Scots aviation business invests in new aircraft amid soaring pilot demand

A SCOTS aviation business has invested in new aircraft in order to meet a soaring demand for pilots across the country.

ACS Aviation has invested £550,000 to purchase two additional aircraft to service the continued growth of its pilot training programme.

The arrival of the two new aircraft to the business’s base at Perth Airport this summer will bring the its total operating aircraft number to 22.

Plans are also being made to add a further six state-of-the-art Tecnam aircraft to the fleet – at a cost of £1.65m – over the next 18 months.  

ACS MD Graeme Frater (L) and Director Craig McDonald (R) pictured in front of an aircraft on a runway.
The ACS Aviation MD is Graeme Frater (L) and its Director is Craig McDonald (R).

ACS currently has 352 students training towards a pilot’s licence, with 120 pilots graduating from the flight school in financial year 2022/23 – a 20% increase on the previous year.

ACS graduates are now gaining employment with a number of European and UK passenger and cargo airlines, including Ryanair, Wizz Air, and Loganair, as well as private jet operators throughout the UK.

As a result of this and a 21% uplift in aircraft maintenance inspections, the business is on track to post another record year, with turnover up 17% to £3.4m in 2022/23 and a further increase to £3.9m forecast for 2023/24.

Commenting on the company’s growth, ACS managing director, Graeme Frater, said: “We are Scotland’s only European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) flight training academy, which has helped us to attract students from across the UK and Europe.  

“Combine this with our analysis of published data from the leading aviation regulatory bodies which shows that the UK and Europe will encounter a significant shortfall of pilots over the next decade, and we anticipate increasing numbers of students travelling to Perth to engage in pilot training over the coming years.”

To cope with the increase in pilot training and maintenance activity, ACS has seen staff and contractor numbers increase from 55 to 60 over the past year, with further recruitment planned for 2023.

Graeme added: “We work closely with Perth Airport based Air Service Training to offer young people the opportunity to secure an aircraft engineering licence and we expect to see more apprentices joining the business in summer 2023.

“We are also actively recruiting flight instructors and have just announced our flight instructor sponsorship.” 

On the back of its recent acquisition, ACS has now been appointed as Scotland’s first and only Tecnam Aircraft Service Centre which it is anticipated will attract more business from Tecnam aircraft owners in the United Kingdom.

As the airport operator at Perth Airport, the business is also responsible for operating the control tower, airport fire service and aircraft refuelling.

During 2022 the airport saw a 22% increase in aircraft movements and additional revenue from aircraft fuel sales.

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