A FLIGHT school which was once the largest in the world has seen a surge of interest in pilot training despite the crisis in the aviation industry caused by coronavirus.

Perth Airport, operated by ACS Aviation, opened in 1936 as Scone Aerodrome and was transformed into an RAF base when the Second World War broke out.

Post-war it was the largest flight school in the world, and is still the largest in Scotland, boasting a 100% record of getting students into jobs before the pandemic.

While many students who had completed their 18-month training are still waiting for job offers, a surge of interest in new applicants has been recorded which exceeds 2019 by 10%, and has grown by 15% since July.

New staff are being recruited to help with the surge in demand, with flight instructors and office workers needed.

Managing director Graeme Frater said that applicants have realised the aviation industry is likely to recover and young people are thinking ahead for their futures, or older people are wanting to change career.

Frater said: “The quarantine makes going away for a week’s holiday or a weekend harder, it is not worth it for most people, but the aviation industry will recover, people always want to go on holiday.

“Demand is quite high for pilot training, I think a lot of people’s focus has changed and they are re-evaluating their careers, maybe they have more time on their hands.

“The impact on the commercial aviation industry is not great but it is a good time to start training, which takes 18 months on a fast-track course.”

The 18-month course is not cheap at £55,000, but Frater says this training can put you in the same position as doing a degree, which can cost a similar amount of money.

As well as young people in their 20s asking about flight training, people in their late 30s and early 40s have also shown an interest as they may have not been able to pursue a career as a pilot when they were younger.

Interest in private pilot training from retired people in their 70s has also continued.

Frater added: “We have seen a big increase in female applicants too – four years ago maybe it was one or two per cent, and now it is around 20%.

“Some airlines have actively encouraged girls flying.

“The airline industry will definitely recover.”