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COPAC, Sepla and GTA have presented the Carlos Salas Scholarships to promote excellence in the training of pilots

The Official College of Commercial Aviation Pilots (COPAC), the Spanish Airline Pilots Union (Sepla) and Global Training Aviation (GTA) have presented the new “Carlos Salas Scholarships” programme, which aims to facilitate access to training for future pilots. The event, held at the Intercontinental Hotel in Madrid, was attended by authorities from the aviation sector, such as the director of the State Aviation Safety Agency (AESA), Montserrat Mestres; and the vice-president of the European Pilots Association (ECA), Juan Carlos Lozano, among others.

The new “Carlos Salas Scholarships” programme is an initiative of COPAC, Sepla and GTA to contribute to the access and professional development of future generations of pilots. The first call for applications will consist of two scholarships of 12,500 euros each for obtaining the type rating course, which is a high financial outlay for which there is no public support of any kind. This new programme is intended to honour the memory of Carlos Salas Ortiz de Villajos, dean of the Official College of Commercial Aviation Pilots, who died prematurely in May 2021 as a result of COVID-19.

During his speech, the dean of the Official College of Commercial Aviation Pilots, Carlos San José, stressed that the economic factor “is a barrier for young people and can make it difficult for many people to access training”. San José recalled the work of the COPAC to achieve the creation of the Official Degree through which pilots can now be trained at the university, committed to “maximum training from a technical point of view and in terms of skills and social competencies in a profession that involves great responsibility and which is directly linked to the safety of people”. He also wished to honour the memory of Carlos Salas Ortiz de Villajos, former dean of the COPAC, whom he described as “a man devoted to his family and to aviation, with a firm vocation for service”. 

The president of Sepla, Óscar Sanguino, pointed out that the new Carlos Salas Scholarships “are born with the vocation of permanence in time” and with the ambition of “becoming a reference for the aviation sector, with the commitment to perfection in each call”. After recalling that pilots “have also been one of the essential professions during the worst months of the pandemic”, Sanguino called on all those attending to “achieve excellent, universitary and public aeronautical training”.

Fernando Gómez Pérez, founding partner of Global Training Aviation (GTA), stated that the aim of the programme is to “reach a total of 25 scholarships per year, which would represent approximately 10% of the students and aspiring pilots who currently begin their careers each year”. In this sense, he urged institutions and companies to participate, which “must not only have a bureaucratic and commercial side, but also a social side to give back to society part of what they receive”.

After the initial speeches, the presentation ceremony included a round table discussion on access to pilot training, which was moderated by the Deputy Director of Sepla’s Technical Department, Santiago Benítez. Taking part in the colloquium were José Luis Lozano, Director of Safety Assessment and Internal Technical Audit at AESA; Fernando Gómez Gómez, Secretary General of Adventia; Fernando Gómez Comendador, Senior Lecturer in the Department of Aerospace Systems, Air Transport and Airports at the Polytechnic University of Madrid; José Luis Parra, founding partner of GTA and Tomás Marqués, President of the Association of Aeronautical Training Schools.

Finally, the vice-president of the European Pilots Association (ECA), Juan Carlos Lozano, insisted that “aviation is facing immense challenges such as Sustainability or the Single Pilot Operation that we can only face together”. On this point, Lozano called for quality training that “includes the necessary time, as well as the appropriate means for aspiring pilots and professionals to acquire their knowledge and skills”. “Only more training and more education will lead to success,” he concluded.