Air Seychelles pilots satisfied with re-training programme


Capt Cyril Benstrong with Malaysian trainer Fadal Sayed

The pilots, who used to fly the Boeing 767, are being retrained to take command of the Airbus 330 which Air Seychelles is due to take delivery towards the end of June.

It is presently being painted in the “Creole Spirit” livery.

The first batch of 12 pilots are more than half way in the three-month re-training programme and have already had a “half-term break” while the second group of six are presently also at the academy.

The re-training involves various simulators, which look and operate just like ordinary aircraft, except that they are not flying.

Seychelles Nation spoke to one of the pilots in the second group, Cyril Benstrong, who has been with Air Seychelles for 19 years, of which 10 years as a captain.

He said the re-training on another type of airplane is not difficult, though the methodology and emergency procedures differ from that of Boeing, which he has been flying until recently.

Mr Benstrong said that for instance, whereas on the Boeing 767 pilots use manuals, on the Airbus everything is computerised, with laptop and joysticks in use.

“The pilot is more in control,” he said.
He said he and his colleagues welcome the chance to go further. 
“The conversion to the Airbus boils down to a change in the mindset. We would have had to undergo some re-training had Air Seychelles acquired another Boeing, such as the 787,” he noted.

Mr Benstrong added that safety-wise, the track record of both aircraft is very good.
“After that we will be qualified to fly both types of aircraft,” he pointed out.

For the pilots the re-training along with accommodation, meals and transport are free and they also receive an allowance.
In return, they have signed a three-year bond, which means that should they pull out for whatever reasons, they should reimburse the expenses incurred.

Responding to a question on why a few Air Seychelles pilots opted not to take part in the re-training programme, Mr Benstrong said this is possibly linked to the period of uncertainty at Air Seychelles, after the re-structuring was announced, with nearly all Boeing 767s returned to the International Leasing Finance Corporation in Seattle.

He said at the time, there was little information about what was really going on and some statements made then did not sound very credible.

The pilots now feel the worse is over and are very proud that they will soon be qualified to fly both the Boeing and Airbus.

Seychelles Nation has also been able to confirm that an incident of child molestation involving a Seychellois pilot in the UAE in March, did not concern any Air Seychelles pilot. Airline sources noted that the incident of a 29-year-old pilot molesting a 14-year-old girl in a lift, occurred on March 17. The first batch of 12 Air Seychelles pilots only arrived in Abu Dhabi on April 2 – which is two weeks later, which leads to the obvious conclusion that the man could be employed by some other airline.

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