While Clayton State University students are certainly familiar with the nearby world’s busiest airport, a group that recently journeyed to the People’s Republic of China for a study abroad program received a whole new perspective on air transportation.
Along with Professor John Mascaritolo, director of the College of Business’ Center for Supply Chain Management, the students had a chance to visit COMAC, the state-owned, funded and operated commercial aircraft manufacturer of C919 passenger jets located in Shanghai. Their visit was to the facility for the COMAC division of Customer Service Support and Pilot Training and was hosted by Kevin Parker, deputy chief engineer, who heads up the responsibilities of training all global client pilots and cabin crews for the COMAC jets that are bought from China. Currently, COMAC sells C919 jets to small countries in Africa and the Congo.
Mascaritolo explains that, in China, future pilots are selected during the last two years of high school, based upon certain abilities and aptitudes. The students selected are tested accordingly and if they score high on the test, they are selected by the Chinese airlines and the airlines pay for the student’s education and guarantees them a job. In China, you have to have a degree to be a pilot, in this case, four years of ‘university” education and then pilot school. The students who score high on the selected test have no choice but to become a pilot.
“In our discussion with Mr. Parker, a question was asked if there are any female pilots,” says Mascaritolo. “To our surprise, Mr. Parker said yes, and stated that women are better pilots then men because they have a true interest for flying planes as opposed to men. He added that the female pilots were more passionate about being a pilot, compared to men who were forced into the pilot seat just because they scored high on the testing process.”
The COMAC facility the Clayton Staters visited handles all of the global pilots training through two flight simulators. The students had first-hand experience to see and feel how the simulators operate and experienced some of the scenarios pilots receive in their 25 to 30 day training sessions. Mascaritolo adds that the simulators cost in the neighborhood of $30 million and that the Shanghai location has plans to add a third simulator next year to position them for more pilot growth in conjunction the C919.
Parker shared with the group a factoid the average tourist probably never learns… that 1.38 million people who live in remote parts of China have never seen an airplane! This is mainly due to the demographics of the People’s Republic, wherein 95 percent of the population is in the east of China, which is where the vast majority of the air traffic takes place.