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Guest Mr Chips

Fear of pilot shortage

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Gotta love the Advertisement on the side linking me to qantas.com.au "Foreign pilots will have to be imported for commercial and emergency services within a few years, they warn."I hope not. Enough of Australia's industry has been outsourced. Why not the govt help subsudise flying?

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The "pilot shortage" line has been used by flying schools since time in memorial to get people in the door.Although every country is very different in its particular circumstances, generally speaking, there is, and never will be a shortage, of commercial pilots. Where there may be shortages is in the supply of high time Captains from time to time, but like everything this ebbs and flows with the economy.In my country there is currently a demand for experienced pilots (low timers are still a dime a dozen however). How long it will last is uncertain as the economic future doesn't look as rosy as it did a couple years a go. Some operators are having a hard time finding (experienced) pilots who will work for the McWages they're accustomed to being able to get away with paying...-Bryan

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It was on a Radio 4 a few months ago: A senior British polit said that there is not a shortage of pilots, there is a shortage of employable pilots. The chap said hundreds of people are comming out of the training pipeline who simply will not be employable by any airline. Rather depressing for many, and this is what GA in the UK is built on!

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The UK has always been a different story... I thought the UK guys could buy Type Ratings and then apply to Ryan Air with 200 hours over there (as scary as that is).-Bryan

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It's not the number hours, it is the way the hours are accrued. The 200hrs (Integrated, modular training is 250hrs) plus a type rating is enough for the right people to be competent IMHO. The training is pretty intense and thorough and 200/250hrs of fATPL (frozen ATPL is the colloquial term for freshly minted CPL/IR holders) probably equals hundreds of hours of aimless PPL bimbling (my opinion). Obviously, this could not be equated to additional hours of instructing and other commercially oriented flight time.The potential problem with RyanAir is that they won't talk to you unless you show them the colour of your money, that includes paying to be interviewed and for your training. A 737 TR costs around

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Yup. For all its problems it's a darn sight better than the alternative!

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there is a global pilot shortage. Not so much in North America and Europe, where it's tight, but certainly in east asia. ICAO has introduced the Multi-Crew Pilot License to address the shortage, which is expected to last the next 20 years.

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The multi-crew license won't help with the pilot shortage per se. What is does is enable the large carriers to more fully utilise thier existing training infrastrcture (i.e. their sims). The cost to the individual will be horrendous so won't be popular with self-sponsored wannabes. The result is obviously a multi-pilot only license tied to specific aircraft type. The result for carriers like BA, Cathay, etc is pilots specifically trained ab-initio for their airline, SOPs and aircraft. I can't see how this will change the situation for the multitude of smaller carriers, they will have to sift through the unemployables as before.

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If there is such a pilot shortage, why don't the airlines take matters into their own hands and train their own pilots their own way from 0 hours on up?I believe this is the way some European carriers may still be doing it such as Luthstansa, but in the era of the LCC's a la RyanAir it's pretty obvious why this generally isn't done. (Why pay when you can get pilots to cover your business expenses?)In my view however it is a much better system as you're regulating the supply of pilots right from the start.The present system where basically anyone with access to funding can become a commercial pilot (which is not that hard... the fact is basically anyone with an average IQ and hand/eye coordination can be taught to fly an airplane or even an airliner, it's hardly rocket science) only contributes to a situation where you have a significant surplus of pilots on the market, which in turn leads to all sorts of very bizarre stuff (look up Eaglejet if you don't believe me), and worst of all (at least in my country) it brings wages down to McDonald's level... and I mean that part literally.Best thing that could ever happen for the pilots (not the industry mind you) is if they shut down 3/4 of the flying schools and strickly regulated who can and who cannot get a CPL... make flying for a career more of a "real profession" (which it is not) rather than one where any Tom, Dick or Harry off the street with $50,000 can enter.-Bryan

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Pondered the same thing. The MPL licence (mentioned earlier), will enable the larger carriers, with their own infrastructure, to train pilots more efficiently just the way they want them. But, by and large, this only feeds the majors. Most pilots are employed by the multitude of smaller carriers who will always rely on the self-funded pilots for intake. In Europe, the Integrated students will always have the advantage over the Modular guys, except perhaps for those graduating from CTC.As for it being easy. Well, I'm well above the average IQ and scored top marks in the GAPAN assessment, and yet I found the course tough and demanding (except for the PPL and multi modules). However, I suspect anybody who can devote themselves to flying full time would find it much easier. Despite my abilities, I rank myself as on the border of unemployable, the requirements for getting a license and the qualities decent employers are after are frankly worlds apart.

