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Behind the Scenes: CTC Aviation

Behind the Scenes: CTC Aviation

When it comes to preparing the next generation of commercial pilots for a life in the skies, one name flies higher than the rest: CTC Aviation.

For decades the company has been committed to preparing pilots for careers with the world’s top airlines and, since opening their New Zealand Training Centre in 2005, they’ve been one of the leading providers of new pilots to the Asia Pacific region.

With world class facilities and the best and most experienced instructors, it’s little wonder that CTC Aviation (CTCA) has grown from humble beginnings to providing thousands of eager new pilots to airlines from around the world every year. For some insight into this exciting and forward-thinking company, let’s hand it over to CEO Rob Clarke.

“Everything we do at CTC Aviation is about living up to our company’s strapline of being committed to excellence,” Clarke explains. “We are a vertically integrated company, whether that’s selection, services, all the way through to the various training, to the placement of the pilot into the airline and potential employment, we offer it all.

“Within airline training, what we look to offer our students is the full range of courses. From simply selling an hour of dry sim, through to conversion courses on the Airbus or the Boeing, to the higher level and more technical command training or instructor courses, we’re committed to providing everything a pilot could ever need to realise their dream.

“The second area is ab initio training. Within this training, we’re providing services to help individuals take their first steps towards becoming an airline pilot. We’re very focused on that; this is for commercial pilot training, but within that we do have two core brands. We have Take-Off, which is predominantly modular training, and we have Wings, which is looking at an integrated course and fast tracking the very best candidates through to employment as a commercial pilot.

“We have our own separate part of the company, Airline Resourcing, which specifically looks after placement activities. AR also controls another important part of our company, that of pilot selection.

“We’re passionate about ensuring that not only are we innovative, but that the facilities and equipment we have to support those services are at the very highest of standards. It’s also about making sure that everything we do is focused on providing that high level, quality experience that will ultimately lead to a successful career as a commercial airline pilot.”

Whilst the growth of CTCA has been incredible to watch, the company’s upward trajectory is only going to increase after being bought out by L-3 Communications in May of 2015. The $250 million deal will allow CTCA to expand further in order to meet the rapidly expanding demand for new pilots worldwide.

New airline partnerships, new facilities and higher student intakes are all part of a very bright future for CTCA, and their New Zealand facilities will have a giant impact on commercial aviation in our region.



CTCA have six high-tech crew training centres, with most located within the United Kingdom, but it’s their New Zealand set up that’s the most exciting.

New Zealand’s rugged geography and location have always handed aviation a leading role in the island nation’s economy. Over decades, the country has developed one of the world’s most efficient, profitable and innovative aviation systems, and its training environment for engineers, pilots, crew, air traffic control, and managers is renowned for producing quality personnel.

To date, aviation is a $10-billion industry in New Zealand, with about $3.25 billion worth of exports. The industry manages about 30 million square kilometres of airspace and exports its expertise to about 80 countries, a skill swap that CTCA HQ in the UK has been keen to take advantage of.

Hamilton Airport general manager John Nicholson observed that New Zealand had immediately appreciated the potential of aviation and was quick to adopt it.  The country’s first aviation exports started in 1912, first passenger flights in 1915, the first pilot school was established in 1916 and the first airmail service in 1919. The country has also pioneered the use of aviation in tourism, forestry, agriculture and horticulture.

Among the industry’s various international successes, New Zealand experts and educators have provided aviation consultancy and/or air traffic control training to East Timor, Hong Kong, Indonesia, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam while a strong domestic rotary industry caters for the more exotic offshore services, from the Philippines to Micronesia.

CTCA is well aware of this depth of experience and tradition, and has been drawing on the depth of experience in the local market, as well as the glorious flight conditions, for a good few years now.

Their purpose-built centre at Hamilton International Airport provides world class airline training facilities and accommodation for more than 200 trainee pilots at a time. As well as producing the next generation of pilots for the land of the long white cloud, the centre also hosts up-and-coming aviators from around the world, who are seeking the best training available.

