The Experts Say…
Experts from the leading Approved Training Organisations give their view of the job market
We asked senior representatives of the ATOS how good are the employment prospects in general for commercial pilots. “At present employment prospects are fantastic,” says Mark J Casey, CEO and Head of training at Atlantic Flight Training Academy, based in Cork. “We are getting weekly queries from airlines regarding student numbers approaching completion.” There is wide agreement on this: “We are finding graduates get employment easily, sometimes with multiple job offers simultaneously,” says Rod Wren, CEO Wings Alliance and Director at Bristol Groundschool.
Ian Cooper, Chief Operating Officer of new Gloucester-based ATO Skyborne adds a personal perspective: “I have worked in the aviation industry for twenty years and, as of now, employment has never been so buoyant. Demand has never been stronger for highly-skilled international airline pilots and, to put this into perspective, Airbus and Boeing are both anticipating the requirement of 617,000 new pilots by 2035.”
Colin Rydon, VP of Training, Safety and Compliance at L3 Commercial Training Solutions, concurs: “There is currently huge international growth in the commercial aerospace sector which directly means there is a really strong demand for new pilots. To put that into context, there will be approximately 9,000 new commercial aircraft joining the global fleet over the
next five years to meet passenger numbers−and obviously those planes need pilots to fly them. Therefore for this period, we estimate that around 23,000 new pilots a year will be required to fly these new aircraft and a further 7,000 a year will be needed to serve the pilot attrition with retirements. Because of this favourable job market and our relationship with airline customers we are seeing many of our trained pilots receive job offers less than six months after completing their courses.”
Which regions, industry sectors, companies and/or airlines offer the best opportunities for a job? “Right now, if you can fog a mirror, you can get a job in aviation,” jokes Richard J Gentil, President of Naples Air Center. “The airlines are desperate and the acute shortage is only going to get worse. Asia−mostly China−is looking at a quarter of a million pilots needed, and they are going to raise the pay for pilots globally due to their needs and the money they are offering for trained captains. You will see offers for B737 captains in China in the $500,000 a year range, tax free. And the key words here are ‘tax free’!”
“At the moment, there are some fantastic opportunities in Asia, particularly in China,” observes Ian Cooper of Skyborne. “According to a recent article in the Financial Times, the Chinese aviation market grew by thirteen per cent in 2017 and Chinese airlines are expected to purchase 7,000 aircraft over the next two decades, which will lead to significant demand for qualified commercial pilots.”
Colin Rydon of L3 sees growth as “very much a global trend and we are seeing strong demand for new pilots from our airline customers in Europe, America and the Middle East as well as Asia. Growth within regional or low-cost carriers continues apace and this is where most new pilots secure their first jobs. This also means that opportunities for pilots to move quickly through into roles of command are better than ever.”
Rod Wren of Wings Alliance/ BSG is specific about the airlines involved: “Ryanair continues to dominate, planning to recruit 1,000 pilots this year. Other low-cost carriers are also major recruiters – easyjet, Wizz, Jet2 and Norwegian. Flybe have a steady requirement and other regional carriers, even if they have no growth plans, have job opportunities when they replace staff moving on to other carriers.
“There are great opportunities in Eastern and Southern Europe, with Wizz and Ryanair particularly targeting certain bases.”
Changes in training Has the emphasis on the type of training changed in recent years? Yes, says Mark J Casey, “airlines are very focused on a competency based approach to training with a focused emphasis on the nine EASA evidence-based training core competencies. AFTA has embedded all these right from the commencement of training. A pilot’s NTS (non technical skills) are of paramount importance to
ABOVE: such is the demand, ATOS like L3T are opening new facilities all the timeLEFT: headed by experienced professionals, Skyborne is a new name in the field
BELOW: ATOS are re-equipping with glass-cockpit aircraft