50 Favourite Exporters: Flight Training Adelaide

Flight Training Adelaide may be sending student pilots into the clouds, but that’s definitely not where its own head is.

“One cannot fly into flying,” Friedrich Nietzsche once philosophised. How true. It has taken Flight Training Adelaide (FTA) more than 25 years to attain their current success. This is not to say they were struggling before, but having just won the Tradestart Education category in the Australian Export Awards, they really are demonstrating how to reach high sights now. 

So how did they arrive at this level of success? “We have a college that provides not only the technical aspects of the training, but all of the pastoral care, the residential capability, and the academic capability, so it’s a one-stop shop if you like,” says Keith Morgan, CEO of Flight Training Group.

One of FTA’s competitive advantages is Australia’s environment and weather conditions. “Weather is just ideal,” explains Morgan. “We have large areas of uncontrolled airspace, and ready access to controlled airspace.” And with 140 full-time equivalent staff, they have the means to make sure the education process runs smoothly.

With its history in the aviation market, FTA has developed a name for itself, but what Morgan believes sets them apart from the competition is the cultural awareness and sensitivity they have developed. “We recognise that when dealing in the market, relationships are critical,” he says. “The deal’s important, but the people are key, and it’s how you deal with the people, including the students.” FTA currently houses 230 student residents, all of which will be employed by their sponsor airline once they graduate from the program.

This level of human interaction also continues in their marketing approach, where FTA travels to potential customer countries and concentrates on presenting their offer in person. “There is no substitute for a personalised set of customer feedback forums and testing,” says Morgan. “You should never lose focus on the cultural sensitivity, and ongoing communication with your customer group.”

Their energy is also devoted to convincing customers to visit their Adelaide site, and see first-hand the advantages Australia has to offer. “If we can achieve that, we’re usually in the game.” When setting up host visits, FTA turns to Austrade for their networking services in overseas countries.

To date, FTA’s most successful market has been Southeast Asia. “In our region, there are fairly immature airline industries that have a huge growth potential and a huge demand for pilots,” says Morgan. Markets in this region have restricted airspace, but significant airlines, including Café Pacific and Dragon Air. Emirates, China airlines, JAL, Vietnam airlines, and Australia’s own Qantas are also FTA customers.

Now with 95 percent of FTA’s business made of exports, and plans to open a new facility in Queensland, they’re obviously on the right track. So what is the best advice Morgan can offer? “Just invest in your people and quality systems,” he says. “We’re not the cheapest, but we provide a very high quality product.”

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