PETALING JAYA: Up to 500 licensed junior pilots in Malaysia have not been able to take to the skies in the last two years. There are just not enough jobs for them.
The number of flying schools have quadrupled from two about three years ago to eight now, resulting in an oversupply of fresh pilots vying for the limited number of positions as airline trainee pilots.
While the schools produced between 300 and 400 pilots annually in the last five years, their total intake for a year can reach up to 800, given that the course takes between 18 months and two years.
They would graduate with 200 hours under their belt, enabling them to only fly small aircrafts below 5,700kg.
But this does not qualify them to fly for an airline, which would require at least 1,500 flight hours and further intensive type training and stringent tests. Only then would they qualify for an Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL).
Last year, the country’s two major airlines – Malaysia Airlines Bhd and AirAsia – each hired only an average of 100 graduates each for their airline pilot training programme.
The Department of Civil Aviation’s (DCA) flight operations director Capt Datuk Yahaya Abdul Rahman said that about 70% of the 400 fresh graduate pilots would be employed by local airlines.
Capt Yahaya said that previously, most students were sponsored by airlines which would then recruit them upon graduation.
“These days, half of them are private students whose parents have paid for their course.”
He agreed that presently, the number of pilots graduating from flying schools was growing faster than the recruitments.
“From 2005 to 2009, a total of 1,513 locals and 110 foreigners graduated from the flying schools. The number has been increasing every year,” he said.
Back in the 1990s, Malaysia had only one flying school in Malacca, which produced 70 pilots annually.
Capt Yahaya, however, dispelled speculation that the oversupply was due to local airlines preferring to hire foreign pilots.
“Local airlines need to keep a small number of foreign captains with at least 15 to 20 years’ or 5,000 flying hours’ experience.
“Fresh pilots are usually taken in as co-pilots. They will later be upgraded to senior co-pilots and then captains when they have achieved the necessary flying hours.”
Given the rapid growth of the airline industry and continuous expansion of major local industry players, he believed that demand for pilots was on the rise.
He encouraged fresh pilots who are jobless to join DCA’s three-month instructor’s programme to keep their flying skills intact.
Article taken from TheStar