Virtual Aviation becomes VA Airline Training


Having started life as a one-person business arranging flight simulator experiences for the general public, Virtual Aviation has come a long way over the past twenty years to develop into a serious player in approved airline pilot training within Europe.

In the late 1990s, entrepreneurial founder James Stevenson had a vision that many airline-owned flight simulators had spare capacity which could be used to enable the general public to experience the excitement of flying an airliner, with guidance from an instructor. 

In 2013, witnessing the growing global demand for airline pilots, James made a decision to take the business in a completely different direction. This would mean leaving behind the comfortable ‘lifestyle business’ and setting out on transforming the company into a regulated provider of airline pilot training, operating its own flight simulators.

This evolution started with VA moving into new premises at Cambridge Airport, recruiting new staff and instructors, and acquiring its first Boeing 737 simulator; while at the same time going through the 18-month process of becoming an EASA Approved Training Organisation and developing its first regulated pilot training courses.

Over the past few years, the company has changed enormously. Building on the growing popularity of its training courses and the success of its graduates, VA added another Boeing 737 simulator in late 2017. Then, in March 2018, the company became a pioneer of EASA’s new ‘Airline Pilot Standard’ MCC, with its course being the first to gain approval from the UK CAA.

2019 will see continued investment in the form of a brand-new Airbus A320 simulator, which is being installed in February, and an expansion of the Cambridge Airport Training Centre. The company also plans to add many more instructors, and to begin delivering new A320 and B737 type rating courses. These developments are testament to a talented team who are laser-focused on providing high quality training solutions for airlines and individual pilots alike.

Now that VA has come of age as a Training Organisation - and to better represent the core activities of the business today - Virtual Aviation is becoming VA Airline Training.

The revised branding incorporates a new ‘Careers Take Flight’ strap-line, to represent the company’s focus on enabling pilot career opportunities for its customers. And the use of magenta as an accent colour in the new brand reflects how magenta is used in flightdeck instruments to provide clear and unambiguous guidance and direction – a core value of which VA is proud.

“It’s an exciting time for everybody in the business, with the new brand and ambitious expansion plans for the next few years, but it’s also really important to us that we maintain the friendly culture and focus on personal service that our customers have come to expect” said VA Founder, James Stevenson.

Ironically, the flight experiences VA began life with have since become especially helpful in inspiring the future generation of aspiring airline pilots, after 9/11 prompted flightdeck doors to become locked. Nowadays, though, they form a tiny part of the company’s overall business.

VA has further plans to expand significantly into approved multi-pilot and single-pilot flight training, and the new core brand provides the strong baseline upon which to further grow.