Take off for Swansea student’s flight simulation software business

A 20-year-old business student from Swansea University has developed an airport and flight simulation software business that caters to over 3000 customers.

Joe Charman launched Pilot Plus when he was just 16 and now leads a team of three employees. His business creates 3D representations of real-world airports.

The application allows users to navigate planes through airports such as Gatwick, Bristol and Geneva virtually. It’s being used mainly by flight schools for training purposes.

So far, Joe and his team have created seven products under the Pilot Plus brand. However, they’re currently working on a product for London City Airport.

Talking about the business, Joe said: “When I was growing up, I wanted to be an airline pilot and was desperate to explore the industry.

“Before long I realised that airport simulation didn’t really exist as a product for the mass market, so with about £200 to my name, I started to develop my first product for Southampton Airport. I had my first few customers, which then turned into more and the customer base has kept growing since.”

Alongside running the business, Joe is studying for a degree in business management at Swansea University. He’s about to go into his third year.

Continuing with his entrepreneurial ambitions and looking to make new connections, Joe and another student set up Swansea University’s first Entrepreneurs Network.

He said: “I have always been business minded, but Big Ideas Wales has helped my personal development skills and linked me with many influential entrepreneurs, further fueling my entrepreneurial drive.”

As Joe goes into his third year, he plans to open an office in Swansea. He explained: “I have always found it easy enough to manage my university work and business life, knowing when to give one more attention than the other when up against deadlines.

“In my final year, I plan to take on more people to help expand our product range and continue to push to be the main market leader, competing with others that have launched in the last few years.”

Julie Walters, development manager for Big Ideas Wales, said:  “Joe is a shining example of a driven young person who Big Ideas Wales is proud to support. His entrepreneurial flair from such a young age is so impressive and we wish him continued success with Pilot Plus in the future.”

Rhodri Evans, enterprise support officer and enterprise champion at Swansea University, added: “At Swansea,  we encourage all our students to act upon their entrepreneurial flair to enhance their own experience at university and increase their employability when they graduate.”