FSTC Europe's Chairman, Capt. Kostas Katsikias in the new Aviation World India Magazine

The Aviation World magazine had a special focus on FSTC Europe Chaiman Capt. Kostas Katsikias. 

You may read extracs of the interview below. 

What initially motivated you to establish FSTC Europe in 2014?
FSTC EUROPE is the 4th ATO which has been established under my leadership and the first one as my own company.
It was always my dream to form an Aviation Training Organization with high training standards right from scratch. I strongly believe that any childhood dream to become a Pilot, a Cabin Crew or an Aircraft Engineer can only be realized with high standards and dedicated hard training.
In 2014 and already been an approved FATA Instructor in India, I joined hands with a Training Organization in India in order to introduce EASA Standards Training and to improve Pilot Type Rating Training at a higher level, as well as giving an opportunity to young CPL holders to start and finish their EASA approved type rating in India by avoiding additional cost for traveling and accommodation abroad. I found it as a good timing to chase my dream and start my own ATO. The demand arisen by a dear friend made me just to expedite my plans in order to help the professional pilot training demand in the Indian Aviation market.
Shortly after, me and my team took the first steps for the initial set up of FSTC EUROPE (Flight Services Training Centre), with EASA approval number GR-ATO-126 and we started to train Indian DGCA License Holders under “FSTC EUROPE” EASA Approvals, mainly and directly in India, since FSTC EUROPE has a branch in India, approved by EASA, and offers any kind of type rating trainings.
You mentioned an Indian Training Organization which you joined hands with. Would you mind to tell us something more about this cooperation?
I would prefer to avoid answering this question, in any case I only felt disappointed and regret my decision in the past to shake hands in this cooperation. We are all allowed to do mistakes and to admit them, though the professional Aviation training area does not leave us even one millimeter of space to bluff or to wangle it somehow through the overall training process. We stand in front of our trainees, in front of their parents and families but most of all we stand in front of the Authorities and Airlines, and we have to ensure accountability and compliance.
Anyway, India is my second home and I love your big and colorful country. My promise is to give my very best and do as much as I can to improve Aviation Training in India. I watch narrowly the massive effort of DGCA during the last years and I really respect the hard work from the FOI’s to prove advantageous to any other International Organizations like ICAO, FAA etc. that India can lead the world. I strongly believe, India is an Aviation Paradise and we all have to stand by and support the Country’s effort to adjust any kind of shortcoming which may arise.
I believe that the cooperation I have been through in India, was just one unlucky moment from people who believed just to become rich overnight. We've all heard stories of lottery winners, rock stars and professional athletes becoming millionaire morons who wake up rich but are broke by nightfall.
Are you having any joint training activities or a tie-up with FSTC in Gurgaon?
No, not at all. FSTC EUROPE is an absolute different and privately owned entity, with an EASA approval. Nothing to relate with FSTC Gurgaon.
FSTC Europe stands for Flight Services Training Centre Europe. FSTC Gurgaon stands for Flight Simulation Technique Center, Gurgaon.
How will you achieve FSTC Europe’s aim of becoming the best-known and trusted Approved Training Organization for Pilot Type Ratings in India?
We all at FSTC EUROPE believe in a high quality level of training. FSTC EUROPE is already a well-known ATO in INDIA but we will leap it more into fame.
We study the Indian DGCA regulations deeply, study the pilot’s weaknesses, especially from CPL holders without experience other than the one they have received during their ab-initio training. The difference between EASA trainees and trainees in India as we have noticed is, that the Europeans prefer to start their ab-initio training through an integrated way rather than a modular, starting with a Private Pilot Licence and sometimes at different Flight Training Academies. This means, that anybody who decides to become a pilot, will have for sure a wider understanding of the commercial part of theory through the integrated way, by “falling into deep waters” of CPL subjects right from zero. It is a matter of mentality in Aviation training. We have noticed for example, that the understanding of Instrument Flying lacks in experience with freshly rated CPL holders from India. This is why we have decided, to provide an IR refresher course of a few days ground school prior starting with the Initial Type Rating rather than having our trainees struggling in their final stage during the Full Flight Simulator sessions, which can only freshen up already taken knowledge and not really teach an item which usually requires more than three months of time. Furthermore, we cooperate with our Clients, receive their feedback and we welcome their own Standard Operating Procedures, so that our trainees comply with their Airline standards.
