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A multi-million euro full flight simulator to train pilots on the A320 aircraft family has been sold by a Sussex-based company in the UK to Tunisia with support from the Export Credits Guarantee Department (ECGD) – the UK’s official export agency.

Based in Crawley, Thales Training & Simulation Ltd is supplying the A320 full flight simulator to the Aviation Training Center of Tunisia (ATCT) for training A319, A320 and A321 aircraft pilots. Under the contract, Thales will build, transport and install the simulator in Tunis. It is expected to be fully operational by early 2005.

ECGD is providing an export credit guarantee on a €11mn (£7.3mn) bank loan from Calyon (formerly Crédit Lyonnais) to cover any payment risk involved on this contract.

The Tunisian buyer ATCT will train pilots for Nouvelair, Tunisair and those from North African airlines which currently rely on training centres in Europe.

Guillaume Simonnet, vice-president of export finance at Thales UK says: “ECGD’s underwriters provided us with first class support throughout this transaction and showed us once again their can-do approach on difficult projects like this one.”

“It was very important for Thales Training & Simulation to win this order as we are continuously trying to strengthen our position in the North African market. We hope that ECGD will continue to assist us in securing more export orders in the near future.”

Maria Malinowska, head of export finance at Calyon, adds: “To conclude an ECGD buyer credit under English law in such a French-oriented market as Tunisia was a real challenge but our local office was indispensable.”