Australian pilot training schools are expecting enormous demand from Asian countries seeking to train thousands of pilots in upcoming years.
Boeing just announced its recent employment forecast, predicting a need for an additional 533,000 commercial airline pilots between now and 2034, as well as 584,000 more maintenance technicians.
Almost half of those workers will be required in the Asia Pacific region, where much of the growth is occurring.
According to Australian Wings Academy Chief Pilot Nathan James, training schools in Australia currently don’t have the capacity to meet the upcoming demand for pilots in the region. And of the 206 flying schools around the country, only 25 have approval to train overseas students.
“I think we’re going to see over the next ten years, more and more Chinese and other Asian airlines investing in flight training facilities in Australia,” said James.
“It’s simply because there just isn’t a suitable training environment in China due to the pollution, due to the military-controlled airspace, and they don’t have people with the right qualifications.”
James also said the looming pilot shortage was something airlines, manufacturers and governments need to address together.
Several strides have already been made in the effort to meet upcoming pilot demands, including a partnership between China Eastern Airlines and the CAE Oxford Training Academy in Melbourne. Hainan Airlines has also teamed up with Port Macquarie’s Arena International Aviation, and China Southern West Australian Flying College operates out of Perth with the sole purpose of training cadets for the airline.
Next year, the first Australia Asia Flight Training college will open in Glen Innes.
“The cost of training to be a pilot is rising at a time when salaries are decreasing,” Mr James said.
“If those organisations that benefit most from the skills of pilots come up with a scheme to subsidise the training, that would go a long way to addressing the shortage.”