The COVID-19 pandemic is a global health crisis, but it also presents an unprecedented challenge for the aviation industry. The number of people flying is bound to drop dramatically in 2020 when compared to the 4.54 billion people who flew in 2019. In addition to the loss of revenue, this reduction will also make it difficult for airlines to keep their flight crews current with their training requirements during this period.

American and Southwest airlines already delayed training for their pilots in 2019 due to the grounding of all 737 MAX flights in March of that year. United Airlines also postponed their training classes for new pilots in 2020 as a result of COVID-19. Simulators allow pilots to remain current without leaving the ground, which is why Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) has recently invested in a new simulator and training center. AAG founder Bhanu Choudhrie believes that independent centers like AAG will become a popular way for pilots to maintain their training during the COVID-19 crisis.

Outlook

Bhanu and other aviation entrepreneurs are already looking ahead to the long-term effects of COVID-19 on the aviation industry. The COVID-19 outbreak seems to have peaked in China, which has already resumed its domestic routes. Most analysts expect China to do the same for its international flights in the near future and the resumption of travel by other nations to follow similarly in due course.

Bhanu has stated that he is “committed to an ongoing ambitious plan – to ensure world-class facilities where as many cadets can learn to fly as possible and industry demand can be met”. He adds that he expects AAG to take up the slack in pilot training with simulators, which are less expensive than real training flights. Airlines have traditionally employed simulators to keep experienced crews in peak form, but they may also begin using simulators to keep their pilots in compliance with recency rules as the pandemic continues. This change means simulators will provide training for pilots in both standard and emergency flying conditions.

Benefits

Bhanu believes that simulator usage will increase substantially in the months ahead. He says, “I would not be surprised to see simulator training become mandated before many pilots return to work to make sure they are ready after a substantial break from flying.” Simulators provide the opportunity to train pilots in a range of scenarios, many of which would be dangerous or impractical in a real plane. Advancements in technology continue to improve simulators, allowing new pilots to make the transition to flying a real plane more easily. In addition, many of today’s pilots are approaching retirement, further increasing the incentive of airlines to consider alternatives to in-house pilot training.

Facilities

AAG’s headquarters are in London, but its flight schools are in the Philippines and the UAE. These facilities allow AAG to help new pilots meet their training requirements and experienced pilots keep their certifications current. AAG has many pilots with commercial flying experience on its staff, allowing them to pass their real-world knowledge to new pilots and put them in stronger position for starting their careers once air travel resumes its normal level. In the meantime, entrepreneurs like Bhanu will continue providing industry-leading flight training.

The flight simulators at AAG include a Cessna 172 cockpit with two seats and a flight deck, which helps pilots maintain their skills while awaiting career opportunities. AAG also has an Airbus A320 full-flight simulator with a Level D certification from the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). It has both new and current engine capabilities, along with full Upset Prevention and Recovery Training. AAG’s fixed-base Airbus A320 simulator also features the avionics needed for a realistic flying experience.

About Bhanu Choudhrie

Bhanu Choudhrie was born 1978 in Delhi, India. He is a graduate of the University of Boston, where he studied international business and marketing. Bhanu also completed the Owner/President Management program at Harvard School of Business. He began his career as an intern at JPMorgan Chase but moved to London in 1999 after recognizing the investment opportunities there.

Bhanu founded C&C Alpha Group (CCAG) in 2002 as a holding company for experienced venture capitalists. The company has a diverse global portfolio that includes investments in commercial, leisure, residential and retail properties. CCAG also has holdings in other sectors such as aviation, banking, healthcare and utilities. Bhanu founded AAG in 2006, which provides training solutions for commercial aviation.