How Asia’s Flight Academies Are Preparing For Increased Pilot Demand
Aircraft operations were rocked in 2020, leading to minimal activity across the globe for over a year. Numerous airlines were forced to reduce pilot numbers amid the ongoing flight suspensions. However, business has been picking up again this year, with several regions relaxing restrictions.
Nearly 100k pilots needed
While activity hasn’t quite reached 2019 numbers, it’s generally expected that the industry will reach these figures again within a few years. Subsequently, demand will continue to grow this decade, especially in Asian markets. Asia Sky’s Asia-Pacific Training Report forecasts that between 2023 and 2033, Asia-Pacific will need 95,000 new pilots to handle commercial and business operations.
Bhanu Choudhrie, Founder and Executive Director of Alpha Aviation (AAG), spoke with Simple Flying about what is being done to adapt to these conditions. Alpha Aviation is a leading provider of pilot training solutions, working with global carriers with its specialisms in cadet assessment and selection, flagship ab-initio cadet programs, and type ratings.
The academy serves Southeast Asian markets from its base in the Philippines. Here, it operates a certified Type Rating Training Organization (TRTO) and an Approved Training Organization (ATO) for the Airbus A320. Additionally, it holds the sole EASA-certified Level D A320 Full Flight Simulator in its Philippine platform. This base also has a CAE A330/340 full flight simulator.
Alpha Aviation also has a presence in the UAE amid a joint venture with Air Arabia. The group has also heavily invested in India in a bid to help tackle the forecasted growth in the country.
The core factors
A key aspect contributing to the need for new pilots is the widespread number of crew retirements across the industry. Throughout the 2020s, a significant amount of pilots in airline networks will retire. Choudhrie highlights that if all training schools ran at 100%, the market would not be able to fulfill the void left by retiree pilots.
In markets such as India and Southeast Asia, there are many pilots available, but fresh faces need to be coming in continuously, especially to fill first officer roles. This is because seasoned pilots are switching their roles to fill other positions such as training captains.
“There is a lot of churn happening. We can’t just say, well, because we used to fly 100 aircraft and now we fly 50 aircraft, we have too many pilots — that’s not true. A lot of pilots also retired, a lot of pilots changed jobs. There’s a lot of that happening behind the scenes, so it is definitely paramount that money is put into infrastructure, and money is put into more training,” Choudhrie told Simple Flying.
“With our expansion into India, there are huge investments. We see India as a big growth market with the population there. The middle-class population in India is growing at over 20% per year. So, there is a huge pent-up demand.”
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Getting ready for the cockpit
Alpha is keen to encourage more women to help fill the flight deck in this era. Therefore, it has introduced a series of organizational changes to inspire cadets of all backgrounds and overcome socioeconomic and cultural hurdles.
The organization launched an initiative a few years ago called Women in Aviation. With this program, there were goals to have up to 20% of its courses filled by women. Choudhrie highlights that the company has exceeded this number in every batch that it has recruited.
Altogether, a fresh outlook is needed in this next stage. Encouraging new pilots, breaking down barriers, and investing in Asia’s grassroots aviation is vital to maintain operations in this new chapter.
What are your thoughts about the pilot demand forecasts? Let us know what you think in the comment section.