Flying into the horizon on BIFA wings
Bali is home to the prestigious Bali International Flight Academy (BIFA), whose hundreds of graduates are currently working for numerous national and international airlines. However, few Balinese consider being a commercial pilot as a career.
BIFA, founded in 2008, is located next to Letkol Wisnu Gerokgak airport (airstrip), in Pegametan, Symberkima village, Gerokgak district, Buleleng regency.
The flying academy has at least 184 alumni nationwide.
Disappointingly, there have not been many Balinese studying at the prestigious BIFA, due to the expense of the courses, as well as the fear of the dangers of aviation. Most BIFA students come from Jakarta and other major cities in the country.
“There is only a small percentage of Balinese studying at BIFA. Most students are not Balinese,” said director of PT Bali Widya Dirgantara, Wiradharma Bagoes Oka.
Wiradharma said that within the next three years the domestic aviation companies in the country would be employing around 1,800 pilots, while only 100 pilots graduated from BIFA each year.
Wiradharma urged more young Balinese to consider the prestigious career of a commercial pilot and study at BIFA. “The high-school fee should not be an obstacle, many BIFA students can get work contracts with Indonesian airlines that will cover half of the student fees,” said Wiradharma.
The one-year course costs Rp 600 million (US$63,600) and covers math and physics for standard aviation, machine maintenance, first aid and hazardous substances, all taught by teachers highly experienced in the aviation world.
“Expensive is a relative term. Each applicant has to pass the entrance test first before being admitted to the school,” said BIFA headmaster Wisnu Herlambang. Besides having a high level of English language proficiency, applicants are required to pass the mental health and psychometric examinations.
BIFA graduates receive an international license as commercial pilots. They are certified by the Indonesian Directorate of Civil Aviation and the International Civil Aviation Organization and are in compliance with FAA 141 section regulation.
The BIFA training center compound has complete educational facilities, including a single multi-engine flight simulator that has been certified by the FAA. The equipment, which resembles the cockpit of a real plane, functions as navigation training tool for the students.
Dozens of Cessna airplanes parked on the Letkol Wisnu Gerokgak airstrip are also used by students for on-land and in-air training sessions. The plane engines are regularly checked by experienced technicians.
The exclusive school applies high security at its compound and has luxurious accommodation, similar to star-rated hotels, for its students. Students also get to enjoy recreational facilities, including a tennis court, gym, swimming pool and BBQ pit.