A number of the leading British ATOs are involved in a new venture aiming to offer candidates a connected modular route through to airline employment. The venture called ‘The Wings Alliance’ is a not-for-profit trade association whose aim is to offer prospective pilots a connected modular route through to airline employment following the principles of honesty, value and quality. The Wings Alliance will launch to the public on 7 November 2015 at the Pilot Careers Live, Heathrow and has already attracted considerable support in the industry.
Background - Modular and Integrated training
There are two basic training routes for professional pilots. The first is to attend an ‘integrated’ course where all the training is completed under the aegis of a single school, the second is to attend a series of ‘modular’ courses at specialist flight schools. Each route has its advantages and disadvantages and different licensing criteria apply to the two routes in terms of specific training elements required and flying hours achieved. Although the routes are different the end license is exactly the same.
Advantages and disadvantages
For the pilot customers
The advantages of modular training in general are:
The disadvantages are
For the same customers the advantages of integrated training are:
The disadvantages are:
Hiring newly licensed pilots the advantages of taking integrated candidates are:
The disadvantages of hiring integrated students (with quite a bit of generalisation) are that they often:
The advantages of hiring modular candidates are often the opposite of the disadvantages attributed to integrated candidates above (with more generalisation) in that:
The disadvantages of hiring modular candidates are that;
The Wings Alliance
The new venture is a trade association of most of the significant modular schools in the UK (and some of the leading flight schools in Europe) called the Wings Alliance.
The Wings Alliance is a not-for-profit UK company limited by guarantee, which will ultimately be owned by its members. Its aims are to address the disadvantages of the general modular route listed above to offer to prospective pilots a quality assured route to airline employment, to provide airlines with a similarly quality assured pool of modular pilots and to address the marketing imbalance between specialist modular schools and the big integrated offerings, chief of which is from CTC. Its operation will be founded in the principles of honesty, quality and value.
The Training Plan
Prospective pilots will be encouraged to at least take a trial lesson (or more if possible) before committing to professional training.
Pre-course independent aptitude testing will be done at RAF Cranwell through The Honourable Company of Air Pilots (formerly GAPAN).
Wings Alliance will offer a mentored programme to prospective pilots through structured modular flight training at the member flight schools, recommending flight schools to suit the candidate’s individual requirements. Throughout the training Wings Alliance will collate training records and liaise with the member flight schools and the customers to ensure the quality of training and customer service is maintained.
Upset Prevention and Recovery Training (UPRT) is a separate and currently optional module which follows the EASA NPA 2015-13 recommendations and includes tailwheel experience, unusual attitude recognition and recovery (including spin recovery) and the supporting theory.
After license issue the training will culminate in an (optional) assessed MCC/JOC preceded by selection to assess employment suitability and non-technical training in airline operations. Wings Alliance uses Cardiff Aviation’s 747-400 sim for the flying element and we operate a 40 hour pass/fail course. This course goes beyond the requirements of EASA approval so that those that pass the course will be properly assessed and prepared for their first type rating. Those that do not pass will not be endorsed, but will still have their training records available and may elect to complete just the minimum MCC course.
The Wings Alliance is a co-operative trade association, as a company limited by guarantee it has no shareholders, only members, which are effectively its owners.
The Chairman of the Wings Alliance is Alex Whittingham, an ex-RAF L1011 captain, and Managing Director and Head of Training of Bristol Groundschool.
The CEO is Rod Wren, also an ex-RAF pilot and an A2 QFI and who has, in his time, been Head of Training both at Oxford and CTC, and Managing Director of the CTC Wings project.
The companies which are members of the Wings Alliance at launch will be:
In the UK
In Europe/Near East
8 of the Wings Alliance members at launch offer PPL training, 8 offer commercial groundschool, and 9 offer commercial flying courses.
The Wings Alliance is funded by its members and by some elements of its commercial activity. The company will charge no premium for its services to prospective pilots, and pilots in training will transact directly with the member flight schools at their normal list prices, not with the Wings Alliance, with the exception of the MCC/JOC course, below.
The only course(s) or services directly charged for by the Alliance will be for the (optional) employment selection and MCC/JOC after license issue. This will be a premium product in the sense that it exceeds EASA requirements and includes additional training and testing for employment suitability but will be priced competitively in line with the Alliance principles. Advice and guidance to prospective pilots training with the Wings Alliance and the maintenance and tracking of training records will be provided without charge.
As a co-operative trade association the Wings Alliance is committed to equal opportunity and to promoting the profession in an honest and balanced way. The Alliance considers it is essential to work with pilots’ unions and other associations to ensure the free flow of information and benefits. Its members already offer support or scholarships either in their own right, through charities or through the Air League and it is anticipated that this will continue under the Wings Alliance banner. In a similar vein the Wings Alliance will promote scholarships from the Air League and others without charge.
BALPA have given us a statement supporting the initiative. The Honourable Company of Air Pilots has agreed to provide independent aptitude testing. Indications of support have been received from the British Women Pilots Association and it is hoped that this will be formally confirmed before launch.
Airline PartnersAt the time of writing Loganair has agreed to take Wings Alliance endorsed candidates for interview as have Cardiff Aviation for their B737 operation and discussions are in progress with several other potential employers.
Wings Alliance launches to the public on November 7th 2015 at Pilot Careers Live, Heathrow.