IFA, Costa Rica’s Instituto de Formación Aeronáutica (Aeronautical Training Institute) was established in November 1995 under the auspices of DGAC (Dirección General de Aeronáutica Civil), the nation’s civil aviation authority with six students. Today IFA is the largest aviation training school in Central America.
“With 26 years of experience in the field, we are the only single school that offers 12 aeronautical careers,” says Founder and Director General Rodolfo Valverde.
Hundreds Of Students
Today, IFA has a student population of 745, says Rodolfo Valverde, IFA director general. It provides training for the majority of aviation companies in Costa Rica.
IFA prepares students for careers as pilots, technicians, flight attendants, flight operations officers and airport operations personnel. Its mission is “to train world-class aeronautical professionals based on an educational model of collaboration and innovation for the growth of the industry.”
IFA’s Instructional Fleet
Credit: Felipe Chávez Photography via IFA
In addition to classroom and simulator instruction, IFA operates half a dozen aircraft types. IFA aircraft range from the diminutive Czech-built Evektor Sportstar Max single-engine aircraft to the Piper Apache twin. The fleet also includes Piper Arrow (shown), Aztec and Cherokee aircraft, and the Cessna Skyhawk 172.
Courses are conducted in Spanish using English-language textbooks or in English by request. IFA teaches English too.
Twins For Multi-Engine And IFR Training
IFA operates Piper PA 23-250 Apache and PA 44-180T Seminole (shown) twin-engine aircraft for multi-engine and IFR training.
Eye On The Environment
Credit: Jorge Valverde
The Evektor Sport Star Max trainer, notes IFA chief Rodolfo Valverde, consumes 4.2 gal. of unleaded Mogas per hr. compared with approximately 8.5 gal. per hr. for the Piper Cherokee and Cessna Skyhawk: “saving fuel and protecting the environment from lead.”
Sunshine Air, A New Costa Rica Air Taxi Service
IFA sees opportunities in the local and regional market for air charter operations, says IFA founder and director general Rodolfo Valverde. He told Aviation Week that he expects certification of a Costa Rica taxi service, dubbed Sunshine Air, to be awarded in late 2022 in time for the 2022-2023 tourist season.
Sunshine Air is to start with two Piper Aztec Model F and a Piper Seneca II aircraft, with both able to carry five passengers with a single pilot. A Cessna Caravan will be added for the 2023-2024 season. Sunshine Air pilots will be IFA-trained.
An AAM Future
“Advanced Air Mobility technology is the future,” says IFA’s Rodolfo Valverde, outlining plans to add a 100% battery electric aircraft from Evektor to his fleet in Costa Rica. Kunovice, Czech Republic-based Evektor calls its developmental all-electric single the SportStar Epos+.
Valverde and Students
IFA Founder and Director General Rodolfo Valverde; students at IFA’s facility at the Tobias Bolaños airport in San Jose, Costa Rica.
Costa Rica’s IFA prepares pilots, technicians and flight attendants for careers in aviation. Now, San Jose-based organization is planning to launch an air taxi service in time for the 2022-2023 tourist season.