by Lorie A. Cascaro
HERE’S ANOTHER opportunity for any Dabawenyo’s dream of seeing the world while earning coming true. No need of going to Manila, Subic or elsewhere to become a pilot, avionic, mechanic or flight attendant. A world-class flying school is now in Davao City.
It is the Asian International School of Aeronautics and Technology (AISAT) located at the AISAT Building at the corner of Sta. Ana Avenue and Leon Garcia Street. AISAT is a brainchild of Albert Y. Pingoy, himself the president of the AYP Holdings, Inc.
The AISAT idea became reality with the help of local investors Ricky Toehio, lawyer Myra Wee Toehio, and engineer Jonathan Palma, president of Acatech Support Specialist, Inc.
Pingoy said aviation schools are clumped in Metro Manila, and Clark, now known as the aviation hub in the country.
“It doesn’t mean that if it’s in Davao, the quality of education is poor. It can be here so that students from Mindanao don’t have to go to Manila. We can offer here education and training which are at par if not even higher than their quality,” he said.
Being part of the industry with his own five-year old Aerowurkz Aviation, Pingoy saw the need for more workforces, and that he wanted to help the industry through the products of his flying school.
“The reason why we put up the school is because we see the need,” he said, adding that AISAT seeks to supply local and world market’s demand for quality aviation workers.
Pingoy cited current demand for 600,000 mechanics and avionics, and 72,000 pilots in Asia Pacific. He said one local airline has announced plans of acquiring 100 airplanes in the immediate future.
He bared that just one plane would need 90 to 120 employees, excluding personnel for booking, accounting, marketing, food catering, janitorial and human resource needs. Unbeknownst to most people, aviation is manpower-intensive, Pingoy said.
“It is really a sunrise industry,” he said. “Come to think of it, Malaysia and Indonesia are acquiring 200 to 300 aircraft in one buying binge, as if they’re just purchasing taxi cabs..
The AISAT has a guaranteed hire program, which entails the collaboration of parents, students and the school to lead the students from enrolment to employment.
Jonathan Palma, who owns the Asian College of Aeronautics in Iloilo, Bacolod, Manila and Clark, shared his company’s expertise in aviation education to the AISAT, and the Acatech offers its manpower support services to major international airports in the country.
“We are not competing with other schools like we are offering these courses, or we compare aviation to nursing or HRM. We are offering them an employment. But, to be employed you have be knowledgeable of the course kay mapaemploy man gyud nato sila. Maangat nila ilang kinabuhi through employment ug lifestyle change, and hopefully they don’t blow it along the way,” Pingoy said.
To be formally launched this month, the AISAT eyes 200 students for the first batch, although the school building can accommodate up to 1,200 students in its air-conditioned classrooms.
It has a one-is-to-one ratio of tools and students so the trainings and lectures will be intensive and more focused, with highly advanced equipment that the industry is currently utilizing.
Having a total of 11 years of experience as a pilot for corporate, commuter-passenger and cargo airlines and aerial spraying, Pingoy has a comparison between local and international standards of aviation schools as he started his pilot course in Davao City and finished in Oklahoma and Georgia.
He said AISAT is designed according to the international standards he experienced abroad. He said aviation students there stay in a dormitory in order to focus on their studies.
A few meters from the new school is the Homitori at Bangoy Street Corner Sta. Ana Avenue, owned by the Toehio couple. It is an appropriate dormitory for AISAT students where rooms are air-conditioned; with internet connectivity and a gym. Homitori offers free breakfast to dormers.
Courses offered in AISAT include two-year aircraft maintenance technology; two-year aviation electronics technology; two-year airline computer science major in airline operation and management; 720 hours aircraft structure maintenance course; 45-day flight attendant training course; private pilot flight course; private pilot ground course; commercial pilot flight course; flight instructor course; and, flight attendant training.
“Aviation is the mode of transportation of the future, if not already at present kay nagsulod naman ta sa future. And it’s a game changer, because it will change the way people think about travel, about doing business, and about lifestyle,” said Pingoy.
A pilot, physician, entrepreneur and sports enthusiast, Pingoy said “Like in surfing, we are riding the right wave that drives our economy, so that we can advance faster.”