Based on a prime 1.8 hectare site at the airport, the 23,000 square feet centre hosts 10 pre-flight briefing rooms and the same number of large lecture rooms, a massive crew room and top quality flight training aircraft. Flight planning and operations facilities, as well as a dedicated maintenance facility, are also located within the centre.

Everything necessary to mould the future of aviation is available within the centre, and the best news is that students don’t need to travel very far to get a good night’s sleep, because they can stay in the nearby Clearways accommodation houses. Jam-packed with excitable young pilots, the atmosphere within the dorms is electric, and the camaraderie seen is the perfect environment to ensure that the men and women who graduate do so with the right attitude.

Often compared to university accommodation, Clearways represents some of the best-equipped and modern trainee pilot accommodation complexes in the world, with all rooms having ensuite facilities Outside recreation includes beach volleyball, rugby and soccer grounds to name a few. Located just 10 minutes from the training centre, it’s also close to the uni town of Hamilton, which has great social and sporting facilities. Some of New Zealand’s finest areas for adventure sports and exploring are nearby, too, providing an incredible lifestyle for the budding pilots.

“Our New Zealand Crew Training Centre has grown from strength to strength with new major airline partnerships being signed regularly over the past ten years,” said CTC Aviation’s Centre Director – Ab initio Training New Zealand, Peter Stockwell. “With those international partnerships come international recruits and, as of this month, we are fortunate to now have 25 different nationalities currently training with us from all four corners of the globe, including Bermuda, Ireland, India, Slovenia, Malaysia, Canada and Brunei to name just a few.”

Stockwell said the global spread was testament to the graduates, training staff and management who have grown CTCA to be the highly regarded world-leading airline pilot training company that it is today. When CTCA opened its Hamilton Crew Training Centre in 2005, it produced a handful of pilots a year. Today, the number of aspiring pilots in training has reached around 400 per year.

Looking to the future, Stockwell says the coming years look very promising for aspiring pilots: “With manufacturers like Boeing stating an international need for 558,000 new pilots over the next 20 years, real opportunities exist for the next generation of airline pilots. It’s a great time to start training.”

With the best facilities, the most experienced instructors, and a social aspect that students at rival schools could only dream of, it’s no wonder that flight enthusiasts from across the globe are lining up to earn their wings at CTCA.


CTCA’s partnership with one of the Middle East’s largest international airlines, Qatar Airways, announced in February 2014, has previously contributed greatly to the number of international recruits training in New Zealand – with Veton Breznica of Kosovo, being a prime example.

The 27-year-old is the first Kosovar citizen in history to train as a commercial pilot, and his lifelong dream will become reality thanks to Qatar Airways and CTC Aviation.

Following 12 months of ground school and flight training in New Zealand, Breznica headed to CTCA’s UK facilities for six months of aircraft ‘type rating’ training in preparation for flying as an A320 co-pilot for Qatar Airways operating from Doha. Breznica’s incredible story has earned him celebrity status in his home country, where he has appeared on morning television programs and cereal boxes, because of his flying achievements in the face of huge barriers.

“I was given a very nice reception. It is wonderful to be here and to be making my dream come true,” Veton explained when asked about him time at the training facilities. “I want to be an example to my fellow young people in Kosovo to dare to dream and will to win. Ground school and trainee life has been awesome so far, and I’m excited to continue with, and eventually complete, my training.”

Life hasn’t always been so welcoming of the handsome young pilot, who was almost killed by Serbian troops as a child.

“When I was 12 they came to move us out and said they would shoot us,” Breznica recalled. “My mum said go ahead and shoot me, we have nowhere to go.”

Instead of killing her and her two boys, the thugs gave them until midnight to leave their home or die.

“They came back and fired a few rounds.” Miraculously the family went uninjured but the experience had a profound effect on the trainee pilot.

