SAA considers pilot programme to develop future pilots

Monday, March 3, 2014

Pretoria - National carrier South African Airways (SAA) is investigating the possibility of using the in-flight relief pilot programme as a meaningful contribution towards the development of future pilots.

“We have taken a decision to investigate the possibility of putting together a programme that will assist entrants to the airline’s Cadet Pilot Training Programme who have successfully completed the initial training. This will enable them to receive more training in-house and acquire much needed experience in their journey towards becoming fully fledged airline pilots,” said acting Chief Pilot Captain Sandy Bayne.

The move, said the airline, on Monday, is in line with the airline’s long-term strategy Gaining Altitude. The strategy requires SAA to contribute towards skills development among others.

Suggestions that the introduction of this programme means lowering of standards are both reckless and spurious, noted the airline.

This is in line with the strategic objectives of the airline’s new long-term strategy, Gaining Altitude. The strategy requires SAA, among other things, to contribute towards skills development.

“Nothing about the minimum requirements to become a First Officer with SAA changes,” emphasised Bayne.

SAA has decided to explore the possibility of providing training for cadets in-house as a way of familiarising them as early as possible during their development, with SAA culture.

Once enrolled in this programme, they will serve as in-flight relief pilots or second officers only on long-haul flights.

SAA said the introduction of this programme neither replaces nor alters the requisite standards and proficiency levels to become a pilot with the airline.

“SAA pilots are recognised world-wide for their stringent training. They are subject to annual and ad-hoc audits by the local Civil Aviation Authority as well as audits by its codeshare partners. The International Air Transport Association (IATA) runs a full operations safety audit on SAA every two years,” said SAA.

As part of their training and development, the in-flight relief pilots will be deployed on long-haul flights where they will get exposure in certain areas. It will take them approximately three years before they could start training as first officers on the airline’s narrow body aircraft.

“The much talked about 250 flying hours will form part of the requirements to join as Second Officers in line with international best practice which many airlines across the globe follow,” added Bayne. –