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Old 12-13-2007, 06:48 AM   #1  
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Default Chinese airlines short on pilots

Yeah, but what do they pay?

From McClatchy Newspapers:
BEIJING A pilot shortage is throttling the dramatic and safe ascent of China's aviation industry, leaving hundreds of new Boeing and Airbus jetliners on order without pilots to fly them.

China will need an average of 2,500 pilots each year for the next two decades to fill cockpits, but it can't meet the demand.

So for the first time, foreign pilots are taking command of some Chinese airliners. Citing the pilot shortage as one factor, Aviation Minister Yang Yuanyuan recently declared that the industry is growing "too fast." He's cut back daily flights, slowed the launches of startup airlines and warned that safety must prevail over growth.

China isn't the only country with a pilot shortage. Airlines across East Asia and around the world are grounding flights and offering special pay packages to poach aviators from as far away as Brazil, Russia and Indonesia.

"It's something that is sneaking up on the industry overall because there have always been pilots in the wings," said William Voss, chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation in Alexandria, Va.

Chinese aviation regulators say the nation will need an additional 9,000 or more pilots by 2010, as national airlines add jetliners at the rate of up to 150 a year.

"But speaking truthfully, we only have the capacity to train about 7,000, leaving us short 2,000 pilots," said Gao Hongfeng, the deputy head of the General Administration of Civil Aviation of China. "The shortage of pilots has become an important factor constraining civil aviation's development."

At an Airbus flight center near Beijing Capital Airport, two huge cockpit simulators rest on hydraulic legs, looking like electronic spiders, gently swaying as pilots inside conduct mock flights. With demand soaring, the simulators are in action "20 hours a day," said Pierre Steffen, vice president of customer services for Airbus China Ltd.

"We've had two occasions with two Chinese airlines where sales deals were accompanied by requests for foreign pilots," Steffen said.

China's Big Three airlines Air China, China Eastern and China Southern are working hard to deal with the pilot shortage.

Air China has reserved land to build a training center in Beijing that's likely to be the biggest in the world, with 30 full flight simulators, according to news reports.

The pilot shortages already are causing a rising number of last-minute flight cancellations, particularly by Hong Kong's Dragonair, but also among Indonesian carriers. The Indonesian airlines have faced mass desertion by pilots flocking to Middle Eastern carriers, which offer higher salaries and bonuses.


Most domestic airlines fly full planes, the result of passenger counts rising at an average annual rate of 16 percent since 2000. Beijing's airport is now the world's ninth-busiest in terms of passenger traffic, climbing from No. 42 seven years ago. Sixty of China's 147 airports operate at capacity.

Nearly 20 startup airlines wait for approval to operate, and a green light may not come soon. One reason: The startups don't have pilots.

To hang onto pilots in a competitive environment, China Southern this year began charging 100 or so pilot recruits the equivalent of $88,100 for their training unless they stay with the airline for a set period of time.

China Southern sends some pilots abroad for training, namely to a flight-training school it operates near Perth in western Australia.

While many Chinese pilots are limited in the international job market by a poor command of English, pilots for airlines in the Philippines, Malaysia and Indonesia are abandoning the posts for bigger airlines elsewhere around the globe.

In response to pilot shortages, Alteon Training, the commercial flight-training arm of Boeing, is offering a condensed jetliner-flight course that can train pilots in half the time, as short as 12 to 18 months, without students ever flying small aircraft, such as Cessnas, first. Students spend more time in simulators than in cockpits. The company is moving a simulator-equipped flight center from Kunming in southern China to Shanghai.

Voss, the flight-safety advocate, said he worries that global shortages of trained pilots and airline mechanics could lead to safety problems if pilots are promoted too quickly or airlines cut corners to cope.

China also worries about protecting its hard-earned reputation for safety in commercial aviation.

China hasn't had a fatal crash in more than three years, a sharp departure from the last decade. Between 1992 and 1994, China had nine fatal accidents.
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Old 12-18-2007, 07:01 AM   #2  
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Default Newsweek article on shortage at Dragonair and PAL

This is Newsweek's perspective on the pilot shortage in Asia. It quotes Prater expressing safety concerns in the headlong rush to fill cockpits with 250 hour wonders. Note the reader comment at the end of the article - he says pilots are nothing more than taxi drivers.

http://www.newsweek.com/id/78116
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:11 PM   #3  
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We don't seem to feel the effects from any world pilot shortage very strongly in America if wages are any indication. The only aspect that changes so far is eligibility minimums. I wonder if there will ever be an effect from it over here. Lots of hobby pilots like myself would could come out of the woodwork if the pay was right but so far it isn't. My guess is most American pilots are not willing to leave their nation and foreign airlines will have trouble ever luring them away.

