Malaysian consultancy Gulf Golden Square Group is establishing a flying school in the east of the country designed to offer an alternative to the US pilot training schools for Middle East-based airlines, writes Leithen Francis.

Gulf Golden International Flying Academy president and chief executive of Gulf Golden Square Morshidi Abdul Rahman says the school plans to open mid-year with an initial intake of around 72 students.

Morshidi says when the September 2001 US terrorist attacks occurred, he realised "it would be difficult for a lot of Middle East students to go to the USA, UK and Europe to be trained as pilots because they would have to go through stringent security procedures and would face prejudice".

Bintulu, a town in east Malaysia's Sarawak province, was chosen as the site because there is plenty of airspace for general aviation. The airport was built two years ago and it has a 2,740m (9,000ft)-long runway.

Last year the school signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with Diamond Aircraft for the acquisition of DA40A and DA42 trainers, but Morshidi says the school is still considering Cessna 172s or Zlin aircraft from Czech aircraft maker Moravan Aviation.

He adds that it might be possible to divide the planned order for 36-40 aircraft between two manufacturers.

The school also signed an MoU last year for 10 Aero Nimbus NMX very light jets, which are under development, but Morshidi says he is now unable to commit to an order as he is unsure when the aircraft can be delivered.

Rather than wait for the NMX, he says the school plans to first order a Bombardier Learjet 60 and two Learjet 45s.

Source: Flight International