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I hear what you're saying, but it just goes to show you how totally different each country/region is with regards to pilots.In my country people could care less where you went to school, generally speaking. Your first job will be either instructing or working on a ramp in the frozen north loading planes for a year or two, sometimes more, before they might let you touch the controls.In my country all that matters is how much time you have, who you're related to, who you know, luck, and how willing you are to make endless personal sacrifices just for the pleasure of flying a plane.

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I've often pondered which system is better. Person A:Taking into account the new MPL license as one extreme: Somebody with 250 hours specifically groomed and for the airline world, most training on a Level D sim, minimal real airtime in a SEP, with the type rating incorportated in their training. He/She was selected because their personality matched the ideal profile. Then everything he has done within the training has been within a structured and cossetted environment. This guy would know exactly how to deal with cabin-crew and ground staff and how to present himself to the customers. Trained by consumate professionals with the latest in avionics and technology. On the other hand he has never made a difficult decision in the air, never had pressure to fly in marginal conditions, never had gear failure and probabaly not experienced anything but simulated IMC flight...in short has never really been totally responsible, even as PiC, in fact he is only licensed for multi-crew so couldn't even fly a Cessna if he wanted to. Uncontrolled airspace would be regarded as the "Badlands"!Person B: At the other end of the extreme, the guy funded his way through training. Realised that the cheapest way to hour build was to buy an aircraft for the duration. This guy wanted to go flying, pushed the envelope a little on marginal days, had to turn back on one or two occasions. He learnt first hand how seriously rough fields affected performance and looked for twigs in the undercarriage on landing! He typically flew aircraft older than himself and the odd failure of instruments or the need to reset circuit breakers wasn't anything to get too concerned about. Once outside of controlled airspace this guy just switched the radio off and enjoyed his hour building. Perhaps some hit and miss-training with instructors of a variable quality but not too much difficulty in getting the required ratings. Then works as a flight instructor on minimum wages for 2 years adding another 1000hrs of PPL SEP flights only touching the controls to avoid certain death. Flies the odd single pilot Seneca charter but stays out of the airways due to oxygen requirements and the fact that a straight line saves money, knows full well what it is like to have prop ice slapping the side of the nose. Compared to our Person A mentioned above, this guy has been there and has worked to the edge of his and his aircraft's capabilities. The risk is that this chap will require additional training by an airline above that required for the MCC, type rating, base and line.Of course this is hypothetical and possibly not really representative of the vast majority of pilots, but if I were a chief pilot, I would probably be more interested in Person A. This guy may not have stick and rudder skills, but would more likely to steer clear of trouble. He would see the Captain as a mentor. Person A would be a good fit into the organisation, compliant and trained from the begining to cope with airline specific pressures, team practices and the paying public. There is a risk that Person B, although more than capable of flying the aircraft, is more likely to be cynical about a Captain's performance and the ability assess his team orientation, attitude to other crew and customers is untested at the time of the job offer.The European (JAA) Integrated system would be near the mid point of the two with a bias towards Person A. The JAA Modular system, for most pilots, would be half way between Person B and the Integrated system. With the exception of CTC Wings, which although technically Modular is really out-sourced recruiting for EasyJet and Monarch...ironically the most like Person A.Apologies for copious quantities of text!

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"In my country people could care less where you went to school"Or do you mean "couldn't care less" ? ;)I wanted to be a pilot, but the airlines are only after experienced ones. When a vacancy appears it usually requires hundreds or thousands of flight hours, and all vacancies are fiercely competed over.I'm currently planning a career away from Aviation. If an opportunity arises then I'll be happy. I'm not holding my breath, though ;)

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