Last edited by Cubdriver; 12-18-2007 at 05:22 PM.
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Old 12-18-2007, 05:24 PM   #4  
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I mentioned this in another thread, although here it is again.

Age 65 in the US may mean that the US is now the world's largest exporter of ex-pat pilots. The restriction prior to 12/13 was that the host country had to allow flying to 65, and for that reason FAA certificate holders weren't eligible to fly for most foreign carriers.

For the US pilots that lost their pensions (which includes a HIGHLY experienced group), longevity doesn't mean much. I'd guess if foreign airlines want to hire an experienced group of pilots - let the bidding begin.

My personal feeling is that Prater (et. al.) will roll over on the MPL issue - "it's going to happen, we just want a seat at the table". Which will make the age 65 issue pale by comparison IMO


BTW - who ever gave APC a credit in the linked article comment.....Thanks!

Last edited by HSLD; 12-18-2007 at 05:29 PM.
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Old 12-18-2007, 09:48 PM   #5  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by HSLD View Post
I mentioned this in another thread, although here it is again.

Age 65 in the US may mean that the US is now the world's largest exporter of ex-pat pilots. The restriction prior to 12/13 was that the host country had to allow flying to 65, and for that reason FAA certificate holders weren't eligible to fly for most foreign carriers.

For the US pilots that lost their pensions (which includes a HIGHLY experienced group), longevity doesn't mean much. I'd guess if foreign airlines want to hire an experienced group of pilots - let the bidding begin.

I think just the opposite. While age 60 was in place pilots who wanted to continue in the cockpit were going overseas to find jobs in India and a few other places. Now that they can stay at their major airline in their home country until age 65 they will.

What we might see is younger pilots who get adversely affected by the change in age 65 and the resulting stagnation decide to try their luck overseas.


TP
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Old 12-18-2007, 10:35 PM   #6  
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No doubt that many pilots will stay put due to the comfort of familiarity. Although now that it's an option for US pilots, I'm sure some will venture out to ACMI or other offshore employment.

I'd guess that key will be what the incentive is (just like anything). Long term, airlines would do well to invest in the local training infrastructure. Short term, incentives to attract experience make sense.

I don't think that the global pilot demand is a closed ecosystem in any one country. It could get interesting, and in ways we don't expect.

Cheers!


Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoonpilot View Post
I think just the opposite. While age 60 was in place pilots who wanted to continue in the cockpit were going overseas to find jobs in India and a few other places. Now that they can stay at their major airline in their home country until age 65 they will.

What we might see is younger pilots who get adversely affected by the change in age 65 and the resulting stagnation decide to try their luck overseas.


TP
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Old 12-19-2007, 03:19 AM   #7  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoonpilot View Post
I think just the opposite. While age 60 was in place pilots who wanted to continue in the cockpit were going overseas to find jobs in India and a few other places. Now that they can stay at their major airline in their home country until age 65 they will.

What we might see is younger pilots who get adversely affected by the change in age 65 and the resulting stagnation decide to try their luck overseas.TP
The opportunities are getting better, for both young and old, for those who want to try their hands overseas. Monthly pay has increased from an average of $8,000 to over $11,000 per month with various Chinese airlines. T&Cs have also improved too. However a minimum amount of experience on type specific is required before securing an interview.

Many countries issuing validations did not permit US pilots to fly beyond age 60 because of the FARs. 2 ways around the age 60 restriction were to obtain a full ATPL certificate within the country of operation or go north of the border to obtain a Canadian ATP to circumvent the age 60 rule. The new age 65 restriction hurdle has been overcome.

However... one still must be very careful and do their due diligence with repsect to contracting agencies representing any overseas airline.

On the other hand... the age 65 limit will allow some airmen to return to their previous carriers. Good luck to all.
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Old 12-19-2007, 06:21 AM   #8  
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Typhoonpilot View Post
I think just the opposite. While age 60 was in place pilots who wanted to continue in the cockpit were going overseas to find jobs in India and a few other places. Now that they can stay at their major airline in their home country until age 65 they will.

What we might see is younger pilots who get adversely affected by the change in age 65 and the resulting stagnation decide to try their luck overseas.


TP
I couldn't agree more. Looking at the landscape of expat pilots, most seem to have "retired" and come overseas was because of pension related issues. I retired from my legacy at age 52 knowing I had less than eight years to catch up on a retirment. If I had known I had 13 or so more years, it would have changed my decision. The American senior expat pilot will probably disappear with the ability to stay on until 65, IMHO.
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