The Paramount Pilot Training Academy is currently geared to providing pilot training to air forces that buy its refurbished Mirages but this is set to change as the Academy moves towards training pilots for any entity that requires such skilled manpower.
John Craig, Chief Executive Officer of the Paramount Group, told defenceWeb that the Paramount Pilot Training Academy is part of Paramount’s broader Aerospace offering and complements its equipment and support packages. He said that most refurbished Mirage F1 clients require pilot training.
The Academy starts with English language conversion, moves on to ab initio training, introduces pilots to jets with the Impala trainer and culminates in conversion onto the Mirage F1.
Craig said Paramount is looking to expand the flight school. “We’ve had a lot of demand from the market for flight training,” he told defenceWeb. “We’re now focused on training for Paramount aircraft but we’re looking at just flight training where training per se is a service.”
In 2003 the South African Air Force put 21 Mirage F1 aircraft up for disposal by way of Armscor. Paramount purchased the entire Mirage F1 package, including airframes, spares and support equipment in 2006 and is marketing it together with Aerosud. Two were sold to Congo Brazzaville and six to Gabon.
Craig said that there are Mirage F1 customers in the pipeline. Paramount has a limited number of ex-South African Air Force F1s but Craig said that a number of F1 users are talking about selling their aircraft to Paramount. He said it doesn’t make sense to halt the refurbishment of F1s and lose expertise when the SAAF airframes are sold.
“We have an ambition to grow our competence in aerospace,” Craig said. This includes the pilot training academy, F1 project and AHRLAC (Advanced High-Performance Reconnaissance Light Aircraft). Craig noted that the AHRLAC is the precursor to many other programmes.