Wed, Sep 26, 2018 - Page 11 News List

Local pilot school eyes big Asian aviation sector role

Staff writer, with CNA

Apex Flight Academy (安捷飛航訓練中心), the nation’s only flight training school, has flown under the radar in its first few years of existence, but is now eager to boost its profile to become a leading pilot training center in Asia.

With Apex celebrating its fourth anniversary this month, its founder and managing director, Wilson Kao (高健祐), on Monday said that the school hopes to strengthen the nation’s ability to train pilots to create job opportunities and avoid an overdependence on foreign pilots.

The strategy would not only ensure Taiwan has an adequate aviation workforce amid a global pilot shortage, but also elevate the nation’s profile in the Asian aviation sector, Kao said.

Apex’s focus is not surprising in light of Asia’s booming travel and aviation market.

A Boeing Co report last month said that the Asia-Pacific region is the part of the world that would need the greatest number of pilots, technicians and cabin crew members over the next 20 years, with an estimated 240,000 more pilots needed by 2037.

Taiwan itself would need about 300 new pilots a year as Taiwanese carriers see growth in both their passenger and cargo businesses, Kao said.

“Apex plans to expand its reach to other Asian countries, helping Taiwan become known as a hub for developing flight talent,” Kao said.

For instance, Apex was recently certified by the Cambodian Aviation Authority as a flight school qualified to train pilots for the nation.

However, Apex’s ambitions face considerable obstacles.

Among them is a preference among people interesting in obtaining a private or commercial pilot license to do their training overseas.

About 250 to 300 Taiwanese receive flight training abroad every year, compared with about 50 at Apex, which has the capacity to train about 120 pilots a year.

Also, few people even know Taiwan has its own flight training school, Kao said, which is why he is intent on boosting the academy’s profile to attract more students from Taiwan and overseas.

One way Apex intends to build its credibility is through more international partnerships.

The school is soon to be the only East Asian flight training base of France’s Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile, providing training certified by the European Aviation Safety Agency.

The strategy also involves nurturing a staff of 12 international trainers from nations such as Japan, the US and Germany.

The company, which is headquartered in Taipei and has its main training base in Taitung County, has also set up a training center in Georgetown, Texas, for those who insist on being trained overseas.

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