Saturday, July 08, 2017

Sky remains the limit for flight school

This Saturday, local flight school Falcon Aviation Academy will formalize an agreement with a regional airline to begin a coordinated program to train pilots at the same time it is moving its growing group of foreign students into customized housing.
The two initiatives are part of a response to the burgeoning international demand for personnel in the aviation industry.

According to the Boeing Company’s 2016 Pilot & Technician Outlook, there is a need for 617,000 new pilots worldwide over the next two decades, with Asia Pacific requiring the most — 248,000.

Falcon Aviation Academy’s ongoing partnership with China is helping meet that demand.

Falcon is one of about 3,000 flight schools certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, but only 10 percent are also certified by the Transportation Security Administration’s Student and Exchange Visitor Information System to train foreigners.

Out of those, there are only 10 that are certified by the Civil Aviation Administration of China. Falcon is the only one in Georgia.

In 2006, Falcon become an international flight school and received its first students from India. Once Falcon acquired its Chinese certification in December 2008, the first students arrived almost a year later, the following November.

While China’s demand for pilots remains high, training there is problematic for the students. Since the Chinese military controls the airspace, students can expect less than one hour of training per day, per plane.

And there aren’t a lot of good flying days because of the air pollution, according to Aaron Hollewell, Falcon’s manager of sales and marketing.

There are four certified flying schools in China and only 20 approved flight schools outside of China. The majority of training is done in places like the United States, Canada, Australia, Spain, France and New Zealand.

Since 2014, Falcon has seen its enrollment double. The academy currently hosts 220 international students and 180 domestic. It has 250 employees and is responsible for more than 5,000 flight hours a month, according to Hollewell.

With strong enrollment numbers that show no sign of waning, Falcon executives decided last fall to purchase the former Economy Inn located near Interstate 85 Exit 41, about a mile from the Newnan-Coweta County Airport.
07/07/17 Clay Neely/Newnan Times Herald