Air industry training hub in Clark takes flight
The dream of thousands of young Filipinos to become pilots may now be that much more attainable as the country strives to establish itself as an air industry training hub for the Asia-Pacific region.
A new training center for aviation industry professionals—to be built as a joint venture between the Gokongwei family’s Cebu Pacific and Canada’s CAE Inc.—is set to rise in Clark Freeport, Pampanga.
The new facility, dubbed as the Philippine Academy for Aviation Training (PAAT), will open its doors to prospective pilots here and abroad by the third quarter of this year.
The new facility is seen boosting the country’s capability to offer quality but affordable training for local and overseas students.
The new facility is expected to cost $50 million, the price to be split equally between Cebu Pacific and its partner CAE, which is one of the world’s leading aviation training suppliers.
“We look forward to making the Philippines’ vibrant aviation industry become the hub for highly skilled, highly competent aviation professionals,” Cebu Pacific CEO Lance Gokongwei said last week.
Cebu Pacific said it would also offer financial assistance to make it easier on the pockets for potential pilots looking to get quality training, granted that they agree to work for Cebu Pacific, one of the fastest-growing airlines in the country, for a few years to repay the tuition.
“Indeed, pilot training is more fun in the Philippines,” Gokongwei said.
The new facility will not only serve as the main training center for Cebu Pacific’s own staff, but will also take on the training of other professionals from other companies.
“They will come here and stand shoulder to shoulder with students from all over the world, effectively cementing our position as a hub for aviation training in the Asia-Pacific Region,” said President Benigno Aquino III in a speech at the facility’s ground-breaking earlier this month.
The PAAT would initially cater to Airbus A319/320/321 series pilot type-rating training requirements and provide “wet” instructor-led type-rating training for Cebu Pacific’s current and newly hired pilots.
It would also be equipped with two Airbus A320 Full Flight Simulators (FFSs) with two more expected to be added in the next six years.
Facilities like the PAAT are needed to produce enough pilots and other air industry professionals for the expected growth of airlines in the Asia Pacific region. Flight attendants are also expected to be able to train at the PAAT.
The latest report by the Airbus Global Market Forecasts indicate that 34 percent of total global aircraft orders are set to be delivered to Asia, with the biggest demand coming from economic giants like China and India. This translates to about 9,160 planes from today up to 2030.
About 60 percent of these planes are single-aisle, short to mid-range aircraft, similar to the Airbus A320 planes that make up most of Cebu Pacific’s fleet.
This means the region will need 70,000 new pilots until 2030.
“Given this requirement, not only new pilots will need to go through training, but all licensed pilots will be required to undergo recurrent training every six months,” Cebu Pacific said in statement.