August, 2002, JOHANNESBURG: After being based in Adelaide, Australia, the South African Airways’ (SAA) Cadet Pilot Training Programme returns to South Africa.
Training will now be done at the 43 Air School outside Port Alfred to stimulate economic growth in the Eastern Cape, recognised as one of the most disadvantaged provinces.
The aim of the move is to develop local skills and lower the cost of training per student thus enabling SAA to train more cadets for the same budget. It cost the airline R700, 000 to train one pilot with 58 having graduated from the programme since 1996.
43 Air School already provides an introductory course to chosen cadets before continuing the second phase at BAe Systems Flight Training Australia (formerly known as Australian Aviation College).
SAA`s contractual obligations to BAe will be honoured. The last 30 cadet pilots are expected to graduate from the BAe within two years.
The intention of the airline has always been to have the programme brought back to South Africa once an appropriate school could be found. Although none of the flight schools in South Africa are on the same par as BAe, one was sought with the most potential of eventually reaching that level. Conditions of the tender were drawn up and a number of potential flight schools visited and investigated by our team. The selection was narrowed down to two school`s, 43 and Flying Training College of South Africa (FTC) based in Midrand, Gauteng.
The tender to train 32 students over a period of 62 weeks per group of sixteen was eventually awarded to 43 Air School in July. It was found that the chosen school best suited the high standards required to train and develop a pilot.
The programme began in January 1995 when the first 12 cadets started preparation training in South Africa. Flight training commenced in May that same year at the Australian Aviation College in Adelaide, Australia. Eight Cadet Pilots graduated at a Wings Ceremony in Adelaide on 6 September 1996. They began flying for SAA in October 1998. The programme is dedicated to representing South Africa`s diverse population and to open up careers historically closed to black people.
Since its inception, 58 cadets have successfully completed the programme.
The racial breakdown is as follows: African male - 13, Asian male - 9, Asian female - 2, Coloured male - 12, Coloured female - 1, White male - 10, White female - 11
Twenty-nine are currently flying for SAA, while 27 are still completing their internship with South African Express, South African Airlink and Rossair.
Thirty-one initially began flying for SAA but unfortunately one passed away at the beginning of the year and another resigned three months ago.
We can proudly say that we have finally found a school here on our own home ground, which closely matches that of BAe. We can be assured that SAA`s future pilots will be trained to one day be the best and safest.