19 Jun 2013

Samoa aviation school to ease access for Pacific pilots

5:30 pm on 19 June 2013

One of the aims of the first flight training school soon to be set up in Samoa is to make it easier for would-be pilots from Pacific Island countries to get qualified.

Samoa Air's chief executive says the new school at Faleolo International Airport will accept its first intake of 24 students at the start of next year for a 12-to-20 month course of training.

Chris Langton says historically the Pacific has produced a lot of pilots, many of whom do their training in Australia, New Zealand or the United States.

He told Annell Husband graduates of the Samoa school will have a Commercial Pilot Licence as well as a multi engine endorsement and instrument rating.

CHRIS LANGTON: There's a couple of options here. Our resident rules in Samoa are essentially the same as New Zealand, and we align our current licencing and our operation standards to New Zealand. So it makes sense to actually link in with somebody like Massey or other tertiary institutions in New Zealand to provide courses. That's more than likely the way we'll go in terms of providing, say, a facilitation between somebody who wants to study to tertiary level, and somebody who's just going through the process of getting their individual pilots licences to a point where they can take those licences and then go out into the workforce.

ANNELL HUSBAND: You talked about it being more accessible for Pacific students. Will it be more affordable in terms of the fee structure?

CL: Well, I think the overall cost should make it more affordable. There's another aspect to this, which is, of course, flying training is an expensive professional pursuit. You're normally talking of anything between NZ$60,000 and over NZ$100,000 as the process. So for a student, it's just like any tertiary training. You need to have the money there to be able to do the training. Now, New Zealand and Australia and the United States, just looking at the three Pacific Rims, all have systems in place generally for an aviation student, like a tertiary undergraduate, to get access to funding so that they can complete their courses. So this is something that we're also going to look at from a Pacificpoint of view to see what we can get in the way of assistance from either internal government or external governments to help with the funding process. Because an 18 year old person who wants to undertake flying as a career is going to be faced with the prospect of having to find this money