The newest and largest group of Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) cadets will begin training next month at the Czech Aviation Training Centre (CATC) in Prague and will be available to airlines toward the end of 2020. They would join 14 other CATC MPL graduates who completed the program (two in 2015, four each in 2016, 2017 and 2018) and became commercial airline pilots.

Six of the MPL graduates are flying as Flight Officers on Airbus A320 and A330 aircraft for Czech Airlines. Capt. Richard Biras, chief pilot, Czech Airlines, said, “After the first experience with MPL trainees, we saw that the training program and selection should be adjusted in order to improve some skills and knowledge. From the second course, we have observed better performance during line training and the training progress was equal to any other pilots. We feel that MPL has a potential to play a positive role in an airliner pilot training.”

The other eight CATC MPL graduates are flying as Boeing 737 NG FOs with Smart Wings (formerly known as Travel Service). Capt. Jaromir Jehlicka, training manager, Smart Wings, commented: “Some of them are about average and others need a little more care by our instructors during line training. Due to the present shortage of pilots we can agree with MPL training.”

“Another challenge regarding MPL training will come in several years from now when the first MPL students will be ready for Commander upgrade,” Capt. Jehlicka added. “Hopefully there won’t be any significant difference between CPL and MPL candidates after several thousand hours in airliner cockpits.”

CATC’s MPL program, which was launched in 2013, is somewhat different from other MPL curricula, incorporating eight hours of flying in gliders and another five hours of aerobatic flying. The school also claims “a very sophisticated selection system” designed to demonstrate a candidate’s range of abilities such as logical reasoning, managing conflicting information, and adapting to changing situations.

Former CATC chief Miloš Kvapil noted, “It is a very positive phenomenon that a small country like the Czech Republic is training pilots with a modern system, helping to reduce the current shortage of pilots.”

Later this year, CATC expects to take delivery of CAE 7000XR full-flight simulators for the A320 and Boeing 737-8 MAX.