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ATR Partners Comair to Open Training Centre in Africa

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International turboprop manufacturer, ATR, is to open its first training centre in Africa in partnership with South African airline, Comair.

The centre, to be based in Johannesburg, South Africa, will be operational in April 2011. It will be equipped with an FFS (Full Flight Simulator) and will provide training for ATR 42-300, ATR 42-500, ATR 72-200 and ATR 72-500 aircraft.

ATR said its decision to open this training centre is due to its growing presence on the continent, both in terms of an increased number of operators and aircraft. Today, 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 will provide flight and maintenance training programmes, pedagogical 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 Johannesburg ATR Training Centre with their own instructors.

Jean-Pierre Cousserans, ATR Senior Vice-president of Customer Services, said, “The opening of this new training centre is a step forward in our regional policy. 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 Limited, added, “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 under construction at our operations centre in Johannesburg. 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 programs.”

There is a definite need for professional airline pilot development in Africa, and to this end ATR and Comair share a common vision for the development of highly skilled professional pilots. On offer will be a full range of pilot type ratings, recurrent and proficiency training, to cabin crew and technical training.

ATR will be in a position to offer clients a full training solution on the ATR-42/72 turbo-prop aircraft whilst Comair can offer turnkey medium jet aircraft training, ranging from pilot type ratings, recurrent and proficiency training, to cabin crew and technical training. This is particularly well suited to African airlines that do not enjoy the privilege of having their own training facilities.

ATR has developed a strong presence worldwide, which includes customer support centers, spare parts warehouses, and training centers. Today, ATR counts training facilities in Bangkok (Thailand), Bangalore (India) and Toulouse (France). ATR is about to open a new training center in Toronto (Canada) and Paris (France).

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