ENAC History

A 70 years of Civil Aviation tradition

On 1st January 2011 Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC - National School of Civil Aviation) and Service d’Exploitation de la Formation Aéronautique (SEFA - Operating service for Aeronautical Training) merged. Before joining forces ENAC and SEFA had both made their mark on the history of French aviation.


After the Second World War, France experienced a real boom in air transport. Advances in technology allowed for more passengers to be transported, more safely and over greater and greater distances. However, safe air transport requires quality management and staff. It also requires harmonization between the different aviation sectors and thus a better understanding between the personnel working in each field.

These were the motivating principles of ENAC’s founders. At the forefront was Max Hymans, the then French Secretary General of Civil and Commercial Aviation (SGACC).

His idea was simple: air transport should be considered as a whole, requiring strict coordination between its parts. What area could have been more suitable to affirm the interdependence of these aviation professions than training? ENAC would fulfill this role.

Life at ENAC Orly

From 1948, but officially from the summer of 1949, ENAC set up in the area of Orly airport, at the heart of an essential air transport business: the airport. Near to the runways, the students watched the planes land and take-off, they were symbolically placed at the heart of their future area of activities. This base, initially planned as provisional, would, however, last for almost 20 years.

1969 - ENAC sees "la vie en rose"

It was towards the end of the 60s that major changes would occur for ENAC. In cramped premises that had become dilapidated and unsuitable, on the edge of an airport that had seen its volume of traffic soar, ENAC had to find a new environment for its future development.

Many projects were considered and finally ,a decentralisation policy would lead ENAC to leave the capital. Now, Toulouse would be the hosting ground for the French national school of civil aviation.
A city which had seen the Aéropostale pioneers take-off, quite a symbol!

Therefore, in September 1968, ENAC inaugurated its completely new facilities located in the centre of the scientific campus of Rangueil near Paul Sabatier scientific university, the French National Centre for Space Studies (CNES) and various CNRS (French national council of scientific research) laboratories.

Toulouse would give ENAC a particularly appropriate aeronautical and scientific environment.

On 1st January 2011, Ecole Nationale de l’Aviation Civile (ENAC - National School of Civil Aviation) and Service d’Exploitation de la Formation Aéronautique (SEFA - Operating service for Aeronautical Training) merged.

About SEFA

The SEFA is the direct heir to a long tradition of state involvement in support for light aviation.

1936: the Front Populaire created Sections d’Aviation Populaire (SAP - popular aviation divisions), with the aim of democratizing light aircraft pilot training among young people, then providing more French military aviation crew.

1946: creation of  "Service de l’Aviation Légère et Sportive" (SALS - Light and Sports Aviation Service), the aim of which was essentially to provide flying clubs, planes and instructors.

1955 SALS became "Service de la Formation Aéronautique et des Sports Aériens" (SFASA - Aeronatical and Air Sports Training Service), then in 1959  "Service de la Formation Aéronautique, du Travail Aérien et des Transports" (SFATAT - Aeronautical Training, Aerial Work and Transport Service). In 1964 it was renamed "Service de la Formation Aéronautique (SFA - Aeronautical Training Service) and finally "Service de la Formation Aéronautique et du Contrôle Technique" (SFACT - Aeronautical Training and Technical Control Service) in 1976.

These successive names reflected the developments of the organization and the administration of civil aviation, but also the direct involvement of the state in training pilots. Therefore, several "National Centres" would be created, starting in 1945 for gliding (Challes-les-Eaux, Beynes, la Montagne Noire, St Auban, Pont St Vincent), then for motorized flight (Carcassonne in 1945, Saint Yan in 1947) and even for skydiving (Biscarosse in 1953).

However, over the years the civil aviation administration gradually withdrew from its activities in the area of gliding and then skydiving.

1959: the Saint Yan centre welcomed the first intake of student airline pilots (EPL), therefore inaugurating a new mandate for SEFA: the training of transport pilots.

The growth of aviation activity would lead to the creation and development of numerous centres.
The National Centres were attached to the Civil Aviation service in charge of training. The creation of a single management structure became indispensable.

SEFA was therefore created in 1993, bringing together in one unit all the means necessary to carry out the tasks requested by DGAC (French Directorate General of Civil Aviation). The SEFA headquarters were set up in Muret in 1996, combining the central services previously situated in St Cyr l’Ecole and Paris.

Discover all ENAC's history on our Wikipedia page
The history of ENAC in images

Présentation de l'ENAC



Back to top