Cork could benefit from worldwide pilot shortage

Cork could become a major centre for the development of pilots as a global dearth in filling the roles grows over the next decade.

Avolon celebrates delivery of the world's first Boeing 737 MAX to Malindo Air in May.

The worldwide commercial aviation industry will need an extra 255,000 pilots by 2027 to sustain its rapid growth and is not moving fast enough to fill the positions, according to a 10-year forecast published by training company Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE).

More than half of the required pilots have not yet begun training, the report adds, storing up potential problems as the industry braces for an increase in passenger air traffic that is expected to double the size of the commercial air transport industry in the next 20 years.

“Rapid fleet expansion and high pilot retirement rates create a further need to develop 180,000 first officers into new airline captains, more than in any previous decade,” said the report by CAE, which trains pilots for airlines around the world.

Cork has the largest pilot training facility in Ireland at the Atlantic Flight Training Academy (AFTA) near Cork Airport. Training pilots since 1995, its graduates fly for the likes of Turkish Airlines, Air Astana, Kazakhstan and the Libyan Ministry of Transport.

It has also struck up a partnership with Norwegian Airlines, which will make history by offering the first ever direct transatlantic flights to Providence in Rhode Island from Cork next month. AFTA has supplied dozens of graduates to Norwegian. More than 1,800 of AFTA’s graduates fly for airlines around the world.

Meanwhile, the Paris Air Show proved a lucrative one for Boeing with Irish aircraft leasing company Avolon signing a memorandum of understanding for 75 of its 737Max 8 aircraft. It also includes an option for a further 50 of the same aircraft.

The deal builds on Avolon’s existing orders and commitments for new technology, fuel-efficient single-aisle aircraft. The company’s fleet will now increase to 925 aircraft. The Boeing deal is valued at $8.4bn (€7.5bn) and the aircraft are scheduled for delivery in 2021. Avolon CEO, Dómhnal Slattery said: “This order represents the single largest order that Avolon has placed with Boeing to date and underlines the scale of our ambition and the strength of our business.”

Also at the air show, Ryanair said it would buy 10 more Boeing 737Max 200 aircraft in a deal worth more than $1.1bn. Ryanair operates an all-Boeing fleet and took delivery of its 450th Boeing aircraft in March.

The new aircraft will reduce fuel consumption by up to 16% and reduce noise emissions by 40%, while offering 4% more seats per flight, Ryanair said. Additional reporting Reuters

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