Randy's Journal: Archives

15 February 2007

New pilot program

We’ve talked quite a bit lately - and especially around the Current Market Outlook - about the amazing growth we forecast in the world’s commercial aviation fleet over the next 20 years.

But what about all the pilots we’re going to need to fly those airplanes? It’s an angle that doesn’t get a lot of attention. By our estimates there’s a need for 17,000 new pilots a year to operate the aircraft entering the market - and even more will be needed to fill the seats of retiring pilots.

For example, more than 35,000 pilots will be needed in the huge growth market of China alone over the next 20 years - just to support new airplane deliveries.

Boeing 787 Dreamliner simulator photo

Coming soon to Alteon Training centers around the world: a 787 Dreamliner simulator.

So there’s a good deal of pressure right now to train more pilots. You may have read in the news last month that Alteon Training, a Boeing subsidiary and the world’s largest airline training company, has just opened a new training center in Singapore. We think this new center will greatly expand our ability to meet the demand for aviation training in the region.

At this new facility, and the other 22 centers in the world, Alteon’s staff of more than 400 instructors is going to be very busy training new pilots on Boeing models, and on Airbus and Fokker airplanes. The facility can train more than 6,000 pilot crews a year - as well as maintenance and cabin crews.

Another key piece of the story is the new pilot program (no pun intended) to provide jet-ready, airline qualified pilots to the airlines. In Australia we’re beginning tests on the Multi-Crew Pilot License (MPL) program which is aimed at developing airline-qualified pilots more efficiently and effectively.

The Alteon MPL program focuses on developing the skills, knowledge, and competencies a crew member will need in order to perform their role at the airline. Cadets will learn in a multi-crew environment right from the start, integrating theory and practice in both aircraft and simulators. This helps prepare them for a First Officer position in about 15 months instead of the current two to three year process.

Now keep in mind, reduced training time doesn’t mean the program will be any less comprehensive or rigorous. The mandate of the program and the beta test is that training will achieve the same or better results than traditional training methods.

The time savings are actually the result of improvements in training techniques. The MPL program maximizes simulator training and minimizes the amount of “negative training” - the learning and unlearning found in some traditional training methods. And of course, safety is of utmost importance.

Airlines, regulators and flight schools are invited to participate throughout the program. Sharing lessons learned is an important part of developing and delivering this beta training to the industry.

What I like about the Alteon story overall is that it’s a good example of listening to customers. When airlines said they needed more training facilities closer to where they operate, Alteon took note - and now operates more than 80 simulators in 13 countries.

This kind of working together saves our customers time and money. And that’s always a good thing.