China Faces Major Pilot Shortage
China is facing a chronic shortage of pilots to fly its growing fleet of business aircraft. Moderating an ABACE show seminar on crew training in Shanghai yesterday, consultant Christopher Jackson said the current backlog of orders from China indicates a need for an additional 500 to 1,000 private aviation pilots. He said operators in China typically need a ratio of five pilots per aircraft.
Quotas imposed by the Chinese government on the number of foreign pilots allowed to work in the country and restrictions as to where they can fly, along with language and culture barriers, all underline the need for a robust indigenous general-aviation pilot training program, which currently does not exist. Of the flight academies and training schools that are in operation in China, virtually all of the pilots are destined for the commercial aviation sector.
Another issue is that potential Chinese pilots who undertake their flight training in the U.S., there currently exist differences for certification and procedures between the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC) and the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), according to Scott Jiang, Cirrus Aircraft’s director for China. In one instance, unlike FAA requirements CAAC requires pilots who successfully complete the training programs from providers such as Simuflite or FlightSafety International to complete an additional 50 hours of monitored in-country flights and landings before they are certified.
“We have accepted the fact that corporate aviation in China is in its infancy,” said Rich Iudice, Dassault Falcon’s director of flight operations, speaking as a group spokesman. “There are many obstacles to overcome, so that the operators here that want to operate business aircraft have the pilots available to do that.”
Among the possible solutions the group has suggested to CAAC is that the agency allows the additional flight hours to be performed on simulators as line-orientated flight training (Loft). “We need to convince CAAC that we are trying to help them,” said Iudice. “We’re trying to help Chinese operators get this done.”