More than 50 million passengers traveled through Orlando International Airport in 2019, bustling around a facility on 13,644 acres, home to three terminals and some of the most recognized airlines in the world. And that’s just OIA. Florida’s high tourism numbers and its fast pace of economic development mean each airport statewide is booming with its fair share of passengers and cargo.
At the helm of every one of the thousands of flights taking off and landing every day are the pilots. It’s their job to get each aircraft safely into the skies and back on the ground. They have to be prepared with the right knowledge, confidence and experience — and that doesn’t come without hard work.
The training necessary for this career is vital to keeping Central Florida’s booming aviation industry going, and one local training facility is setting the bar high. Founded in 2008 by airline professionals, AeroStar Training Services provides comprehensive pilot training from its headquarters in Kissimmee.
“Central Florida has been an international flight training destination for years, drawing pilots from around the globe for our fantastic weather, terrain and flying conditions,” said the company’s CEO, Deidra Toye
AeroStar has been working with pilots on everything from initial pilot lessons to advanced training to professional certification. AeroStar employs the use of both physical aircraft and simulators in its training — and those simulators are causing a buzz. Adding an Airbus 320 simulator in March 2018 and a Boeing 737 simulator in April 2019, AeroStar found itself in a position not many other training facilities could boast.
“Having these sims on-site sets us apart from other schools that have to lease sims from other facilities and send their students off campus for simulator training,” Toye said. “We are able to keep our students at one location for both their ground school and sim training. These two sims are state-of-the-art equipment and complete our type rating training program, which trains students to fly two of the most widely flown aircraft by top airlines around the world.”
“Central Florida has been an international flight training destination for years, drawing pilots from around the globe for our fantastic weather, terrain and flying conditions.” — Deidra Toye
With a 180-degree-angle overview of the simulated situation — including airport, runway and weather conditions — the technology re-creates scenarios each pilot must know how to navigate, keeping students safe while they learn.
“The length of the runways and taxiways are exact as though they were actually training at these airports,” Toye said. “They are able to simulate cockpit conditions, weather and environment of the aircraft, so students will feel the same physical sensations as if they were actually flying the aircraft.”
The simulators are especially helpful in the Airline Transport Pilot Certification Training Program (ATP-CTP) for those looking to fly for commercial airlines. In 2013, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) implemented a new requirement for commercial airline pilots to complete the course before they can receive the ATP certification, the agency’s highest designation. Before flying with a commercial air carrier for the first time, every pilot has to complete the qualifications for a commercial pilot’s certificate and the ATP requirements.
Keeping those in the cockpit up-to-date and prepared for every situation that may come their way requires AeroStar to stay on the cutting edge of every new regulation and development in the industry. “We have regular inspections by the FAA and fulfill all routine and special maintenance work that the simulators require,” Toye said. “Our course materials also undergo thorough periodic reviews by the FAA and our management team.”
Being located so close to some of the busiest airports and innovative aviation facilities in the country doesn’t hurt.
“Kissimmee is centrally located and gives us the space necessary to meet our long-term growth plan objectives,” Toye said. Those objectives include technology such as a third simulator that will soon be added, allowing AeroStar to operate as a full-service pilot training academy that can train students from zero hours of experience to ATP-CTP in one facility.
The building and grounds will also be seeing enhancements. Plans include building out the simulator hangar to include offices, classrooms and meeting space, as well as a lobby and a student lounge. The next phases will add a dormitory building complete with cafeteria and then a pilot retail shop.
As featured in the January 2020 edition.