The South African Civil Aviation Authority celebrated a special graduation ceremony in honour of four young South African Cadet Pilot students who completed their training at the École Nationale de Aviation Civile Flight School, in Toulouse, France.
The students are graduating with a frozen Airline Transport Pilot’s Licence (ATPL). The hybrid graduation took place this morning, 05 April 2022 at the Amphitheatre Bellonte at ENAC Toulouse, while the South African guests joined the proceedings virtually, using an online platform.
South Africa and France are signatory states to the Chicago Convention, which established the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), a United Nations specialised agency responsible for standardising and administrating the safety and security of civil aviation operations across the world.
The graduation ceremony is one of the tangible outcomes of talks that started in 2018, when the Deputy Minister of Transport, accompanied by the Director of Civil Aviation, Ms. Poppy Khoza, attended the Paris Air show in 2018 and is a product of a Memorandum of Agreement (MoU) signed between South Africa’s Department of Transport and the DGAC on matters relating to civil aviation.
The MoU, after engagements between the two countries, led to an agreement with the École Nationale de Aviation Civile and the South African Civil Aviation to train five Cadet Pilot students in France during a two-year pilot training programme at the ENAC Flight School.
“South Africa is committed to the development and employment of young people and ambition was clearly expressed by the President of South Africa, Mr Cyril Ramaphosa, in recent years during his State of the Nation Address. Even though the number of soon-to-be graduates today is small, if we view this success in the context of our industry, this number is still significant. It is another step towards transformation and speaks to the heart of what the government is striving for,” said the Deputy Minister of Transport, Ms Sindisiwe Chikunga.
The training programme aligns with the SACAA’s strategic objective of enhancing human capital and accelerating transformation, considering that the aviation industry remains largely untransformed in terms of representing the population groups in South Africa. The recruitment and a stringent selection process of applicants took place in South Africa, after which the successful candidates eventually left for ENAC in Toulouse in February 2019, to commence their training.
“The training programme was structured differently from the previous programmes. The cadets firstly had to do one year of training and had to pass European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) examinations first, before progressing further. I believe that the success of this programme will extend even further than today, as it will showcase that our young people can succeed in different environments and cultures as well”, said the Director of Civil Aviation, Ms Poppy Khoza.
This successful cadet training programme showcases the government’s commitment to continue pushing through with the transformation drive and meeting the demands and targets of the Next Generation of Aviation Professionals programme which was launched in 2009 to help ensure that enough qualified and competent aviation professionals are available to operate, manage and maintain the future international air transport system.
“The students have not only succeeded on the academic front but have also overcome various challenges that come with being away from home for such a long time and a pause in their training due to the COVID-19 pandemic lockdown. Ultimately it was all worthwhile, as four of the students successfully completed their studies and attained their frozen Airline Transport Pilot’s Licences. The SACAA, therefore, congratulates the Cadets on their achievement and encourages them to make the best of this golden opportunity by growing in their future careers and continuing to make the nation proud”, said the Director of Civil Aviation, Ms Poppy Khoza.
“At this time in global aviation, and in the tough economic time of recovery after the effects of the pandemic, the graduation of these cadets is an example of achievement and hope against all the odds. May the good relationship that has developed between ENAC and the SACAA continue to flourish and may we have more such moments in future” – concluded the Deputy Minister.
The SACAA is expecting the graduates back in the country in the next few days and upon arrival, the pilots will embark on the journey to convert their licences to be consistent with the Civil Aviation Regulations in South Africa.