Emirates to build $135m pilot-training centre as travel demand soars

The unit, which will be ready in 2024, will have the potential to expand the airline’s pilot training capacity by 54% annually

Emirates aims to hire an additional 400 pilots and up to 6,000 cabin crew by the middle of 2023. Photo: Emirates
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Emirates, the world’s biggest operator of the Airbus A380 jet, will soon build an advanced training centre for pilots as it ramps up operations to meet strong air travel demand.

The centre will accommodate six full-flight simulator bays for its future Airbus A350 and Boeing 777X aircraft, the airline said on Monday.

The 5,882-square-metre training unit is expected to open in March 2024.

“This $135 million investment to build a new pilot training centre will ensure Emirates’ readiness to commence its pilot training ahead of the delivery of its new aircraft fleet starting from 2024,” said Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed, chairman and chief executive of Emirates airline and Group.

“The building will be equipped with the latest, technologically advanced simulators to provide the best training for pilots, while using solar power to reduce energy consumption.”

Air travel demand has beaten expectations, driving the airline's plans to hire additional pilots and cabin crew, return more Airbus A380s into service and rebuild its network to pre-pandemic levels, Emirates' chief operating officer Adel Al Redha said on the sidelines of the Bahrain International Airshow in November.

The airline intends to hire an additional 400 pilots and 5,000 to 6,000 cabin crew by the middle of 2023, recruiting to the maximum capacity of its training centres, he said at the time.

This will increases its current workforce of 4,500 pilots and 17,500 cabin crew.

The airline’s capacity has recovered to 80 per cent of its pre-pandemic levels while its vast network has returned to 95 per cent of its pre-crisis size after international borders reopened and coronavirus-related restrictions eased.

In terms of capacity, it currently operates a fleet of 120 Boeing 777 aircraft and 78 of its 116 Airbus A380s, said Mr Al Redha.

It plans to return its full fleet of superjumbos into service by the end of 2023.

First Emirates flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel

First Emirates flight powered by sustainable aviation fuel

The new training unit will be adjacent to the existing Emirates training complex in Dubai, which will help trainees to integrate with other centres, the airline said.

Trainees can set up and configure the cockpit environment as part of the pilot-training module and upload the data to the full-flight simulator, it said.

“This concept is designed to shorten the trainee’s preparatory time inside the simulator, help them maintain focus and take full advantage of the training duration,” Emirates said.

With the addition of the new building to the airline's existing training colleges in Dubai, Emirates will have the potential to expand its pilot-training capacity by 54 per cent a year.

Across the airline’s training buildings, pilots can use 17 full-flight simulator bays offering a capacity of more than 130,000 training hours a year.

In line with the scheduled delivery of Emirates’ first Airbus A350 aircraft, the airline’s newest training college will commence training its first batch of A350 pilots by June 2024.

Besides training centres for its flight deck crew, the airline said it offers a range of career development programmes for its workforce and for other aviation professionals.

In Dubai, these include the Emirates Flight Training Academy for cadets, Emirates Aviation University, Emirates Cabin Crew Training Centre and many programmes specially created for different segments of its employees, it said.

Emirates placed an order for 50 Airbus A350-900 XWB aircraft worth $16 billion at list prices at the Dubai Airshow in 2019. Delivery was scheduled to start in May 2023 and run until 2028.

The long-delayed Boeing 777X, of which the 777-8 and 777-9 are variants, has been in development since 2013 and was expected to be released for airline use in June 2020.

Emirates has a tentative delivery date of July 2025 to receive the first of 777X wide-body jets, with new wings and engines.

Boeing delayed the delivery of its first 777-9 jet, a variant of its new 777X aircraft, by another year and deliveries are now expected to start in 2025.

Updated: February 20, 2023, 7:40 AM