A new €10m state of the art pilot training simulator for ATR aircraft has been launched in Dublin.

The ATR 72-600 simulator is based at Simtech Aviation near Dublin Airport and will be used to train Stobart Air pilots.

Stobart Air operates the Aer Lingus Regional service and uses the ATR  aircraft on those routes.

The simulator is the first of its kind in Ireland and the UK.

"We're delighted that the new ATR simulator in Dublin has launched for our pilots," said Director of Flight Operations at Stobart Air, Donal Young

"Providing skills development and training for our team has always been a focus and priority for us which has intensified further as a result of Covid-19."

"Our team will receive one-of-a-kind training that we can now provide right on our doorstep."

Prior to its launch, ATR pilots had to go to Madrid and elsewhere in Europe to undergo simulator training.

The investment comes at a time when aviation is under huge pressure due to Covid-19 restrictions and when it is proving challenging for pilots to maintain skills due to reduced flying hours.

Stobart Air has called on the Government to implement rapid and affordable Covid-19 testing in Irish airports to facilitate Christmas travel.

It is also seeking financial support for regional aviation – a call which the Government answered today with additional funding.

"We cannot risk a situation where we lose talent due to a very prolonged lockdown and an aviation industry that is essentially shut down as many may look to other industries," said Mr Young.

"We must bring certainty and some clarity for Ireland’s aviation sector and we urge the Government to work with the industry to develop a long-term strategy for aviation as a matter of urgency, while prioritising the implementation of rapid and affordable Covid-19 testing in Irish airports to facilitate and support Christmas travel in the short-term."