Russian PilotRecently the Russian media has reported that Boeing plans to establish a new pilot training centre in Russia, focusing on various pilot type-rating and re-training programs. According to Vedomosti, the American manufacturer plans to invest a multi- million dollar sum into new pilot training facilities in the Skolkovo Innovation Centre, near Moscow. The project is aimed at addressing the pilot shortage issue within the Russian market.

The Russian air transportation industry has undergone extensive development over recent years. In 2012 the industry grew by approximately 15 percent – carrying a further 10 million passengers. Experts of a research company ‘Region’ predict that over the upcoming 5 years air traffic numbers in Russia will increase by another 22 million passengers, reaching almost 97 million passengers in 2017.

‘Despite burgeoning market growth for Russia’s aviation industry, the country has remained closed to foreign pilots, thus exacerbating the pilot shortage problem. With this in mind, it is no wonder that aircraft manufacturers are poised to enter the local market and enhance the pilot training for its airline industry,’ commented Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of

Alongside the growth of Russia’s air travel industry, the need for new Western-built aircraft is also increasing. According to ATO, in 2007, approximately 12 percent of the total number of passenger kilometers flown by Russian airlines was accorded to Airbus aircraft, while the share carried by Boeing aircraft was even higher, accounting for roughly 30 percent of the total market. Just four years later, the market share of these western manufacturers increased substantially – up to 33 percent for Airbus and 52.6 percent for Boeing, with both companies clearly making inroads in the Russian civil aviation market.

‘Over the past several years, Airbus has received a number of large orders from Russian carriers, including Transaero and UTair, who traditionally had opted for Boeing jets. Aeroflot, which controls almost 30 percent of the Russian market, is the largest Airbus aircraft operator in the region. Furthermore, Airbus plans to control 50 percent of the local 100+ seater aircraft market within the next five years. In regard to the competitor’s development, Boeing’s intentions to establish a training centre within the ‘forbidden’ pilot market may eventually provide the American manufacturer with additional competitive advantages and thus some extra orders,’ commented Skaiste Knyzaite.

Depending on the type of aircraft, every new delivery usually requires at least four additional flight crews, or at least eight new pilots. Considering the backlog, it highlights the predicament facing Russian carriers who together are expecting deliveries of roughly 500 aircraft, the majority of which are Western-built. The implications of this are an increase in the pilot demand – reaching several thousand specialists over the upcoming five years. Indeed, the figures do not include the current shortage of approximately 1,500 pilots.

‘Boeing’s training project may actually assist the Russian market with preparing extra pilots, likely through the re-training of pilots certified on Russian aircraft. Considering the ongoing flow of intense fleet renewals, the market supply of pilots type rated on specific jets or the possibility to retrain current pilots, is certainly an important factor when planning new aircraft acquisitions. However, many local airlines have been continuously experiencing certain issues with specialists prepared by local training organizations, with the current training programs only partially meeting the actual requirements of carriers in the country. For that reason, larger Russian airlines have a tendency to run their own training divisions in-house. On the other hand, Boeing, with its extensive experience of FAA/EASA-approved practices, may potentially bring new standards as well as new technologies into the market. The only question that remains is when a new training centre will likely be launched,’ concluded Skaiste Knyzaite, the CEO of

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