• A Cessna Mustang belonging to Sunshine Coast-based Singapore Flying College.
    A Cessna Mustang belonging to Sunshine Coast-based Singapore Flying College.

In a double celebration yesterday, Singapore Airlines officially opened its new Cessna Mustang simulator at its Sunshine Coast training facility, as the first Mustang arrived after a 40-hour ferry flight.

The college is acquiring five Mustangs and two simulators at a cost of around $40 million, to replace its ageing Lear 45s and their simulators.

During July the college will undergo the CASA/Singapore approvals process. Then training of instructors in the new simulator will progress through August, followed by instructor training in the aircraft during September.

The Mustangs, which have been specially modified to hold an observers seat immediately behind the flight deck (replacing the two front seats), will carry their first airline cadets in October.

The Sunshine Coast college is the airline’s advanced training facility, with cadets entering after ab initio training at another facility at Jandakot Airport in Perth.

Since it opened in 2002, the college has graduated more than 1000 pilots to line flying for a contracted period. Operating 24 hours a day, six days a week, the Sunshine Coast operation processes around 140 cadets each year. The college has 30 staff.

Commenting on the selection of the Mustang, the chairman of Singapore Flying College, Mak Swee Wah, said that the board had considered several options but decided that the Cessna product was what was required.

"We were looking for a plane that would give us a new level of efficiency and allow us to take advantage of the latest in avionics, and this plane suits our needs," Mak said after the arrival of the Mustang.

"Right now, because our throughput is consistent because we plan on a long-term basis, five aircraft will be enough... Our throughput is tied to the SIA pilot forecast in terms of requirements because we are looking at consistent growth; and based on that expected growth that translates to this number of new cadets that we need each year."

The chairman also said that further investment may be required in the Jandakot facility, in terms of adding to the training fleet as well as replacing ageing aircraft.

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