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Airline industry facing a massive shortfall of pilots, survey says

Flight training specialists are warning that within ten years the global airline industry faces a massive shortfall of pilots.

In a study released at the Paris Air Show Tuesday, Canadian firm CAE said the world will need 255,000 new airline pilots by 2027 to offset both the effect of retirement and industry growth.

Rear View Of Pilot In Airplane Looking At City View Through Window
Robert Hackel | EyeEm | Getty Images
Rear View Of Pilot In Airplane Looking At City View Through Window

By 2027, CAE expects the global commercial fleet to grow by 12,000 aircraft to roughly 37,000 aircraft, meaning a total of 440,000 active pilots will be needed.

There are currently 290,000 active pilots.

"Asia-Pacific will see the strongest growth in pilot demand as the region's fleet of in-service aircraft is projected to significantly increase in size. The Americas will experience the most pilot retirements.

"Airlines and their training partners will need to produce an average of 70 new type-rated pilots per day globally to match the record-high aircraft delivery rate and account for pilot attrition," the report read.

Aside from 255,000 new first officers, CAE said 180,000 first officers will need to be promoted to captain, over half of which will be to replace retiring captains.

The report claims that North America has a high percentage of older pilots as recruitment activity in the 1980s and 1990s tailed off when network carriers merged and consolidated.

CAE noted that U.S. regional airlines already face pilot supply issues after the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) introduced stiffer regulations requiring up to 1,500 total flight hours to become a professional airline pilot.

The situation in the Asia-Pacific region appears to be even more extreme.

The CAE report claimed around 85,000 airline pilots are active in that area but that figure will need to more than double as countries such as China and India require much more aircraft to support rapid economic growth.

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