High demand for competent airline pilots in Asia and the elite standards of Pilot Flight Academy make the two a natural match
High demand for competent airline pilots in Asia and the elite standards of PFA make the two a natural match.
Aviation is growing rapidly in Asia and there is huge demand for pilots. Boeing estimates Asia-Pacific will need more than 230,000 new pilots by 2035. Airbus and Boeing have a backlog of more than 13,000 aircraft to be delivered within the next seven to eight years, and most of them are going to Asia. The International Air Transport Association reported passenger growth in Asia-Pacific was 8.2% from June 2015 to June 2016, making up 35% of the global market and rising rapidly. The highest growth is in Southeast Asia, with many of these countries having annual passenger traffic growth of more than 20%. The average load factor for airlines in this region is close to 80%, exceeding averages during broad expansions.
To handle this uptake in passenger traffic, airports are either expanding or new airports are being built. In India the number of airline passengers is expected to grow from 106 million in 2016 to 421 million in 2020, making it the thirdlargest aviation market.
Frode Granlund, chief executive of Pilot Flight Academy (PFA) in Sandefjord, Norway, has travelled to Asia several times this year to meet with airlines, flight schools and universities in India, Indonesia, Singapore, South Korea, Oman, Thailand, Vietnam and the UAE to gauge the interest in pilot education in Norway. The first question is always “Why Norway?” because it is perceived as an expensive, remote country. But the academy makes sense for many Asians when you dig a little deeper.
PFA is a training organisation approved by the European Aviation Safety Agency ( EASA), following the highest global standards recognised in every country. This means EASA pilot licences allow operation in nearly any country, while licences from the US, Canada and Australia must be converted to the higher EASA standard for operation from a European and some Middle Eastern bases. In some countries in Asia, local pilot licences are of a lesser standard, meaning pilots can only fly for airlines in their home country.
The academy was established in 2007 and is now one of Europe’s most modern flight centres with around 100 students and 30 employees. The students come from over 10 countries and all education is in English. Runar Vassbotten and Frode Granlund, the two founders, still retain full ownership.
Education in Norway, including pilot education, is not subject to valueadded tax (VAT). With Norway’s VAT currently at 25%, education is still quite affordable minus the tax, especially when factoring in the undisputed quality and the operating environment of PFA.
The academy is located at Sandefjord Torp airport, a 1½-hour drive from Oslo. Sandefjord is an international airport with real live airline movements meaning students get right into the airline environment. This pairs well with PFA’s core value of “Pilot from Day One”; students are treated as pilots and expected to conduct themselves as professionals from day one.
Training flights are conducted in an international environment all over