Who's recruiting?

The low-cost carriers, regional airlines, corporate aviation, particularly fractional-ownership companies, and Emirates. The low-cost carriers will take up any experienced pilots on the market first - especially those who are appropriately type-rated and current - before considering ab initio intake. The rest of the airlines are just replacing pilots that retire.

Why train now?

Training value for money will never be better - either it is as cheap as it is going to get, or additional modules are included in the basic price.

Is sponsorship available?

Yes. But mainly for nationals of the country in which the airline is based, and at present the only airlines running traditional cadetships are Asian, Middle Eastern or Far Eastern.

But check with your local approved training school.

Part sponsorships become available from time to time, and the people best positioned to win them are those who are already training with the schools and doing well on their course. Airlines approach schools and ask who the best students are. In good times, airlines take anyone with a pilot's licence, but at times like this they can afford to go only for the best.

What is a part-sponsorship?

The deals vary, but most mean some money up front from the student, part financial commitment from the airline and sometimes from the school. If the airline is sufficiently convinced - by the student's progress on the course - that he/she will make a good pilot, it will then promise a job at the end of the course. With a job assured, finance for the rest of the course is easy to get, and any outlay by the airline is repaid when the student starts work.

This usually involves a certain number of years bonded to the sponsoring airline.

Aviation degree or just a licence?

Aviation degrees that include a full airline transport pilot's licence take three or four years, and they are increasingly popular with the airlines. The colleges/universities that offer them suggest that, at in a period of uncertainty like this, it would be a useful way of employing the time before the long-awaited upturn comes because the student will end the course with a recognised degree as well as a licence. But is it essential to get a pilot's job? No.

When will the upturn come?

The estimates vary from 1.5 to 2.5 years. The airlines say that the signs of recovery are beginning to show, but when they are ready to hire, the first taken up will be pilots on furlough or those with experience. That means those ab initio students intending to catch the upturn should start training soon.

Source: Flight International