By Humphrey Carter

PALMA, served by one of the busiest charter airports in Europe, is about to take off as one of the most advanced private flight training centres.
Based at the original airport, Son Bonet airfield, flight training school Aerotec yesterday unveiled its new flight simulator, the highly advanced Airbus-320, and intends to develop the training school into one of the most important international schools in Europe. Aerotec chairman, Tomás Marqués, said yesterday that the company has chosen Palma for the new simulator because of the island's large and thriving air transport industry. What is more, the Airline Transport Pilot's course will be given in English, and is therefore open to students from all over the world, with the international pilot licence recognised by 40 different countries. The company currently operates a fleet of 30 aircraft and, to mark its tenth anniversary, decided to use Palma as its platform to launch itself into the European market place with an investment of 3.5 million euros. Tomás Marqués added that Palma also proved an attractive destination because 90 per cent of Spain's flight training schools are based on the mainland, 80 per cent of them in Madrid. The Airbus-320 simulator has been developed by Spanish company Tecnobit and will be fully operational this summer.
Until now, the flight school's students have only had access to a simulator at the company's headquarters in Madrid, although it operates flight schools in Malaga, Las Palmas, Seville and Tenerife and has become one of the largest and most reputable networks of flight training schools in Spain. However, at 300 euros per hour, the Airbus-320 simulator is no toy and the 25-month training course costs 55'000 euros.
Over the past ten years, Aerotec, which opened its Palma operation in 1995, has trained 2'000 pilots, 85 per cent of whom have found work in the airline industry within two years of completing their studies.


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