Pilot Shortage


Anyone who has looked into flight training will have heard about the pilot shortage. In my opinion (and many others) this quite simply does not exist. How can it?
Here in the UK the big schools like CTC & OAA are churning out qualified pilots at a very steady rate, not to mention the modular guys who are also qualifying every year. There has and there will always be more than enough pilots to fly the aircraft. If there wasn’t the airlines would be doing huge cadet recruitment in massive numbers, something that they are not.
You also need to take in to account all the pilots who do not have a job, this includes newly qualified and experienced pilots. These guys and girls are all qualified to fly so if there was a shortage why would they be unemployed? Pilot jobs are oversubscribed and competition is high.
The big training schools are businesses, this is what people need to remember. They are looking to take £100,000+ from you. The idea of a pilot shortage is something that is good for them to sell their training. What cadet wants to hear “We will train you, but to be honest, you might never fly an aircraft due to their being too many pilots?” Nobody wants to hear that. It’s basic sales, tell people what they want to hear.
Flight training is a risk, you are hoping that you will be offered a job flying jets. The closest thing to a guarantee these days is the FPP (Future Pilot Programme) or a MPL (Multi-crew Pilot Licence)
The good news is that some of the airlines have huge aircraft orders not to mention that older pilots will always be retiring. This creates some opportunity but please don’t think because an airline has ordered 50 new planes that there will all of a sudden be a ton of roles. Some aircraft will be replacements and the rest will be delivered over a number of years. So out of the 50 new planes 20 may be for fleet expansion and they may be delivered over 4 or 5 years. Put simply THERE IS NO PILOT SHORTAGE. Looking at things as they stand, there is unlikely to be one any time soon either.

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Use the RAF to learn how to fly

Coming into land

This is something I hear a lot and many people also say to me “Why don’t you use the RAF to learn to fly for free.”
I don’t know why there is this misconception out there that the RAF is in the business of training pilots to then leave and join commercial aviation. The RAF is in the business of training pilots to fly in the military. Let me explain the pitfalls in trying to do this.

  1. The RAF is aware of this. The RAF knows full well some people are trying to use the RAF to learn to fly and then leave to commercial aviation. They are very good at detecting people who are not committed to the cause.
  2. Do you want to fly in war zones? You are joining the military, so you have to be prepared to go where they need to deploy you. Yes you want to fly, but do you want to fly in Iraq, or Afghanistan?
  3. Competition is high. With the RAF being one way that people from lower incomes can actually learn to fly naturally competition is really high. You will be up against some of the most committed people, people who have dreamed of military flying from a young age. You may be just as committed to them to flying, but are you as committed as them to military flying?
  4. You will be tied to the RAF for years. It’s not a case of learning to fly, doing a year and then deciding you want to leave. You will be tied to the RAF for a set amount of years.
  5. Conversion costs. A military pilot is not qualified to fly commercial airliners. You must do a conversion which involves getting your CPL. Then of course you need to actually find a job.

Put simply, you should only join the RAF if you have an active desire to serve in the military and want a career in military aviation. I don’t think going this route is a good idea at all if your heart is not in it. You will be stuck in a job for a very long time that you may not want to be doing. Flying in war zones with enemies trying to shoot you down. Is this what you really want? Think long and hard.