Accelerated pilot programs take flight to fill aviation industry gaps

Xenia Tan and Gwyn Heidi Ng
Pilots wanted in Southeast Asia

Private equity firm C&C Alpha Group is investing in expedited pilot training programs to fill the 248,000 commercial pilot seats across the Asia-Pacific region within the next two decades.

"They cannot go down the traditional route, which takes a number of years; taking people from the military causes its own issues," Bhanu Choudhrie, C&C Alpha Group's founder, told CNBC's "Squawk Box."

"So this is bringing in new students, young cadets who are aspiring — especially women cadets," he said of the new programs.

According to Boeing's 2016 Pilot and Technician Outlook, 617,000 more commercial pilots will be needed globally by 2035, with Asia Pacific leading that demand. Southeast Asia alone will require 57,000 pilots, which is second only to China's demand for 100,000 of them.

The rise of the middle class in Southeast Asian economies, combined with their increased desire for travel has also driven the growth of low-cost carriers in the region — factors that have all lead to the strong push for more pilots.

Saving time with flight simulator training

Alpha Aviation Group was formed as a partnership between C&C Alpha Group and Singapore-based simulator solution provider Prescient Systems & Technologies. The group was an early adopter of the Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) program introduced by the International Civil Aviation Organization.

"[MPL] allows for pilots to be trained in a much shorter period of time, doing more hours on the simulator than actual flying hours," Choudhrie explained.

Cadets can complete the accelerated program within 18 to 21 months, according to the group.

AAG has "graduated over 800 pilots in the last 11 years," Choudhrie said, and the group's website says its cadets have been placed with partner airlines such as Air Arabia, Philippine Airlines, Cebu Pacific, VietJet Air and Jet Airways.

AAG just launched its new multi-million dollar Airbus A330 and A340 Full Flight Simulator at its training facility in Manila, the first of its kind in the Philippines, Choudhrie told CNBC.

This is just the beginning of the revolution of the aviation industry, according to Choudhrie: "Technology has evolved over the last 10 years. And I think more and more, as we go along, we're going to see more and more technology playing an active role in pilot training, pilots' safety as well."