Aviation Industry Needs to Tackle Looming Pilot Shortage
(Source: IATA; issued Nov. 29, 2007)
WASHINGTON --- The International Air Transport Association (IATA) warned the world’s airlines of a severe pilot shortage unless industry and government work together to change training and qualification practices.

IATA issued a new estimate that the industry may need 17,000 new pilots annually due to expected industry growth and retirements. "Increasing the retirement age to 65 will help but it can’t be the only solution. It’s time to ring the warning bell. We must re-think pilot training and qualification to further improve safety and increase training capacity,” said Giovanni Bisignani, IATA Director-General and CEO.

He told the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) International Safety Forum, "the industry is concerned that there are no global standards for training concepts or regulation. Pilot training has not changed in 60 years - we are still ticking boxes with an emphasis on flight hours.”

IATA supports the competency-based approach of multi-crew pilot licensing (MPL) training programmes. Unlike traditional pilot training, MPL focuses from the beginning on training for multi-pilot cockpit working conditions. It also makes better use of simulator technology. Europe was among the first regions to adopt MPL and Australia and China are moving ahead with implementation.

IATA launched the IATA Training and Qualification Initiative (ITQI) to support a global approach to MPL implementation. “Our goal is to increase the pool of candidates and training capacity while improving standards,” said Bisignani. As part of ITQI, IATA will host a database to track the progress of MPL cadets and allow the industry to make training adjustments, if necessary. IATA also called for greater cooperation with governments. In China, IATA is working with the government to develop the syllabus and incorporate MPL into national regulation.

Bisignani also called on government leaders at the Safety Forum to incorporate the IATA Operational Safety Audit (IOSA) into their own regulations. Most recently, Mexico, Costa Rica and Turkey have committed to make use of IOSA. “The list is growing too slowly,” Bisignani said. “There is no cost to government and the results are clear.”

(EDITOR’S NOTE: While this speech focuses on airlines, similar pilot shortages are likely for the helicopter industry and, consequently, for air forces, as military pilots leave for safer, better-paying civilian jobs.)

Click here for the full text of the speech given at the Federal Aviation Administration International Safety Forum.


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