The aviation industry is growing at a very rapid pace. According to renowned aircraft manufacturer Boeing, the aviation industry requires 500,000 new pilots in the next 15 years in order to continuously provide valuable, efficient and safe service to the passengers who wish to travel to their destinations and the industry clients who rely on airlines and carriers. Here is a breakdown of pilot demand by region:
- Asia Pacific – 192,300 pilots
- Europe – 99,700 pilots
- North America – 85,700 pilots
- Latin America – 48,600 pilots
- Middle East – 40,000 pilots
- Africa – 16,500 pilots
- Russia and CIS – 15,200 pilots
It is crucial to understand how new demand was created. What were the developments that led to the realization that the world needed more pilots? What are the conditions in the aviation industry that are driving this surge in demand? In this article from the Alpha Aviation Group newsroom, we’re going to explore these questions and provide our valued readers the realities of the current landscape.
Global passenger traffic has increased, especially in Asia
According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), global passenger traffic increased to a staggering 6.1% in 2014, which translates to around 170 million more passengers compared to the previous years. The Asia-Pacific region comprises of 31% of that total demand.
Airlines are buying more aircraft to meet demand
To meet the rising number of passengers, and to replace old units, airlines have been purchasing dozens of new aircraft. According to Airbus, a record-breaking 629 aircraft were delivered to its customers in 2014. From January to April of 2015, 291 jetliners have been sold to airlines across the world. Those numbers will continue to steadily increase in the next few years. Each aircraft requires a minimum of six pilots to fly all year round.
The previous generation of pilots is retiring
The current retirement age for airline pilots is 65, with individuals over 60 subjected to a thorough medical checkup every six months. In spite of the high age, dozens of the older pilots are departing their professions. Unfortunately, according to a recent report by CNN, there are not enough new pilots to replace the diminishing figure. Japan, in fact, is planning to raise the retirement age to 67 just to delay the oncoming shortage.
The new batch of pilots lack the hours and certificates
One of the major concerns at the moment is that airlines are encountering a lack of experience and credentials with the new batch of graduating cadets. Most flight schools in the world offer a standard Private Pilot License (PPL), Commercial Pilot License (CPL) and Instrument Rating (IR) program. While this may be enough to allow a cadet to engage in commercial flying, most of the airlines prefer recruits who have logged in more hours.
According to Wendy Pursley, head of the British Airline Pilots Association, even if licensed cadets technically qualify “they cannot get jobs because they do not have enough experience – often only 195 hours of actual and simulator flying – for the airlines to want to take them on.”
Moreover, there is also the issue of type rating certifications. Airlines use specific types of aircrafts and regulatory boards require pilots to hold specific types of certifications before they can fly these planes. Since most of the airlines right now have eliminated their cadet programs to cut costs, and only a few flight schools offer a commercial pilot track with a type rating certification, like AAG’s Alpha Airline Pilot Program, the prospective pilots now have to pay for their additional courses. Some pilots don’t have the financial capability to fund their own type rating training.
These two factors combined significantly worsen the pilot shortage as it interrupts the expected influx of pilots that’s supposed to meet the demand.
Regardless of what people are saying, the shortage is real, and the only solution is to train more pilots and motivate the individuals who’ve always had the dream to travel the skies. More than ever, flight academies and training solutions providers, like the Alpha Aviation Group, are crucial to the industry. Their modern and cutting-edge technologies, strive for innovation, systems of knowledge and insight, and promise of a bright and prosperous future, are the keys to producing the next generation of pilots and aviation leaders.
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Photo by Doug via Flickr. CC BY NC ND 2.0.