Air Transport Services Group starts business to train pilots

A light blue Amazon Prime Air plane on the runway. ABX Air flies for Amazon.

Air Transport Services Group (NASDAQ: ATSG) has added another business line to its portfolio of aircraft leasing and outsourced transport services: pilot training.

Wilmington, Ohio-based ATSG said Monday it has formed a new venture, Airborne Training Services, to train commercial airline pilots on Boeing 757 and 767 aircraft through class and simulator-based instruction. The company is essentially consolidating in-house training for its own cargo and passenger airlines, and offering the service to other airlines too. 

ATSG said it has completed an agreement with Avenger Flight Group LLC to extend its training capacity. Under the seven-year contract, Avenger will provide additional 767 and 777 flight simulator resources for ATSG pilots and Airborne Training Services’ customers.

Subsidiary airline ABX Air previously handled pilot training and simulators for ATSG. The new venture allows ATSG to become more efficient in providing those services across its three airlines — ABX, Air Transport International and Omni Air International, spokeswoman Kym Parks said in an email. 

“To be able to provide the same level of training that has been developed over 40 years of operation to external customers, we needed to develop a relationship that would give customers access to a broader range of airframe types and additional access to support capacity,” Parks said, explaining the Avenger engagement.

ATSG is a diversified air services company. It offers a range of services, including aircraft leasing, crews and maintenance to fly aircraft for other airlines, bundled aircraft and operating service, maintenance and engineering services, freighter conversions and ground-handling services. It operates aircraft for a number of major customers, including Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). The company’s second-quarter pretax earnings increased 20%, aided by an overall shortage of air cargo capacity that increased demand for its all-cargo aircraft.

The new ATSG training center,  certified by the Federal Aviation Administration, offers in-depth classroom instruction and flight training on full flight simulators. It is led by Alex Thurmond, who most recently managed the learning center at FlightSafety International, ATSG said.

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