ATR opens first training centre in Africa in partnership with Comair

ATR has opened its first training centre in Africa, a joint venture with Comair based in Johannesburg which will be operational in April 2011.

The centre will be equipped with a full flight simulator (FFS) and will provide training for ATR 42-300, ATR 42-500, ATR 72-200 and ATR 72-500 aircraft.

ATR’s has opened the centre as a result of its growing presence on the continent, both in terms of an increased number of operators and aircraft. Currently, 80 ATR aircraft are being operated by 29 carriers in 20 African countries. Since 2005, ATR has received orders for some 50 new aircraft for African carriers.

ATR says it has partnered with Comair “to ensure optimal operation of the training centre”, which will be housed at a new simulator facility under construction at Comair’s operations centre in Johannesburg. ATR will benefit from Comair’s support facilities and logistics and Comair will also provide ATR with technical support for the maintenance of the new training programmes.

ATR will provide flight and maintenance training programmes, academic tools and instructors when requested by airlines. ATR African operators will also be able to dry lease the simulator and train their pilots and maintenance crew at the centre with their own instructors.

“The opening of this new training centre is a step forward in our regional policy,” explained Jean-Pierre Cousserans, ATR senior vice-president of customer services. “We are increasing our customer services network worldwide in order to get closer to our operators. We are proud to partner with Comair, a well-respected carrier which also has extensive experience in training. The African market needs highly-skilled pilots in order to support the phenomenal growth of regional routes across the continent. We will be glad to contribute to this growth by providing high-quality training services to the airlines. Johannesburg, as a major African hub, offers an optimal location for setting up our new training facilities, as it can be easily reached by air from major African cities.”

Erik Venter, joint CEO of Comair, remarked, “Comair has provided classroom and simulator training for its own Boeing 737 pilots as well as external customers for over ten years. We are proud to partner with ATR in the opening of its African Reference Training Centre (RTC), to be housed in our new simulator facility. The investment by ATR will provide a much needed boost for the development of the airline pilot skill pool in Africa, and complements our own training programmes.”

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