The lack of highly qualified and experienced pilots is becoming an increasingly sore subject in the global aviation industry. However, it seems that it does not interfere with the ambitious fleet expansion plans airlines are set to implement. Air Asia have recently ordered 300 brand new Airbus A320 neo aircraft whilst Lion Air followed with 230 Boeing 737 and is planning to place an order for another 150 units - this deal will be the largest commercial airplane order ever in Boeing's history. AviationCV.com experts anticipate that by squeezing out even the slightest reserve from the European and North American markets the Asian region cause a vacuum effect in the entire global pilot marketplace. Furthermore, by increasing the competition and thus upsetting the pilot salary balance it will also exacerbate the problem.
An average aircraft requires 7-9 crews which means that the aforementioned airlines alone will call for 4700-6000 pilots. Although the CAE have recently established a new pilot and technical personnel training centre in India, the 5000 pilots it expects to train on a yearly basis will be an insufficient amount to satisfy the increasing demand.
‘Aircraft fleet expansion plans must correspond to the number of sufficiently trained and experienced pilots. Unfortunately, nowadays the ambitious plans airlines are set to implement fail to address that. The lion share of the experienced pilots’ market will undoubtedly be seized by the largest global carriers able to offer the most attractive employment packages. The smaller providers, on the other hand, may face serious challenges in order to stay on the global aviation map,’ commented the CEO of AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite.
Airlines will be forced to solve the ever deepening issues caused by pilot shortage and address one of the following niches. One scenario suggests that a certain number of pilots currently employed by smaller regional airlines in Europe and North America will transfer to the emerging markets. It is also possible that airlines unable to compete within the market will go bankrupt thus leaving their pilots to larger and better managed carriers. Then there is also the chance that the emerging regions will step up and manage to train the required number of pilots themselves. However, the last scenario is realistic only provided that there are considerable investments into the training infrastructure and quality control. Needless to say, several real flight simulators would be truly insufficient for such continent as Asia.
‘The current situation is obviously very favourable to the existing pilots: the harsh competition among airlines grants larger salaries, premiums, better work and living conditions, etc. However, the existing problem had to be addressed, as they say, ‘yesterday’, therefore the question remains largely open. The entire industry must not waste any more of the precious (and, in this case, very expensive) time and join forces in finding the most reasonable and effective solution,’ noticed S. Knyzaite.