The Ex­perts Say…

Seek­ing to be­come a com­mer­cial pi­lot can be a cal­cu­lated risk – es­pe­cially if you take the mod­u­lar route – so what are the cur­rent em­ploy­ment prospects like? We asked some of the lead­ing pro­fes­sional flight train­ing providers for their views and tips.

Pilot - - GO COMMERCIAL! - Com­piled by Ju­dith Austin

With the fi­nan­cial mar­kets re­cov­er­ing at dif­fer­ing rates, still im­pact­ing eco­nomic ac­tiv­ity in many coun­tries, and with un­cer­tainty sur­round­ing a post-brexit UK, is this a good time to con­sider be­com­ing a com­mer­cial pi­lot? It’s a big in­vest­ment in terms of time, money and ded­i­ca­tion; will this be worth it and suit­ably re­warded? We sought the views of a num­ber of train­ing providers.

Our first ques­tion was about em­ploy­ment prospects, and the good news is that all re­spon­dents agreed that these are good both now and for the fore­see­able fu­ture, par­tic­u­larly on fixed wing. Richard Gen­til of Naples Flight Cen­ter says the cycli­cal na­ture of hir­ing pi­lots has changed. “Both Boe­ing and Air­bus agree that be­tween now and 2035 they need 617,000 trained and hired just to meet the needs of the nearly 40,000 air­craft be­ing built dur­ing that time.” Alex O’lough­lin of FTA Global adds that “104,000 of these will be re­quired in Europe” and that “sup­ply is not keep­ing up with de­mand… A num­ber of our grad­u­ates se­cure pi­lot roles within weeks of com­plet­ing our cour­ses.” Another fac­tor fu­elling this de­mand is iden­ti­fied by An­thony Pet­te­ford, Vice Pres­i­dent & Prin­ci­pal of L3 Air­line Academy: “A sig­nif­i­cant num­ber of cur­rent air­line pi­lots (born dur­ing the baby-boom) are now reach­ing their re­tire­ment age, fur­ther stim­u­lat­ing de­mand.”

There is fur­ther con­sen­sus on which re­gions and in­dus­tries may of­fer the best prospects. Jordi Ma­teu of EAS Barcelona says, “There’s no doubt that Asia-pa­cific, with China at the top, cre­ates one of the largest vol­umes of work [and] the Mid­dle East and Latin Amer­ica are also ex­pe­ri­enc­ing a grow­ing need for pi­lots.” An­thony Pet­te­ford and Richard Gen­til agree. An­thony cited Boe­ing and Air­bus fore­casts that “forty per cent of new pi­lots be­tween 2017 and 2036 will fly in Asia and a fur­ther eigh­teen per cent and seven­teen per cent re­spec­tively will be needed in North Amer­ica and Europe.” Richard split out ac­tual fig­ures, such as Asia 248,000, North Amer­ica 103,000 and Mid­dle East 58,000, adding that “China has com­pa­nies will­ing to pay $400,000 a year tax free for B737 cap­tains.”

Iso­bel Hall of Kura Avi­a­tion said: “Our pi­lots find work in sched­uled air­lines, with char­tered air­lines, re­gional air­lines, short haul and long haul op­er­a­tors, with cargo op­er­a­tors and with busi­ness jet op­er­a­tors. Ryanair, easyjet and Nor­we­gian have been re­cruit­ing heav­ily for some­time and are set to con­tinue do­ing so.” On the he­li­copter side, Phil Croucher of Cale­do­nian Ad­vanced Pi­lot Train­ing sees more em­ploy­ment ac­tiv­ity in “the more ob­scure ar­eas, such as crop spray­ing.” And that the most promis­ing ro­tary sec­tor is “Util­ity he­li­copter fly­ing – there are sev­eral peo­ple free­lanc­ing out there.”

We asked if the type of train­ing has changed em­pha­sis re­cently and whether FTOS have seen a dif­fer­ence in the num­bers of in­di­vid­u­als com­ing for­ward to train. Jordi Ma­teu of EAS Barcelona com­ments, “The qual­ity of the train­ing has gained higher im­por­tance in re­cent years.

Ex­cel­lence is what mat­ters. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances in com­mer­cial avi­a­tion re­quires a con­stant in­vest­ment in the lat­est ma­te­ri­als, re­sources and highly-qual­i­fied teach­ing staff, ca­pa­ble of de­liv­er­ing the high­est qual­ity train­ing in line with the re­quire­ments of air op­er­a­tors. We’ve no­ticed a greater in­flux of stu­dents from cen­tral and north­ern Europe… as well as the Mid­dle East and South Amer­ica. The lat­ter are in­ter­ested in ob­tain­ing a li­cence as pres­ti­gious as the Euro­pean EASA.”

Alex O’lough­lin at FTA Global agrees, say­ing FTA now pro­vides both in­te­grated and mod­u­lar train­ing and has forged re­la­tion­ships with com­pa­nies such as Kura Avi­a­tion and Vir­tual Avi­a­tion, who de­liver spe­cial­ist, air­line prepa­ra­tion in­clud­ing en­hanced MCC/JOC cour­ses. She adds “The air­lines are em­ploy­ing more and

“Com­mit­ment... by in­di­vid­u­als who ‘took the risk’ is pay­ing off”

more pi­lots from a mix of rep­utable train­ing providers that have com­pleted dif­fer­ent types of train­ing.” Iso­bel Hall of Kura adds, “Mod­u­lar trained pi­lots were per­ceived to be tak­ing a greater risk and I think the high level of mo­ti­va­tion, re­silience and pro­fes­sional com­mit­ment demon­strated by in­di­vid­u­als who ‘took the risk’ is now pay­ing off.” In­ter­est­ingly, Alex points out that the CAA is now is­su­ing fewer li­cences but says that the num­ber of stu­dents en­rolled at FTA has in­creased. “Grad­u­ates rec­om­mend our train­ing to oth­ers, to such an ex­tent that we are al­most fully booked for the next twelve months. Most of our stu­dents join our cour­ses be­cause of rec­om­men­da­tions.”

Naples Flight Cen­ter’s Richard Gen­til high­lights a change due to tech­nol­ogy, whereby stu­dents to­day fol­low “the ma­genta line. They want EFIS like the Garmin G1000 for their PPL train­ing but the G1000 does ev­ery­thing for them so they are not learn­ing the ba­sics of be­ing a pi­lot. They do not learn sit­u­a­tional aware­ness and do not learn to nav­i­gate.” He claims air­lines have stopped giv­ing sim­u­la­tor tests in the USA as “too many ap­pli­cants were fail­ing”. Naples Flight Cen­ter places more em­pha­sis on train­ing with­out GPS on cross-coun­try flights so stu­dents learn to nav­i­gate and im­prove

You will log many hours on sim­u­la­tors - this is EAS Barcelona’s FNPT II sim

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