Interview with Cliff Cop, Skywings

Reading time: 4 min

Skywings Flight Training has purchased a Simnest FNPT II MCC APS simulator which has successfully passed the authority audit recently. Now we are asking Cliff Cop, Accountable Manager of Skywings about their experiences with Simnest and our simulator.

Simnest: Please tell us about Skywings and about your trainings.

Cliff Cop: Skywings is a quite new Belgian school established at the end of 2016, but the people behind the trainings have great background in instruction. The school is originated from the problems we saw in training as well as in Belgium and internationally, that the quality of training was diminishing and commercial goals were priority. So, the basis of the school was to do it differently, to go back to the basics with the students in the center. Our program goes a bit deeper as we train the students to be airline ready. We do more training and we also train non-technical skills, like the airmanship, the attitude of the airline pilots and that is why our programs are a little bit longer than the standard. All of our instructors have solid airline backgrounds, they need to have at least 1500 hours or 3 years experience at an airline or in a multi pilot environment before they can start to instruct in the airline pilot program. We strongly believe that this is an added value and we get positive feedback to support this ideology. If you don’t fly yourself as a professional pilot or an airline pilot, it’s difficult to instruct someone who wants to become a pilot. This is the philosophy we have and it works very nice. Next to the airline pilot program which is our main business, we also do examiner trainings, instructor trainings and all kinds of modular trainings. Since shortly we do our APS MCC as well with the Simnest simulator, which allows us to do our own APS MCC in house and to use the experience we have. We are also doing APS MCC and MCC trainings for other schools as a training center under the name of LVL320.

We have 42 students for the moment so in the last few years we actually grew fast.


Simnest: Why have you felt the need of an FNPT II MCC simulator?

C.C. In the beginning we wanted to be careful, purchasing a flight simulator is a large investment so we outsourced the MCC trainings to another school. But with all the experience we have – because a lot of instructors are actually active instructors at an airline, we really wanted to do it in house to make use of our own experiences. That is when we started to roam the simulator market to look for a good device. There are a lot of devices on the market but in the segment of the FNPT II MCC there are not that plenty that give the really high quality or the high rate of simulation for that price. Sometimes we have jets based on the A320 that are actually quite far from the aircraft itself. We went to look for different simulators and when we visited Simnest in Budapest we were really impressed with the rate of realism and that the sim can be upgradable to a really type specific device which was actually the reason why we chose Simnest. We wanted to do our MCC and make use of our experiences in a good device.


Simnest: How did you hear about Simnest?

C.C. We had already been looking when I saw some advertising and I told my colleague, that it looked like an interesting device. Then I did some investigating on your website and sent out an email for more information - that’s how the ball started rolling. We had a great first impression and that is why we moved forward and went to visit you. 


Simnest: What are your experiences working with us? Are you satisfied with our communication during the project?

C. C. The communication was very good, emails and phone calls with quick reply during the project and also during the certification. It’s nice to work with Simnest so I’m happy. We have a lot of simulator here, and with them it’s a whole different story. You did a very good job with the communication; the service is very good.


Simnest: The COVID-19 outbreak unfortunately caused some delay in the factory acceptance and the installation. How did Simnest handle this tough situation?

C.C. It was an unfortunate situation and we were very disappointed that we couldn’t go to Budapest to see the device for ourselves. It was challenging because we had to accept the sim - that costs quite a lot of money – remotely. We came up with special arrangements regarding the payment because we actually weren’t able to see the sim, but you were very open. It was a risk actually, because it was our first time working together but it turned out well and the sim was very much what we expected. The situation was not easy but I’m happy about the way it turned out. It’s good that there is communication and flexibility.


Simnest: You are using the simulator for some time now. What are you first impressions?

C.C. Good! We have the advantages of flying on the A320 so we are quite critical. We know that the sim is not a type specific simulator but it is very close to it. So, we are actually very happy because we can do more, we can go a little bit deeper in the MCC and we can really do the system trainings. We are very happy with the sim. External people who visited us and see the device also liked it. It was important that in the long run, unlike other manufacturer’s products this is upgradable to the next level and the cockpit of the Simnest sim is way more realistic. The possibility of that change was important to us because to buy a new simulator would be more expensive than to upgrade this one so business wise and for planning the future it was very distant.


Simnest: What are the feedbacks about the device from your instructors?

C.C. Not all the instructors have seen it yet, but the ones who saw were quite impressed. Our chief instructor has started testing and he is also happy with it. The simulator on its level is top of the market. You did a great job!


Thank you, Cliff for taking the time to answer our questions!



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