The career choices, but today, we are competing

                  The global aviation industry
has faced numerous challenges over the past couple of years – from travel bans,
to increasingly competitive pricing by budget airlines, and more. Among a
series of shocking industry events was when Ryanair announced that it would
cancel 18,000 flights between November 2017 and March 2018, resulting in a public
relations nightmare and trouble with regulators. However, what was most
startling about the Ryanair decision was the reason behind it: that the airline
had messed up the planning of pilot holidays. While Ryanair might be one of the
first airlines in Europe to face tangible pressures, pilot shortage is a global
problem that must be addressed in order to avoid a detrimental long-term impact
on the industry, and a long-term solution is the only way to do so.

The aviation sector currently employs 500,000
professional pilots worldwide. Looking forward, reports indicate that it will
need 600,000 more in the next 20 years as more pilots retire, and as the
industry grows by 6 per cent with another 35,000 airliners expected to enter
the market across the globe. Within that same period, the industry will produce
US$5.6 trillion worth of aircraft. Accordingly, industry leaders must get
serious about finding a sustainable solution to this international crisis, and the
solution requires the collaboration of training schools, airlines and other
related institutions.

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Being a pilot used to be perceived as one of the most
exciting career choices, but today, we are competing with a range of career
opportunities that didn’t even exist a decade ago. In order to overcome this,
the pilot profession must reinforce its appeal. In order to attract new pilots,
one of the key elements is an attractive salary and benefits package, as well
as support for training costs, either direct or through industry-based funding

Initial training costs can actually dissuade many
students keen to pursue the pilot profession. In the UK, in addition to the
challenge of attracting the interest of prospective students, each student has
to currently factor in a sum of GBP 100,000 (over AED 500,000) to be paid to
the flight school for an 18-24 month training programme, which students pay for
themselves. To earn a full professional Airline Transport Pilot license, students
then have to undergo training for their aircraft, and then gain 1,500 hours in
a multi-crew environment. Typically, this takes two to three years, a period in
which the airline pays a reduced salary but covers the initial type training
costs of GBP 30,000 (more than AED 150,000), with the pilot being committed to
the airline that paid for it.

                  In the UAE, airlines have made strides in improving their
training offering. 2017 saw the opening of the Emirates Flight Training
Academy, which is one of the most advanced and integrated aviation training
facilities in the world. Emirates’ commitment to support and develop pilots for
its own operations as well as for the broader aviation industry is commendable,
but there is a wider issue at hand. Long gone are the times where pilots were
employed by one airline throughout their lifetime; nowadays, commercial pilots
change jobs an average of seven times in their careers.

Currently, all aircraft are flown
with the same procedures that are prescribed by the manufacturer. Every airline
will then have its own set of procedures as well, which means that these pilots
must re-learn a set of new information every time, which can be risky in a job
where stressful situations can be encountered, and thinking on your feet is
required. In order to combat
this, a more universal type of training must be established, and which we at insert name of organisation
are trying to achieve.

Rather than focusing on technical knowledge on a specific
type of aircraft and airline rules for licensing, it is important to teach new
pilots a series of core competencies that will allow them to transfer their
knowledge and skills more effectively. These will include things like
communication – how to communicate with colleagues, ground staff, airport
traffic control, and so on; the adaptation of knowledge and ability to
interpret more accurately; and more.

Once this is in place, we must find a way to support
aspiring pilots financially. This could look like a non-profit organisation or
a trust funded by manufacturers, who would combine financial resources fund
private education. Students could then pay this back with their earned income
once they have completed their licenses.

By securing the endorsement and financial support of
manufacturers and airlines, and with more universal training, the aviation industry
will attract broader interest and gain a more diverse candidate base,
transcending countries and genders. This will open up talent pools that will
allow the airline industry to survive the pilot shortage, and thrive