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Aeroflot opens flight school as pilot shortage looms

Shortage of professional aviation personnel in Russia has driven the creation of Aeroflot Aviation School, which has opened in Melkisarovo and will offer training in 120 aviation-related fields.

Pilot recruitment will be conducted in two stages. Candidates will undergo 18 months' training at the Ulyanovsk civil aviation school then transfer to Melkisarovo for contractual six months' training to gain a commercial licence and fly with Aeroflot.

Some 160 pilots will graduate from the school annually. "We offer them a two-year training programme on Aeroflot's account that they will repay in five years flying as a co-pilot with our airline, 80h a month on average," says the school's head Stanislav Tulsky.

Simulator training is carried out at Moscow Sheremetyevo, where a training centre has four simulators: two for A320s, an Ilyushin Il-96 and a Tupolev Tu-154M. Aeroflot expects to fit a Boeing 787 device, although not one for its 777s.

Aeroflot cockpit crew training head Aleksander Miroshnichenko says: "Naturally, the bottleneck is the availability of full-flight simulators. Although we have two A320s, one is completely devoted to simulator checks of the existing A320 crews."

Aeroflot Aviation School will eventually train pilots for other carriers. The school is also providing cabin crew training for long-haul types, including the Ilyushin Il-96, and Airbus A320s. Trainees practise in a fully equipped cabin section.

"We have accumulated experience from over 10 foreign training centres and fused it with our own," says Tulsky. "We have amassed necessary skills and acquired some superb training equipment. Now we run an aviation school that prepares good cabin and cockpit crews, and does that on a very competitive basis."

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