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Cheaper Or Even Free Training By Airlines And Flight Schools The Way To Address Pilot Shortage

Cheaper Or Even Free Training By Airlines And Flight Schools The Way To Address Pilot Shortage
Danny Perna, the founder of Epic Flight Academy in Florida felt a severe shortage of pilots in 2015 when sirliners from China to the United States were impacted by it. This was, according to him, a first time in 15 years that trained pilots as flight instructors at his school were not being found.
Perna said that offers of sign-on bonuses of up to $10,000 were of no use. Ultimately, he was forced to embark on a sponsorship program for pilot cadets’ training which would be partially funded by him.
“Basically once we started to fund training then it satisfied the pilot shortage,” he said. “So in our opinion it’s not a pilot shortage, it’s a funding or finance shortage, the inability for young people to be able to afford training.”
This trend has continued as carriers have been prevented from operating at full capacity and the salaries and perks of the pilots have been pushed up due to a diminishing pool of trained pilots and increased competition to get as many from that pool as possible.
One of the key factors that has resulted in the drastic downfall of the enrollment of the to be pilots at flight schools was the huge costs of getting flight training which can run up to over $70,000, say pilots. This trend is especially visible in countries like the U.S. and Australia. Following the 2008 financial crisis, loans for flight training have been stopped by many banks. 
And at the height of the financial crisis, large number of experienced pilots were also laid off which masked the low number of new student pilots back then.
“Trainees now have to consider where the cash will come from, be it huge bank loans or turning to the ‘bank of mum and dad,'” said Brian Strutton, general secretary of British Airline Pilots Association. The association is concerned about the inaccessibility of the profession.
While there would be an anticipated need for over 255,000 new pilots by 2027 to handle the present growth in the aviation industry according to training company CAE Inc, not morw thhan half od that number has started training to become pilots.
“Many countries are in the same state (as the United States). They are having shortages in their military and in their commercial environment,” said Vietnam Airlines JSC’s chief executive, Duong Tri Thanh.
“The problem we see, and are spending investment on, is how you reduce the cost or the time of getting somebody qualified into a jet,” he added.
The so-called “ab initio” programs where payments for training of pilots are given by the airlines and later recruits the pilots have been started by some airlines like Air France. Cebu Pacific launched a program in October where pilots training was paid for by it while it would be later deducted from the salaries of the pilots. Additionally, the training costs was dropped from 100,000 euros to 80,000 euros ($98,080.00) in October by Lufthansa Aviation Training.
“We see a growth in airline-sponsored programs, where graduates have line of sight to a job, from day one,” said Nick Leontidis, group president of civil aviation training solutions at CAE Inc. “Today, about 80 percent of our graduates are sponsored by an airline, where aspiring pilots are secured a job from day one.”
Laurent Martinez, Airbus’s head of services said that the company was looking to get into the ab initio program.
“We want to develop ab initio programs in partnership so we can extend our training capabilities from high school to a certified pilot,” he said. “We are developing this as we speak.”
“We have to be realistic in as far as the education standards and the expectations of students are changing. You are dealing with millennials,” said Shannon Wells, managing director at Airlines of Tasmania which owns the Par-Avion Flight Training school in Hobart, Tasmania. “The recruitment strategy for aviation has to change a bit. I think it is still a bit stuck in the past in terms of learning techniques.”

Christopher J. Mitchell

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