The Pilot Shortage Crisis
The aviation industry is one of the fastest growing industries in the world, due to globalisation, business travel and an appetite for international leisure travel. With that comes a forecasted pilot skills shortage crisis across the globe. This crisis was initially thought to only be a threat in the rapidly expanding Middle-East and Asian markets, but the pilot shortage has spread to North America, Europe and Africa, suggesting that international airlines may start plundering pilots from South Africa.
The Causes of Pilot Shortages
Already, South Africa’s aviation industry has seen a decline in the number of qualified pilots and aviation professionals. Below are a few forecasted statistics regarding the aviation industry:
- Roughly 40% of experienced aviation professionals in South Africa are aged 55 years and above
- Air traffic globally is set to double by 2030
- An estimated 533 000 new commercial airline pilots are needed in order to support the growth of aviation over the next 20 years
There are two main factors that are contributing to a shortage of pilots within the aviation industry, these are:
- It is no secret that it is time-intensive and costly path to becoming a pilot; a combination of academic fees, substantial flight hours and a series of certifications all add up to a substantial expense, followed by more flight time typically built through a number of jobs before establishing one’s career path as a commercial pilot.
- On the latter end of a pilot’s career spectrum, a mandatory retirement age of 65 is set. A wave of pilots are now at or near retirement age.
So What Are The Solutions To The Pilot Shortages?
A suggested solution to this shortage from 43 Air School is to ensure pilots receive essential training earlier on in their careers, through the form of AB Initio, Advanced and Direct entry training courses.
These courses will help transition the pilot’s early operational background experience and develop the skill-set required for safe and efficient multi-crew flight deck operation while consolidating existing aviation knowledge, instrument flying and technical competence.
The pilot’s career path isn’t always straightforward or easy, and the work is certainly challenging – however, hard work and dedication will allow an aspiring pilot to conquer these challenges and the doors of opportunity will “fly” open. As the saying goes, “the skies the limit…”