Chris Long examines the training expertise of French organisations ATR and ENAC.
The world of commercial aviation has long recognised the huge demand for new aviation professionals which is predicted for the next 20 years. The details have changed little over recent years, with approximately 600,000 new pilots and the same number of maintenance technicians as the headline numbers. They are not alone - the complex team that is critical in running airline operations also requires large numbers of cabin crew, dispatchers and ground support.
Although originally the aircraft OEMs had little involvement in training, other than converting experienced crews to their new aircraft types, they have increasingly been involved from the start in the aviation careers for the new generation. A useful example of this is with the regional aircraft manufacturer, ATR, a joint French/Italian company, based in Toulouse, France. With a current fleet of some 1,300 aircraft in service, and including some 450 of the latest variant, the ATR 42/72-600 series, operating around the globe, the training task for its many operators is an ongoing challenge, both from a geographic and a diverse customer-base perspective. Critically, from a predicted market point of view, the regional turboprop sector is seen as having considerable growth potential, not least in under-served areas of China, South America and Africa.
Spurred on by increasingly robust sales (2017 was particularly strong), the deliveries are such that any lack of competent pilots/technicians would not only have an impact on entry into service, but also potentially, on operating standards and safety.
Christian Commissaire, VP Training and Flight Operations, says that some time ago ATR took the initiative to search for a specialist training partner, and together with its airline client base, defined what licences were required, what training was necessary from a regulatory and operational perspective, and what course design would match the needs. Relatively rapid promotion to command, requiring additional training, is also a feature of these regional operations.
The reality is also that for many, a regional aircraft such as the ATR is a stepping stone into an extended career, and a significant number of regional pilots move on to heavy metal at some point, thus opening opportunities for others and, incidentally, further increasing the training demand.
Co-located in Toulouse is the selected training partner, the long-established French national aviation training university - the Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC). That geographical proximity is not essential, but it has certainly facilitated the close collaboration which is now the hallmark of the training.
An example of that work is the on-going ab initio pilot training programme. With some 1000+ new ATR pilots required annually for the foreseeable future, the demand and market is very much in evidence. The task allocation for the CPL/IR course is that ENAC looks after the on-site selection worldwide, and training up to and including the Instrument Rating/Multi Engine qualification. This can be delivered at ENAC centres, both in France and in newly-established or planned ENAC partner centres in Malaysia or Taiwan. ATR is then responsible for an Entry Level Training/Multi Crew Coordination course and the ATR 42/72 Pilot Type rating courses. Individual airlines then complete the flight and Line Operating Experience (LOE) and release to operational flying.
One significant innovation is the ability of ATR to help operators access funding of the 30-50 students a year who start the ab initio courses through its connections with major financing sources. Pilot training options are also in place to support the individual’s long term career, and can furnish all command, instructor and examiner qualifications when required.
Additionally, specific training in Performance Based Navigation, LPV, RNP-AR and VNAV options is available.
Maintenance teams can also receive their training with ENAC, with some 800-1000 attending each year. Training for Engine Run Qualifications can now be accessed through the use of 3D VR on the iPads supplied to the trainees.
To match the growth, and to bring the training closer to the customers, ATR has five training centres, including the one opened in Miami in 2017. It is expanding its global training footprint, and over the period between 2017 and 2018 will have had four additional ATR -600 series simulators. From a global perspective there will be some 20 ATR-600 simulators all over the world by the end of 2018. The centres, in Toulouse, Paris, Singapore, Miami, and Johannesburg have been equipped with ATR-600 Level D FFSs supplied by CAE and TRU Simulation + Training, and all have the latest upgrades to state of the art visual systems. Only Johannesburg does not have the ATR-600 series.
The present demand is such that some 40% of the training is for initial and 60% for recurrent. The Type Rating for suitably experienced ATR-500 pilots converting to the -600 Series is just five days, with a 10 day course for those having little experience on the ATR-500.
Published in CAT issue 2/2018