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Top U.K. aviation universities: an interview with Air Service Training

We interviewed Neil Fortune, Business Administration Support Officer at Air Service Training, to find out more about the Perth College-owned training organisation’s courses, history, alumni and more.

An interview with Air Service Training

ACS: Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions! First of all, what courses do you offer for aviation and aeronautics students?

AST: Air Service Training (AST) offers Category A and Category B1.1, B1.2 B1.3 and B2 courses, which are delivered either as full basic courses for complete novice would-be aviation engineers or as modular courses for experienced mechanics seeking licensing under the EASA Approval UK CAA.147.0001.

A Category A Licence is needed to work as a ramp or line maintenance certifying mechanic, who carries out basic maintenance on operational aircraft and replaces parts between major service overhauls. This licence is gained through either a six-month approved course and one year of certified experience; or around three years of self-study or a modular course.

A Category B Licence is needed to work as a base maintenance certifying technician, who works on aircraft that require more complex maintenance or have been withdrawn from service for routine periodic servicing, major overhauls or re-fits. Divided into specialist skills such as mechanical or avionic, this license is obtained through either a two-year approved course and two years of certified experience; or by self-study or attending a modular course with five years of experience.

ACS: What makes the institution’s courses for aviation and aeronautics unique?

AST: We provide a full basic Category B course over an 89-week period, making it the shortest fully-approved course of its kind in the U.K. The course cost also includes compulsory eight-week Aircraft Maintenance Environment Training (on-the-job training), for which most providers charge a premium. In conjunction with Perth College UHI, students completing our AST Part 66 course and examination can articulate onto degree courses offered at Perth College, choosing from from a BSc (Hons) or BEng (Hons) in Aircraft Maintenance Engineering.

ACS: How long have you been offering aviation courses?

AST: We’ve provided aircraft engineering courses under our approvals since 1931.

ACS: Have any famous or noteworthy professionals in aeronautics or aviation studied with you?

AST: We’ve trained a number of noteworthy aviators, including our founder John Davenport Siddeley, 1st Baron Kenilworth CBE; and the Hon. Mrs Victor Bruce, who completed the first circumnavigation of the globe and was first to fly from England to Japan and cross the Yellow Sea. Additional alumni include famous 20th-century aviators Lady Mary Bailey and Winifred Spooner; Lord Douglas Hamilton, one of the first men to fly over Mount Everest; and Amy Johnson, the first woman to fly solo from the UK to Australia, who completed her instrument flying course in 1935. Former employees include Jenkins and Berlyn, inventors of the first rudimentary flight simulator. AST continues a tradition of training engineers and many of our students have gone on to have careers in the higher echelons of the world’s airlines.

ACS: How many students do you take on each year?

AST: AST operates with partner second site schools and remote sites around the world. In total, we take on approximately 350 students per year.

ACS: How long is each course?

AST: Category A courses last 26 weeks and Category B courses are 89 weeks.

ACS: We’re guessing there are many aircraft lovers at Air Service Training. Care to let us in on your favourite aircraft?

AST: If it flies, we love it. My personal favourite is a sport hang glider, although I do also love flying helicopters.

ACS: How is the institution preparing its students for the future of the industry?

AST: By providing the best basic training to ensure students leave with a sound knowledge foundation and that safety is always paramount in their minds.

ACS: Do you offer any bursaries, scholarships or special entrance options?

AST: AST has supported three scholarship students and is looking forward to offering more in the future.

ACS: Do you partner with notable companies in the industry? If so, can you give us a quick summary?

AST: We aren’t at liberty to give any names, but AST has partnerships in Iceland, Indonesia, Jordan, Kuwait, India, Qatar, Malaysia, Mauritius, Nepal and Egypt.

ACS: If there was one piece of advice you could give to prospective aviation and aeronautics students, what would it be?

AST: Try harder and never accept failure.

ACS: What’s the most common career path for Air Service Training alumni? Private aviation, commercial aviation, military and civil, or a combination of all?

AST: AST has been in operation for so long that all of those career paths are taken. Our students go on to work at civil aviation authorities and in high-level management positions at airlines or in aircraft sales and transfers.

ACS: How should students go about applying to study at AST? Any tips for potential applicants?

AST: Visit our website ( and read about the careers available, or call us on 01738 877105 or 01738 877113 to discuss your options. Top tip: study Maths and Physics, join your local Air Training Corps squadron as a cadet and learn as much as possible.

ACS: Anything else you’d like to add about your courses or the industry itself?

AST: The industry is growing at a rapid rate and a huge number of aircraft engineers are needed to safely service all those aircraft. Estimates from Boeing and Airbus suggest we need in excess of 600,000 engineers over the next 20 years, and to get into an aviation trade you need to complete a basic course like those offered by AST. As well as our basic licensing courses, we offer a range of courses aimed at meeting the demand of the aviation industry, such as human factors refresher training, safety management systems or a bespoke course designed to satisfy specific training requirements. We can also conveniently deliver courses onsite for corporate clients.

Are you looking to start a career in aeronautics or aviation? Speak to us about applying for a course and we’ll do our best to provide some helpful advice. ACS also provides aviation and flying scholarships for many of the best aviation institutions in the U.K. and around the world. Find out more on our Aviation Scholarships and Student Grants page.

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