Flight Training and Pilot Supply a Priority for Big Industry Players

A global pilot shortage continues to grow, airlines airlines in the United States (with regional airlines being hit hardest) continue to feel the pilot shortage. On a global basis, Asia and the Middle East continue to see the largest growth in annual passenger enplanements. Deliveries of the worlds largest commercial service passenger aircraft (Airbus A-380) are evidence of this growth on pair routes outside the United States with additional 737NG delivery commitments equally strong. This need is being described as a shortage of pilots.

At least that is what lots of experts within the aviation industry think. And I for one am not going to argue. The reasons for the shortage are debatable, but the reality is that no matter the reason, we are going to need more pilots and big players in the industry are starting to take notice, and get involved.

166This past week, at AirVenture, Boeing announced it is getting involved in the pilot development pipeline when it announced a “comprehensive global training solution that provides all the training a pilot needs, from basic theory through qualification as a commercial jet first officer, the “right seat” in the flight deck.”
(More information at http://boeing.mediaroom.com/index.php?s=20295&item=129164.)

Building the pipeline of pilots is of critical importance for the industry, critical to meet the demands of the forcasted needs for pilots that the industry is going to need. Just this last week Boeing published its forecast for a continued increase in the need for pilots. Visit http://www.ainonline.com/aviation-news/2014-07-30/boeing-sees-increasing-demand-pilots-mechanics for more on this story.

Traditionally, big players such as manufacturers and airlines have not played a part in the pilot supply pipeline, but this is no longer an option for them. They aren’t seeing enough qualified candidates seeking employment to fill the seats of the airplanes that keep airlines flying (and buying airplanes from manufacturers).

In addition to Boeing, the Regional Aviation Association (RAA) launched
a website, Take Flight Tomorrow – http://actnow.takeflighttomorrow.org/,
as a collaborative effort within 167the airline industry to become involved
with the training pipeline. While this effort is focused on large scale academy style or university training environments as the pipeline, the reality is that those are not going to be enough. This effort is seeking members and interested parties to “Write your lawmakers in Washington, D.C. and urge them to ask the FAA to provide credit for high quality, structured training programs.”

RAA and large manufacturers are beginning to see the need to work with the flight training pipeline if we are going to keep the supply of pilots for airline service stable and strong enough to meet the demands of customer consumption of their products. On recent telcons at in meetings of industry training entities we have seen increased participation from representatives of companies such as Delta Airlines, United Airlines, and Airbus in addition to the previously mentioned RAA and Boeing. This represents a concerted effort by these and other large players in the aviation community to start communicating and working with the training providers in the United States.

The time has come to work together as training providers and consumers of pilots as a job pool. The model is changing and we are going to see structural changes in how we provide a pipeline of qualified pilots to airlines, manufacturers, and operators that provide commercial pilotage services. They need the flight training community, but it also means that the flight training community needs to step up our game, provide professional services, and learn what the product [what types of training and qualifications in pilots we train] needs are for these consumers. Our products as a flight training community are not aircraft or tickets for passengers, they are the qualified pilots we produce. Its time we look at the needs of our consumers for the products we provide and work together to make a qualified work pool available for the next generation of aviation.

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