When the van der Meer brothers found it impossible to help promising students from their flight training school into jobs, they decided the only solution was to start their own operation, and AIS Airlines was born.
How did you first get into the aviation business?
Arend: In 1970, when I worked as a maritime officer and engineer. I then moved to the navigation department of KLM and from there into the aviation training industry,
as an instructor.
Martin: In 1964, I was working with Philips as an engineer/technical designer. I became infected by Arend’s aviation vision so we started Aeronautical Instruction Services (AIS Group) and the AIS Flight Academy in 2005.
How has your previous experience helped you in your current role?
A: In the maritime sector, things like navigation, meteorological knowledge and technical knowledge are of almost equal importance. At KLM, engineering technical knowledge prevailed; as an instructor, navigation and operation knowledge; and within the AIS Group, aviation knowledge.
M: In AIS, I am active in several roles. I gained experience as a group leader and engineer at Philips, skills I have honed in my role as accountable manager and aircraft engineer with AIS.
How is the flight training industry faring in Europe?
A: The focus is enlarged, not only the training itself, also the start of the career of the cadets. But the number of approved training organisations (ATOs) has been decimated, at least in the Netherlands, due to several reasons.
First, there was a crisis, resulting in a dramatic decrease of jobs for new pilots. Second, the European regulations for ATOs changed in such a way that it has become almost impossible for small ATOs to survive.
What advice would you give someone wanting to pursue a career as a pilot?
M: The most important thing is to choose a flight academy which can give you a reasonable opportunity for a first job. Without several hundred hours on a multipilot aircraft, it will be much harder to get a job as first officer.
Why did you decide to set up the AIS Airlines business?
A: Initially we tried to organise a kind of apprentice scheme for our students in co-operation with existing airlines. When this proved to be impossible, we had to create a means for our students to obtain the necessary hours. The only solution was starting an airline ourselves, so AIS Airlines began in 2012.
Nowadays we operate eight BAe Jetstream 32 turboprops, some under wet lease for third parties and others on scheduled routes of our own in Germany and Switzerland.
“AIS Airlines will continue to grow its route network and expand its fleet with larger aircraft”
MARTIN VAN DER MEER
What is your next venture?
M: Just as we did with the full motion Jetstream simulator, we have to create a stable group of airline operators for our Boeing 737 simulator, which we obtained from KLM while it needed a simulator bay for its 787 Dreamliner.
By doing so, we increase the job possibilities for our students. AIS Airlines will continue to grow its route network and, if possible, expand its fleet with larger aircraft.