Here we are again, another disaster affecting the aviation industry. We are often asked ‘How do I become a pilot?’ but now it’s ‘Should I become a pilot?’ Young aspiring pilots hearing about lay offs and aircraft parked in the desert, not to be flown again for one to two years, maybe more.
With all this uncertainty, why on earth would I choose the career path of a pilot? Especially an airline pilot? I hear you ask.
Talk to many airline pilots and some will tell you they hope their kids don’t follow their footsteps, some say it sarcastically, some not. They have seen it first hand.. September 11, SARS and company disputes etc.
Just over 12 months ago we wrote a post on how to become a pilot in Australia, it highlighted the need for some 13,600 pilots alone for Oceania by 2030. That’s 3.7 pilots a day.
My my, now the Corona virus has spun that on it’s head! Wish we had a crystal ball to tell you all, what the future in aviation holds… which is that no one really knows!
FOLLOW YOUR PILOT DREAM
If you are considering aviation as a career or have just commenced flight training, then congratulations on choosing an exciting career that will both challenge you and at times bore you, but hey you’re going to love it!
Following your dreams and doing something that makes you happy is key, considering you spend a lot of your life working.
Now if we can give you one tip, it’s to have something to fall back on. If there’s anything we have learnt in aviation, it’s that a pilot needs to have another career card up their sleeve. The COVID-19 crisis has highlighted this more than ever.
Pilots with the skill set of flying a jet airliner do not have many transferable skills in the eyes of many employers. Currently there are captains stacking supermarket shelves to make ends meet.
Now if you’re finishing school, consider applying for one of the airlines’ cadetship programs… if they are still running (Check their websites for more information). They will be competitive but don’t be disheartened if you miss out.
Perseverance is a must if you want to succeed in the aviation industry. If you do get in, well done. I would recommend up skilling yourself at some stage of your career. You’ll find you will have plenty of downtime as an airline pilot.
If you are looking at an aviation degree after high school, do yourself a favour and complete a degree or a trade in something you might enjoy other than aviation. While you earn some money, self fund your own training. You’ll save plenty and choose a flying school that suits your needs.
The flying syllabus set by CASA (Civil Aviation Safety Authority) is no different wherever you learn to fly. Remember you don’t have to pay more than you have to.. if you get my drift.
What if another disaster was to affect the aviation industry or what if worst case scenario you lost your class 1 medical and could no longer be in command of an aircraft? What can you fall back on?
Remember airlines also require staff with skills in logistics, computer science, marketing, strategy, economics, planning, HR, learning and development, cyber security, OH&S, accounting, and much more. All that said, you do not need a degree to be employed as an airline pilot in Australia.
FUTURE PILOT FORECAST
Nobody can really give a definitive time frame on the current crisis or numbers required for recruitment in the future.
Things will improve, it always does but there are so many variables. For the number of pilots in their 60’s this might just be the catalyst to hang up the headsets, if the company they operate for are offering voluntary redundancies then why would they stick around?
It is a sad way to end a career, how many would have loved to have given that final PA announcement, maybe giving the passengers an insight into how they started in general aviation, flying a tiger moth and possibly inspiring the next generation of wanna be pilots onboard.
Then there are the pilot’s in their 50’s who have made good investments in their career, who may not bother returning either. One thing is for sure it will be interesting to see how this plays out when things do bounce back.
Some pilot’s in the industry that we have contacted believe that it will be like a hockey stick bounce back and the airlines will be scrambling again for flight crew, general aviation will be sucked dry again.. probably worse than what we saw in 2015 – 2018 and cancellations due to lack of crew again… it’s a tough industry to forecast!
Looking at past data and what has transpired after previous disasters such as September 11 in 2001 and the SARS outbreak in 2003, is probably the best indicator we have.
The results are not surprising. All the legacy carriers stopped recruiting for a number of years. The only growth was in freight and of course the introduction of the low cost model. With retirement and progression leaving a void for some airlines, it took 10 years to really bounce back.
There are many ways you can look at the data, it doesn’t provide all the information for an accurate analysis i.e. more aircraft purchased, new destinations etc.
How many of those recruited, covers retirement? Prior to Covid19, Boeing estimated 104,000 pilots would need to be trained for North America alone.
CATCH THE PILOT WAVE
When things eventually bounce back, the aim is to be ready to catch that next recruitment wave. For now we see no rush, as the world has a number of qualified crews out of work.
So even if you finished your training there may be guys and girls with a lot more flying time in front of you. As mentioned earlier perseverance is the key to success, so just hang in there and follow your dreams. Don’t let anyone get in your way. Good luck!