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.

Norway-Asia Business Review - - Contents - HAR­VEY BROCK

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

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