'Give rural school leavers pilot training' call
Published on: Tuesday, October 30, 2018
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Kota Kinabalu: The government has been urged to consider providing financial assistance to SPM school-leavers, especially in the rural areas, to undergo pilot training.Layang-Layang Flying Academy (LLFA) managing director Johan Poong Abdullah said there is a very good prospect for pilots for both rotary and fixed-winged aircrafts.

"Pilots are highly-paid and can get promoted very fast as well when they are attached with an airline," he said, here, Monday.

"That is why the opportunity should also be opened up to interior youths especially when the requirement is only credits in Science, Mathematics and English as well as two other subjects in SPM.

"Furthermore, the duration of the training is only one to two years."

Johan said, previously the State Government did offer sponsorships for locals to undertake pilot training.

"Unfortunately, the initiative was stopped… so now, if possible, it would be good if the government can chip in while on our (LLFA) side, we are open for any suggestion and cooperation.

"LLFA is even willing to subsidise a portion of the training course cost if the cadet is being aided by the government.

"It is one of the ways to develop the Interior community as pilots can earn well once they completed their course and employed…they, in turn, can help their families' economy," he said.

He also said, now is the right time for the training of more pilots as there is a current high demand for trained pilots in the aviation industry.

Towards this end, LLFA, too, has spread its wings to include fixed-wing training and also establishing a second academy in Sultan Azlan Shah Airport, Ipok, Perak to cater for the increasing training needs.

"We have set up everything for an audit by the Civil Aviation Authority of Malaysia (CAAM).

"Once the audit is completed, then we can start to accept intakes from the peninsula area."

LLFA is an approved training organisation (ATO) established since 2014 that provides rotary-wing aircraft (helicopter) and also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Layang-Layang Aerospace Sdn Bhd.

As part of its expansion initiative, LLFA has also appointed former Civil Aviation director-general Datuk Seri Azharuddin Abdul Rahman as Chairman.

Johan hoped Azharuddin's dedication and efforts towards the development of the aviation industry will be continued in his new role as LFFA chairman.

Currently, LLFA offers Airline Transport Pilot License (ATPL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and CPL with Instrument Rating (CPL/IR) and Military Wings Standards courses.

"To date, LLFA had completed five batches of helicopter pilot training course with 23 students having graduated successfully.

"Currently there are two helicopter and a fixed-wing courses running with a total of 29 trainee pilots in Kota Kinabalu.

"The trainees are all locals as that is our priority but we will open up the course to foreigners.

"In fact, there are people from Hong Kong and Singapore who had shown a lot of interest to train here."

The assets, he said, currently used for training are five helicopters and for fixed-wing training, we have two PA 34 Seneca and two Cessna 172 aircrafts. Another five more Cessna 172 is expected to join the fleet in the near future.

LLFA has seven flight instructors and seven theoretical knowledge instructors and it projects to train 80 trainee pilots annually.

Johan disclosed, the academy is also the certified operator for the Kuala Penyu Aerodrome, effective June 11, this year.

"The aerodrome was an abandoned airstrip used during war time to connect Labuan and the mainland.

"We have taken over it and maintain it as it has a big potential to be developed.

"LLFA is going to expand our business further and we are eyeing for a joint-venture with foreign investors, especially from China.

"They have approached me but the academy is not yet ready as normally, they would send a minimum of 50 students per batch," he said.

Meanwhile, Johan reminded trained pilots who were affected by the oversupply of pilot situation several years ago to take up refresher courses to renew their licences.

"There were about 2,000 pilots who left the flying schools with no employment about five years ago, which was during the over-supply of pilots period.

"It is pitiful as they have spent so much money for the training. But I would like to remind them that they can still take the refresher course as the market has returned to the positive side now."

Recently, it was reported that the Southeast Asia region will require between 6,000 and 9,000 pilots in three years' time.

It was also reported that overcapacity has led to a global pilot shortage, further aggravating the situation and hampering the growth of airlines. - Ricardo Unto


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