As global de­mand for avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als con­tin­ues to grow, AVB speaks to re­gional air­lines and train­ing acad­e­mies part­nered with the in­dus­try to ex­am­ine the lat­est trends in avi­a­tion tal­ent de­vel­op­ment

Aviation Business - - CONTENTS - By Pari­naaz Nav­dar

We look at the lat­est trends in avi­a­tion tal­ent de­vel­op­ment

Are­cent re­port by Boe­ing pre­dicts the global avi­a­tion sec­tor will re­quire 804,000 new civil avi­a­tion pi­lots, 769,000 new main­te­nance tech­ni­cians, and 914,000 new cabin crew over the next 20 years. The de­mand is fu­elled by the growth in pas­sen­ger jour­neys. Eti­had Avi­a­tion Train­ing man­ag­ing di­rec­tor Cap­tain

Paolo La Cava says: “The num­ber of pas­sen­ger jour­neys on the world’s air­lines is ex­pected to dou­ble within 20 years, and air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers Airbus and Boe­ing are both pre­dict­ing that to­tal air­craft num­bers will also dou­ble to ac­com­mo­date this growth.”

While the in­dus­try con­tin­ues to grap­ple with the global short­age of trained pi­lots and other avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als, de­mand is also grow­ing for trained pro­fes­sion­als in other ar­eas.

“No­tably, there is a grow­ing de­mand for drone pi­lots, ATC pro­fes­sion­als and avi­a­tion psy­chol­o­gists,” says Al­pha Avi­a­tion Academy gen­eral man­ager Cap­tain Nad­hem AlHa­mad.

Emi­rates Air­line and Group ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent Ab­du­laziz Al Ali notes:

“The Mid­dle East needs to train around 10 pi­lots every day as the re­gion needs around 60,000 pi­lots by 2036. Be­yond this, the need for new skillsets is clear to see. Ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence, data an­a­lyt­ics, and cy­ber­se­cu­rity are just a few ar­eas where we are in­vest­ing for the fu­ture.”

While the lack of tal­ent per­sists, there is grow­ing in­ter­est in avi­a­tion ca­reers in the re­gion, ac­cord­ing to Al Ali. He says: “Avi­a­tion is ex­pected to con­trib­ute around 20% of UAE’s to­tal GDP this year and around AED324 bil­lion (US$ 88.2bn) by 2030, and there is height­ened aware­ness of all the pos­si­ble ca­reers within the in­dus­try – it’s not just about being pi­lots or cabin crew. Avi­a­tion and re­lated ca­reers are grow­ing at an ex­po­nen­tial rate and there is strong de­mand for train­ing.”

Ex­pan­sion of the re­gion’s avi­a­tion sec­tor is also draw­ing in­ter­est from avi­a­tion acad­e­mies and train­ing in­sti­tu­tions, ob­serves AlHa­mad.

He ex­plains: “There is a grow­ing in­flux

of in­vestors and com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in set­ting-up acad­e­mies or in­sti­tu­tions in the Mid­dle East given the ma­jor avi­a­tion­re­lated ex­pan­sions and de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place in the re­gion how­ever, cost and avail­abil­ity of qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced train­ers re­main a chal­lenge. We have also re­cently seen acad­e­mies in neigh­bour­ing coun­tries open­ing their doors, ul­ti­mately leading to an in­creased com­pe­ti­tion among avi­a­tion providers in the re­gion.

“The dif­fer­en­ti­a­tion be­tween providers in the Mid­dle East and the rest of the world in­clude ma­tu­rity – we are not as ma­ture as our Western com­peti­tors; and flex­i­bil­ity – we are more open and flex­i­ble com­pared to the Eastern avi­a­tion train­ing providers.” Ad­di­tion­ally, the train­ing provider’s brand­ing, the abil­ity to secure jobs for trainees and a short­age of qual­i­fied in­struc­tors are also chal­lenges the sec­tor faces.


While some air­lines such as Air Ara­bia train their staff through third-party acad­e­mies such as Al­pha Avi­a­tion, other ma­jor air­lines have in­vested heav­ily in build­ing in-house train­ing fa­cil­i­ties.

At Emi­rates, for in­stance, all cadet pi­lots are train­ing the Emi­rates Flight Train­ing Academy, which launched in 2017. The academy has its own fleet of 27 air­craft, ded­i­cated air traf­fic con­trol tower and a runway.

The air­line’s cabin crew also go through safety and emer­gency train­ing, which cov­ers air­craft equip­ment, fire­fight­ing, in­flight emer­gen­cies and evac­u­a­tion, and med­i­cal emer­gen­cies.

