Businessman Bhanu Choudhrie, founder and director of C&C Alpha Group out of London, has recently opened a new 11 million-dollar (U.S.) flight simulator and bays as part of an ongoing expansion project at the Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) academy in the Philippines. AAG is a leading provider of aviation training and works with airlines across the globe.
Choudhrie was born in Delhi, India, and studied international business and marketing at the University of Boston. He later completed the Owner/President Management program at Harvard School of Business. He got his love of aviation from his father, Sudhir Choudhrie, a London-based businessman who also invested in aviation. It is becoming a niche industry for him as he works to create solutions for the critical pilot shortage. Alpha Aviation Group is part of the C&C Alpha Group, which has a strong presence in Asia and the Middle East.
The AAG Simulator Expansion Project
The new simulator expansion project spearheaded by Bhanu Choudhrie adds four additional simulator bays and brand-new technology to AAG — the Airbus A320 full-flight simulator (FFS) version 2.0 inaugurated by the Alpha Aviation Group in September 2019. The A320 Airbus family launched in 1987. Today, it is the highest-selling airliner and is used throughout the world for both commercial and private air flights.
The expansion is just the latest growth spurt for AAG. Initially, it had only one simulator bay. In 2017, AAG added two new simulators: A320 and A330/340. In 2018, AAG expanded from 16 to 32 training Cessna aircraft, as well. The most recent expansion project brings the group to six simulator bays — the most available at any training facility in the Philippines.
Why Continue to Expand?
In more than 13 years since the opening of AAG, it has become the go-to education point for 900-plus pilots servicing more than 40 countries. It works to support the economy, and AAG also helps bring talented and well-trained pilots into the market. The airline industry continues to expand worldwide. The Asia-Pacific market alone will serve an estimated 3.9 billion passengers by the year 2037, thanks in part to the economic growth in East and South Asia and the Middle East.
This growth comes on top of a critical shortage of pilots. It’s an issue that Bhanu Choudhrie has been talking about for several years. A January article by Choudhrie states that the global economy will need 800,000 new pilots to cover this market by the year 2040, according to Boeing.
Why a Pilot Shortage Exists
As the need for trained pilots rises, the interest in this career path declines. The number of available pilots is expanding at a much slower pace than the demand for them. Choudhrie believes that India will rise as an economic power, and along with the changes in economic politics in China, this will increase the need for aviation services across the world. Add to that the ever-expanding American market, and the future of the industry becomes clear.
Air travel offers consumers an affordable way to move around. If the cost of jet fuel continues to decline, then the desire for air travel locally and internationally will increase as well.
Demand is just one part of the puzzle when it comes to the pilot shortage. Cost may also explain why more young people are passing on aviation as a career choice. The need for pilots would seem to suggest that airlines would raise the stakes by increasing salaries. That, however, does not appear to be the trend. Many new pilots will simply not qualify for the higher-paying positions.
It takes hours of experience flying small- and medium-sized aircraft to qualify to fly aircraft like a Boeing 737. That means entry-level pilots will have to do time flying smaller aircraft. The compensation for these jobs is inadequate unless they are willing to pay for an expensive education or go into the military to gain flight experience.
Bhanu Choudhrie believes that the brand-new flight simulator will open doors for the current 300 student pilots at AAG while allowing them to train at the highest standards. It would also serve as a valuable learning asset for students in the future. Ninety-seven percent of AAG graduates go on to work for an airline, including regional ones such as Philippine Airlines and VietJet.
The Opening of the New Facilities
The inauguration for the new simulator bays at AAG welcomed industry dignitaries like Raul Del Rosario, the Philippines Department of Transportation undersecretary. Bhanu Choudhrie was also in attendance along with AAG regional director for Asia-Pacific Cristopher Magdangal.
At the event, Magdangal said the this was just the latest in the continued expansion at AAG and in line with their commitment to providing world-class training for emerging pilots. AAG also serves as a resource for its industry partners like CEBU Pacific, Air Asia, and PAL Express.
The new facilities will help AAG grow gender equality in the commercial airline industry, too. About 20 percent of the students at AAG are women.
Other Bhanu Choudhrie Projects
Bhanu Choudhrie and C&C Alpha Group invest in a wide variety of projects covering banking, healthcare, and real estate. In addition, Alpha Utilities provides desalinated water to the Hamriyah Free Zone in the UAE — 1.5 million gallons a day.
Shanti Hospitality, which is a subsidiary of CCAG, is responsible for brands like Nira Hotels & Resorts and Ananda, situated in the Himalayan foothills. The Nira Alpina resort is one of the highest-rated hotels in the Swiss Alps.
Bhanu Choudhrie is at work in the U.S., as well, having co-founded Megalith Capital Management, a real estate company with properties in New York City like 50 West 66th Street, which offers a 360-degree view of Central Park. He also donates time and money to global charities. Bhanu Choudhrie is the director of Path to Success, a London charity founded by his mother, for example.
In 2008, he was named Entrepreneur of the Year by Asian Voice Political and Public Life Awards.
Bhanu Choudhrie’s dedication to improving the aviation industry and introducing new, highly trained pilots to it continues. AAG is also working on a new International Training Centre for Aviation Training (AICAT). It will be the second training site north of the country and able to accommodate more training assets like aircraft, operations rooms, and classrooms. There may also be additional expansions to AAG academy over the next few years.