Lufthansa to set up large Moscow pilot-training centre

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German flag-carrier Lufthansa's flight-training division has firmed its plans to establish a cockpit crew training centre in Moscow, in co-operation with the operator of the Russian capital's Vnukovo Airport.

The centre will include four simulators - the types have yet to be disclosed - but will have enough bays for 20.

Lufthansa Flight Training, which laid out tentative plans for the centre last year, signed a joint-venture agreement for the project with the Moscow Vnukovo Airport operator today.

The companies state that the centre, to be located at the airport, will be completed by the middle of next year.

Lufthansa Flight Training says the centre is aimed at providing services to Russian carriers which are currently training pilots outside of the country.

"A training centre located in Russia will make training considerably more cost-effective for most airlines and will help them to establish themselves much more quickly in the international airline market," it adds.

Adequacy of pilot training in Russia, following the increasing influx of Western-built aircraft types, has become a high-profile subject - notably following the investigation into last September's Aeroflot-Nord Boeing 737-500 crash at Perm.

Russian transport minister Igor Levitin recently raised concerns over the need for improved training, particularly as pilots transition between older Soviet types and more modern Boeing and Airbus jets.

"Monitoring the quality of retraining is the responsibility of carriers," he said. "But this work, unfortunately, has not been given enough attention."

Levitin and other Russian Government officials met with Boeing chief James McNerney earlier this month and brought up the possibility of a joint training operation in Russia.