Marshal Clarke's letter (Flight International, 17-30 December) highlights a key question concerning aviation training: why does the airline industry need additional trained pilots?

An industry has sprung up producing an excess of Frozen ATPL Joint Aviation Authorities licence holders who are self-funded under a modular or integrated JAA-approved course and desperately seek a return on their investment through their first professional flying role. Surely investing in already skilled, motivated and committed individuals offers a fantastic opportunity to meet the industry's training needs?

These individuals can arguably demonstrate additional qualities other than being able to spell the words aptitude, commitment or motivation on their application form for sponsored training. What better way to show commitment to your chosen career than making a very significant personal investment in training with no guarantee of a job at the end. What better way to demonstrate motivation and determination than to have begged and borrowed or earned the money for training, through balancing the demands of a modular flying course alongside a busy career to fund it. What better way to demonstrate an aptitude for flying than having achieved all the necessary JAA requirements for "Frozen" ATPL issue (the very same standards that the £100,000 [$157,000]-sponsored students achieve) while also demonstrating the skills to be able to buzz around the sky in a general aviation aircraft.

We hear excuses from the industry which aim to differentiate modular pilot training from the integrated sponsored route. So far none of them can be substantiated and, if true, would undermine most of the current professional pilot population. Airlines need to remind themselves from time to time that every line pilot in the UK began in general aviation without a co-pilot, glass cockpit, autopilot, electronic flight instrumentation, flight management or inertial navigation systems.

If this gap between available talent and career opportunities is not addressed it should come as no surprise to the airline recruitment industry that when air travel begins expanding again, committed, talented people will have deserted the industry. The airlines will have to find training organisations that charge £100,000 per person to produce what it already had in abundance.

Russell Hockley

Cheltenham, UK

Source: Flight International