As part of a drive to expand aviation and its role as a critical component of the economy in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, a flight academy has been established at Thumamah airfield, 28 km north of King Khalid airport at Riyadh. As well as providing high-quality training in Diamond DA40 NG piston singles and DA42 NG piston twins for potential commercial pilots, the Saudi Aviation Flight Academy (SAFA) also runs private pilot license courses as part of an effort to encourage recreational flying in the Kingdom. Recently the academy achieved a major milestone when the first Saudi student flew solo, instruction having begun in June.
SAFA is currently operating a fleet of eight of the Diamond trainers, but 12 more are due for delivery when the facility at Thumamah is completed. Based in Austria, Diamond Aircraft is exhibiting here at MEBA 2012 at Stand 662. The airplanes are powered by Austro Engine AE300 diesel/Jet-A1 engines and offer good performance in the hot ambient temperatures that prevail at Thumamah. The aircraft are fitted with Garmin glass cockpits, and Diamond has also provided Level 6 simulators.
For the time being, SAFA is operating from temporary accommodations while awaiting the completion of a new campus, which will provide a state-of-the-art training facility. It will feature five classrooms, 16 bays for flight training devices, briefing/debriefing tools and a communications lab. Expected to be finished during the summer, the campus will also include student accommodation with associated catering and leisure facilities.
SAFA is also establishing its own maintenance facility, and hopes to provide after-sales support for other Diamond aircraft operating in Saudi Arabia.