IRON Maiden singer Bruce Dickinson has landed the first piece of heavy metal at Cardiff Aviation's St Athan base - virtually.

The newly-formed specialist aviation technical support services operation will provide heavy aircraft maintenance for various jet aircraft types, both narrow and wide-body up to Boeing 767 size Ð but one element of the business is pilot training.

Bruce, who along with other investors has set up aviation maintenance business Cardiff Aviation Limited (, plans to bring up to 1,000 new jobs to South Wales.

And the first piece of equipment into the hangar at St Athan is a Boeing 747-200 flight simulator. The B747 is one of the world's biggest aircraft and the simulator will be used to train experienced pilots undergoing annual refresher training, as well as pilots new to professional aviation.

Dickinson, a commercial airline pilot and established aviation entrepreneur, currently trains pilots on a variety of aircraft flight simulators at other UK locations.

"This is a big, serious piece of kit which involved a police escort on oversized trucks to transport it from the Gatwick area where it had previously been used to train pilots flying Virgin Atlantic's Boeing 747s," said Bruce.

"It is now being installed in our St Athan HQ Ð known as Twin Peaks Ð and we already have agreements in place for training and type-rating courses from the day the simulator comes online, with pilots and students coming not just from the UK, but from around the world."

As previously reported in the Barry & District News, Cardiff Aviation is based in the Vale where it has taken 132,000 square feet of hangar space at St Athan.

As well as maintenance of airliners and other large aircraft for several major and independent airlines, Cardiff Aviation will have facilities to complete the full range of ancillary aircraft maintenance and training activities and has the expertise and approvals to certify aircraft from many jurisdictions, including the USA.

"South Wales has long had an association with the aircraft industry and I'm delighted that I am able to play a small part in the continuation of that tradition," said Bruce.

"The arrival of the simulator is a big and exciting development for us, although obviously not as big as the first aircraft due in for maintenance."

As an established aviation base, St Athan has all the facilities necessary for the enterprise, including a runway 6,000 feet in length with a Cat 1 DME ILS, meaning it can cope with practically any size of commercial aircraft, including wide-bodied airliners.