Pilot training takes off in Orlando

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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 havelarge training centers in Orlando. JetBlue University, located at OrlandoInternational Airport, hosts nearly every one of the company’s 1,500 new hiresannually 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 theaircraft’s systems, procedures, maneuvers and leadership abilities. Acrosstown, Allegiant Airlines is building a $25-million, 45,000-square-foot trainingcenter located at Orlando Sanford International Airport. This facility,including a full range flight simulator, will instruct 150 pilots, 500 flightattendants and 100 mechanics annually.

The commercial airline industry is especially in need oftrained pilots, and Orlando is uniquely situated to meet these industrydemands. In a recent study, Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE) found that theglobal commercial fleet will need 440,000 active pilots by 2027. The reportalso projects that the industry will need 255,000 new airline pilots in 10years to offset the effect of retirement as well as industry growth. Orlandohas the second highest flight training employment in the country, with almostfour times the amount of flight training jobs as the national average.

Institutions in the Orlando region training to meet thiscommercial pilot shortage include L-3 Airline Academy, Embry-RiddleAeronautical University, and Polk State College. L-3 Airline Academy, locatedat Orlando Sanford International Airport, is increasing its classes of trainedcommercial pilots by 40 percent and will soon be training 600 pilots everyyear. Other pilot training establishments include Aerostar Training Services,FlightSafety Orlando, Pan Am International Flight Academy and SimCom AviationTraining. In addition to pilot-specific training, Florida Institute ofTechnology and the University of Central Florida (UCF) are providing unrivalednumbers of qualified aviation and simulation graduates. In fact, UCF was namedthe No. 1 supplier of engineers to the aerospace and defense industries byAviation Week.

Aerostar Training Services recently installed an Airbus 320simulator in the company's 18,000-square-foot hangar at the Kissimmee GatewayAirport. Aerostar is expanding its presence with a $1.5-million buildingexpansion including the creation of a new state-of-the-art aircraft maintenancefacility, Spectrum Aero. When the expansion project is complete, AeroStar willbe the only school in the Americas able to train pilots obtaining a PrivatePilot License to a complete Airline Transport Pilot License and type ratings onA320 or B737 under the same roof.

Orlando is a preferred aviation training location due to itsyear-round flying weather, attractive cost of doing business, talentedworkforce and hyper-connected air access with five public-use airports in theregion.

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