The sky’s the limit: flying school looking to go global after changing its name

INTERNATIONAL: Ollie Pennington, right, managing director of Airways Aviation and some of his team, from left, chief helicopter flying instructor Jim Hammett, operations manager Nick Bird and operations assistant Matt Joynes

INTERNATIONAL: Ollie Pennington, right, managing director of Airways Aviation and some of his team, from left, chief helicopter flying instructor Jim Hammett, operations manager Nick Bird and operations assistant Matt Joynes

First published in News by

THERE’S a new name at Bournemouth Airport.

But the company behind the name has a long track record there.

Bournemouth Helicopters/ Solent School of Flying has rebranded as Airways Aviation and taken on an international dimension.

It is now part of a global group with bases in Australia, the Middle East and Europe.

Managing director of the Bournemouth operation, Ollie Pennington, said the former companies had been the subject of substantial investment and was now part of a much larger group and is looking to move “to the next level”.

Among other plans, the new look outfit wants to become an internationally recognised training brand for commercial aviation.

“One of the things we want to do is to fulfil the shortfall in the number of commercial pilots in the coming few years, as predicted by manufacturers like Boeing and Airbus,” said Ollie.

Currently the company only offers training for the private pilot’s licence (PPL) but training for a commercial licence (CPL) could be available by Christmas.

The global economy has been through the mill since 2008 and no sector more so than aviation.

But it’s expanding again, particularly in the Middle East and Far East, and, based on the future aircraft orders, there won’t be enough pilots to fly the aircraft rolling off the production lines.

Key growth areas identified by the industry are Oman, UAE, Kuwait, Jordan, Malaysia, China and Australia. Air travel in Europe is predicted to grow strongly too.

Airways Aviation hopes to train hundreds of pilots a year in Bournemouth and across its other centres in Montenegro, Dubai and Australia.

The ‘gold standard’ of pilot training are the EASA (European Aviation Safety Authority) courses, which are what AA will offer.

The pilot training sector is big business, made up of airline trainees, government contracts and self funded candidates.

From scratch, to sitting at the controls of an airliner costs around £100,000.

Airways Aviation is launching a series of foundation courses, similar to foundation courses offered by universities, to give students a taster of what ground training to be a commercial pilot feels like.

Operations manager, Nick Bird, explained: “It’s a huge undertaking and these courses are designed to help students see if they like it, if the whole thing is for them, if they have the aptitude.”

Candidates can take week long courses in subjects such as aviation English (a whole language of its own), maths and physics, meteorology, air law, general navigation, mass and balance and human limitations amongst others.

“In themselves, these courses won’t add up to a CPL but they will give students an idea of whether it’s something they want to pursue,” said Nick.

The company has just taken on a new full time ground instructor, Ian Brookes, and additional premises for classroom space on the Aviation West Business Park.

Airways Aviation plans to develop around 50 ground training schools around the globe feeding into its flight training hubs in the UK, Montenegro and Australia.

The sky’s the limit.

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