You simply can’t enroll and “buy” your Pilot training as you would be in a flea market. We understand that price matters, but at the end of the day, you will reap the rewards from your investment if you decide to join a well-known and recognized professional Aviation Training Organization. It is a lifetime investment with the guarantee of payback in anybody’s future career at a Cockpit seat within the Airline Industry.
The minimum required training for a Type Rating by the Authorities most of the times is not enough to cover this gap. You have to find ways to recover this lack of knowledge and continue with the less cost for the trainees and finally for the families who are supporting them. Our daily task at FSTC EUROPE is to provide the maximum possible training to the best affordable price without compromises in the all-inclusive packages we offer.
FSTC EUROPE has introduced the all-Inclusive package “Above the Line” to the Indian Market. Trainees leave their headache of planning every single step from enrollment phase up to their return flight back home with us. FSTC EUROPE team is assisting at any time during this process, if we are talking about the visa process, the round trip flight bookings, a great accommodation, all the transportation throughout the training with us, even the daily meals can be selected if vegetarian or not. The complete training schedule is being provided to all our trainees before they step into their flight to Athens. We offer a well wrapped up training package for all our trainees from abroad, which leaves them beyond their expectations. There are no additional charges, no bad surprises, no confusion and no hidden cost. Training at FSTC EUROPE is like watching through a clean window. And finally, all our successfully trained and type rated Pilots are the best advertisement for us!
What facility do you have at FSTC Europe Centre for the training of students?
Our main building and headquarters are based in Elefsina 19200, in the surrounding area of Athens, the   capital of Greece. Elefsina is one of the most famous ancient towns in Greece. It is a modern building which complies with all regulations, not only with bricks but huge windows and balconies, and green areas outside. It hosts offices for our employees, the administration desk which welcomes every student with a smile, three fully equipped class-rooms for ground school training and state-of-the-art equipment. Projectors, wall panels, cockpit posters, mock ups and every trainee has his own station for CBT/WBT training. The outcome of all our trainees, no matter what kind of type rating they are going through is, that our web based training is the most interactive system they have ever seen. It is important to us to invest in the future, to be present, to have our in-house Instructors at all times close by our trainees.

What best or different FSTC Europe provides towards its training?
In one word I can say “EVERYTHING”! We treat our clients like part of our own family members!
It is almost impossible at FSTC EUROPE somebody to feel homesick. The entire team is dedicated to serve the best to our customers. Training with FSTC EUROPE is a combination of hard work and an outstanding vacation destination at the same time. Our headquarter is located in one of the most historical places in the world. We proud to host our trainees in Athens, Greece giving them the opportunity along with their Type Rating Training to visit the Acropolis of Athens, close by islands or to swim in the crystal clear waters during their off days.
The training itself is a really joyful process. Our modern facilities have the capacity to train 50 trainees at a time, planning an expansion to accommodate at least 80 Type Rating trainees in one go in the next couple of months. All our training stations are furnished with PC’s connected to the Servers where our trainees can work On and Off Line their WBT/CBT retrieving training materials while at the same time our Chief Theoretical Knowledge Instructor or/and their Airline can have an actual progress feedback of their training. Experienced TRIs are always present in the classrooms guiding and teaching our students. There is not a “Self-Study” procedure in FSTC EUROPE’s vocabulary.
FSTC EUROPE does not “buy” training or instructors from other institutes. We have our own instructors from A to Z. In approximately 40 days of a Type Rating training, trainees and their Instructors are simply a family. Their Type Rating Instructor is a dedicated mentor to the crew until they finish the training.
