What triggered your interest in aviation?
I became interested at a very early age after flying on family holidays. This interest continued to grow throughout my teens and my only career aspiration was to become a professional pilot. Unfortunately circumstances dictated otherwise – I became shortsighted in one eye and my early passion for the industry ultimately took me in an alternative direction.
Tell us about your career so far
I have a fairly extensive range of experience spanning a period of over 30 years. I started my career in a number of customer service roles at London Gatwick and worked my way up to management roles in operations and flight dispatch. In 1997 I joined Virgin Atlantic Airways and went on to hold senior roles within airport operations, sales and marketing, and the airline’s projects division, during which time I attained the position of airlines chairman for the A380 airport customer focus group, ensuring Airbus A380 compatibility at all airports designated for type operations globally. In 2008 I was appointed to Virgin Atlantic’s senior leadership team as country manager, with responsibility for all commercial and operational aspects of the airline in the nominated region, and went on to complete long-term international assignments to both West Africa and the Far East. In 2015 I finally decided to bid farewell to Virgin and set out on the path to building NP Simulations in the UK.
Why did you set up NP Simulations?
I had discussed setting up a new company with a close friend for quite a number of years which would provide the general public with a realistic insight into the aviation world and also provide accessible and affordable preparatory training for those looking to pursue a career in aviation. Subsequently the two divisions of NPS were born – Flight Experience London, a global brand and ‘Boeing officially licensed product’ of which we hold the UK operating license and Ground School London, providing theoretical and practical-based preparatory training.
What sets you apart from other simulator training providers?
Ground School London is primarily a training provider aiming to prepare and create the next generation of aviation professionals. We have a very accessible central London location and use our onsite Boeing 737-800 FTD flight simulator (and A320 from later in the year) to provide a range of practical and theoretical based courses for all ages from 15 years upwards. We believe that by using the flight simulators to bring sometimes ‘heavy” theoretical classroom sessions to life at this stage is an exciting and unique way to inspire youngsters and indeed people of all ages to enter the industry’
What does your job entail?
Given our specific backgrounds and expertise within the industry, I currently manage most of the commercial aspects of the business. My business partner Paul, a professional pilot, licensed on the Boeing 737, is largely focused on the operational aspects, with primary oversight of the simulator and instructor selection and training. Both Paul and myself also support Ground School London in a classroom training capacity as required as well as customer-focused activity or events relating to the business.
What are your biggest challenges?
As with any relatively new business, challenges are always in abundance and many of these actually occurred long before the doors even opened, such as finding a suitable location and premises to accommodate our very specific requirements, recruitment and of course preparing for the arrival of the simulator itself. The most challenging aspect now is probably one of creating brand presence, reputation and visibility in the market.
What are your long-term plans for NP Simulations?
The long term plan for NPS was always to expand to a further three locations outside of London within the first six years of operation and this still remains our focus, although one or two locations outside of the UK are now also on the radar. In the shorter term, we’re expecting the delivery of an A320 fixed based simulator later this year to be based in Putney alongside our existing 737-800, as well as making an investment in an ‘open cockpit’ device for both training and promotional events.