CAE 10-year pilot demand outlook anticipates 255,000 new pilot vacancies

CAE has published its 10-year pilot demand outlook, and the civil aviation, defense and security, and healthcare training company is warning that the airline industry will need to produce 70 new type-rated pilots per day to meet global demand, a rate that many doubt will be possible given the current cost and time barriers to entry.

The report projects that 255,000 new airline pilots will be needed globally over the next 10 years.

The two regions driving the majority of that demand, the report says, are Asia, where 90,000 pilots need to be onboarded over the next decade – and where some 10 percent of current pilots are expats – and the Americas, where 85,000 new pilots will need to be hired.

Earlier this month, Air Cargo World reported that Ameriflight and UPS Airlines were teaming up on a new training program that was facilitated, in part by an exemption granted by the FAA that allowed pilots-in-training to operate as captains after 1,000 flight hours, with certain restrictions and increased oversight. While encouraging, that program is still in its infancy, and the sector will require broader measures to address the underlying demand.

That said, existing restrictions are still stringent, and training for most pilots can cost over US$200,000, prompting many potential candidates to enter other professions with lower training costs.

Organizations representing the air cargo and passenger industries have lobbied for years to amend this situation, but NY Senator Chuck Schumer has made this cause his personal “hill to die on,” in the words of one airline executive. The current Whitehouse administration has so far made no indication that they will change the status quo, choosing to focus its aviation agenda on privatizing air traffic control instead.

The CAE report also estimated that 85 percent of pilot demand in the Americas would be for U.S.- and Canada-based carriers. At an estimated per-pilot cost of 200k, training costs for pilots in those two countries alone will cost the combined national economies approximately $14.5 billion dollars, and those costs, borne mostly by pilots, will be passed on to consumers in one way or another.

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