The Cork-headquartered Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA) has expanded its facilities at its second Irish pilot training base, located at Waterford Airport.
AFTA has added a new aircraft maintenance hangar that will service the company's modern aircraft training fleet, adding further high-skill jobs for the Waterford region.
Since 1995, AFTA trained 2,300 graduates who are employed with the world’s leading airlines, including Ryanair, Aer Lingus, EasyJet, British Airways, Air Astana, Turkish Airlines, Emirates, Qatar Airways, Etihad Airways, and Cathay Pacific.
The company operates 24 aircraft and five flight simulators and employs more than 55 people. The new hangar will be used to service a range of aircraft, including Diamond DA42NGs and Twin Stars, Piper PA34 Seneca, and the C172 fleet.
Opening the new facility, AFTA's chief executive Mark Casey said Government support for regional airports and the surrounding infrastructure is vital.
"Waterford is a vital component of Ireland’s airport infrastructure, which offers first-class facilities and services to operators," he said.
AFTA has used Waterford Airport as a training base for the past 24 years, alongside Cork Airport. In 2018, it committed to a full-time operational base at the airport. The new hangar has the approval of the Irish Aviation Authority (IAA).
"During the last three years, pilot training at Waterford has grown exponentially," said the airport's manager Aidan Power.
"It is excellent news that AFTA have decided to solidify their presence further at Waterford by investing in this new IAA-approved aircraft hangar.
"We look forward to seeing the base grow over the coming years, creating more jobs for the region, and we wish AFTA and especially all the cadets training at Waterford every success in their airline careers.”
Enterprise Ireland has worked closely with AFTA to support its international activities. Enda McDonnell of Enterprise Ireland said the company is renowned within the industry for its progressive approaches to pilot training, having developed highly successful pilot training partnerships with leading international airlines.
"It brings an innovative approach to pilot training through training in next-generation flight simulator technology," he said.
"It is also driving future flows of pilots through its collaboration with Munster Technological University [MTU] on its Bachelor of Science (Hons) Global Business and Pilot Studies programme.
"Now the company is making a significant investment in a new IAA-approved aircraft hangar in Waterford.
Rose Leahy, senior lecturer, Department of Marketing and International Business at MTU, said their partnership with AFTA is an important development in the upskilling of existing aircrew.
The official opening of the hangar was carried out by minister of state Niall Collins.
"Atlantic Flight Training Academy’s new aircraft maintenance facility at Waterford airport is an investment in the future of Irish aviation outside of Dublin, providing the essential infrastructure to support the ever-growing pilot training academy and creating highly skilled jobs for aircraft engineers and pilot instructors," he said.
"I am delighted that more cadet pilots in the south-east and across Munster will now benefit from AFTA's investment in this new aircraft maintenance facility.
“Making education and training available to people where they are, near to home so they don’t have to leave to learn or to get a job, is a key priority for me and my department and I’m delighted to see that in action here today.
“I want to wish every success to the next generation of AFTA-trained airline pilots as they begin their careers here at Waterford Airport.”
Airport manager Mr Power said: “Atlantic Flight Training Academy has been utilising Waterford as a training airport for the past 24 years and in 2018 committed to a full-time operational base at the airport.