Sunday 19 November 2017

Flight school lands Kazakhstan cadet contract

AFTA vice-president Allen Field and Captain Mikhail Batayev, manager of Air Astana operational training
AFTA vice-president Allen Field and Captain Mikhail Batayev, manager of Air Astana operational training
John Mulligan

John Mulligan

Dozens of pilot cadets from Kazakhstan's flag carrier, Air Astana, are to be trained at Cork Airport over the next four years after Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA) secured a contract with the airline.

The cadets had previously been trained at the Waterford-based Pilot Training College, which went out of business last year, leaving nearly 200 trainee pilots who had paid the firm tens of thousands of euro stranded in Florida.

AFTA, founded in Cork 20 years ago, said it will need to hire at least 20 additional training personnel over the next 12 months to service the new contract.

It already employs 45 training and administrative staff.

The cadets will each undergo 16 months of airline pilot training at the Cork academy, beginning next month. They will begin initial flight training on a single-engine Cessna light aircraft before progressing to twin-engine Piper Senacas.

Each will undergo 200 hours of flight training, including on a simulator.

AFTA vice-president and director of operations Allen Field said the contract with Air Astana was a "significant endorsement" of the academy's training standards.

The firm already trains pilots for international airlines including British Airways and Virgin.

Air Astana is jointly owned by BAE Systems and Kazakhstan's sovereign wealth fund.

Enterprise Ireland said it was working closely with AFTA to help it secure new international business in several markets.

Cork is the only one of the country's three main airports where the Irish Aviation Authority still permits flight training.

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