• Cheyanne Enciso

Global aviation to struggle with pilot shortages

Aviation experts say the classic case of low supply and high demand has resulted in pilot shortages around the world.

Boeing's latest evaluations show that over the next 20 years, 790,000 more pilots will be needed globally to meet demands.

Dr Graham Wild, senior lecturer of aerospace engineering and aviation at RMIT University, says exponential growth in air travel doubles every 15 years.

“Based on the projections from a case study we did of Qantas, we expect that the 20,000 new aircraft in the Asia-Pacific region in the next 15 years will require 200,000 new pilots,” he says.

“No country is training pilots with a student base that is growing exponentially, and since the demand is growing that rapidly, supply is simply not keeping pace with demand.”

But there are other factors that contribute to the shortage, including education funding.

“It is very expensive to learn to fly,” says Wild.

“Employment and training usually go hand in hand, but you cannot apply for a job as a pilot without all the required qualifications and certifications, all obtained at your expense before you are even allowed to earn money in the industry.”

Murray Terwey, an instructor at Jandakot Airport, says airlines and the government could do a lot to improve the situation.

Australian airlines and Asian carriers such as Singapore Airlines have trained their pilots through cadetships when necessary.

“We are now seeing Australian carriers doing more of this, and I believe this will continue to be an important source of pilots for the major carriers,” says Terwey.

Terwey also says the best thing the government could do is to increase the funding of FEE-HELP and VET-FEE-HELP to mitigate the cost barrier.

A Diploma of Aviation (Commercial Pilot) will cost $115,000, depending on the institution.

But, Terwey and Wild encourage aspiring pilots to pursue the career, despite the drawbacks.

“If the individual is one of those with that strong desire to be an aircraft captain, then the job can be very rewarding,” says Terwey.

*Originally posted on The Quenda