SriLankan Airlines took a firm step towards transforming Bandaranaike International Airport (BIA) into a regional hub for aviation training, with the signing of an agreement with SIM Industries B.V. of the Netherlands to set up a Full Flight Simulator.
The final 10-year agreement between SriLankan Airlines and SIM Industries was signed on 14 March at the airline’s corporate boardroom in Colombo by SriLankan Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe, Frank Uit den Bogaard, CEO of SIM Industries, SriLankan CEO Manoj Gunawardena and Bas Klerx, Chief Financial Officer of SIM Industries.
The state-of-the-art Flight Simulator will be marketed in the region by both SriLankan (www.srilankan.aero) and SIM Industries (www.sim-industries.com) for the training of pilots in the operation of Airbus A320 aircraft. The A320 family of aircraft is favoured for mid-range routes among airlines worldwide, including those in the rapidly growing airline industry of the Indian Subcontinent.
SriLankan Airlines Chairman Nishantha Wickremasinghe said: “The setting up of this Full Flight Simulator is something we will be doing for the first time in Sri Lanka. It has been a long-time dream for SriLankan Airlines, which will now become a reality.”
Flight Simulator training is a standard requirement around the world for airline pilots, and SIM Industries BV is one of the world’s leading manufacturers and operators of flight simulators. Its full flight simulators contain the most advanced components from aircraft manufacturers, making the training experience a complete replica of real-life cockpit situations.
Frank Uit den Bogaard, CEO of SIM Industries, said: “SIM Industries has set up a large number of Full Flight Simulators around the world, and it is very important for us to have a training centre in this part of the world. There is a tremendous amount of potential to bring pilot training to Sri Lanka from around this region.”
The Government of Sri Lanka has set a target for turning Sri Lanka into a hub for Knowledge, as envisioned in the five-pronged programme of the Mahinda Chinthana.
SriLankan CEO Manoj Gunawardena said: “Our National Carrier has been closely supporting the Government’s vision by strengthening our wide range of facilities to turn BIA into a centre for all aviation related activities, including air travel, tourism, air cargo, aircraft maintenance, airport ground handling, and aviation training. The Full Flight Simulator will become a showpiece of our training facilities.”
Captain Navin De Silva, SriLankan’s Head of Flight Operations, said: “This is a red letter day in the history of SriLankan Airlines. Our Pilot Training Programme, which has built up a sound reputation over three decades, is about to enter a new era where we will serve not just the requirements of our own airline, but other airlines in the region.”
The National Carrier is already making plans to add a second Full Flight Simulator for pilot training on wide-bodied A330 and A340 aircraft, depending on the success of the first Flight Simulator.
All of SIM Industries’ flight simulators are certified to ‘Level D’ standard, the highest level of sophistication which makes it identical to that of an aircraft.
The Flight Simulator is scheduled for completion in six months. The initial Memorandum of Understanding for the project had been signed last May.
SriLankan already possesses an excellent Cadet Pilot Training Programme that has produced hundreds of pilots that today serve in the finest airlines in the world. Its Technical Training Centre, which is certified to the EASA 147 standard of the European Aviation Safety Agency, is also a centre for training Aircraft Engineers and Technicians for many of the region’s airlines.
SriLankan’s cabin crew and airport staff are also highly sought after by airlines throughout Asia as they are considered to have undergone a thorough training programme.