Global simulator and flight training provider CAE has released its 2020-2029 Pilot Demand Outlook report, which bullishly suggests the need for 27,000 more pilots by late 2021.
This comes despite the global pandemic and subsequent near-total drop off in demand for air travel, which has seen airlines around the world furlough or let go of staff.
CAE’s report suggests that “while the demand for pilots has decreased significantly during 2020, CAE’s analysis shows that the active pilot population is expected to return to 2019 levels in 2022”, flying in the face of the International Air Transport Association’s prediction that global air traffic demand will not see pre-COVID levels until 2024.
The flight training organisation cited significant levels of retirement and attrition as factors behind its optimistic prediction, as many may decide to leave the industry rather than wait for a recovery.
“This is expected to drive an acute demand for pilots, resulting in an estimated short-term need for approximately 27,000 new professional pilots starting in late 2021,” the report said.
It added: “The report demonstrates that despite the short-term decline in the number of active pilots due to the impact of COVID-19, the civil aviation industry is expected to require more than 260,000 new pilots over the next decade.
“CAE’s analysis shows that the fundamental factors influencing pilot demand prior to the COVID-19 outbreak remain unchanged. Age-based retirement and fleet growth were, and are expected to remain, the main drivers of pilot demand.”
CAE’s prediction directly opposes that of UK pilot union Balpa, which recently warned prospective trainee pilots to hold off on beginning their training, or else risk being left with large debts and limited career prospects.
The union suggested that new trainee pilots could end up owing more than £100,000 (US$133,000) and end up without means to pay them back, considering the current employment environment in the industry.