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ANZ outlines scope of new aviation institute

Air New Zealand has launched a new organisation offering industry-wide training as it seeks a larger and more global role in airline training.

The centrepieces of the Air New Zealand Aviation Institute are flight and engineering training, which include the carrier's first ab initio programme and a European Aviation Safety Agency-certificated maintenance course. Training in ground operations, business leadership, and service for cabin crew and other frontline staff is also offered.

The institute brings the training programmes together in one location and structure, which centralises the previously dispersed offerings and also provides a single platform for ANZ to market.

The carrier has amassed a comparatively large training programme as its isolated geographical location meant offshore training would be prohibitively expensive. But the carrier's small size translates to spare capacity in the programmes, which chief executive Rob Fyfe says ANZ is seeking to fill from other airline customers to help recoup its NZ$105 million ($84 million) worth of assets as well as NZ$27 million ($22 million) annual training cost.

"How can we create value from that to ensure we can get a return on that investment? The solution was to create the aviation institute," Fyfe says.

The institute's "schools" of flight and engineering have the biggest potential to draw new customers, general manager Jignasha Patel says. The institute is targeting airlines in emerging Asia-Pacific and Middle East markets - China and India in particular - as well as low-cost carriers.

ANZ already has a large customer base for its simulators, to which a CAE 7000-series 777-300ER and ATR 72 simulator were recently added to a suite comprising 737, 747, 767, 777-200, Airbus A320 and Bombardier Q300 devices, almost all level D.

Holders of a commercial pilot license training for their first type rating will go through ANZ's airline integration course, which the carrier reckons will let it graduate first officers better suited to real-world operations.

To fine-tune the course, ANZ called on its regional airline training managers. "They know the problems that occur and what people have been trained or not trained in their various ab initio programmes,"

Institute development manager John Ogilvie says. Those training managers will help oversee the programme, which also includes a flightdeck observational flight and visits to air traffic control and the carrier's operational departments.

The course permits ANZ to confidently accept low-hour commercial pilot licence holders, who Ogilvie says are "not really prepared for a jet type rating". Patel says the course offers "much more airline training" than a multi-crew pilot license, which ANZ is not offering as there is no MPL regime in the country.

The institute offers a type rating course for the ATR 72, transition courses on the A320, 737 and 747, as well as initial and transition training courses on the 767, 777 and Q300.

ANZ plans to continue offering training on aircraft types it retires while adding 787 training with a simulator once the aircraft's delivery nears. ANZ is the launch customer for the 787-9.

New cadets will undergo ab initio training with one of five partner New Zealand flight schools: Air Hawkes Bay, International Aviation Academy of New Zealand, Massey University, Nelson Aviation College and Southern Wings.

Domestically, the programme will standarise basic training and provide ANZ with a pool of pilots should it one day experience a shortage, which it does not forecast in the short term. By lending its operational experience ANZ hopes graduates will be better prepared for their career, giving the government - which funds part of domestic students' fees - a better value on its investment.

Foreign carriers will be able to enrol their cadets in ANZ's programme. The institute will work with the airline customer to select the flight academy closest to their style of training, Patel says. The airline customers will also be able to customise the training programme and check on progress.

ANZ will start recruitment in July for its inaugural intake next year that will offer up to 450 places. ANZ expects to offer employment to five to 10 cadets annually while the rest will be "tagged" as programme graduates, enabling ANZ to identify them for future openings, Ogilvie says. Graduates applying for jobs elsewhere will have the benefit of a "robust training programme with ANZ oversight, which lends credibility".

The carrier also sees large interest in its programmes for engineering, a field Patel says is the "unsung hero". The institute will offer EASA part 147 certification for the A320 and 777, EASA-approved basic maintenance training programme, and EASA-approved type training.

Patel acknowledges the training market has become more competitive, but she reckons the ANZ's ethos will carry the institute forward. She says of existing customers from as far away as South America and Saudi Arabia, "There are a lot of credible options close by. I think they're coming here for something extra: the experience and reputation of how we train. It's the people connection."

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