31 March 2010
Air Astana is the first airline in Asia and Europe to acquire an Enhanced Virtual Procedures Trainer (EVPT) for training and developing flight operations of pilots on the Airbus 320. EVPTs were developed by Aerosim Technologies, an internationally recognized leader in the market, in partnership with Air Astana. In addition, the national airline launched its pilot instructor program for Air Astana with training occurring at the World Headquarters of Delta Air Lines in Atlanta, Georgia. Presently, 13 pilots are certified as training instructors. In the future an additional 30 instructors will be trained. These are the first steps taken by Air Astana in establishing a pilot training centre.“The idea of developing our own training centre for the airline was a result of the shortage of qualified training and the lack of modern training systems available for pilots in Kazakhstan which would meet international standards. At the same time, Air Astana has stringent requirements for pilots and safety is the main priority for our carrier. To become an Air Astana pilot, you must have a valid certificate provided by the civil aviation of the RK or the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a certain number of flying hours, ability to operate on international flights, high professional and personal qualities and knowledge of English in accordance with ICAO level 4. That’s why Air Astana invests heavily in training and retraining of pilots, both experienced and new pilots,” commented Tom Nichols, Vice President Air Astana Flight Operations.
In 2008, Air Astana launched the Ab Initio program which is a training program for pilots. The Ab Initio program is open to all interested citizens of the Republic of Kazakhstan who are 18 to 29 years of age and have an excellent knowledge of physics, mathematics and English. The selection of future pilots is conducted on a regular basis. Presently, 24 cadets are in the Ab Initio Program. One of the young cadets is a female, Polina Pavlova. All are in training at Pilot Training College, PTC, a prestigious American flight school at Florida Institute of Technology, FIT, located in Melbourne, Florida. PTC uses the most modern equipment consisting of 40 aircraft and flight simulators. Kazakhstan does not have the equipment to provide such training and it would require a multimillion-dollar investment.
To maintain a high level of professionalism for the pilots it is necessary for them to receive regular on-going training. All Air Astana pilots go twice a year to Amsterdam or London to demonstrate proficiency in emergency and abnormal maneuvers. By purchasing their own equipment and reducing the expensive training abroad Air Astana will save approximately $375,000 a year. With flight controls and a visual system, training in the EVPT, in Almaty, will enable pilots to perform ground operations and in-flight training including the required skills should they experience electronic, hydraulic, navigation or radio systems failure on the Airbus 320. Additional training devices for the Boeing 757/767 will be installed in May; in 2011 the EVPTs will be installed for training on the Embraer-190. These steps taken by Air Astana will improve the aviation standards in Kazakhstan.
Reference: Aerosim’s Enhanced Virtual Procedure Trainer is a device with a flat touch panel screen that incorporates various aircraft specific hardware such as throttles, autopilot panels and control display units that enhance the quality and realism of the training events. The ability to combine theory, practice and realistic trainings increases the quality of knowledge and skills received. The EVPT is designed to optimise training time and improve the learning process for pilots and maintenance personnel. The EVPT allows real-time interaction with aircraft systems in a structured training environment or complete free-play.
Flight controls and a 150 degree field of view takes the Virtual Procedure Trainer from the realm of ground operations to in-flight training. Training that was previously performed only on the full flight simulator is now practiced in the Virtual Procedure Trainer and checked in the full flight simulator at a fraction of the cost.
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