The first ‘batch’ of 23 local pilots graduated late last year from a course conducted completely in Vietnam has marked a milestone in the training of pilots for the national civil aviation industry.

Previously , Vietnamese pilots had studied only flight theory in Vietnam and practiced actual flight techniques in France , according to Tuoitrenews.

The first 23 pilots, including one woman, who finished the course late last year and now fly domestic routes in Vietnam were trained at the Cam Ranh Flight Training Center – the only such facility in the country.

The training was held by the Bay Viet (Viet Flight) Company in cooperation with several other agencies, including the ESMA aviation institute of France , the flagship national air carrier Vietnam Airlines, the Helicopter Flight Company under the Vietnam Ministry of National Defense, the Vietnam Plane Leasing Company, and the ADCC Company of Vietnam ’s Air Force.

Established in 2008, Bay Viet has conducted six flight courses for 110 pilots. However, the VFT2 was the first ‘made in Vietnam ’ course for civil aviation. The average cost to train a pilot over a two-year course is about 2.25 billion VND (108,200 USD).

According to Bay Viet, each VFT2 pilot had to have 45 hours of domestic flying time, including 10 hours of solo flying, to be able to get a flight license and work for an airline.

Bay Viet has been preparing to become the first flight school in Vietnam .

Nguyen Thi Ngoc Bich, 25, from the northern city of Hai Phong , is the only female who has graduated from the VFT2 course so far.

She started her career in the civil aviation by working as a stewardess for three years for Vietnam Airlines. After hearing that the carrier was recruiting pilot trainees, she applied.

Bich was chosen over 120 other applicants, she recalled.

“During the six months of flight practice in Cam Ranh, I used no cosmetics,” she said, raising her sun-scorched hands to prove this true.

The youngest pilot to graduate from the first civil flight course was Phung Anh Huy, 20, a native of Ho Chi Minh City .

Tran Trong Nhan, the deputy director of Bay Viet, told Tuoi Tre that Vietnam is in desperate need of local pilots, especially for domestic flights.

Only half of the pilots flying for Vietnamese airlines are Vietnamese, and the cost to hire a foreign pilot is three to five times higher than a local pilot, he added./.