ST Aerospace's new commercial pilot training arm ST Aviation Training Academy is targeting potential pilots in other parts of the world, including India, as world demand for pilots continues to grow.

With its strong traditions in the English language and engineering skills, India is a potentially rich source of pilots for the starved global aviation industry.

The Singapore-based company will start courses in the multi-crew pilot license (MPL) around 2009, with ab initio training in Australia and flight simulation training in Singapore. It will also team with China's Nanjing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics' flight academy and train its undergraduates.

"We're looking at India as another potential source of pilots," says Eddie Ong, president of STATA. "In the next 15 years, no matter how many schools we have, we still won't meet the demand for pilots. There's growing interest in the MPL course, which takes a shorter time to complete."

The company is talking to potential partners in India but Ong declines to provide further details. Unlike China, however, it could team up airlines, as many carriers in India still want to keep their training in-house. The cadets, though, will still train in Australia and Singapore due to flying restrictions at home and economies of scale.

While those initially trained by STATA will be certified for the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 narrowbodies, the company plans to eventually licence pilots for widebody aircraft as well. "There's significant upside in this business, there's growing demand for it," says Ong.

Under the MPL, which the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) introduced in November 2006, trainees take 12-15 months to graduate - versus 24-30 months under a typical Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) - with a greater emphasis on simulator training. Several other companies, including Australia's Qantas Airways, are also seeking to capitalise on the strong demand for pilots in the Asia-Pacific.

Source: Flight International