ATR today opened a new pilot training centre in Miami as part of a wider effort to address a global pilot shortage problem that lately has become an "impediment to growth" for the turboprop manufacturer.
The ATR training centre, equipped with a CAE-built full flight simulator for ATR 42-600 and 72-600 turboprops, joins two company owned-facilities in Toulouse and Singapore, along with several airline-owned training academies, including at least two in Latin America. ATR plans to open a fourth simulator-equipped training centre later this year in Paris.
Meanwhile, ATR has teamed with the National Academy of Civil Aviation in Toulouse to launch on 22 February an ab initio training programme, starting with six pilots from Laotian carrier Lao Airlines.
ATR's efforts could help the entire industry deal with a pilot shortage problem, but chief executive Christian Scherer adds that the Italian-French manufacturer has a parochial interest in the cause as well.
The arrival of the -600 series of ATR's 35-year-old family 30-72 seat commercial turboprops introduced a glass cockpit derived from the Thales integrated avionics suite in the Airbus A320 family, making the ATR pilots suddenly more marketable to fly larger aircraft.
"The ATRs are so popular and so widespread around the world ... that it's used as a steppingstone by many pilots to gain experience and then graduate up to the so-called sexy jets," Scherer says. "It has to some extent accelerated that phenomenon of pilots getting sucked into the jet product."
Locally, the opening of a full-service ATR pilot training facility addresses another need. Some ATR operators in the Americas, including Azul and Avianca, operate they own pilot training centres. But ATR has multiple customers in the region, including South America and the Caribbean, that lack their own pilot training facilities, requiring them to send crews to ATR's sites in Toulouse and Singapore.
"Having a simulator here in Miami it just makes their operation more efficient," he says.
For 2017, the Miami facility is fully booked with students, a situation shared with its sister sites in Toulouse and Singapore.