Opinion (Op-Ed) article by FTA Global
Data recently supplied by the UK Civil Aviation Authority has confirmed that the number of people who were issued a commercial pilot’s licence in 2020, was 71% lower, just 262, compared with 906 in 2011. The picture for PPL licences was also very low, falling to almost half the 2011 total.
To put this into context, as a nation we saw half a million students start a university degree in the same year, over 410,000 of whom were from the UK.
FTA said the blame cannot be attributed to the pandemic alone. Whilst the number of PPLs issued has changed over the years, it has been rising. The number of people completing a commercial pilot’s licence has actually been tumbling, and more dramatically so over the last 5 years.
Has the industry lost its lustre? Hannah is an airline pilot for Lauda, she’s worked throughout the pandemic and offers advice to those undecided.
“I love my job…There are lots of elements of the training that can appear scary and you might think I can’t do it. But don’t let that be a factor. You will be trained by people who have been there and done it and it’s their job to help you get where you want to be. As long as you know you want it and you are willing to put the work in, there’s nothing stopping you!”
There are various opinions over whether now is the best time to embark on your pilot training. However, with the travel industry set to bounce back over the next couple of years (and pilot training taking the same time), many argue that there is no better time.
A significant economic boom, greater than that post-WWII, is predicted for the economy and this optimism seems to be shared by training pilots. The number of pilots completing their training in 2021, is already on target to climb higher than pre-pandemic by the end of the year.
The major aircraft manufacturers, Boeing and Airbus, have continued to share positive predictions of the industry in spite of the pandemic. Boeing’s expectation is that passenger travel will grow at a rate of 4% per year over the next 2-3 years, and along with it the demand for flight crew and engineers.
Tim Myers, president of Boeing Capital Corporation, said, “Despite the unprecedented impacts of COVID-19 on the global aerospace industry, there generally continues to be liquidity in the market for our customers, and we expect it to further improve as travel begins to rebound.”
Guillaume Faur, CEO for Airbus agreed, “The aviation sector is beginning to recover from the COVID-19 crisis.”
In a press statement in June this year Ryanair said that with the opening of new bases, including Stockholm, Zagreb and other airports for this winter, “opportunities have been created for up to 1,000 cabin crew”. Ryanair confirmed that they are doubling seat capacity across Europe to 1.3 million a week (2 June 2021). The airline hopes to fly 4 million passengers and believes that could increase to between 7 million and 9 million next month.
No credible ATO will sell a course with the guarantee of a job. Just as it is in further education and higher education, students should always be trained to be industry-ready and make the most of whole market possibilities. Not everyone feels the calling of the airlines, and many want to gain experience and hours working for different companies or areas such as business jets, instructing or ferry flying.
Tikhon choose to enrol on FTA’s integrated programme amidst the pandemic in June 2020 and explains how he feels about his decision:
“Enrolling on to the integrated program has been one of the best decisions of my life. The whole process went and is still going so smoothly.
“It is important to mentioned that my cohort joined at one of the most challenging times in the industry due to Covid, and FTA has been a fantastic help and guide through this period.
“Starting the flight line only recently, I have already managed to go solo after my 12th hour. As I am spending more time at FTA, it is beginning to feel like a big family where everyone knows everyone. It really feels like you can talk to anyone at the school and they will help you as much as they can.”
FTA’s next integrated intake is September 2021. It’s the most popular time in the year to enrol with students taking a short break from studies over the summer.