Over the next decade the world’s airlines will need more than a quarter million (255,000) new pilots, including 180,000 additional captains, according to the CAE Airline Pilot Demand Outlook, released here at the Paris Air Show. The total includes 150,000 pilots needed to meet anticipated passenger and fleet growth, and 105,000 to replace current airline pilots expected to retire. The expansion will swell the airline pilot population from about 290,000 today to 440,000 in 2027. By that year, the Asia-Pacific region will need to have added 90,000 new pilots, including 62,000 additional captains, followed by North America (85,000, including 62,000 captains), Europe (50,000, including 32,000 captains) and the Middle East and Africa (30,000, including 20,000 new captains).
“This record demand will challenge current pilot recruitment channels and development programs,” said Nick Leontidis, CAE group president civil aviation training solutions. “In turn, new and innovative pilot career pathways and training systems will be required to meet the industry’s crewing needs and ever-evolving safety standards.”
According to the outlook, the first such forecast from the Canadian training provider, half of the pilots projected to be in airline cockpits in 2027 have not yet begun flight training. Today’s pilots come from three primary sources, according to CAE, as the some 20,000 hired last year illustrate: airline-focused flight training academies (some 6,500 hires trained at such institutions); universities, military and business aviation (about 3,000 hires); and small regional flight clubs and schools (some 10,500).
To meet the demand safely and effectively, the industry “must continuously improve and adapt our assessment and selection processes for different regions and airlines to reflect pilot competency requirements,” the report advises. A thorough screening and selection process performed early in the training process “has proven to be very successful in identifying candidates with the right mix of language proficiency, flying skills and attitude to evolve into high-quality pilots,” according to CAE (Chalet 62). In addition to identifying future potential captains, airline requirements can be used to assess if the candidate, whether an aspiring cadet or a direct entry pilot, will be able to flourish within the airline’s culture. For example, one airline might need a pilot willing to travel for extended periods prior to returning home, while another airline might only operate daily short-haul return flights. An in-depth mapping of airline needs along with a multifaceted assessment of each candidate can correctly match the right candidate with the right airline.
CAE works with more than 300 airlines and provides training to some 120,000 airline pilots annually.