The commercial aviation sector is expected to require an additional 255,000 pilots in the next decade, according to a study by CAE's civil aviation training specialist. But the shortage is already being felt. The 19459002 pilots of Hop! a subsidiary of Air France, are completing a six-day strike on Tuesday. The majority union SNPL wants to sound the alarm on "a severe under-manning pilot", which has repercussions on personnel health and forced the company to charter flights with Other companies or to cancel.

A fleet that will double in 20 years

The high growth of air traffic in the world results in de facto an increased demand for pilots. And the aviation sector, which has not anticipated this risk, and which is focused on tight management of its resources, is now facing a shortage of this highly qualified personnel. To maintain the growth of the commercial airline industry and compensate for retirements, the EAC report stresses the need to train 180,000 co-pilots for the captain position, Higher than in all previous decades. "

Boeing and Airbus expect a doubling of the world's fleet in 20 years, given the solid passenger traffic that will continue to grow at a rate of 4.5% per year. Demand the strongest from Asia.

Companies have seen the best

The market "has been tightening strongly for 6 months / one year", observes Philippe Crebassa, deputy director of Enac, the largest European aviation school, based in Toulouse.

Although manufacturers' forecasts for several years have been based on a "massive" need for "long-term" pilots, it has been difficult for airlines to anticipate this "recent positive, sudden and rather brutal reversal" , Said the private plane pilot interviewed by AFP.

Delayed Deliveries of Aircraft

The air sector is mechanically following the evolution of economic growth and so far airlines "have always sought to hire the right number without taking risks", in order to remain competitive. Consequently, "all the companies of the world" are concerned either by under-manpower or, like China, by a situation of shortage of pilots, find different experts. Due to the lack of pilots, some companies have been forced to close, others are forced to shift aircraft deliveries or cancel flights, according to these experts.

"Increasingly, companies are asking manufacturers to offer a pilot supply solution" as part of their sales programs, says Philippe Crébassa, whose school trains about 450 pilots a year, 90% of whom foreigners.

Up to 10 years to train a captain

"The pilot resource is difficult to train, it takes time and money", and the remuneration of this extremely qualified personnel is expensive, explained AFP an Air France pilot who requested anonymity.

It takes about two and a half years to form a co-pilot, then depending on the companies, between five and ten years to make him a captain. To fly a specific aircraft, be it an Airbus A380 or a Boeing 737, "type ratings" are required by the airlines.

With about 200 schools of piloting in the world of which a dozen in France, the solution is not to multiply the centers: "better to increase the capacity of training", according to Philippe Crebassa.

Another remedy cautiously evoked, the automation of cockpits remains "social acceptance, that of customers and cost in levels of reliability," reminds Didier Brechemier, expert in air transport to the consulting firm Roland-Berger .



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