Starting in late June, six ab initio trainee pilots chosen by UK-based regional carrier Flybe will begin a 60-week multi-crew pilot licence (MPL), from which they will go straight into the right-hand seat of one of the carrier's twin-turboprop Bombardier Q400s. The course will be the first MPL programme to be approved by the UK Civil Aviation Authority.
In launching this course the UK will be joining Denmark and Switzerland among European nations whose national aviation authorities have approved an MPL training programme. Selection of the candidates begins this month, says Flybe. The UK CAA says it is still processing the MPL course proposal submitted by Flybe and Flight Training Europe's base in Jerez, Spain, where the students will undergo training up to the type rating stage.
Meanwhile, Boeing's training company Alteon says the first MPL graduates of the course it devised with the Civil Aviation Safety Authority of Australia and the Civil Aviation Administration of China are poised to start flying the line with their employers China Eastern and Xiamen Airlines.
Alteon's course was run in Brisbane, Australia in association with the Airline Academy of Australia. Alteon's chief customer officer Roei Ganzarski says that 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.
Following their course at Flight Training Europe, Flybe's student pilots will carry out the final stage of their MPL - the type rating training, which is integral to all MPL courses - at FlightSafety International's Farnborough, UK training base. Flybe will be opening its own training academy by the middle of 2010 and it will then take over future students' type rating training on its own Q400 full-flight simulator.
Capt Ian Baston, Flybe's chief pilot, says the airline sees the MPL as "an innovative and efficient means of preparing young people for their role as an airline pilot", and that it had chosen Flight Training Europe as its partner having employed many of their commercial pilot licence graduates previously.
Ganzarski told Flight International that its experience with the MPL has convinced it of the licence's validity to present-day airline requirements, and the company expects to be working with other partners on MPL in the future.
He says that airlines from Africa, Asia-Pacific and the Middle East are showing the greatest level of interest, but he debunks the theory that MPL has no place in the USA's training culture. It could well serve the purposes of US regional carriers when the demand for pilots returns, says Ganzarski.