Tomorrow's pilots are finding fewer instructors to train them as airlines whisk up new employees with fewer and fewer flight hours, warned NBAA exhibitors at the show this morning.

Exhibitors representing schools from coast to coast report sending graduates to airlines without first hiring them as instructors, which is the traditional path to gaining experience and educating the next class.

“They can go straight from graduation into right-seat jobs, and that was not the case even two years ago,” said Jon Merwin, who assists Embry-Riddle (booth 3231) graduates with job placement. Internship programs put some in corporate aviation, but almost all start with regional airlines that ask for as little as 250h of experience.

Following 9/11, those figures rose to 1,500h and 500h specific experience, according to Atlanta-based Aviation Information Resources. AIR's monthly survey showed airlines hired 716 pilots hired in September 2006, and 1,132 last month.

Some compare the active hiring to plucking all the apples and leaving no seeds.

FlightSafety International (booth 5051) vice-president of operations Greg McGowan said: “When you're talking about 15-20% growth, and you add attrition on top of that, it can be hard to keep up. Of course, airlines are hiring back a lot of furloughed pilots which we have employed.”

Schools are also responding to shortages in maintenance instructors. “We've made several increased in salary, including increases in benefits,” McGowan.

A new program will link bonuses to time spent with trainees, and the weekend's dress code has been extended to week-long. That helps instructors enjoy themselves, and people who enjoy training are the ideal candidates, he says.

Schools used to have a surplus of instructors and wish they still did as the mass migration of students from China and India is increasing demand. As demand overwhelms supply, many schools bump up salary and add benefits for the first time, and some report they are forced to increase tuition to do it.

Globally, the new multi-crew pilot licenses are putting non-pilots into airliners within a year, helping ease the severe worldwide pilot shortages. Simulation plays a bigger role with MPL, but not in the USA, where the Federal Aviation Administration is not exploring this possibility.

“Pilots entrusted to fly the public should have a broad background of coming up through the ranks of general aviation - student, private, commercial, instrument - or through the military,” the FAA says.

More news from NBAA 2007 ...

Source: Flight Daily News