In February 2012 Boeing signed a record-braking $22.4 billion order for 230 Boeing 737s. Aviation market is currently recovering after the latest consecutive economic crises and the number of new aircraft orders is rapidly increasing. However, it is still unclear who will pilot the expanding global aircraft fleet in the near future.
In order to pilot Boeing 737 some airlines require the candidates to produce records a total equal to at least 2000 real flight hours, 500 hours of which must be spent while operating a certain aircraft type. However, it is an unattainable task for young pilots. ’Usually a person who has recently gained a private pilot license doesn’t have more than 200 flight hours. In the meantime, according to EASA requirements, in order to command a multi-pilot commercial aircraft you need to have ATPL with a minimum of 1500 flight hours! This is why many young pilots are faced with a conundrum – they cannot land a proper job because they do not have a sufficient number of flight hours but at the same time they cannot gain extra flight hours, because they don’t have a job,’ says the CEO of AviationCV.com Skaiste Knyzaite. Depending on local legislations, pilots working for larger airlines spend on average 800-900 hours annually, but these opportunities are out of reach for young pilots.
Some young Western pilots may try to find a job in other regions, e.g. in pilot-lacking Asia. ‘Unfortunately the Asian companies are often interested only in experienced Captains or First Officers with 4000-5000 flight hours. The CIS countries also lack pilots, since local airlines are switching over from the Russian-manufactured aircraft to the Western ones. This may also be related to pilot aging issues in the region. After all, according to the Russian authorities, approx. 500 Russian pilots retire every year,’ informed the CEO of AviationCV.com.
Faced with the danger of global skilled pilots’ shortage, some international airlines have already launched the so-called Cadet Programs - an investment into a company’s future pilot team. These programs provide extra training and flight experience for young pilots in exchange for fixed long-term job contracts. Unfortunately, not all pilots are given the opportunity to participate in the program, since only limited amount of applicants can be accepted. Moreover, due to internal and external factors some large airlines, e.g. Quantas and the British Airways, have temporarily suspended such initiatives.
Meanwhile, international air companies are not the only ones lacking pilots. Smaller regional airlines are in a constant unequal struggle with their larger counterparts for experienced crew members. The former are generally more compliant in employing and providing extra experience for post-graduate pilots. Unfortunately, it is still uneasy to find a job even at a regional air company, since such airlines tend to solve their resourcing issues with the help of recruitment agencies. ‘Smaller airlines are very sensitive to fleet and market-related changes. Today a lot of air companies, especially the low cost ones, prefer to lease an aircraft and to outsource the crew in order to maintain flexible fleet and route network formation. But a pilot actually also wins in this situation! Third-party projects like AviationCV.com Cadet Program provide young pilots with long-term contracts and invaluable start-up opportunities without the need to pay in advance for the participation in the program. Airlines, on the other hand, not only get the best flight school graduates, but also gain a possibility to literally cultivate a professional they require. Such Cadet Programs prepare pilots for their future lease and thus they help to save money and time for all parties. It’s a Win-Win situation!’ concluded Skaiste Knyzaite.