All our employees have a respecting and long-lasting aviation career and carry the utmost experience in professional aviation training with big passion to transfer knowledge. This is our main potential and the secret which makes us different.
India seems to be your potential market for sourcing students for training? How big is this?
I can take the risk to say that Asia in general is a Potential Aviation Market. If you count that according to the future Airlines planning, the whole world needs approx. 600.000 pilots for the next 20 years, you can easily calculate 2.500 pilots per year!!!
Thinking that Asia’s demand is approx. 60% – 70% of the total requests, the calculation is 1.750 pilots per year!!! Even if you simply divide this amount by 2 thinking China and India as equal demand countries, INDIA ONLY needs not less than 875 new Pilots per year!
As you can see the demand is very big and we at FSTC EUROPE are and will remain a key role player in this challenge.
How is FSTC Europe disrupting the Indian Type Rating Training market, when compared to other Training Organizations?
I would rather say contributing instead of disrupting.
FSTC EUROPE has contributed a lot into the Indian Type Rating Training Market especially in a time where a lot of «shops» around India use to «sell» Type Rating Trainings.
FSTC EUROPE is not one more agent in the Indian Aviation market who is convincing the pilots for giving type rating training, distributes them all around the world to suspicious Training Organizations praying that at least they may receive the paperwork correct for their licence endorsements. This is the other side of the coin, with the huge aviation expansion in India, too many suspicious “mushrooms popped up” by selling and promising any kind of professional aviation training without even being approved by any Civil Aviation Authority.
FSTC EUROPE is not an agent. It is an EASA Approved Training Organization (GR-ATO-126) which provides the overall training under its own and approved syllabus, with its own Type Rating Instructors and Examiners and all Course Completion Certificates are being signed and issued only as a “FSTC EUROPE CERTIFICATE”. Our trainees will never receive a Training Certificate from an X, Y or Z training organization with no relation to the authority’s regulations. By keeping and following our very high standards, we can proudly say, that we have trained more than hundreds and successfully type rated pilots for the Indian Aviation Industry.
You are an EASA approved training Organization and you conduct Pilot Type Rating trainings. Where is the practical part of training in the Full Flight Simulator being conducted with your trainees?
Honestly, beside a couple of very big Training Organizations around the world, there is no training organization which provides both, the approved theoretical Type Rating course and the technical part of training, the Simulator training itself under one roof. If you look deeper into this, you will see many Simulator Training Centers with any kind of Simulator aircraft types, but they do not provide training by themselves. It is a business, to sell the availabilities on Simulator slots to Approved Training Organizations, rather than being approved for training itself and going into “another” kind of business.
FSTC EUROPE, is in contract with all brand Simulator Training Centers across Europe, Middle and Far East, India and Africa. We are not going into wet lease, all our booked simulator sessions are being conducted along with our own Instructors and Examiners. The devices are all level D and we request in a regular period of time their certifications and evaluation reports. Our Instructors have their own briefing rooms assigned for pre/debrief with their students.
Can you tell us about FSTC Europe’s imminent expansion plans in the near future?
FSTC EUROPE is heading for two branches, one in Delhi and one in Hyderabad in the next three to six months. We are planning for wider spaced Training Centers in cooperation with individual funds to invest in India soon. Further areas where we aim to see us as a main key player is the Ab-initio training for airplanes and helicopter and to provide “zero to ATPL” training including a Type Rating. Also, the establishment of 3-4 Simulator training centers in the Middle East and Asia operated and driven under our Management is in our upcoming plans.
So what exactly makes FSTC Europe so different from your competitors?
FSTC EUROPE is absolutely the only Training Organization that offers the all-inclusive packages “Above the Line” in the Indian market. No compromises in less or lower quality in training that any student deserves. We care and we keep what we promise. Without hard work and discipline, it is difficult to be a top professional.
I recognized the responsibility that, whether I liked it or not, I had to accept whatever the obligation was. That was to behave in a manner, to carry myself and my team in such a professional way, as if there ever is a reflection, it's a positive one.