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Assessing the Outlook for Pilot Demand

Assessing the Outlook for Pilot Demand

As we approach the end of 2020, I’m sure a collective sigh of relief will ring out. The year has not been kind to our health, personal freedoms and, for most people, professional opportunities. So I know I’m not alone in being grateful for the approaching end of the year and start of 2021.

The start of 2021 will be met with ongoing restrictions, but the New Year provides a useful milestone to look forward and assess the outlook. For the first time since the start of the pandemic, forecasts and reports about the aviation industry’s recovery are aligning around a more positive picture in the short to mid-term.

IATA has been predicting a return to 2019 levels by 2023 and with the recent positive news about the efficacy and arrival of vaccines, this looks to be realistic. Other commentators are predicting an even quicker recovery. It’s too early to assess how the vaccine roll out will support that recovery but there is no doubt that the recovery is underway, and we should see the effects of this from Q2 2021 onwards.

IATA forecasts there will be passenger and cargo demand for an additional 9,500 aircraft to fly in 2023 compared to 2021 requiring another 105,000 pilots to be trained in that period.  More immediately, the challenge of distributing the vaccine to the nations of the world is a poignant reminder of the importance of the industry we support.

New and existing pilots need continuous development so that when demand does return, they are able to resume their careers with the airlines. To achieve this, L3Harris has launched the ‘Current and Airline Ready Programme’.  Through the programme, cadets who complete their training will be able to maintain the validity of their licence/rating and continue the development of their professional competencies for up to two years or until they are offered an airline job. It will position them to quickly gain employment when the recovery takes hold and support airlines to more rapidly increase capacity.

There is much to provide confidence for the commercial airline industry when looking ahead to the end of 2021 and beyond. Now is the time for us to concentrate our efforts in developing the talent to support the industry recovery and future growth.

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