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IATA calls for pilot training re-think to address shortage

A severe pilot shortage will beset the world’s airlines unless industry and government work together to change training and qualification requirements, IATA warned.

The organization estimates that 17,000 new pilots may be needed annually to address expected industry growth and retirements.

Increasing the pilot retirement age to 65 will help to meet this need, but it cannot be the only solution, says IATA, which supports multi-crew pilot licensing (MPL) training programs.

“It’s time to ring the warning bell. We must re-think pilot training and qualification to further improve safety and increase training capacity,” IATA director general and CEO Giovanni Bisignani told the FAA international safety forum in Washington DC on 29 November.

Unlike traditional pilot training, MPL focuses from the beginning on training for multi-pilot cockpit working conditions. Europe was among the first regions to adopt MPL and Australia and China are moving ahead with implementation.

As part of IATA’s training and qualification initiative (ITQI), the organization will host a database to track the progress of MPL cadets and allow the industry to make training adjustments, if necessary.

“Our goal is to increase the pool of candidates and training capacity while improving standards,” says Bisignani.

Bisignani today also called on government leaders to incorporate the IATA operational safety audit (IOSA) into their own regulations. Most recently, Mexico, Costa Rica and Turkey have committed to make use of IOSA. 

“The list is growing too slowly,” says Bisignani. “There is no cost to government and the results are clear.”

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