National carrier Kenya Airways has signed a deal with US firm FlightSafety International for the training of pilots at its low cost subsidiary Jambojet in a bid to boost the safety of its operations.
Under the deal, KQ will procure an in-house simulator for the Dash 8-400 aircraft used by the budget carrier. The simulator will be installed at the Kenya Airways Pride Center in Nairobi.
“Jambojet and other airlines that operate the aircraft will benefit from having local access to the simulator,” said Steve Gross, senior vice president, sales and marketing, FlightSafety.
Mr Gross reckons the move will also help KQ cut the costs of training its pilots. Regional airlines like KQ often take their pilots abroad for refresher training after acquiring new fleets.
“It will help to increase proficiency by enabling pilots to train more often and reduce overall training costs,” said Mr Gross. The simulator will be scrutinised by the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and the Kenya Civil Aviation Authority following installation ahead of use, the US firm said.
It will be FlightSafety’s first installation of a full flight simulator for the aircraft in Africa and is expected to boost the training of the airline’s pilots amid mounting scrutiny of the safety of regional airlines, it added.
Simulators provide real life flying scenarios by re-creating an aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies.
“The number of Q400s in Africa is growing, with a limited number of simulators to support the training. The estimated number of Q400 aircraft in Africa is over a hundred being served by only 3 simulators. The agreement is a step forward in building the capacity of our training,” outgoing Kenya Airways Chief Executive Officer Sebastian Mikosz said.
Dash 8-400 planes, a favourite with low cost regional carriers like Jambojet, are manufactured by De Havilland Aircraft of Canada Limited.
The airline’s maintenance teams are also set to benefit from the trainings. The move comes at a time when Kenya Airways has lost more than 100 of its highly trained pilots and engineers to Middle East airlines in the past one year because of poor pay.
KQ had earlier blamed the attrition to poaching of skilled staff by Middle East airlines, which are offering lucrative perks and salaries to the national carrier’s highly trained specialists.