“We are also in­vest­ing in ar­eas such as dig­i­tal lead­er­ship and con­tem­po­ris­ing our train­ing of­fer­ings to give more flex­i­bil­ity, per­son­al­i­sa­tion and cus­tomi­sa­tion. The way that our peo­ple want to learn is chang­ing,” Al Ali states.

Ac­cord­ing to La Cava, train­ing new pi­lots from ‘ab ini­tio’ stage was a grow­ing ac­tiv­ity of Eti­had Avi­a­tion Train­ing, which cur­rently has over 100 cadet pi­lots and 22 train­ing air­craft, in­clud­ing four Em­braer Phe­nom 100 jets at its fa­cil­ity in Al Ain.

The num­ber of pas­sen­ger jour­neys on the world’s air­lines is ex­pected to dou­ble within 20 years, and air­craft man­u­fac­tur­ers Airbus and Boe­ing are both pre­dict­ing that to­tal air­craft num­bers will also dou­ble to ac­com­mo­date this growth” Paolo La Cava, Eti­had Avi­a­tion Train­ing

But by far the fastest-grow­ing seg­ment of the business has be­come re­train­ing pi­lots to fly new air­craft types, par­tic­u­larly the Airbus A320-fam­ily of nar­row body jets and the wide-bod­ied Boe­ing 787 Dream­liner, two of the most in-de­mand types.

La Cava says: “As air­lines and pri­vate op­er­a­tors in­tro­duce more of these jets, de­mand is in­creas­ing sig­nif­i­cantly to trans­fer pi­lots from fly­ing other air­craft types. Many op­er­a­tors sim­ply don’t have the fa­cil­i­ties or ca­pac­ity to re­train the num­ber of pi­lots re­quired for these planes. But we do, and de­mand for our ser­vices is grow­ing. In the first half of this year, our vol­umes have ex­ceeded ex­pec­ta­tions by 30%. A key rea­son for our suc­cess is that our in­struc­tors are also ac­tive pi­lots with Eti­had Air­ways, op­er­at­ing the air­craft types on which we are train­ing other pi­lots.”

While low cost car­ri­ers may not be able to match the qual­ity of in-house train­ing of­fered by ma­jor air­lines, they work with train­ing acad­e­mies to on­board staff and pro­vide con­tin­u­ous train­ing.

AlHa­mad says: “At Al­pha Avi­a­tion Academy UAE we pro­vide pi­lots ex­clu­sively for Air Ara­bia, the Mid­dle East’s leading low cost car­rier. We train our cadets via the multi-crew li­cence pro­gramme (MLP), which is a rel­a­tively new form of train­ing but one that en­ables the cadets to be trained on an Airbus A320 specif­i­cally to Air Ara­bia’s re­quire­ments. This best prac­tice en­sures the cadets can be trained rel­a­tively quickly com­pared to tra­di­tional train­ing meth­ods – in un­der 18 months – and are fully equipped with the spe­cific skills they re­quire.”


To meet the grow­ing de­mand for avi­a­tion pro­fes­sion­als, air­lines are in­creas­ingly tap­ping into the lo­cal tal­ent pool.

Al Ali says: “We sup­port the lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties in every des­ti­na­tion we fly to, and more so in Dubai, which is our hub. We fully sup­port the Dubai Gov­ern­ment’s ini­tia­tive on Emi­rati­sa­tion and above all, our trained, ta­lented and com­mit­ted Emi­ratis

con­trib­ute sig­nif­i­cantly to our business every day. Our Emi­rati col­leagues can be found in every role – whether work­ing on the ramp, in avi­a­tion se­cu­rity, as pi­lots, cabin crew, an­a­lysts, plan­ners and se­nior lead­ers across the or­gan­i­sa­tion. We of­fer an ex­ten­sive range of cour­ses, ed­u­ca­tional pro­grammes, train­ing, ex­ec­u­tive de­vel­op­ment, lead­er­ship and tal­ent man­age­ment cour­ses to de­velop our peo­ple across the board.”

De­vel­op­ing re­gional tal­ent comes with its own set of chal­lenges and op­por­tu­ni­ties, ac­cord­ing to AlHa­mad. The ben­e­fits in­clude max­imisatig the skills, tal­ent, creativity and com­pe­ten­cies that lo­cal

tal­ent pool has to of­fer, which complement­s or­gan­i­sa­tional goals.

“One of the key chal­lenges is en­sur­ing that re­gional tal­ent re­mains re­gional – that is, they do not get drawn to other mar­kets, which also have in­creased de­mand for pi­lots, such as Asia Pa­cific and North Amer­ica,” AlHa­mad says.

