Dubai: Emirates will use the new Flight Training Academy it is building in Dubai World Central (DWC) to increase the number of female Emirati pilots employed by the airline.

Emirates is building its own pilot training centre next to its future hub at Al Maktoum International, which it hopes will lessen its reliance or hiring pilots from other airlines or foreign training schools.

“This academy will really fulfil our future demands,” Adel Al Redha, Emirates’ Executive Vice-President and Chief Operations Officer, told Gulf News in an interview on Monday at the Dubai Airshow.

It is also being developed so that Emirates will “have control over the quality and type of training” that is provided to its pilots, he said.

The training centre will see through between 300 to 400 cadets a year. Cadet places at the academy will at first only be offered to Emiratis, who will be provided with a full scholarship by Emirates that includes a salary and accommodation.

But Al Redha said it has been challenging in hiring female Emirati pilots, a position that is globally dominated by men.

Al Redha said the airline does hire “some female Emirati and some female non-Emirati” pilots but that in conservative Gulf the job previously been seen as for men.

More pilots needed

He said this is changing, and expects that the training academy and offer to work for Emirates will increase the number of female and male Emiratis at the airline.

“We’re seeing more interest from female [Emiratis] compared to previous years,” he said.

A spokesperson ahead of Monday’s interview declined to say what the gender breakdown was but did say it has 4,121 pilots from 97 different countries.

But Emirates will need a lot more. The airline has 241 all wide-body aircraft in its fleet today and a further 267 on order.

The training academy will start teaching classes in the third quarter next year when part of the site opens, Al Redha said, with an initial batch of 100 cadets.

The cadets will start flying in the second half of 2017 and graduate by the end of 2019.

Al Redha said there are plans to turn the training academy into a commercial business by offering the programme to other airlines and companies.

Last week, Emirates announced it is buying 22 single-piston engine Cirrus SR22’s and 5 twin-jet Embraer Phenom 100E aircraft for the academy, valued at $39 million at list prices.

Al Redha said the airline could purchase an Airbus A320 or Boeing 737, both single-aisle aircraft and neither of which are operated by Emirates, for the academy but ruled out buying any wide-body aircraft like the Boeing 777.