Are we going to run out of qualified pilots in Europe?

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Data obtained from the UK CAA confirms an overall decline of 31% in total Commercial Pilot Licences (CPLs) issued over the four-year period from 2011 to 2015. From a high of 1555 issued in 2011, this number has dropped to 1072 for 2014.

With talk of a looming worldwide pilot shortage whilst aircraft orders and air travel are on the increase, FTA, a UK commercial pilot training school, based in Brighton, has requested statistics from all the Aviation Authorities across Europe, to see just how many commercial pilot licences were issued in recent years in the UK and across Europe. The results were surprising.

Last year, around 4,000 initial Commercial Pilot Licences (fixed wing) or Multi Pilot Licences were issued in the EU and this number seems to be decreasing year on year in the UK, according to the CAA statistics from the last four years. Taking into account licence issues in individual countries, where statistics are available, the UK issued the most licences at 1,072 but 48 % of the licences issued were to non-UK nationals. Most of the EU statistics are available but some countries (especially the smaller ones) were not able to provide statistics, so FTA has made certain assumptive estimations for those countries, based on population.

The current figures might not be enough to meet demand when it’s consider that Boeing, the world’s largest plane manufacturer has estimated that by 2034, there will be a need for 95,000 new commercial airline pilots in the EU alone. This equates to 5,000 pilots a year.

FTA considers this to be quite alarming, considering that airlines are on big recruitment drives. The issue is perfectly illustrated by the fact that one established low-cost carrier alone is looking to hire 600 pilots in the next year. This equates to 15% of the total annual European throughput for just one airline. There is clearly a need to encourage more people to take up pilot training, if the licence issue numbers are to increase to meet demand, as FTA predicts.

Credit : pilotcareernews.com, fta-global.com


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I started my job in USA after years of saving and clear research. I found this company in India and they guaranteed an airline pilot job as soon u complete your commercial license. It’s a dream come true for any student pilot to start a training and to know you will be flying for a airline as soon as you finish the training especially when you have spend over 40000$. The job confirmation they provided us didn’t look fake to me as the document had job details and an approved stamp from aviation authorities. Once I completed my training, I returned to India in such a joy that my parents are going to see their son as first officer in an airline. All my dreams just shattered when I went to the office in India to find out when I can start my job. It completely shocked me when they told that I am on a waiting list with other pilots and that they couldn’t tell me the exact time period for a job and I need to wait. Be careful of these fake agents and companies.
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