Industry players point out these rookies believe they can earn big bucks from commercial airlines immediately after graduation.
However, the reality is most of them will end up not being able to follow their dreams due to limited intake from local airlines for fresh graduates.
Currently, there are five flying schools in the country, churning out about 300 graduates annually. Junior pilots graduate with 200 hours under their belt, enabling them to only fly small aircrafts below 5,700kg.
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).
What's worse, industry players say junior pilots who end up in the ranks of the unemployed currently numbering 1,174 are still choosy and lack the will to work from the bottom up.
Only one in 10 pilots is willing to rough it out and work as flight instructors or fly smaller aircraft to clock in the necessary hours and experience.
“The majority of them want to work with big airlines only. They do not want to explore other options, which are deemed as non-glamour' jobs,” says pilot, radio deejay and TV personality Johan Farid Khairuddin.
Many have the misconception that being a pilot automatically means earning between RM7,000 and RM10,000 a month but in reality, the rookies have to start at the bottom of the pile, with a pay of about RM4,000, he adds.
Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association president P. Surendrasingam attributes this unrealistic expectation to the junior pilots' attitude.
He says there are plenty of jobs as flight instructors and those involving flying smaller planes such as joyride flights or crops spraying but the pilots are reluctant to do so.
“They think it is nice to put on a suit and walk around airports. They are not willing to try any other options.
“If they are willing to exchange the suit for shorts and T-shirts to clock in the required flying hours, they won't have any problems (in securing jobs),” he says.
Pilots flying smaller planes can earn between RM3,000 and RM5,000 a month. Those who take people up for joyrides can earn about RM100 per hour, he adds.
Department of Civil Aviation (DCA) director-general Datuk Azharuddin Abdul Rahman says the department is aware of the seriousness of the current situation and has taken steps to address it.
This includes freezing all new applications for flying schools while the current schools need to get the department's approval on student intake.
“Together with the flying schools, we have informed prospective students and their parents to be aware of the challenges in getting jobs,” he says.
He adds that DCA also encourages pilots who are currently unemployed to register with the department through a Pilot Post Training Registry on its website as well as mulling the possibility of tightening the entry requirements to become pilots.
Royal Selangor Flying Club president Major (R) Abdul Razak Hashim advises junior pilots not to confine their prospects within the country but spread their wings regionally.
“The aviation industry is slowly picking up and there is a demand for pilots, especially co-pilots in Indonesia,” he says.
Article taken from TheStar
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