It is no secret that we are amid a form of crisis with pilots in short demand.
Many news outlets have made many articles covering this topic but I would like to take you down a different path and talk about the issues that seem to be overlooked by a lot of people.
As I am sure most of you are aware both Airbus and Boeing have estimated that Airlines will require as many as 617,000 pilots by 2035, these numbers, however, may not be as accurate as first thought.
Yes, it is true that airlines have struggled with a shortage of Pilots, UAE national carrier Emirates is one of these airlines, who have been forced to park planes up due to crew shortages.
So how did we end up in this situation?
Well the removal of many cadet and airline sponsored programs in no doubt hurt the flow of pilots, with many people unable to brunt the £100,000 cost of becoming an airline pilots, (which doesn’t include the £30,000 extra required for a type rating) these issues come as many airlines faced off the full force of a global recession.
The question now that many people have though pilots have airlines started again to combat this shortage by once again opening up more pilot training programs?
Well in short, yes.
Many airlines have indeed required doing their part in helping train the new generation of pilots, but with only a few programs available and so many people applying for them, getting a spot on these programs has become very competitive.
The real question is if airlines are supporting cadet programs how are we still going to be short of qualified airline pilots?
Well the answer may just shock you, or it may not. If you have ever been to some local flights schools you may have noticed that many of them have not got many flight instructors (This may not apply to every country, but it is certainly an issue in the UK).
The reason for this is that when airlines went of a large recruitment drive, the not only turned to flight schools such as CAE Oxford, L3 Academy or FTE Jerez to name but a few, to help train more pilots.
But they also took a swing for all the high hour qualified flight instructors, which I would argue has left us in a worse situation than we were in before.
So what does this mean?
Well, you can rest assured now that you should be able to find a job as a flight instructor with a fair amount of ease, the sheer demand for flight instructors is going to skyrocket.
The issue with the pilot shortages is that it boils down to a supply and demand, the supply is not there, but the demand is huge, it might be worth noting though that the numbers of pilots forecast to be required does not reflect only passenger aircraft, cargo pilots in those numbers.
But, how can the pilot shortage be real? Surely we all remember the Airlines Air Berlin, and Monarch airlines ceasing operations? What happened to all those pilots?
Well most of them were ‘snapped’ up rather quickly by airlines around the world, which did not fare well for the pilots who had just completed their training as they were now going up against pilots who had all the same qualifications as them, except they had active type ratings and hundreds of hours on jets.
This was a big win for some airlines as it meant that they now had access to all the pilots they needed to continue to expand their fleets and they would not have to spend large amounts of money training new pilots with little to no experience on jets.
But the truth is that no one can truly predict how many pilots we need, yes.
The demand for air travel grows every year and yes airlines continue to expand and continue to require more pilots, however, all of these numbers are balanced on a knife edge, on the tip of the knife you have the airlines and the pilots, on the other side you have the world economy, which includes everything from interest rates to wages and aviation fuel costs.
You may not know it but the truth is that in almost every airline it is the passengers who pay your wages and if there
Economic changes such as interest rates and the strength of the economy will always affect aviation the hardest, if people have less money they will be less likely to travel, which means less planes, less profit and smaller amounts of crew required.
This however should not put you off pursuing this as a career, but before you do, just weigh up your options, is it not more beneficial to enter a market where you are guaranteed a job over one that has hundreds of qualified people looking for the same work?
Yes, training to become a pilot will remain for the foreseeable future an expensive affair, maybe dropping the costs of training will be part of the solution, but the first part of the solution is to find the problem, why do we have so many pilots out of work, yet need so many pilots to fill empty planes, once we answer this we will be able to begin to work of the solution that will benefit everyone.