Boeing to make flight dreams come true for impoverished kids
TAKING to the skies as the pilot of a massive plane like a Boeing might seem like a pipe dream to many impoverished Eastern Cape children, but a new deal between the aircraft manufacturer and province's 43 Air School aims to change that.
According to the flight school chief executive Attie Nieman the Seattle-based aircraft manufacturer has signed a deal with 43 Air School, which has bases in Port Alfred, Bhisho and Johannesburg's Lanceria, to train more young pilots amid a world-wide shortage of crew.
The shortage stems from the fast-expanding budget airline market around the world, which Boeing is now not only targeting, but also aiming to offer its clients "ready-trained" pilots for the aircraft it sells.
Titled Street to Right Seat the programme is aimed at producing pilots who will be qualified as a Boeing Next-Generation 737 First Officer, ready to assume the right seat on the flight deck.
"There is a shortage of advanced training and suitable schools which are specifically preparing pilots for flying airlines [like Boeing] which is what we do," Nieman explained.
"What Boeing does now when they sell their aircraft is also supply the trained pilots, whether the pilots are from that country, or not."
Nieman said the full extent of the programme would be realised over the next three years, as Boeing supplied its aircraft to new clients who requested ready-trained pilots.
"We foresee that we will train between 150 and 300 pilots a year when this programme comes into full swing," he said, adding that 43 Air School already has a programme which identified pilots-in-the-making from disadvantaged communities and trained them up.
"If a candidate from the local community shows the right credentials for this [Boeing] programme, we will train them," Nieman said.
The school already trains pilots from around the world, including all of the Kenya Airways crew.
Phase one of the programme will take cadets through basic flight instruction at 43 Air School, with the second and third phases of training continuing with Boeing's Flight Services Jet Bridge and Type Rating programmes, which take place at training campuses around the world.
"Boeing is working to provide expanded access to flight training solutions in all regions of the world, enabling airlines to reduce their overall training costs as well as help meet the increased demand for pilots," said Roei Ganzarski, chief customer officer of Boeing Flight Services.
Nieman was ecstatic about the deal.
"What this gives us is the support of one of the biggest players in the market that we are able to have a school which can train top notch pilots," he said.