Getting a pilot license in Okinawa

Getting a pilot license in Okinawa

On August 17, at the Beach Tower Okinawa in Chatan, a staff member of the FSO shows flight simulation training using U.S.-made equipment on three 60-inch screens.

August 18, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

This month Flight Simulation Okinawa (FSO), which is based in Chatan, has started a new pilot training program using an aircraft simulator. The company said that the machine was the only simulator in Japan designated by the governments of Japan and the United States. The actual flights that have been conducted in the United States will also be carried out in Okinawa this autumn. It will become possible to complete all of the training courses in Okinawa that are required to get a pilot license for small aircraft. The company has a business plan in which people enjoy tourism and at the same time gain a pilot’s license in Okinawa. They will promote it to attract students from outside Okinawa.

On August 17, the company held a preview session at the Beach Tower Okinawa in Chatan. This is the first facility available to the students in a resort hotel in Japan. The Okinawa Prefectural Government has approved the FSO’s business plan within its management innovation support project.

The FSO aims to set up a company by this August. It has continued training for three years since the Federal Aviation Administration approved the aircraft simulator. In late July, the Civil Aviation Bureau of the Japanese Ministry of Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism (MLIT) granted approval for the FSO the highest level 3 for the small aircraft simulator. The student is required to operate an airplane in the United States in order to complete all courses for the license. With the certification issued by the MLIT, the FSO will provide all of the flight training in Japan required to get the pilot license. Commercial and private pilots need to renew their qualifications every two years due to the Civil Aeronautics Law being revised in April 2012. Naoya Tamanaha, the head of FSO, said that it will allow tourists who are able to update the license while enjoying Okinawa with their family. In addition to a pilot license for visual flight, it will be possible to gain a qualification of instrument flight certification to operate with instructions from aircraft controllers. Training simulator shortens the actual flight-training period and it reduces the cost to one third of that for actual flight-training.

Tamanaha, chief instructor and examiner of the Kadena Aero Club for a social welfare program run in Kadena Air Base, explained that there had been a time when it had been very difficult to become a professional pilot, and said, “ I want to promote this business as much as I can, reducing the high cost of obtaining instrument flight certification.”

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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