Shortage of pilots could
hinder airlines' growth
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[June 20, 2017]
By Alana Wise
YORK (Reuters) - The worldwide commercial aviation industry will need an
extra 255,000 pilots by 2027 to sustain its rapid growth and is not
moving fast enough to fill the positions, according to a 10-year
forecast published by training company CAE Inc.
More than half of the required pilots have not yet begun training, the
report adds, storing up potential problems as the industry braces for an
increase in passenger air traffic that is expected to double the size of
the commercial air transport industry in the next 20 years.
"Rapid fleet expansion and high pilot retirement rates create a further
need to develop 180,000 first officers into new airline captains, more
than in any previous decade," said the report by CAE, which trains
pilots for airlines around the world.
"The shortage of pilots is a problem today. There's demand today, so
people need to start building a strategy with us or other professional
academies to be able to build that pipeline," Nick Leontidis, CAE's
Group President for civil aviation training solutions told journalists
at the Paris Airshow on Tuesday.
Rival L3 <LLL.N> also operates pilot training academies.
To meet demand, Leontidis said CAE would seek to grow its own training
academy business, rather than make acquisitions.
Pilot unions in the United States have said low wages and limited
benefits for entry-level positions are deterring a new generation of
potential aviators from pursuing the career.
In the United States, training requirements also are a hurdle for many
The United States is the only country to require co-pilots to have at
least 1,500 flight hours unless they have experience flying planes in
the military or are graduates of certain specialized programs.
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An Alitalia pilot holds
his cap at Fiumicino international airport in Rome September 24,
2008. REUTERS/Max Rossi
According to the U.N.'s aviation agency, which sets global standards typically
adopted by regulators from its 191-member countries, it takes a minimum of about
250 hours to obtain a commercial pilot license for work as a co-pilot.
By contrast, 1,500 hours is the minimum required to become a captain under norms
set by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), the U.N. agency
that supports the development of global aviation.
While the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration previously had followed ICAO
norms, the 1,500-hour requirement for co-pilots was imposed following the crash
of Colgan Air Flight 3407, a regional jet, in 2009, that killed 50 people.
The 1,500-hour mandate is supported by pilots' unions as a way to improve air
safety. However, regional airlines and some aviation experts say the tougher
standard does not make flying any safer and has exacerbated the pilot shortage
by making the training process longer and more costly.
(Reporting by Alana Wise in New York and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional
reporting by Victoria Bryan in Paris; Editing by Joseph White, Bill Trott and
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