work for Garuda In­done­sia, air­lines un­der the Lion Group or air am­bu­lances or work­ing as in­struc­tors at the academy. Only 10 of the grad­u­ates had not found jobs yet, ei­ther by choice or due to de­creas­ing de­mand, Eka said.

Pre­vi­ous grad­u­ates had also moved on to work for in­ter­na­tional char­ters, such as Hong Kong Air­lines, Qatar Air­ways and USbased non­profit air med­i­cal ser­vice Cal­star in Cal­i­for­nia and north­ern Ne­vada.

Fur­ther­more, Eka ac­knowl­edged that the num­ber of high school grad­u­ates aim­ing to en­ter avi­a­tion schools had de­creased in the past two years. She ex­plained that from 2012 to 2014, Der­aya Flight School had ac­cepted ap­prox­i­mately 70 to 100 stu­dents an­nu­ally, a num­ber that had dras­ti­cally dropped to 50 to 60 stu­dents per year since 2015.

“There may be sev­eral fac­tors that have con­trib­uted to this de­creas­ing num­ber. First, a lot of par­ents may be re­con­sid­er­ing the prospect of send­ing their child to an avi­a­tion school due to the large num­ber of ac­ci­dents in the past few years,” she said.

Eka also cited the steep tuition fees due to the de­pre­ci­a­tion of the ru­piah against the US dollar. Cur­rently, prospec­tive stu­dents must pay an ad­min­is­tra­tion fee of Rp 6 mil­lion — which in­cludes the ap­pli­ca­tion for a Stu­dent Pi­lot Li­cense (SPL) — and a fee of Rp 14 mil­lion for the flight ap­ti­tude test. Ad­di­tion­ally, stu­dents have to pay be­tween Rp 295 mil­lion to Rp 772 mil­lion for tuition, de­pend­ing on the li­cense they want to ob­tain at the end of the course.

Guid­ing: Hery Frianto, the owner of Sim­u­la­tor Dir­gan­tara In­done­sia (SDI), guides one of his stu­dents dur­ing a les­son at the SDI flight sim­u­la­tor cen­ter in Cipon­doh, Tangerang, Ban­ten. Hery has a num­ber of air­craft sim­u­la­tors in­clud­ing a Cessena 172SP Sky­hawk and Boe­ing 737 NG. An­tara

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