Oamaru flight school on an international stage

New Zealand offers the best learning experiences for flight students. With rugged snow-capped mountains, deep valleys that are enveloped in native bush, sparkling glacier-fed lakes, wild windswept hills and some of the most stunning beaches found anywhere in the world – who wouldn’t want a birds-eye view of that?

Aside from the view, there's a hugely pragmatic reason why New Zealand offers a fantastic learning environment for those looking to learn to fly. And TracPlus Customers, the New Zealand Airline Academy, tell us why.

Celroy Mascarenhas and Jonathan Manuel run the academy, and between the two of them have had more than two decades of experience helping international students chose the right program and training. 

They established NZAA in 2018 and have already seen major success with close to 30 international students on their books after one year in business. The academy offers PPL and CPL courses, as well as C Cat Instrument ratings and Frozen ATPL.

The academy looks after its students from the moment they land in New Zealand. They have housing set up for the students, taking care of their meals, washing, cooking and cleaning. Students solely focus on their education.

"We're truly on an international stage. All of our students are international. They come here to train for their CPP and then return home to work as airline pilots."

Celroy and Jonathan began by searching for their ideal base, which they found in Oamaru Airport, the South Island of New Zealand. Oamaru was an ideal location for the academy, offering "a blank canvas" to set up operations.

"We looked at 6 possible locations but knew Oamaru was perfect. It was an underutilised, quiet space. And their council was hugely supportive of what we were doing."

As Celroy puts it, you don't learn to drive on a busy motorway. Instead, you begin in the back roads or a big car park in quiet times.

"That's how we see it here. It's an airspace that isn't so busy, which takes the pressure off students learning to fly. It has both sealed runways and grass runways, so we can always operate."

The topography of New Zealand is hugely diverse  from plains, lakes, mountains and gentle hills  all of which leads to interesting weather patterns. As air flows around this diverse topography, unique patterns emerge. Visibility, winds and weather can change in a short space of time.

"The diversity in weather patterns in New Zealand exposes students every day to varying weather conditions and flying over varied terrain, and they quickly learn how that can affect their flights."

Students who learn in areas that have consistently calm weather often become intimidated when they are faced with severe weather patterns. The students at NZAA have exposure, in safe limits, to varied weather conditions. They learn how to control the aeroplane regardless of the weather.

"This improves situational awareness, and airmanship."

NZAA is attracting students from all over the world, but especially those from Asia. The students' focus is to come to New Zealand solely to train, and then return to their home countries to work as airline pilots. 

Safety is at the core of every decision the team at NZAA make.

"Invariably students make mistakes. We chose Oamaru as it's quiet. In busy airspace, those mistakes can be costly."

The company also use modern aircraft and technology to enhance safety. Currently, they have two near-new aircraft, and they have just purchased two brand new aircraft to meet demand. 

"Newer aircraft require less maintenance. They're also safer too as less have mechanical issues."

Their aircraft are kitted out with glass cockpits, with screens showing all vital engine and flight information at a glance. Students can be assured that they will receive accurate information if they get themselves in trouble, including GPS, moving maps and synthetic vision. If visibility becomes poor, students can always see and know where they are in relation to their surroundings.

For NZAA, TracPlus is a safety net for their students.

"If anything goes wrong, TracPlus allows us to know exactly where our students are and what is going on."

Flights that are tracked using TracPlus can be shared with parents, so they can flight follow and see where their children are flying and what they're doing, especially when they're living so far away.

"You can't put a price on safety. We have all the bells and whistles to ensure our students can learn to the best of their ability and stay safe."

New Zealand offers a unique landscape in which offers a prospective pilot a complete and comprehensive flight experience in a wide variety of different flight conditions and terrain exactly what a good pilot requires in order to develop a wide skill base.

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