Investment fund manager Star Capital Partners is to buy SAS Group's training division SAS Flight Academy and combine it with General Electric Commercial Aviation Training (GECAT), in which it is also taking a controlling share.

Under the agreement, Star Capital Partners will acquire just over 80% of GECAT while General Electric will reinvest in the division and hold the remaining share.

Star Capital plans to integrate the business with that of SAS Flight Academy, which it is acquiring wholly from SAS Group. The deal is expected to be completed shortly.

Star Capital investment director Paul Gough says that "the expected shortfall of qualified pilots to service the world's growing aircraft fleet, combined with a continued drive by airlines to focus on their core businesses by outsourcing key support services, makes established well-run pilot training operations like GECAT and Flight Academy all the more critical going forward".

GECAT has operations primarily based at London Heathrow, London Gatwick and Hong Kong and has 120 customers. Its own facilities include 23 flight simulators, and it has partnerships with other carriers that give it access to more than 50.

Flight Academy has facilities in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm plus a new training centre in the Latvian capital Riga, the base of SAS Group regional affiliate Air Baltic. The academy has 17 commercial flight simulators.

Star Capital has not said whether the new training organisation will operate under one name. It will be headed by GECAT chief Brian Simpson, supported by Flight Academy head Olof Barve.

Source: Flight International