Quick route to the top
CTC Wings MPL cadets in training for Monarch Airlines in front of a glass cockpit-equipped Cessna 172 at Hamilton. From left: Nathaniel Baker, Thomas Agnew, Adam Rowden, James McNulty, Benjamin Taylor and Nicolas Dighton.
CTC Aviation has reached a milestone in its delivery of an innovative training method for a new pilot licence known in the aviation industry as a multi-crew pilot licence (MPL). The method is changing the way airline pilots are trained and providing benefits to local communities and the New Zealand environment.
The first six MPL pilots graduated at CTC earlier this year and started flying the Airbus A320 with Monarch Airlines in June. A further 12 cadets for an MPL are now in training at Hamilton through the company’s CTC Wings programme.
CTC Aviation’s director of strategic projects, Anthony Petteford, is a driving force behind the company’s promotion of the MPL to its partner airlines and the global industry. He explains, “One of the main differences of the MPL, when compared to the traditional airline transport pilot licence (ATPL), is the training is more relevant to new-generation airliner flight decks.”
Traditional ATPL training courses are based on regulations developed over 50 years ago, but CTC’s approach has always been to differentiate by ensuring that the syllabus is airline orientated, much like the MPL.
However, the traditional route concentrates more on flying a certain number of hours in small training aircraft than on core competencies and relevance of training. The MPL, by its very nature, retains the spotlight on fine-tuning the specific skills required for tomorrow’s airline pilots.
“In addition to basic skills, the MPL focuses on training pilots to work through flight scenarios to gauge possible threats and errors, as well as solutions, prior to every flight and simulator training session,” says Anthony Petteford.
“This critical thinking doesn’t happen to the same extent when pilots gain their licence through the traditional ATPL training method. What’s important to understand, as well, is that trainees cannot learn these skills by simply increasing non-relevant flying hours in a light training aircraft.”
He says it is important to note that both MPL and ATPL graduates are rigorously tested at the controls of a real airliner before being allowed to fly with passengers as a copilot.
The demand for the ATPL training route still remains high as the MPL requires airlines to be in a position to plan their resource requirement accurately several years in advance. The ATPL option allows for a more immediate requirement to be fulfilled, as pilots can be selected to join an airline towards the end of their training process.
With an MPL, a trainee’s flying-hour requirements in a light aircraft are reduced by as much as 80hr, with solo flying decreased from 50hr to just 15. The remaining training hours are shifted to an airliner flight simulator, normally either a Boeing or Airbus, where cadets train as a crew with two trainees and an instructor.
As of next year, around 60 cadets will be trained through the CTC Wings MPL pilot programmes. As the demand for the MPL increases, the mix of aircraft and simulator hours delivered at the company’s UK and New Zealand crew training centres will change.
The number of trainees at CTC’s Hamilton centre next year will increase from around 250 to 300. With more CTC cadets taking the MPL route, this allows the company to increase the total number of cadets in training without a significant increase in aircraft movements or carbon emissions.
Mr Petteford says the world’s airlines were, at first, cautious to put their trainee pilots through MPL training while they gained an understanding of the new licence and associated training programmes. However, within the past 18 to 24 months the rate of uptake has rapidly increased, with airlines such as Lufthansa now training 100 percent of its new copilots for an MPL.
“As airlines start to see the benefits of pilots trained for an MPL, we expect the number of airlines seeking an MPL training partner will increase significantly in coming years.”
Three of CTC Aviation’s airline partners — Monarch Airlines, easyJet and Qatar Airways — put their trainees through the MPL. CTC Aviation is now recruiting trainees, including New Zealanders, for its Qatar Wings MPL programme.
- Report by John King, photograph supplied by CTC.
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