“What stopped them from coming in? Their conscience? God? I could have died together with my family in 1999. It’s what makes me believe there is a special mission for me,” said Breznica. “I know families who had their houses burned.”

Breznica dreamed of becoming an airline pilot when he was just five years old, an ambition that could only be described as a flight of fancy for a young boy from a small country that had no air force, and no national airline, let alone a pilot training school.

It took him six years to find an airline and aviation school that would train him, due to his citizenship.

“This is not just a job for me,” he claims. “I want to make the most of it. There are certainly people more intelligent and handsome than I am. From one Veton you get five people, then 10 people and then you get 100 people.”

If the people Veton inspires are as brave and skilled as he is, the aviation industry is in good hands.




The DA42 is the most technologically advanced light training twin aircraft available today and represents the latest in airframe design, avionics capability and engine technology.

The diesel engine makes the Twinstar an environmentally friendly alternative and the Garmin 1000 glass cockpit with Traffic Advisory System (TAS) environment provides the most relevant preparation for the type of aircraft trainees are likely to fly.

The engines are computer controlled through fly by wire digital throttles, eliminating the need for the traditional 6-engine control levers used on more conventional light twin aircraft. This single lever operation is just like the engine controls found on jet airliners. It’s the perfect aircraft to prepare the next generation of pilots for successful careers.



The DA40 is an excellent ab initio trainer for aspiring airline pilots, because it’s quick off the runway, extremely responsive, and boasts stunning panoramic visibility out of the bubble canopy.

The extremely capable Garmin G1000 WAAS certified glass cockpit provides unparalleled information at the student’s fingertips. Trainee pilots will take comfort in the large moving map, traffic and terrain information, and be impressed by how easy it is to put the digital Garmin GFC 700 autopilot through its paces for procedure turns and instrument approaches, especially into unfamiliar airports. The DA40 is a well-rounded, powerful aircraft, and a perfect fit for CTCA.



The DA20 is an excellent training aircraft for new pilots, because it features a responsive centre-stick control that provides exemplary handling, while visibility and safety are enhanced with a wrap-around canopy that affords great referencing to the natural horizon to develop fundamental flying techniques.

The DA20 is economical, with a 20lt/hr fuel burn, and its performance is impressive with 1000 fpm climb rate and 120kt cruise. It provides the trainee with a responsive feel and the performance to match, and is an integral part of the fleet.



The C172 Skyhawk is a highly respected and reliable training aircraft, and Cessna’s classic high-wing design offers many practical benefits including stable flight characteristics.

CTC use 172s for both ab initio and advanced flight navigation training, and the machines are equipped with the Garmin 1000 and TAS avionics suite.

The ‘glass cockpit’ design is identical to the avionics suite found in the twin-engine DA42 and is very similar to that found on modern jet aircraft, meaning it’s a fantastic little plane to learn in.



Not content with welcoming rookie pilots with open arms and farewelling them as the new leaders of the industry, CTCA have also been working closely with New Zealand schools to create even more pathways for flight fans.

The aviation industry was targeted as a point of interest for many aspiring pilots, and the lure of becoming a commercial pilot has been used to raise school performances across New Zealand. CTCA were the natural choice to be involved in this groundbreaking scheme.

The partnership between employers and schools was developed by Smart Waikato, which aims to better link students with the workplace. Year 9 students will benefit from the Secondary School Employer Partnership (SSEP) at Fairfield College.

“It connects us with the real world out there, in terms of business,” principal Richard Crawford said. “It’s just to encourage our students to stay connected with maths. This is why you need to work with maths, this is why maths is important.”

Maths may end up being taught a different way at the school as a result, he said. More emphasis will be placed on aspects that will have real-life benefits for those wishing to have a career in aviation.

Flying instructor Hannah Cameron can identify with frustrated students. “I was that kid who said, why am I learning this? It’s not relevant in life,” she said. But for those who want to fly, maths credits are an entry requirement for pilot training. It seems that everywhere you look, CTCA is making New Zealand a better place.

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