In the times of fluctuating economics the highly competitive business environment forces each and every aviation company to put an extra focus on commercial visualization which would be in balance with the company’s financial politics and organisational safety culture maintenance strategy. The current situation in the aviation market in these economically challenging times is particularly unfavourable to inexperienced pilots who are often associated with reduced flight safety and therefore avoided by many airlines as a threat to their reputation. As a result, gaining the required experience for such pilots is becoming a hardly achievable task. What are the possible solutions to the problem?

In order for a pilot to be employed by an airline as a first officer, he must have an experience of at least 500 hours spent flying on the particular type of an aircraft, the time otherwise known as line training. However, aviation companies are often exclusive and reluctant to provide an inexperienced pilot with an opportunity to operate a flight carrying 130 passengers on board. The common belief is that during his first flights a novice pilot is not only a burden to the captain or double responsibility for an instructor but can also bring losses to the airline by, for instance, damaging the aircraft. Then there is also the stereotype that pilots who attend line training are spoilt by their parents and thus unamendable. Unfortunately the stereotype is now commonly applied to all pilots owning the ATPL (A) frozen license. In fact this is just a myth and it is the main flight school’s task and goal to change this attitude.

There are always two sides of the same coin. One of the key advantages of line training is the fact that it helps to reduce costs. Airlines have additional income from the payment for line training service in exchange by giving a pilot opportunity to assume skills and to enhance an experience. As well company can save money by not having to organize screening as all pilots sent by the training centre have already passed the initial selection process. As a result, although airlines will have to choose from candidates, who will be already tried and tested, well prepared and safety-oriented pilots. Despite the fact that they will still lack the required amount of flight hours, these pilots will be psychologically sound and ready to grow professionally according to the airline standards. Having in mind the approaching peak season in aviation, it is also a wonderful way to supplement the existing crew during the busy periods.

The pros and cons of line training depend on the attitude and policies on behalf of particular aviation companies: the way they calculate profits, evaluate benefits and risks. In the long run the practice has shown that it ends up being beneficial both as a short-term and a long-term investment into the future pilots with the positive feedback not only quality-wise but also financially.

The issue of line training is a thorny subject in aviation. In order to solve it once and for all, aviation companies, training centres and field experts must initiate open discussions and find the solutions acceptable to all parties involved. The issue should be addressed by all aviation market players as it lies in the roots of the entire industry. How can we answer (if we can) the question whether it is really worth choosing the profession of a pilot if the market does not provide the opportunity to become part of the aviation world?

You have ideas on how to make it possible for young bright people to receive the position of their dreams in airlines? Please send them to ideas@balticaa.com

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