Aviation growth in Asia increases need for qualified pilots

Insight

Recent Malaysia Airlines crashes have shined a spotlight on the need for qualified pilots in Asia. CCTV’s Rian Maelzer filed this story from Kuala Lumpur.

Aviation growth in Asia increases need for qualified pilots

Aviation growth in Asia increases need for qualified pilots

Recent Malaysia Airlines crashes have shined a spotlight on the need for qualified pilots in Asia. CCTV's Rian Maelzer filed this story from Kuala Lumpur.

The deadly plane crashes between December 2014 and February 2015 have turned the focus on air safety in a region that has seen the most rapid growth of air travel anywhere in the world.

This growth means that existing airlines are adding more aircraft, while new airlines are also springing up. It has intensified the race to find enough qualified pilots.

More than one billion passengers flew on Asian airlines last year, a number that has doubled every 12 years. The fastest growing markets such as Indonesia and China are seeing double-digit growth.

Boeing estimates that the Asia Pacific region will need more than 200,000 additional pilots over the next two decades, 40 percent of the world’s total pilots.

The rapid growth of aviation in Asia has increased competition for qualified pilots.

“Pilot deficit, or not enough pilots do surface up from time to time. It’s cyclical. There are times when there’s more than enough, and there are times where there are shortages,” Aviation analyst Mohshin Aziz said. “But by and large the region has been managing it fairly well.”

One key way Asian airlines have been meeting demand is by poaching pilots from other airlines, particularly in more mature markets like the U.S.

“That’s a sore point because some airlines start up and the last thing on their minds is training pilots, they want to get flying as soon as possible so they hire pilots from the market,” Director General of the Association of Asia Pacific Airlines Andrew Herdman said. “Training pilots is an expensive business so airlines that have trained their own pilots do feel the loss when they lose experienced staff.”

The rapid growth of airlines can also mean that locally trained pilots often rise up the ranks more quickly.

“The time it takes to move from first officer in the right seat to the captain’s seat varies a lot depending on how rapidly the industry is growing,” Herdman said. “We do need to look at the overall experience levels in the community. That’s one of the reasons why the movement of the pilots from one region to another and one country to another is a positive feature because it does mean that experienced pilots are moving where they are needed.”

But Herdman said Asia can’t continue to count on drawing talent from elsewhere. Asian Airlines and the industry as a whole need to ramp up pilot training to meet the ever-growing demand for air travel in the region.


Mark Weiss of Spectrum Group discusses finding qualified pilots

Cpt Mark Weiss on pilot shortages

Cpt Mark Weiss on pilot shortages

CCTV America interviewed former American Airlines pilot Captain Mark Weiss. He discussed the possible shortage of pilots, how much training a pilot requires and whether pilots reliance on automation has gone too far.

CCTV America interviewed former American Airlines pilot Captain Mark Weiss. He discussed the possible shortage of pilots, how much training a pilot requires and whether pilots reliance on automation has gone too far.