• Avia Aviation's Senior Base Pilot Darren Schmidt can see the benefits of APTA membership. (Steve Hitchen)
    Avia Aviation's Senior Base Pilot Darren Schmidt can see the benefits of APTA membership. (Steve Hitchen)

Moorabbin-based Australian Pilot Training Alliance (APTA) is gaining momentum as smaller flying schools begin to feel the bite of having to transition to CASR Part 142 rules.

APTA provides upper-level key personnel oversight services to its members, which in turn enables those flying schools to make the move to Part 142 more easily and with less cost.

Part 142 has been written to include the coveted 150-hour CPL course that is currently sought after by most CPL students, but the move has left smaller flying schools stranded with the 200-hour course covered by Part 141 because they simply can't afford the level of management and control demanded by CASA to be approved to Part 142.

"Part 141 was written for the smaller flying schools," APTA CEO Glen Buckley says, "and Part 142 is for the larger academies like those with university affiliations."

Buckley is the owner of Melbourne Flight Training (MFT), a Part 141 school, but was facing with significant costs simply to retain the level of business that he already had.

"We would have loved to stay in that environment [Part 141]; it's much cheaper to operate than a Part 142 school," Buckley said, "however, we got 95% of our income from the 150-hour CPL, which we were going to have to walk away from unless we found a way to move to Part 142."

Buckley started APTA to enable MFT and other small flying schools to share the cost of competing with the larger academies that can more easily comply with Part 142 and soak up the students who wanted to take the fast path to a CPL.

One of those smaller schools was Avia Aviation.

"Joining APTA gives us the advantage of competing with other schools," says Avia Senior Base Pilot and Grade 1 Instructor Darren Schmidt, "especially with access to the 150-hour CPL syllabus, because we can now run the integrated courses whereas we couldn't under Part 141.

"Our students gain because they have to pay for 50 hours less training to get their CPL. That's huge benefit of joining APTA."

According to Buckley, APTA membership holds benefits well beyond just Part 142, as even the cost of complying with Part 141 and the Part 61 Licensing regulations is commonly estimated at around $250,000. He believes leveraging the management expertise of APTA means members schools can now assure compliance at a much lower cost.

APTA currently has five member companies, which can also share resources between themselves, but Buckley is looking for more to join the group. The current APTA members are:

  • Melbourne Flight Training
  • TVSA Flight Training
  • Avia Aviation
  • Learn to Fly
  • Flight Standards

"All members operate under one common set of seven manuals, with supplemental Base Operations Manuals for each member to account for the differences in school practices," Buckley points out. "APTA members also don't have to cease operations when key people–such as the CFI–leave, because they are still covered by the APTA Air Operators Certificate."

Both Part 141 and Part 142 schools have until 31 August 2018 to completely transition to the new rules.

More information is on the APTA website.


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