Sky’s the limit as Scottish aviation business forecasts record year

ACS Aviation MD Graeme Frater and GM Bruce Duguid

FLIGHT training and aircraft maintenance business, ACS Aviation, has undertaken a major investment programme to meet the increasing demand for post pandemic pilot training and aviation maintenance. 

Based at Perth Airport, ACS has increased staff numbers by 18% over the past two years with flight instructors, aircraft engineers and airport workers joining the 55 strong team.  In addition, the business has invested in four new aircraft, increasing the training fleet to 22, with further developments, both in the UK and overseas, planned for the coming year.   

The investment comes as airlines across the world are having to deal with a raft ofmandatory retirements and COVID-related early retirements, all of which are combining to drive demand for qualified pilots.   

Following a dip in pilot training at the start of the pandemic ACS saw pilot training numbers increase to 100 in 2021 – well ahead of pre covid levels – with forecasts showing a significant increase in 2022/23.  ACS graduates are now gaining employment with a number of well-established European and UK passenger and cargo airlines as well as private jet operators throughout the UK. 

In addition, aircraft maintenance inspections have also increased by approximately 30%, including a contract with Ampaire’s new hybrid aircraft, while the company has attracted new aircraft operator business due to its specialist approvals and service centre accreditations such as Textron Aviation and Diamond Aircraft Industries.   

As a result of this increased activity ACS achieved record turnover of £2.9 million in 2021/22, with this figure forecasted to increase by a further 17%, to £3.4 million, in 2022/23. 

The Perth based business has also had to adapt and learn from new processes and regulatory changes over the last 2 years to deliver enhanced courses such as online learning for its trainee pilots. The academy is now the only one of its kind in Scotland to offer training for both UK CAA and European EASA pilots’ licences. 

Commenting on the company’s growth, ACS Aviation Managing Director, Graeme Frater, said: “After almost two years of very significant turmoil for the global aviation industry, we have now reached a turning point. Reduced air travel has become a thing of the past, and forecasts point to a more normal future where the problem will actually be the opposite: not having enough aircraft and pilots to meet demand.”  

“Our analysis of the market shows the UK and Europe’s commercial aviation industry will require more than 130,000 new pilots, and projects passenger traffic growing at a rate of 3.1% annually.  As one of the UK’s leading flight schools, ACS is ideally placed to provide the facilities that will be required to help meet these increased demands.” 

ACS General Manager, Bruce Duguid added: “ACS Aviation offers both full time residential and part time training courses. Our Fast Track Airline pilot course allows students to go from little or no flying experience to a fully qualified pilot in 18 months with our modular courses enabling students to complete training around their lifestyle or other commitments.” 

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