There’s No Compromising On Training!


In his office overlooking the runways, we are talking with Menderes Çakıcı, who heads the Turkish Airlines Flight Training Academy next to Istanbul Ataturk Airport. One of Turkey’s first civilian pilots, Çakıcı is also a flight engineer. So I put to him a question that’s been on my mind for a long time. “As you see it, when we look at current technologies and the way things are going today, is the day eventually going to come when we will no longer need pilots?” Without hesitation he replies in the affirmative, adding, “But those days are not as near as we might think. Even though there are revolutionary technologies on the way to unpiloted aircraft, this will be realized in stages since it is human lives that are at stake.”

The cockpit population used to be bigger than it is now, but planes today have such advanced technology that they can be flown by two people. “Perhaps this will drop to one in the future, with a single pilot controlling the plane from the ground at a later stage. And the next step will be unpiloted aircraft.” Although it might strike us as science fiction for now, it is not out of the question. But until that day comes every pilot, as well as every member of the cabin crew, who might in future also be replaced by robots, needs training and practice.

Consequently, there is going to be a need for a Flight Training Academy and for experienced captains to serve as trainers for a long time to come. So, for the time being, training is one of the areas to which Turkish Airlines, one of the world’s fastest growing airlines, gives top priority. No matter how experienced they are, all Turkish Airlines pilots regularly undergo 16 hours of repetitive flight training every year. And Menderes Çakıcı is talking about plans to increase that to 24 hours, which is more than any other airline requires. The academy’s simulators, which are continuously occupied already, are clearly going to see even more intensive use in the future. A whole new section was added to the academy for the CAE 7000 series Boeing 777-300ER FFS and Boeing 737 HG simulators that Turkish Airlines purchased from the world-famous CAE firm. As we tour this section, we can see the spanking new simulators rising and falling or swaying slightly.

Directly in front of us, the minibridge that connects the Boeing 777-300 ER FFS simulator to the platform is lowered and closes, and we understand from this that the plane has landed safely. Those being trained here are not only Turkish Airlines pilots. Çakıcı tells us that there has been a very high demand for training of late from Turkey’s neighboring countries and adds that ten percent of the simulators are currently being used by other airlines. This is turn is going to ensure that Istanbul will soon become a training center for airlines of other countries in the region. New sections and simulators will soon be in place to keep pace with this potential and Turkish Airlines’ rapid growth

In Brief
7 fully equipped simulators: B737-400, B737-800, AVRO RJ70-100, 2 A320, B777-300ER, FNPTII/MCC (Jenerix B737 NG), as well as A330/340 (A340 test flights currently under way) and A330-200 (certification complete).
There are 16 domestic and 18 foreign airlines among those currently undergoing training and simulator training.
Turkish Airlines is the only airline in Turkey that has the Type Rating Training Organization Certificate and provides training to JAR-FCL standards. Therefore the certificates issued at the end of the training are internationally valid.
Turkish Airlines Flight Training Center is the only center of its kind in Turkey that has the TRTO (Type Rating Training Organization) Certificate and provides training to JAR-FCL standards.