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June 2019

May 31, 2019

It is very heartening that one of the biggest growth industries in the world will not be the much hyped Fourth Industrial Revolution, but pilot training.

In his column in FlightCom this month, Captain Mike Gough provides some fascinating insights as to how the pilot training industry is evolving to meet the almost impossible to fill demand. It is good news for aspiring South African professional pilots – and most importantly – there is a real chance of viable / pay-backable, finance options for those without parents with a million Rand or more to spend on an integrated ATPL.

Mike Gough writes that airline flight simulator provider CAE has commented that the training industry as a whole is potentially capable of meeting the demand for airline-quality training, but the bottleneck lies in attracting suitably competent and capable individuals. The problem is that many of those who are good pilot material have the massive hurdle of cost of training to become a professional pilot. 43 Air School is advertising its Integrated ATPL course for R1.3 million – all but impossible for most students and their parents.

And that still leaves pilots without the experience level many airlines require. Fortunately a precedent has been set by Ryanair who see themselves as a stepping-stone for pilot development. They accept low time flying school graduates, with a fresh Boeing 738 type-rating, and progress them from right seat to left within a few years. Amazingly, Ryanair is then happy to see these newly minted captains that they have trained move on to other airlines – presumably before the salary bill becomes too high for their notoriously penny pinching CEO, Michael O’Leary.

Mike Gough posits that correct selection of future pilots is essential. The various MPL (Multi-crew Pilot Licence) programmes currently in place in Europe and the UK have produced some interesting data. Of the properly screened, assessed and trained candidates, 90% are currently in employment with airlines of all sizes.

This makes the funding opportunities for new students that much easier. Traditional modular CPL courses have a massive failure / lack of completion / unemployability rate, meaning that that banks are less than enthusiastic to get involved if the chances of repayment are that shaky.

In great news for those who don’t have the money to train as professional pilots, Mike Gough says those that successfully complete the battery of medical, psychometric, personality profiling and aptitude tests will, in the very near future, have banks beat a path to their door to offer wads of cash for their training.

This ability to repay a million Rands in training costs, in a proper MPL environment, will be assured by the future airline employer from day one of the training. The pilot training funders can be guaranteed returns from that investment.

However, in yet another SACAA deficiency, the legislation necessary to enable the MPL still does not exist in South Africa despite being a recurring finding during ICAO audits. And thus the CAA continues to frustrate the development of aviation in South Africa.





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