SA air school, Boeing in unique deal



Boeing and 43 Air School’s new partnership
is the first of its kind in Africa.

Kenya Airways cadet Peris Gichaga after
a successful flight.

All smiles after the first solo flight.

Cadets give a mate the “after-first-solo-
flight” treatment.
(Images: 43 Air School)

• 43 Air School
+27 46 6043600

OR Tambo named Africa’s best
Lanseria International Airport
Green airline goes greener
Mango starts flying from Lanseria

Emily van Rijswijck

One of the world’s leading aerospace companies, Boeing, and South Africa’s 43 Air School have joined forces to train inexperienced individuals up to co-pilot level in under two years. This programme is the first of its kind in Africa.

The two companies have become partners in a programme called “Street to Right Seat”, which will take individuals with no prior flying experience – people off the street, so to speak – and train them up to co-pilot level in under two years. The “right seat” refers to the position of first officers in aeroplane cockpits, seated to the right of the captain.

The programme is designed specifically for airlines in Africa which require tailor-made professional training for their new pilot recruits.

“Boeing has recognised that training in Africa needs an African solution,” says Attie Niemann, CEO of 43 Air School.

“Most of these African airlines are state-owned – therefore it is a mechanism for these airlines to have a turnkey solution, getting their citizens through a world-class programme designed for and proven to be adapted for an Africa-specific environment.”

Culture, education and language often act as barriers, preventing talented individuals in Africa from entering the commercial pilot profession. The 43 Air School is ideally suited to take up this new challenge, with credible airlines such as national airline carrier South African Airways and others from Africa, including Kenya Airways, Air Namibia and Air Botswana, all making use of its training in the past, and continue to do so.

The company’s biggest market is Africa followed by the UK. “We have vast experience in dealing with students from the African continent, offering local solutions for a local requirement but at an internationally accepted and approved standard. This is the essence of this product,” Niemann adds.

Approved by Boeing

The training will be offered as a seamless solution, fast-tracking the right candidates for Boeing’s multitude of clients from across the world.

In the past training was often fragmented and not tailor-made to the client’s needs, according to Niemann.

The new, cost-competitive programme will also target markets in the Middle East, China and South America – and is the only basic flying training scheme on the continent approved by Boeing.

“Boeing’s stamp of approval means we can very confidently say to them (airline carriers) that they do not need to go offshore, as happened in the past, to find solutions to crew training. No other flying schools (in the country) besides our three have this accreditation.”

Individuals identified through the programme will take up phase one training at one of the Eastern Cape training facilities, either at Bhisho or Port Alfred. 43 Air School also has a flying school at Lanseria Airport in Gauteng. Entering as complete rookies, trainees can expect to get into the “right seat” in less than two years, ably assisting the pilot on new-generation Boeing aeroplanes.

After successful completion of the first phase candidates qualify as commercial pilots with a basic airline or commercial pilots licence, otherwise known as an Integrated Airlines Pilots Licence.

Phase one takes just over a year to complete after which trainees are transferred to a Boeing Training and Flight Centres for phases two and three. These centres are located across the globe with two in Africa, one at the OR Tambo International Airport near Johannesburg, South Africa, and one in Casablanca, Morocco.

“A target of 18 months of training is typically the time needed to complete the whole programme after which the student will be suitable to fly as a co-pilot for the airline on the carrier they use,” Niemann says.

Pilot demand exceeding supply

In November 2011 Boeing announced a record order of 50 Boeing 777 aeroplanes placed by Dubai-based Emirates Airlines, the biggest order in the company’s history, reported Business Excellence.

Coupled with other orders, the company is experiencing one of its best years since 2005 when the previous record was set.

Niemann says linked to this is the fact that the global market has once more returned to a shortage of suitably qualified pilots.

“According to Boeing, demand will exceed supply globally for the next eight years. One only has to look at the record orders Boeing has taken lately to realise that huge demand for suitable crew is on the cards globally.”

Things therefore look good for markets such as South Africa, where globally competitive pilot training is on offer at half the price, according to Niemann.

In addition, South African skies still remain relatively uncluttered, affording the best possible opportunity for training.

“Europe and even the US cannot compete with us in terms of pricing and in this I see our biggest advantage as far as this programme is concerned. We are on average half the price of a European product for the same solution.”