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Sun, Aug 15, 2004

Kiwi AIA Warns Industry Faces Pilot, Engineer Shortage

Aging workforce, industry grown and competition with other industries means trouble for airline industry

Back in November ANN talked about the pilot training student loan funding cap in New Zealand, and the looming pilot shortage in that country. The Aviation Industry Association of New Zealand is taking the lead in attacking this situation and a result will be sponsoring a forum on August 25 as a follow-on to a round-table discussion that took place at the Associations recent conference.

At the conference, Association members expressed their concerns that current trends point to a future shortage of pilots and engineers in New Zealand and possibly the rest of the world.

The forum will take as a starting point the following points of discussion:

  • The aging work force
  • A strong and growing demand for pilots, based on healthy economic growth in New Zealand's two key sectors of tourism/travel and agriculture
  • A student loan scheme that caps the number of fully-funded pilots under training
  • Increased competition for graduates from other industries perceived as more attractive
  • A perception that pre-selection procedures can be improved
  • A desire by many in the flight training industry to see a seamless transition into full-time gainful employment as a professional pilot
  • A requirement that all certificated NZ CASA Part 119 operators have an appropriately trained and resourced organization, including experience levels commensurate with the organisation’s operating risk.

The forum will not only talk about the problems, but will also open with a number of proposed solutions for open discussion as part of the effort to "become proactive and develop an integrated strategy that address each of the issues" in a systematic fashion:

  • Increasing the supply of pilots into the Industry, e.g. graduates, foreign pilots, the 'cap'
  • Ab-initio training – Pre-selection standards and evaluation
  • Training standards, including regulatory changes, and the Industry raising the 'benchmark'
  • Progression into air transport and the airlines
  • Part 119 operators - What do they really need?

At the conference forum, Air New Zealand said the growth in global commercial aviation meant it was likely to face a shortage of pilots in the future.  "So it is an area that we are increasing our attention on," spokesman Glen Sowry said. He added that so far the airline has not announced an action plan.

In New Zealand, the training of fixed wing pilots declined by nearly a third when the Government placed a cap on the funding of pilot training under their national student loan program. The result has been that the flight training industry has only produced some 200 pilots in the last two years, a full third less than years past. The cost of training a pilot, from ab-intio through a commercial, multi-engine ticket with an instrument rating is about NZ$65,000.

The forum on August 25 will take place at BP House, Ground Floor, at the corner of Johnston St and Customhouse Quay (enter through Johnson St), in Wellington (NZ). Starting time is 0900, and break-out groups will be organized to discuss each of the issues and report back. It may be necessary for a small caucus to stay overnight to further progress some issues.

All with an interest in flight training, pilot recruitment, and the future of certificated Part 119 operations in New Zealand, the Civil Aviation Authority, officials, professional pilot organisations, and individuals with an interest in the future of aviation are invited to attend.

FMI: http://www.aia.org.nz/newspublic/recruitmentforum.htm

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