THE first group of local pilots that are undergoing training to fly Air Pacific's brand new Airbus A330-200 aircraft when the company rebrands as Fiji Airways are reported to be doing well.
In a statement issued yesterday, Air Pacific's chief pilot Josua Cavalevu said as an interim measure, while local airmen and women make the transition from operating Boeing aircraft to Airbus, expatriate pilots would be brought in.
"Once local pilots have completed their A330 transition training and passed their theory examinations and regulatory check-rides, they will then start flying the new aircraft and begin getting their initial operating experience with the assistance of experienced instructors from Airbus, as well as other highly qualified and experienced A330 pilots and instructor pilots from overseas," Mr Cavalevu said.
"We do expect to hire some highly qualified A330 pilots and instructors from overseas while we train our local pilots and ensure our flight operations team get their Airbus qualifications and gain flight and operational experience flying our new fly-by-wire A330 aircraft," he said.
"We will also expect to need some B747 and B737 pilots from overseas to crew our existing aircraft while we train and transition our local pilots on the new aircraft," he added.
Air Pacific's out-going managing director and chief executive officer David Pflieger said local pilots were renowned as aviators and upon completion of the Airbus training, they would greatly enhance their skills and gain valuable experience.
"Fijian pilots are already excellent aviators and they will now undergo world-class training and transition programs to prepare to fly Airbus A330s. This means they will further strengthen their skills, experience and reputation and contribute to Fiji's already strong corps of aviation professionals."
Eight pilots are expected to be the first to complete the eight-week intensive training exercise at the Airbus training facility in Miami, Florida in the US. About 50 pilots in total will undergo training and familiarity on the Airbus A330-200 aircraft.