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Flight trainer labels comments as "ill-informed”

21 December 2010

Flight trainer labels comments as “ill-considered and ill-informed”

Aviation industry comments that the spread of mass market flight training businesses has created a “monster” and “cattle market” schools has been labelled as “ill-considered and ill-informed ” by the largest New Zealand-owned flight training business, Christchurch-based International Aviation Academy of New Zealand.

“These comments have tarred all large flight training businesses as offering sub-standard training, which is simply not the case. If anything, changes in the industry have improved the quality of students being trained as pilots,” says IAANZ Chief Executive Chris English.

His comments come after Wanaka Flight Training Chief Flying Instructor Peter Hendriks and Wanaka Helicopter owner Simon Spencer-Bower criticised the quality of training offered by large-scale commercial training operators, following the Transport Accident Investigation Commission opening a public inquiry after the number of midair crashes and near-misses involving instructors and student pilots.

Mr English says flight training businesses, such as the International Aviation Academy, undergo rigorous external and internal auditing by the Civil Aviation Authority and New Zealand Qualifications Authority.

“All graduates have to pass a significant number of exams and flight tests, undertaken by independent flight examiners, before they can seek employment as a professional pilot.

“One of the benefits a large school can provide is access to the latest technology such as glass cockpit aircraft and the ability to have a significant number of experienced A Category instructors on staff, something smaller operators cannot hope to emulate.”

Mr English says the fact that a large proportion of the Air New Zealand group pilots are trained at the IAA is testament to the outstanding quality of its graduates.

He refuted claims by the Mr Hendriks and Mr Spencer-Bower that the CAA syllabus lacked requirements for such flying as mountainous terrain: “this has recently been included in the syllabus and must be taught to all students”.

Mr English supported the student loan system as long as it had strict entry and exit criteria for providers and robust auditing procedures, issues that are currently being addressed by the industry.

“Unfortunately in some providers case it had been the sole source of revenue and had created a dependency but for those more professional businesses such as IAA which are always looking for growth opportunities the student loan scheme provided only a revenue base from which to build its international market.

Those schools that rely totally on student loan funding and have not put resources into developing their international markets will be vulnerable, if in the future student loans for aviation training become contestable.” Mr English says he would like to see happen sooner rather than later.

“The introduction of student loan funding for aviation training has removed the elitist nature of flight training which previously prevailed, whereby only the children of wealthy parents could aspire to become commercial pilots.

“This has created a wider pool of candidates and lifted the quality of those coming into the system and the pilots it produces. The loans scheme has made aviation a career option available to young people from every demographic background.”


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