Updated Friday, November 26, 2021 – 01:47
There are children who are born with the illusion of flying an airplane. Sometimes when they grow up, maybe out of stubbornness, maybe out of passion, the dream survives and it is time to land on a little-traveled runway at age 18: put a price on the goal. As almost always, it all depends on taste and possibilities. In Jerez (Cdiz) there is the most prestigious aeronautical school in the country, focused on supplying quarry to the flag airlines, but the comprehensive course costs 120,000 euros. The alternative of Flyby (69,300 euros for 14 months of training, including accommodation) represents, in the words of lex lvarez, company manager, “a closer approach to that of Ryanair, where the customer is given exactly what he wants at a price to match “.
According to the ranking of AENA, FlyBy is already the school that prepares the most pilots in Spain. There are six promotions a year and in each of them there are more than twenty students, of mixed origin (21% are Spanish and 50% from the EU). With 21 aircraft of different styles (including an aerobatic one to learn to straighten dangerous trajectories) and two flight simulators, this company had a turnover of 6.9 million in 2020 and could grow 100% in 2021, according to Álvarez’s calculations.
Italy and Greece are Spain’s main competitors in the war to attract the aspiring pilot. The three countries share a definite advantage over the north, which for the FlyBy manager “starts 200 kilometers above the Pyrenees”: the weather, as a clear day is a day with visibility and visibility is perfect for practice. On Italy and Greece, Spain also has a plus, especially if the school’s operations board is attended to, located in Castilla y Len and with Burgos as the nucleus. “They have a landscape highly conditioned by the sea and the mountains, but here the plains abound, and if you have an engine stop it is better to land on an emergency landing in a sparsely populated and flat place than in an abrupt one surrounded by water,” he explains. lvarez.
Europe also has a differential value over the rest of the world, since the official pilot license is the most valued internationally, even more so than the United States, and even the powerful airlines of the Persian Gulf prioritize this permit in the curriculum over any other. . “Converting the European license to the standard of each third country is a mere administrative task, but doing it the other way around involves an investment of 15,000 euros.” This glamor obviously has a knock-on effect: applicants of 72 nationalities have passed through FlyBy’s various residencies, and its instructors include Lithuanians, Ukrainians, Icelanders, British and Ugandan people.
ANCHA IS CASTILLA
Regarding local rivals, Lex Álvarez emphasizes that “the air space in Castilla is not congested at all, as shown by the fact that the Burgos airport registers three flights a week. Imagine what it would be like to operate from Barajas and interfere with commercial flights “. With more than 530 cadets in tow in the five years that have elapsed since Álvarez took the reins and a million euros destined to buy new aircraft and imminent plans for international expansion, Álvarez is able to dive into the soul of the pilot. “All of our students have the aspirational component, generally acquired in childhood, but there are those who can afford to fulfill the dream at 18 years old, while others have started a university career and retreat to return to this passion.
There is also a third group of people who never had the means to finance these studies but who save and consider it. Although there are no age limits above to enter this profession, it must be said that airlines hardly notice a novice pilot who is around 35-40 years old. “
There are two secrets that Álvarez reveals as the key to the success of his school. On the one hand, the vis-a-vis promotion work that he himself executes in places as remote as China and Pakistan, even admitting that “it is the pilots who come out of each promotion” that are the best commercials. On the other, the educational diversification, from the general course to other complementary ones, going through the management of drones (activity that accounted for 54% of turnover in 2015 but today only contributes 0.5%), university training (from 2022) and a new itinerary designed for mechanics (“think that a commercial airplane needs between 12 and 15 pilots and the same number of operators “). “In Spain there is an atomization of schools, but the majority are aeroclubes and are focused on the national market. Our classes are in English, our vocation is international and our educational bouquet is broad,” summarizes the CEO.
FlyBy’s all-inclusive imposes certain logistical challenges on the organization. The residences offer individual rooms and their own bathroom, meals adapted to the uses and customs of the students and travel between aerodromes. The 14-month course includes 238 flight hours and there is a certified room for the use of simulators, designed to familiarize the budding pilot with the instruments of a hand chart. Throughout the years, Álvarez and his team have experienced all kinds of anecdotes. The main one stars a Dutch cadet who got lost in flight without realizing that: A) he could contact an air traffic controller, B) he had GPS and C) his flight at low altitude would have allowed him to use Google maps on the mobile. What does this mind wow prove? Answers the CEO: “In difficult situations, the first thing you have to do is do nothing because instinct is often contrary to reason. Everything else is learned.”
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