OREANDA-NEWS. January 28, 2011. Air Astana continues to implement training programme for its pilots, both existing and those, who just started learning from scratch. This programme includes such initiatives as implementation of the initial pilot training project (Ab-initio), introduction into service of new pilots, pilots retraining for new aircraft types and the establishment of a pilot training centre in Kazakhstan.

"The goal of the pilot training programme is to train highly qualified pilots for civil aviation of the RK. Today, Kazakhstan faces a shortage of qualified pilots with a high knowledge of English, who can fly western types of aircraft. In this regard, the national airline is forced to recruit foreign pilots. Currently, the airline’s staff consists of 270 Kazakh and 72 foreign pilots, who operate 22 aircraft. The airline plans to increase the fleet to 50 aircraft by 2020. Therefore, the implementation of its own training programs is a logical step, which would fill a shortage of pilots and replace foreign pilots with Kazakhstan citizens,” Tom Nichols, Vice President of Air Astana Flight Operations department.

The programme of initial pilot training (Ab-initio) was launched in 2008. Today, as part of the programme thirty-three future pilots from Kazakhstan conduct training in one of the most prestigious American colleges – Pilot Training College (PTC) at the Florida Institute of Technology (FIT), USA. Among the cadets are Polina Pavlova and Aigerim Moldasheva the only female cadets. Eleven pilots have already successfully completed their training and taken their place as First Officers of the national carrier. Selection of participants is conducted on a regular basis. It is open to all interested citizens of Kazakhstan between the ages of eighteen and twenty-nine years.

Thirty-five Kazakhstan pilots will begin service during 2011. Twelve pilots will conduct training required to upgrade their qualifications to become pilots of Airbus A320. Nine pilots will become transition to Boeing 757/767, twelve to the Embraer E-190 and two will be trained to fly Fokker - 50.

In 2010, four pilots after training became instructors of Fokker-50. Twenty-five pilots became instructors of Boeing 757/767. In 2011 four additional pilots will become Boeing 757/767 instructors.

Much attention is paid to the retraining of pilots from one aircraft type to another. In December 2010, twelve pilots flying Fokker -50 were sent to the training centre in France to train to operate Embraer E-190. In January 2011, a second group of pilots of the Fokker-50 consisting of eight people will join them. In addition to Embraer E-190, pilots of Fokker -50 will be retrained to operate Airbus A320 and Boeing 757/767.  Total amount of thirty Fokker-50 pilots will operate Jets in 2011. By 2012, it is planned to completely eliminate usage of the turboprop Fokker-50, all pilots of this aircraft type will be retrained to operate jet airliners.

Basis for Air Astana training centre was laid in 2010 when the airline purchased Enhanced Virtual Procedures Trainers (EVPT) for training flight procedures. Currently, the centre is equipped with Airbus A320 and Boeing 757/767 EVPTs. In 2011, Air Astana plans to acquire an Embraer E-190 EVPT to train flight procedures on this type of aircraft. Qualified instructors, graduated from the Delta Airlines Training Centre, will train Air Astana pilots.  Presently, twelve pilots have accomplished training and eight pilots are planned to go through the same trainings in 2011.

Thus, Air Astana through an integrated approach to pilot training and the application of innovation in the long term plans to create a flight centre in Kazakhstan that adheres to international standards.