Originally published by the Orlando Economic Partnership on September 25, 2017.
The Orlando region is home to top-notch flight safety and pilot training programs with direct connections to Central Florida’s renowned simulation industry. An attractive home for aviation training centers, Orlando is primed to meet the demands of the fast-growing aviation industry with its high-quality talent pipeline, advanced simulation and training cluster and assets including two world-class international airports.
Commercial airlines JetBlue and Allegiant Airlines both have large training centers in Orlando. JetBlue University, located at Orlando International Airport, hosts nearly every one of the company’s 1,500 new hires annually for a two-day orientation. JetBlue “U” also features state-of-the-art, full-motion aircraft simulators in which pilots are trained and tested on the aircraft’s systems, procedures, maneuvers and leadership abilities. Across town, Allegiant Airlines is building a $25-million, 45,000-square-foot training center located at Orlando Sanford International Airport. This facility, including a full range flight simulator, will instruct 150 pilots, 500 flight attendants and 100 mechanics annually.
The commercial airline industry is especially in need of trained pilots, and Orlando is uniquely situated to meet these industry demands. In a recent study, Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE) found that the global commercial fleet will need 440,000 active pilots by 2027. The report also projects that the industry will need 255,000 new airline pilots in 10 years to offset the effect of retirement as well as industry growth. Orlando has the second highest flight training employment in the country, with almost four times the amount of flight training jobs as the national average.
Institutions in the Orlando region training to meet this commercial pilot shortage include L-3 Airline Academy, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University, and Polk State College. L-3 Airline Academy, located at Orlando Sanford International Airport, is increasing its classes of trained commercial pilots by 40 percent and will soon be training 600 pilots every year. Other pilot training establishments include Aerostar Training Services, FlightSafety Orlando, Pan Am International Flight Academy and SimCom Aviation Training. In addition to pilot-specific training, Florida Institute of Technology and the University of Central Florida (UCF) are providing unrivaled numbers of qualified aviation and simulation graduates. In fact, UCF was named the No. 1 supplier of engineers to the aerospace and defense industries by Aviation Week.
Aerostar Training Services recently installed an Airbus 320 simulator in the company's 18,000-square-foot hangar at the Kissimmee Gateway Airport. Aerostar is expanding its presence with a $1.5-million building expansion including the creation of a new state-of-the-art aircraft maintenance facility, Spectrum Aero. When the expansion project is complete, AeroStar will be the only school in the Americas able to train pilots obtaining a Private Pilot License to a complete Airline Transport Pilot License and type ratings on A320 or B737 under the same roof.
Orlando is a preferred aviation training location due to its year-round flying weather, attractive cost of doing business, talented workforce and hyper-connected air access with five public-use airports in the region.