By Margaret Sheard …

From time to time I seem to get drawn into a man’s world and my love of ‘planes’ led me a few years ago to write about the sad story of the Trident at the old Nicosia International Airport, which then prompted a Turkish Cypriot airline pilot to contact me and he subsequently wrote a number of articles which were published on our website under the heading Cyprus Aviation History.

Since then we have kept in touch and recently he gave me an introduction to the Aviation Training School at the University of Kyrenia in Karakum, and we made an appointment to visit Captain Koray Yilmaz and his team to learn about the aviation facility at the University.

What a very informative and interesting few hours this turned out to be, with Captain Yilmaz spending so much time with us explaining what the purpose of the facility is and his involvement.  He has had much experience in the world of aviation, both as an airline pilot for many years and also as an aerodynamicist and rig test engineer at Rolls Royce in Derby, UK.

We were told about 3 aircraft crashes where over 800 people lost their lives, which were possibly due to pilot error by not fully understanding instructions and not being able to answer questions in sufficient detail. In view of this the International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) implemented a much stricter level of English to be achieved by pilots when undergoing training.  Koray told us that this is one of the testing levels they are concentrating on – T.E.A. – Test of English for Aviation.

The University of Kyrenia operates as a test centre for Mayflower College in the UK, which is approved to conduct language proficiency testing by the UK CAA.   TEA is a brand created by Mayflower College and the official website is www.tea-test.com.  The University of Kyrenia also include information about TEA on their website and this can be viewed by clicking here

We were shown the Approval Certificate issued to Mayflower College of English Ltd by the UK CAA,  which shows the University of Kyrenia, listed with other organisations.

We were shown a soundproof room where trainees undergo testing for the English language and Koray told us that he and his staff try to make the trainees feel as relaxed as possible whilst going through the testing process.  He said that it is quite a strict test in that the answers to questions must include sentences rather than a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ and this is the whole purpose of the test to ensure that the question has in fact been understood, which can be assessed by the type of answer which is given.

I had always assumed that aviation used the English language and so all pilots had a good command of English but it would seem that perhaps the knowledge of English has not been as high as it should have been.  Koray mentioned that in the past some airlines around the world actually have had a translator/interpreter in the cockpit!

We noted the many photographs and pictures in all of the offices and in the corridor approaching Koray’s office he had produced some lovely pictures from photographs he had taken from the skies, which are very unique shots.

The ‘Test of English for Aviation’ Centre has two Administrators and two Examiners. The two Administrators are Koray Yilmaz and Huray Yilmaz (also Chief Theoretical Knowledge Instructor at the Approved Training Organization, ATO) and the two Examiners are Koray Yilmaz and Ilkay Yilmaz (also Head of Training at the Approved Training Organization). Both Ilkay and Huray are Aeronautical Engineers by profession. The Accountable Manager to the Approved Training Organisation is Mr. Sumer Garip and the Compliance Monitoring Manager is Mr. Haluk Ongun.  We met some of the members of the Aviation Department during our tour of the Faculty.

l-r : Ilkay Yilmaz, Chris Elliott, Margaret Sheard, Huray Yilmaz, Koray Yilmaz

Then came the most exciting part of our tour of the Faculty, the Alsim ALX Simulator which was installed in January of this year.   Words cannot describe how I felt looking at this state of the art equipment.   I would think that the University of Kyrenia have state of the art technology equipment which many other facilities throughout the world can only dream of.    The Simulator can be utilised to give many hours for trainee pilots which is accepted as part of the required hours of flight training.  When trainee pilots reach the required level their international pilot’s licence is issued from Turkey.

Around the front of the simulator is a huge curved screen where various flying conditions are shown i.e. lightning, rain, darkness, daylight, cloud, runway etc.  We then entered the simulator and settled ourselves into the pilot and co-pilot seats.  Koray then explained the dual instrument panel to us with the use of a light pointer, which I am afraid left me feeling very much in awe and impossible to digest everything.  Nevertheless I then proceeded to do a little ‘flying’ with a background of the Kyrenia Mountain range, then turning and I could see the coastline at one point.

Ilkay and Huray join us in the Simulator

Chris was then asked if he would like to land, of course he was happy to do this and he took over and we then had the runway at Ercan Airport on the screen.  He made a smooth landing, I am glad to say, and then taxied to the front of the airport building, which was by then showing on the screen.   This experience was superb and we cannot thank Koray enough for the amount of time he spent with us.   He obviously loves his job and although not now flying for an airline, he is so enthusiastic about training new pilots to a high level which in turn will ensure the airways are as safe as they can possibly be.

Koray told us a bit about himself and his career.  He went to the UK when he was 12 years old and at that time he spoke no English whatsoever.  He worked hard at school and progressed through college and his early working years.   He spent 2 years working at Rolls Royce in Derby in the UK where he was an aerodynamicist and rig test engineer and later was First Officer with Cyprus Turkish Airlines for 2 years and Captain with Pegasus Airlines for 6 years.   As a family man with a wife and 2 daughters, the time came when he decided he needed to spend more time with his family and so his days as an airline pilot came to an end and he started to give lectures on aviation, which then led him to his present situation as Head of Simulator Training with the University of Kyrenia where he has been instrumental in setting up the ‘Test of English for Aviation’ Centre and the Flight Simulation Training Device for the Aviation Faculty.