MIAMI — Just beyond the perimeter fence, and parallel to runways 35L/35R at Istanbul Atatürk Airport, lies the Turkish Airlines Aviation Academy, one of the leading training centers in the country, and where approximately 4,000 cockpit crews, dispatchers and loadmasters, and about 8,000 cabin crew come either for the first time to learn the skills required to become part of Turkish Airways, or to complete mandatory recurrent training sessions.
Turkish Airlines has always considered training to be an important aspect of the business since 1933, and supported its staff through local and international courses and seminars from the very beginning. Today over 1,000 pilots from Turkish and other carriers from around the world come to the Aviation Academy.
As we make our way to the front doors at the training center, we noticed that we were not the only ones to get a tour. A bus load of school children were also present, eager to get inside—as much as we wanted too. Who knows, maybe some of these children would be part of a flight crew in the not-so-distant future!
Once inside the premises, the modern building is a true statement to the philosophy of the training center, which is no longer using classical training methods and, instead, has adopted a digital approach with state-of-the-art technologies, in order to match with the ever-changing learning habit of people.
Perhaps the most stunning part of the tour was the visit to the Full-Flight Simulator (FFS) Docks, where the company has ten FFS for the different aircraft that Turkish Airlines has in the fleet, from the Boeing 737 and Airbus A320 family aircraft (with 3 FFS each) to the Boeing 777-300ER and Airbus A330 / A340 (with two FFS each). What impressed us the most is that these FFS have a 24/7 operation at its full capacity.
Despite this, we were able to get inside one of the FFS for a short demonstration, which was hosted by Capt. Boğaç Atıcı, who is the Manager of the Boeing 777 Flight Training at Turkish Airlines.
During the FFS session, Capt. Atıcı took us on a virtual ride around Istanbul under different weather conditions, from a cloudy sky to rain, hail and snow. Needless to say, the experience is a treat for those—including me—who have played Flight Simulator at home. However, given the short time, only one of us was able to be at the command of the flight. Needless to say that my colleague Kathryn made a perfect landing, (with a little help from the Autopilot.)
After the session, Capt. Atıcı explained that given the growing fleet, the airline has now two days a week dedicated to bring in new pilots. Also, and in order to keep up with the demand for new pilot training, a new extension of the current premises is now taking place. It looks like that there are no plans to move to the new airport, which is being built some 25 miles (40 km.) away.
After the pilot training demonstration, our group was taken to the cabin crew training area, where flight attendants are not only trained under the national and international standards, but also turn them into specialists in hospitality, a key characteristic that the carrier is proud of since its humble beginnings, always consistent to the culture, brand and identity of Turkish Airlines.
Besides the cabin crew training, the Turkish Aviation Academy has partnered with IATA so the courses of the association can be imparted at the premises. Interestingly, other programs are also open to the public, such as the “Conquer Your Fear of Flying,” intended for those willing to overcome the phobia.
With a comprehensive training portfolio, and with extensive consultancy services to national and foreign operators, maintenance centers, cargo companies, travel agencies, universities and even to the general public, Turkish Airlines Globally Yours! concept is now also taken to the classroom.