Will FlyBe breathe life into the struggling MPL?

FlyBe’s brilliant.

For the un-initiated it’s a UK based regional airline that is now Europe’s largest.

It breaks all the rules and makes money doing it when no-one else seems to be able to. It’s increasing its profits when everyone else is seeing reductions or actual losses.

Which rules does it break? Well, it flies lots of turboprops (aah! turboprops – Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s to be precise)…


…and has a massive order book for more of them in an era when propellers are supposed to be uncool and to scare passengers because they are – allegedly – associated by the uneducated masses with a previous era.

Where it needs jets, it’s building its fleet of Embraer 195s. No wonder it  is less worried about fuel prices than the rest with a fleet mix like that.



It flies out of airports in the UK that no-one else could make work for them, and which foreigners would never have heard of until FlyBe took them there direct.

If you overlay a map with all its routes from all its UK bases they form such a tight web they blot out almost all of the UK’s coastline except Scotland’s, and you can see practically none of northern Europe’s coast either.

It has consistently hired ab-initio trainee airline pilots for years, and now, when all the others have stopped hiring anyone but a few direct-entry type-rated crew, it has just announced it is going to be the force behind the UK’s first MPL (multi-crew pilot licence) course.

Denmark’s Sterling Airlines and the Center Air Pilot Academy had recently created the world’s first MPL line pilots but, with horrifying irony, the carrier had to make them redundant in less than a year despite their first class performance, because it was forced to close unprofitable routes and shed pilots on the traditional last-in, first-out basis. 

FlyBe is a little ray of sunshine in an almost universally gloomy air transport industry.

At Flight International’s Crew Management Conference, the debate about the MPL versus the CPL will be examined from the airline’s point of view by three different presenters.  


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One Response to Will FlyBe breathe life into the struggling MPL?

  1. Thomas Fernandez 27 September, 2008 at 11:28 am #

    Its very encouraging to see that despite the setbacks to MPL in Denmark (due to economical reasons at Sterling Airlines), FlyBe in UK is showing faith in the new training system. Though i doubt that the MPL will be applied for only one type of aircraft…either the Dash8 or the E-195!

    MPL hopefully survive these initial difficulties and emerge as a preferred way of training pilots for an airline.

    One implementation of MPL by and large unknown to many till now is the programme of Cebu Pacific in partnership with Clark Aviation in Philippines. There are more than 50 cadets training on the A320. First four cadets will graduate by end of Oct 2008.