Five successful Papua New Guineans departed on 4 June for their pilot training programme at the PPT Flying School in Coffs Harbour, New South Wales, Australia after signing contracts with Air Niugini, the national airline of Papua New Guinea.
The cadets were selected from more than two thousand applicants nationwide and after a four-month intensive selection process based on their academic ability, internal aptitude tests and interviews, conducted by Air Niugini Flight Operations Department.
Pilot cadets Eric Niles, Thomas Poawai, Jonathan Mandie, Gina Badia and Rahmat Ruambil will undergo an eighteen-month training which will see them graduate with a Commercial Pilots Licence and multi-engine instrument rating.
In congratulating the five pilot cadets, Chief Executive Officer, Mr Simon Foo urged the cadets to make good use of the opportunity and investment that is provided by Air Niugini. “Air Niugini invests millions of kina for an individual cadet in this program. It is the national airline’s commitment to provide career opportunities for young Papua New Guineans and we expect you to come out with flying colours,” said Mr Foo. He also advised the cadets that a career as a pilot demands discipline from the individual and besides being academically competent, they should display good behaviour and be highly disciplined at all times.
60 cadet pilots are at various stages of training on the domestic fleet. Amongst them are seven young women – Beverly Pakii, Jacqueline Naing, Sharon Tara, Rhoda Ilave, Nicole Koliala, Cassandra Aisa and Bernice Watinga.
Captain Beverly Pakii made history in April this year when she became the first female to achieve her command on the Dash 8 aircraft under the Air Niugini Pilot Cadet Programme since the programme began in the 1970s.
The current eight cadet pilots who began their training in April 2013 will graduate in October this year. Mr Foo has also advised that Air Niugini has completed a selection for direct entry pilots who will operate the Fokker and Dash fleet. The recent direct recruitment of 15 pilots from over an initial one thousand applicants will boost pilot numbers to maintain normal operational requirements as Air Niugini aims to expand its services and frequencies domestically and within the region.
Mr Foo said that the airline’s requirements are higher than most other airlines due to the operating environment. “We have a vigorous, comprehensive and detailed recruitment process that the pilots go through such as technical exams, interviews, simulators and taking into account the number of flying hours and experience before they are finally selected. He added that Air Niugini has its own internal training programme which the airline capitalises on to increase capacity and promote pilots from one aircraft type to another.
Mr Foo added that Air Niugini’s in- house training for 2015 began in January this year. “We currently have four serving captains and two first officers being promoted on the Fokker 100 aircraft, two captains on the Boeing 737 and more promotion in line for pilots on the B737, Q400 and Dash 8 aircraft.”