New Pilots

Airbus sets up Singapore academy to remedy pilot shortage in Asia

2016 04 18

Airbus Group SE is setting up its second academy to train pilots in Asia, where a rash of startup airlines and new aircraft coming in is causing a surge in demand for captains and first officers.

Airbus will open the centre in Singapore today in partnership with Singapore Airlines Ltd. The facility - with eight simulators - will add to the three the European planemaker has already set up in Toulouse in France, Miami and Beijing. The center will be able to offer training courses for as many as 10,000 pilots, according to Airbus.

Two decades of economic growth in the region have spawned a dozen new airlines across Asia, which Airbus and Boeing Co. both forecast will become the world’s largest travel and aerospace market in two decades. Airlines in Asia Pacific will need 226,000 new pilots by 2034, making up 41 percent of the global figure, according to Boeing’s latest forecast.

“Asia is moving towards a severe pilot shortage,” said Mark D. Martin, a Dubai-based consultant to the airline industry. “Rapid steps will have to be taken immediately.”

Asia’s travel boom is leaving several airlines desperately short of pilots. The region is transporting 100 million new passengers every year, according to Sherry Carbary, vice president of flight services for Boeing. Led by Asia, the global number of air travelers is expected to double to seven billion by 2034, according to the International Air Transport Association.

Airbus expects to have some 50 instructors and 25 support staff at its Singapore centre, set up near the Seletar airport. The facility is only for airline pilots and not for students with no experience wanting to become pilots.

Airbus also provides training service agreements with airlines, which could include providing advice and training programs designed by the planemaker. It has these agreements with such carriers as Indonesia’s Lion Air and Vietjet in Vietnam.

Chicago-based Boeing also has a training centre in Singapore, a key regional hub for the aerospace industry. The US planemaker has other facilities in Shanghai, and Incheon and Gimpo in South Korea, as well as Brisbane and Melbourne in Australia.