Air Transport World

Low cost, but not cheap: budget carriers bring a new dimension to managing pilot training.(Training)

As the variety of profitable budget airlines demonstrates, success comes in many shapes and sizes. WestJet, Ryanair, JetBlue and AirTran all have taken different paths to arrive at the same destination.

This is also true when it comes to how low-cost carriers approach pilot training. JetBlue is building its own facility while Jetstar has outsourced virtually its entire training requirement to a third party. Yet experts agree that most LCCs share a common trait: A determination to think outside the box.

"The historic model is our airplanes, our crews, our training," Alteon VP-Aviation Training Paul Hinton tell ATW. "The LCCs are willing to examine every detail of that model and ask themselves, does that work for us?"

Nick Lockwood, VP-marketing for GE Capital Aviation Training, says, "The argument is: 'Is training core or not?' And some airlines would say yes it is a core function, but if there is a specialist that can do it better than us, then that's the way we'll go."

Lockwood cites another difference: "Traditionally, most airlines would have their own approvals to do type rating courses ... What [LCCs] are saying is we don't need that type of infrastructure in-house to be able to convert pilots. We can do line training but we don't need the ground school and type-rated instructors to coach on the simulators. We can find a third party to do that."

Nick Leontidis, Exec. VP Customers, Civil Simulation and Training Div. for CAE states, "From our perspective, this market is not a homogeneous one when it comes to training. The approaches tend to vary." Broadly speaking, however, European LCCs tend to do more outsourcing than their North American counterparts, he notes. EasyJet recently selected CAE to become its training provider on the A320. …

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