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Pilot Training Experts See Oversupply as Temporary

Major airlines and regional carriers in 2019 were promoting career pathway programs to combat the wide gap between pilot supply and demand that was expected in the coming decades. Since then, travel demand has cratered because of the COVID-19 pandemic, aircraft are grounded and there are more pilots than needed.

The aviation industry still predicts a gradual return to its previous levels of flight activity and career opportunity; after all, it returned to health after the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks in 2001 and the global recession of 2008/2009.

“The good news is that next year the industry will see a large number of mandatory age retirements that are going to come into effect. The excess pilots should be absorbed by that group,” CAE Civil Aviation Group president Nick Leontidis says.

On Nov. 9, CAE released the third edition of its pilot demand forecast that estimates the need for about 27,000 new airline and business jet pilots beginning in late 2021, and 264,000 new pilots over the next decade. The training services provider and simulator manufacturer projects that pilot demand will return to 2019 levels in 2022.

While acknowledging the significant decrease in pilot need this year, CAE attests that age-based retirements, attrition and fleet growth of 11,000 additional business and commercial aircraft over the next decade will restore long-term pilot demand.

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