Decent Wages to Hang on PilotsFri, 12/01/2017 - 15:25
Pilot supply must match airplane supply. The backlog in orders that all airplane manufacturers expect to operate under at least facilitates planning. Companies can see more than predictions of passenger demand, aircraft are being made to order so airlines can plot routes and services confidently in the aerospace industry.
Schools and training centers can also foresee needs for specific skillsets. As ICAO’s long-term traffic forecast for passenger and cargo expects traffic to grow 4.6 percent annually up to 2032, demand for pilots, technicians, mechanics and flight attendants will also grow. The National Polytechnic Institute (IPN) called for more aeronautical professionals in 2017, as did the Director General of Entrenamiento Aéreo Especializado (EAE), Gregorio García, who leads a discerning training center for aeronautical specialists-to-be. The center trains commercial and private pilots as well as flight attendants, operations officials and maintenance technicians.
Today, García sees countries like China happily absorbing Mexico’s “brain drain” as talent moves abroad looking for better money. The gap between study costs and salaries is broad in Mexico, as the Association of Aviator Pilots (ASPA) reports trainees may pay anything up to MX$1 million (US$50,000) to learn to fly an aircraft and if pay is better elsewhere, pilots will transfer to non-Mexican airlines. ASPA thinks the reason Mexico lacks pilots is because there is no public university to provide training, since MX$700,000- MX$1 million (US$35,000-US$50,000) in just two years is beyond most young person’s spending power. It is perhaps for this reason that most of EAE’s students are either working for an airline and receiving periodic update courses, or sons and daughters of aeronautical professionals. “Our costs are still lower than any other institution, and by the end of 2017 we hope to have successfully negotiated student loans for students that cannot pay fees off the bat,” says García. Applicants only need to have completed high school to be channeled toward the banks for financial support.
The school also offers five grants per year to underprivileged youngsters. EAE’s grants are put in the hands of the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), with whom García works closely, and shares visions. ICAO can choose students with potential, who truly need the grant. These students receive the course free of charge, medical exams, licensing costs and uniform all paid for by EAE. If all 180 aviation schools in Mexico did the same the country could boost graduate numbers by 900 per year.
But free courses alone will still not be enough to fill all pilot, technician and engineer positions in the long-term. The impending global talent deficiency could be alleviated by encouraging diversity in schools. Both ICAO’s Regional Director Melvin Cintron and García agree on the benefits of shifting the male-driven profession to welcome women. “We need to get the word out that women can also be mechanics and pilots. New technology and automation minimizes the amount of lifting involved so no one is impeded from entering aeronautical jobs,” affirms García. “In the future EAE sees women as integral parts of the industry.”
The majority of EAE's students have a job within sixeight months of leaving EAE. “Companies need to closely supervise the exams they apply,” says García, diagnosing the problem of airlines rejecting graduates. Aside from being a waste of time and money for many aspiring professionals, this could worsen the brain drain. Before graduating as pilots, students are examined by three entities in Mexico: an experienced retired pilot on behalf of the General Direction of Civil Aviation (DGAC), a pilot from the Aviator Pilot College and another from the Instruction and Training Center of Civil Aviation (CIAAC), “so I cannot fathom why someone would fail a company’s entrance exams,” says García.
EAE is conscious of the need for specialized personnel in Mexico and around the world. “We are therefore doing our best to effectively train as many people as possible, to the highest standards possible.” García’s company is using television, radio and print to call for more people, especially women, to apply and enter the sector. The training center in Mexico City with the company’s three campus, the newest of which is in Monterrey, is on stand-by to prepare the aviation professionals of the future.