Flybe to select candidates for UK's first MPL training scheme

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Six ab-initio trainee pilots chosen by UK-based regional carrier Flybe are to begin a 60-week multi-crew pilot licence (MPL) in June, the first MPL scheme to be approved by UK authorities.

The programme means the trainees, at the end of the course, will go straight into the right-hand seat of Bombardier Q400 turboprops.

In launching this course the UK will be joining Denmark and Switzerland as European nations whose aviation authorities have approved MPL training.

Selection of the candidates begins this month, says Flybe. The UK Civil Aviation Authority says it is still processing the MPL course proposal submitted by Flybe and Flight Training Europe - at whose base in Jerez, Spain, the students will be trained to type-rating stage.

Following their course at Jerez, Flybe's student pilots will carry out the final stage of their MPL - the type-rating training integral to all MPL courses - at FlightSafety International's training base at Farnborough in the UK.

Flybe will be opening its own training academy by mid-2010 and it will then take over future students' type rating training on its own Q400 full-flight simulator.

Chief pilot Capt Ian Baston says Flybe sees the MPL as "an innovative and efficient means of preparing young people for their role as an airline pilot", and that it chose Flight Training Europe as its partner having employed many of their commercial pilot licence graduates previously.

Boeing's training company Alteon says the first MPL graduates of the course it devised with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia (CASA) and the Civil Aviation Administration of China (CAAC) are just about to start flying the line with their employers, China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines.

Alteon's course was run in Brisbane in association with the Airline Academy of Australia, and Alteon's chief customer officer Roei Ganzarski says the company will now begin a two-year period of monitoring the MPL graduates for validation purposes and, if necessary, fine-tuning the MPL training programme.

Ganzarski says Alteon's experience with the MPL has convinced the company of the licence's validity to present-day airline requirements, and it expects to be working with other partners on MPL in the future.

He says airlines from Asia-Pacific, the Middle East and Africa are showing the greatest level of interest, but he debunks suggestions that MPL has no place in the USA's training culture, saying it could serve the purposes of US regional carriers when pilot demand returns.