Home' Asian Aviation : AAV October 2017 Contents VIEWPOINT
Butcher, baker, pilot?
FLYING IN TODAY'S WORLD IS EXTREMELY SAFE as all the sta-
tistics show with fewer and fewer accidents and fatalities becoming
the norm. But one factor that might make people think twice before
boarding a plane is a looming shortage of pilots and the lack of the
necessary infrastructure to ramp up training to the levels required
to safely operate the thousands of planes on order globally.
Headlines like the recent one from Bloomberg --- "JetBlue to Ex-
pand Program That Turns Grocery Clerks Into Pilots" --- don't help
either. I don't know about you, but me, I want someone with grey
hair and thousands of hours in the cockpit flying the plane, not a
bagboy from the local supermarket.
That story, though, is illustrative of the serious problem the indus-
try faces. JetBlue, as Bloomberg reported, borrowed a page from its
Asian and European competitors and set up its own training pro-
gramme that for US$125,000 and four years of
e ort, "turns people with little or no experience
into commercial jet pilots"
That programme, and others like it, exists
simply because, as training provider CAE
said in a recent forecast, more than half of
the commercial pilots needed to fill the in-
dustry's cockpits over the next 10 years have
yet to even begin training. Globally, CAE says,
the worldwide aviation community will need
225,000 pilots by 2027 if it is to sustain its rapid
growth fuelled by low-cost carriers (LCCs) and
the rising middle-classes in China and India and elsewhere in Asia.
CAE said Asia alone will need 90,000 new pilots over the next 10
years and said globally, the industry would need to create 70 new
pilots "a day" to fill the cockpits.
The reasons for the pilot shortage are no secret. Fewer young
people are looking at aviation as a career, both in the cockpit and
on the ground as technicians and engineers. Pilots today say low
wages, limited benefits and long hours discourage new entrants
into the field and pilots in the US are also handicapped because of
requirements that they have 1,500 hours of flight experience unless
they have prior military experience or have graduated from special-
ised programmes. Most countries, according to the International
Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO), require a minimum of about 250
hours to obtain a licence to work as a co-pilot.
CAE, and companies like Alsim, which makes simulators, are
trying to quickly escalate their o erings by moving into China and
India and other jurisdictions like Singapore to expand their training
programmes and products. Alsim for example, has expanded its op-
erations in India, recently opened an o ice in China and has grown
its sales in Southeast Asia.
But even with expanded training efforts, funding those pro-
grammes is presenting a problem. JetBlue said despite the fact it
had thousands of applicants for its programme, students had trou-
ble getting loans to pay for it. And in Australia, questions over one
programme there raised safety concerns.
A private school based at Parafield Airport has been criticised
because of questions raised over pass rates for students and loans
taken out to pay the school for their training. The school found itself
in conflict because if the students did not
pass, they could not qualify for a loan scheme
necessary to pay the school, meaning the
school might have been more concerned with
them passing even though they may not have
One o icial said requirements for colleges to
achieve pass rates of at least 50 percent in or-
der for their students to qualify for loans "puts
a flight school in an invidious position...It can
lose its accreditation to o er students funding,
and potentially be out of business if it sticks
to its safety mandate...Or it can try to shove people through who
potentially shouldn't be flying, in an e ort to maintain its business
viability. The unintended consequences are horrific."
So while flying in today's modern aviation world is, without a
doubt, safe, and getting safer, the rush to fill the cockpit over the next
10 years could have, as the man said, "unintended consequences"
that will need to be guarded against if the breakneck pace of flying
--- safely --- is to continue.
Ma Driski EDITOR
As more planes head east,
MRO opportunities are following
ASIA V MIDDLE EAST
Can the Middle East's carriers
continue their winning ways?
SAFETY IN ASIA
LCC growth and cost-cutting drives
--- will Asia's skies remain safe?
Fewer young people
are looking at aviation
as a career, both in
the cockpit and on the
ground as technicians
6 AsianAviation | October 2017
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