Dun­leavy White chief ex­ec­u­tive Rick White con­curs with AlHa­mad, say­ing: “The chal­lenges have been the breadth of ex­pe­ri­ence in the re­gion as there are only a de­fined num­ber of or­gan­i­sa­tions where can­di­dates can gain ex­pe­ri­ence. The ben­e­fits of re­cruit­ing lo­cal peo­ple for po­si­tions in lo­cal Mid­dle Eastern com­pa­nies is very

There is a grow­ing in­flux of in­vestors and com­pa­nies in­ter­ested in set­ting-up acad­e­mies or in­sti­tu­tions in the Mid­dle East given the ma­jor avi­a­tion-re­lated ex­pan­sions and de­vel­op­ments tak­ing place in the re­gion” Nad­hem AlHa­mad, Al­pha Avi­a­tion Academy

ap­par­ent as they know, un­der­stand and are part of the lo­cal cul­ture. The abil­ity to speak Ara­bic is al­ways a big pos­i­tive for can­di­dates. When you bring peo­ple in from over­seas who may not have lived and worked in the re­gion pre­vi­ously, it can be a chal­lenge to not only set­tle into their new role and com­pany but also for them and their fam­ily to ad­just to the re­gion.”

In ad­di­tion to re­cruit­ing new tal­ent, com­pa­nies are also in­vest­ing heav­ily in con­tin­ued pro­fes­sional de­vel­op­ment.

Emi­rates, for ex­am­ple, launched LinkedIn Learn­ing across the en­ter­prise to com­ple­ment its ex­ist­ing train­ing cur­ricu­lum.

Al Ali ex­plains: “This em­pow­ers our peo­ple to learn any­time, any­where from in­dus­try ex­perts, while min­imis­ing cost and the time away from work. We in­tro­duced dig­i­tal and mo­bile team ef­fec­tive­ness tools to con­nect and el­e­vate teams across group en­ti­ties.

“We of­fer be­spoke lead­er­ship, peo­ple de­vel­op­ment and men­tor­ing pro­grammes based on strate­gic business needs. We con­tinue to de­velop our lead­ers of today and tomorrow through mul­ti­ple plat­forms in­clud­ing the Global Business Con­sor­tium, in part­ner­ship with the London Business School and the Ex­ec­u­tive Lead­er­ship De­vel­op­ment Pro­gramme in part­ner­ship with War­wick Business School.

“We fo­cus on of­fer­ing dy­namic learn­ing as­sets, op­ti­mis­ing our tal­ent, build­ing the right in­fra­struc­ture, and align­ing our in­vest­ment and re­sources to high-im­pact ac­tiv­i­ties that ad­dress business needs and pre­pares us for the fu­ture of work.”

Look­ing ahead, ex­perts pre­dict AI and vir­tual re­al­ity will be an in­te­gral part of the train­ing process.

White says: “Cap­i­tal ex­pen­di­ture for Sims for all new Airbus and Boe­ing air­craft [will be a big trend]. Pre­vi­ously, both com­pa­nies pro­duced slight up­grades on equip­ment how­ever there is now a step change to the new air­craft sup­pli­ers are pro­duc­ing which bear lit­tle re­sem­blance to pre­vi­ous vari­ants.”

AlHa­mad says: “Among the chief trends and chal­lenges that will dom­i­nate the avi­a­tion train­ing mar­ket over the next 10 years in­clude the train­ing cy­cle be­tween de­vel­op­ing and maintainin­g qual­i­fied and ex­pe­ri­enced train­ers, main­te­nance of cost in a man­ner that is still viewed as at­trac­tive by the tar­get mar­ket, and pro­vi­sion of job se­cu­rity with a rea­son­able in­come for the trainees; there is a large num­ber of new fields open­ing up in var­i­ous in­dus­tries of­fer­ing more at­trac­tive re­mu­ner­a­tion.”

Al Ali ob­serves: “More and more, train­ing method­olo­gies will be­come col­lab­o­ra­tive across cities and con­ti­nents in real-time, and in­cor­po­rate the lat­est in­no­va­tions, in­clud­ing AI, vir­tual re­al­ity and pos­si­bly ro­bot­ics. Train­ing will be­come hy­per per­son­alised and cus­tomised, mak­ing for shorter, more in­tense train­ing ses­sions. The pace of change could chal­lenge train­ers and ed­u­ca­tors, who need to keep them­selves con­stantly up­dated.

“Avi­a­tion train­ing, any­where in the world, is gen­er­ally com­plex and reg­u­lated, and therein lies the chal­lenge and the op­por­tu­ni­ties.”

The Mid­dle East needs to train around 10 pi­lots every day to meet the de­mand for 60,000 pi­lots by 2036

A sim­u­la­tor at Al­pha Avi­a­tion Academy

Paolo La Cava, Eti­had Avi­a­tion Train­ing

Emi­rates cabin crew trainees prac­tise safety and emer­gency pro­ce­dures

Around 50 per cent of Al­pha Avi­a­tion Academy’s trainee cadets are fe­male

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