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Pilot Shortage Nay-Sayers – Australia

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, most of us form our opinions based on our personal experience and I would never attempt to devalue that experience. My recent article in Australian Aviation “New foreign pilot visa won’t help unhappy Aussie Pilots” gathered some of those nay-sayers around the pilot shortage issue.

With regard to the Australian Pilot Shortage debate, I will stand by industry reporting and statistics that support this statement, and outline the cacophony of issues causing this problem.

This is a complex issue that has been bought about by 4 key industry factors, starting from the bottom up:

1.   Funding Pilot Training – the cost of becoming a pilot in Australia is prohibitive and demotivating for prospective pilots;

2.   Lack of pathway and supply chain issues for newly qualified pilots into airlines or GA;

3.   Lack of training facilities within Australia has caused long delays in the provision of training for type ratings;

4.   Remuneration and conditions – exacerbated by international airlines throwing the big dollars at Aussie pilotsenticing them out of our region.

Add these 4 together and we have a systemic problem that has created a shortage of experienced, type rated pilots. Those two words are key: “experienced” and “type rated”. We as an industry are facilitating neither and it needs to be fixed.

The combination of these failures has created the current gap in our pilot body. The Overseas Pilot Visa is merely a short-term gap filler, not a fix.

One of our carriers that has multiple different fleets allegedly is, at a minimum, 160 pilots short per fleet. They are recruiting like crazy but quickly run in to the next issue, lack of training facilities resulting in long hold files.

In 2015/2016 most airlines offering cadetships or advanced cadetships closed shop, this has obviously fed into the problem we now face. Those programs have since reopened but I suggest, a little late.

At pinstripe, we currently have 20+ Australian Mainline and Regional carriers listed on our website as open for pilot recruitment, all seeking pilots from the same candidate pool, thus the pool of experienced candidates is dwindling.

Nick Kranenburg, Director of Simjet Group and Air Combat Centre is a specialist in this area. After 24 years in aviation Nick has specialised in the development and implementation of pilot selection and screening. He has developed training programs for advanced flight training and new technology applications via established pilot education pathways.

He says:

“Pilot education and supply pipeline are the main areas of focus in combating this shortage, today and moving into the future. We all are aware of the pilot numbers required over the next 20 years, but what are we as an industry doing about it. Identifying the pipeline ‘inhibitors’ is key” Nick Kranenburg 

Nick has created a niche solution or program where he adds value to organisations by solving the why, what and how of fulfilling pilot demand.

We cannot compete with the big dollars being offered by Asian carriers but that is not the only decision-making factor for pilots. We can however, improve our industry through innovation and career pathways.

As an industry we need to support the movers and shakers attempting to disrupt the status quo and ensure this gap is closed into the future, and that pilots see a fulfilling and well-rewarded career within our shores.

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