Thirty Saudi Arabian students have arrived in New Zealand to start air traffic control training with air traffic services provider Airways.
This is the fourth group of students to be trained by Airways from Saudi Arabia’s civil air services provider, the General Authority of Civil Aviation of Saudi Arabia (GACA) – helping to fill a critical gap in the Middle East region for the training of air traffic controllers.
The students will spend their first year in New Zealand studying English with either Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology (NMIT) in Nelson or Kaplan International College in Auckland, before commencing a 12-month air traffic control course at Airways' Palmerston North training campus. They will complete an intensive Aviation English module during their first eight weeks on campus.
"Airways' programme is structured so that students complete all English language requirements upfront, giving them the best foundation for their air traffic control training,” says Sharon Cooke, Head of Training at Airways. “Following their full year of English study with our training partners, the GACA students will be expected to achieve ICAO Level 4 English Language Proficiency, which is required for on-the-job air traffic control training.”
The Palmerston North campus has been specially designed for international students and features three aerodrome air traffic control simulators and six radar simulators. Airways operates a second such facility in Christchurch and also conducts regular training internationally.
“We’re providing total immersion training for these students. They get to train in our state-of-the-art simulators, in an environment as close to the real thing as possible, and we customise their training to incorporate their home environment and culture wherever we can,” Ms Cooke says.
Airways has been training GACA students for the past five years as part of a longstanding partnership with the Saudi Arabian authority. The New Zealand air traffic control training provider has a strong reputation across the Middle East for providing high quality training.
"We have an excellent relationship with GACA. The success of the programme so far is testament to the high standard of training we provide and we're looking forward to continuing this valuable partnership," Ms Cooke says.
Airways created a learning community with the students through social media before they arrived in New Zealand, with a dedicated Facebook page supporting them on anything from questions about their studies to their homestay environment and the culture in New Zealand.