Training grants proposed to address pilot shortage

Updated: 2012-11-20 11:19

By Wang Wen (China Daily)

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The civil aviation authority will offer 120,000 yuan ($19,240) in grants for general aviation pilot training.

With pilots in short supply across the general aviation industry, the Civil Aviation Administration of China has included the grants in the draft of regulations to support the industry, said Gao Yuanyang, director of the General Aviation Industry Research Center of Beihang University.

Training grants proposed to address pilot shortage

The regulations, which also include grants for airport building and to general aviation operators, are expected to be released by the end of this year, Gao said.

"The authority is already collecting data from general aviation operators, since the grants will be provided according to their flight hours," he said.

The lack of pilots is one of the main problems that limit the general aviation's development in China, some business insiders said.

China's general aviation fleet increased to 1,154 aircraft in 2011, but about one-third of the aircraft cannot fly because of the shortage of pilots, Gao said.

Chen Guangcheng, deputy director of the CAAC's general aviation division in the flight standards department, said earlier this year that only about 6,000 pilots are working in the industry, and more than half of them are studying or teaching in schools.

The general aviation industry needs more than 10,000 pilots, and the demand will continue growing as the industry develops, some business insiders said.

Yunnan Jing Cheng Group, a privately owned enterprise based in Ruili, Yunnan province, is working on recruiting crews now, since the group is building helicopters and needs operators.

"It's very, very difficult to recruit pilots," said Zhao Wei, assistant president of Jing Cheng Group.

According to the authority's requirement, the group needs at least 10 pilots for its two helicopters, which will be delivered by the end of 2013.

The group is currently looking for five pilots and is offering an attractive salary and benefits package, Zhao said.

"The cost of hiring a pilot is almost as high as what we pay for the aircraft," he added.

In order to cope with the lack of pilots, some operators have started to build their own training programs.

"We are preparing for our own pilot training school, and it will be an important business direction in the future," said Rong Weiguo, deputy general manager of the Zhuhai Helicopter Branch of China Southern Airlines Company Ltd.

The helicopter operator, which mainly works on offshore oilfields, plans to train 20 to 30 pilots at the start of the program, Rong said

AVIC International Holding Corp, a subsidiary of Aviation Industry Corp Group of China, opened two training schools - one in South Africa and the other in China - this year, said Fu Yuming, deputy general manager of AVIC International.

The schools will train 100 pilots for both general aviation and commercial aviation in the first semester, and the number will continue to grow, he said.