All Nippon aims to profit from a level training field
By BARRY GRINDROD
AMERICAN and European aviation training companies are beating at the doors of Asia's airlines in the search for business.
Competition is intense, particularly in pilot training, with China a leading attraction.
It could be, however, that Japanese carrier All Nippon Airways (ANA) will come to the fore next year.
In 1992, at a cost of US$25 million, ANA opened a pilot training facility of its own, the International Flight Training Academy (IFTA) at Meadows Field Airport, in Bakersfield, California.
With restrictions on airspace in its home country, ANA, like Japan Airlines (JAL), felt in the booming 1980s that it would be a good investment to open its own pilot training facilities overseas, to supplement ground school training in Japan.
With record aircraft orders in the 1980s to meet projected demand it was felt the schools would have ample business in training its own pilots alone.
The recession that followed meant those projections had to be reconsidered.
The IFTA facility has 19 single-engine Beech A36 Bonanza aircraft and eight twin-engine Beech 58 Baron trainers, with a staff of 40 instructor-pilots, 25 maintenance personnel and 20 support staff. It can cater for up to 120 students, but has been operating well under capacity, as ANA has had to cut back on recruitment due to the recession.
A number of its senior pilots are currently spending several days a week doing office work in Tokyo, and it is no longer hiring expatriate pilots.
ANA's cadets spend a total of 14 months at Bakersfield during their basic training programme, with ground school being spent between ANA's four other training facilities in Japan.
The Japanese carrier is now conducting a feasibility study, particularly among its fellow Asian carriers, including the Chinese, to see if third party contract work at IFTA would prove popular.
Meadows Field Airport was chosen by ANA after reviewing 22 airports throughout California, Arizona and Nevada.
Good year-round weather conditions, air traffic conditions, airport facilities and advanced navigational equipment - gave it the edge over the rest. JAL's two training centres in the United States, one in Napa Valley for basic training, and the other in Moses Lake, Washington State, for big jet advanced training, do not cater for third party work. THINKING small is big business for Hong Kong model maker Andy Neilson.
Mr Neilson, the managing director of King and Country, which specialises in the design and manufacture of meticulously detailed metal figures, has won an international reputation in recent years with his models of historic military regiments and police forces.
His customers have included pop star Phil Collins and politician Winston Churchill Jr.
But on a flight back to the territory from Los Angeles last year he came up with another 'small' idea - telling the Cathay Pacific story through his miniature models.
The Cathay Pacific Classic Collection, made up of 12 models, features five cockpit crew and seven flight attendants dressed in Cathay uniforms of the past 30 years. They will be sold in-flight from the beginning of May.
To make sure everything about the models is authentic, Mr Neilson spoke to crew members and researched old photographs and videos. The hardest part of the project? To make sure he got the colours right.
All Mr Neilson's models are made at a workshop in China. THERE has been passion galore on the pages of Cathay's in-house newspaper The Weekly of late.
In its most recent issue it asked: 'Should staff be seen kissing while in uniform?' Seemingly the article was prompted by a letter from an employee who asked: 'Would passengers mistake this passion for an advanced form of customer service and want a piece of the action?' According to the article, a few cabin attendants had been displaying what might be termed inappropriate affection in public.
'In the past we had to advise a few girls to be more circumspect. But . . . there are no hard and fast rules about kissing,' said cabin crew team executive Dado Marques.
Still on the subject of passion, staff from baggage services, the First Class lounge, passenger services, support services and service desk, will be attending a series of one-day seminars called Passion for Distinction until March 15.
Apparently it has nothing to do with kissing.